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The Best Things to See and Do in Karelia

Picture of Olga Glioza
Updated: 25 February 2018

Karelia is a magical place, full of natural beauty and calm, it’s a stunning combination of rocks and pine trees and is one of the most popular tourist regions in Russia. The list of experiences it offers is as rich as it’s nature, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the best.

Visit Kivach Waterfalls

For those visiting Karelia in warm season, the Kivach Waterfalls are a must-see. They’re a great place for wandering the forests and enjoying the nature with picturesque rivers, forests and waterfalls. There are several excursion options available, each offering truly stunning views.


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Snowkite at Onega lake

Snowkiting has become more popular recently, when some kite and snowboard lovers decided to unite two things. It’s a great winter sport to get toned, and offers a medium level of adrenaline. Snowkiting is possible in Karelia pretty much all winter season.

Get active in Ruskeala

The mountainous park Ruskeala is great for lovers of active leisure. Apart from hiking in some breathtaking places, you can rent a boat to appreciate the beauty of Marble Lake and explore the small caves. Pay attention to the marble shores – many landmark Saint Petersburg buildings are built from this particular marble.


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Cross the Arctic Circle

Way north in Karelia, not far from Murmansk, is where the Arctic circle officially begins. The territory of polar day and polar night, where the sun doesn’t get down for half a year and doesn’t rise up for another half. Further only the North Pole.

Reconnect with nature in Paanajarvi

On contrast with active Ruskeala, Paanajarvi is all about reconnecting with nature and finding your own zen away from the civilization. There is no electricity or mobile connection, just the stunning power of nature.


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Explore ancient Russia in Kizhi

The church in Kizhi is the great example of the traditional Russian architecture. Kizhi architectural ensemble is included in UNESCO Heritage, and the view of the island once you will be approaching it, will stay in your memory forever. The most curious about Kizhi is that such a beauty was constructed several centuries ago by anonymous architect, without plan, draft neither using any metal nails.


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Dive in the White Sea

This experience is for real adrenaline lovers. White sea stays pretty cold even in the hottest months, but this doesn’t scare away dedicated divers. Dive center “Polar circle” is offering diving experiences for OWD PADI and Dry Suit PADI certified divers. For those who don’t have the certification, they are happy to share their knowledge in express course.

Visit Valaam island

The religious center and a very special place, Valaam can be a great weekend getaway from St Petersburg. In warm season, there are regular ships cruising to Valaam for several days: you get to explore the island by foot in the day and to sleep on the ship at night.


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Learn how to dog sledge

Get active and interact with some of the most amazing dogs on the planet during the dog sledge winter safari. The best place to do that is Pryazhinski disctrict, and the best time is when the weather is stable above zero and with lots of snow. You will get a quick lesson how to lead the dogs and will be ready to explore wonders of Karelia.


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Taste Karelian cuisine

In every journey we want to get a taste of the country or place through it’s cuisine, and Karelia has a lot to offer there. As all northern cuisine, it is simple but tasty and energizing. The must-try are kalitki with potatoes. They look a lot like pirogi and are always served hot. It is a custom to put butter on top of kalitki which makes them even tastier – goodbye diet.


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