Surrounded by Finland and the White Sea, Karelia’s landscape is a patchwork of lakes, marshes and forests, whose canopies shade abundant mushrooms and berries. Petrozavodsk, the region’s capital, is a staging post for a variety of holiday activities in the region. The small island of Kizhi within Lake Onega is easily accessible by hydrofoil. The island was once an early pagan centre. Its surviving legacy features 22-domed 18th century Church of the Transfiguration, whose wooden structure was built without a single nail. The open-air museum is a collection of Karel and Russian wooden buildings from the 14th-19th centuries.
perfect for adventure holidayson the Shuya, Suna and Vama-Vodla rivers. Tranquil waters offering impressive views of the countryside are suddenly interrupted by rapids cascading over glacial boulders. The white waters may be negotiated by cataraft or kayak. Suna River is excellent for fishing. The Kivach Waterfall along its path is very beautiful. Karel pies called kalitkas can be sampled in the local hamlets, often no more than a cluster of sturdy wooden cottages. A real sauna followed by a plunge into a river or a lake is an ideal way to unwind at the end of an adventure-packed day.
Almost due north of St Petersburg, this is the biggest city within the Arctic Circle. This important port on the shores of Kola Bay is warmed by the waters of Gulf Stream and is free of ice throughout the year. It was built with the assistance of British during World War I. The Northern Lights are seen here in November and December and the Sports Festival of the Peoples of the North is held here in March.