Welcome to Finnish and Russian Karelia!


Karelia, lying on both sides of the Finnish-Russian border, has a rich cultural tradition. Beautiful rolling hills surrounding lakes – you are arriving in a true land of myth and tales. The old sung poems of Karelia are the basis of the national epic Kalevala. The forests seem endless, you’ll feel the spirits of the lakes and experience the light of Arctic nights.

The two Karelias are united by the same kind of scenery, the rich cuisine and history. And the music has a common tempo. Kantele, a stringed instrument something like a zither, is the traditional instrument whose sound expresses the emotions of joy and sorrow. Karelia has its own language, a mixture of Finnish and Russian. The Karelians are renowned for their hospitality, and particularly popular are Karelian pasties. You’ll have an opportunity to try your hand at making these, a new skill to take home with you as a souvenir!

Tours to Karelia


Karelia is a historical region in North – Eastern Europe, that is part of two countries – Russia and Finland.

The Finnish part of Karelia, region North Karelia, is located in the eastern part of Finland and  Joensuu is the regional hub of North Karelia, located approximately 400 km to the Northeast from Helsinki.

The Russian part of the historical region is the Republic of Karelia. It is situated in the north-west of Russia at the  border with Finland. It adjoins the Arctic Circle in the north and the southern limits of Lakes Ladoga and Onego. The capital city of the republic – Petrozavodsk located approximately 400 km from St.Petersburg.

Getting to North Karelia in Finland

Getting to Russian Karelia

VK pelto sumu kesa aamu

Top Tips

Karelia is a colourful mixture of Finnish and Russian cultures, the homeland of ancient tales and music. The countryside is forest-clad hills, lakes and rivers which provide opportunities to enjoy the peace of nature and silence.

VK koli ukko-koli naiset kolin huipulla pielinen kesa

Tip 1. Nature attractions

Karelia provides excellent surroundings for recreation and relaxation for nature-lovers. Visitors to Karelia can find a broad spectrum of Karelian landscapes: rugged ridges, hills, marshes, backwoods, lakes and rivers with sandy beaches and islands galore.

Nature in Finnish Karelia

Nature in Russian Karelia

valamo luostari heinavesi kirkko

Tip 2. Kizhi and Valaam

Russian Karelia has two large lakes, Ladoga and Onega, the largest and second largest lakes in Europe. The most famous sight of Ladoga is the monastery of Valaam. Onega has the Kizhi museum island, listed by Unesco as a World Heritage site. In Finnish Karelia you will find New Valaam monastery. It is easy to connect all 3 attraction to the same tour!

Valaam monastery in Russian Karleia

Kizhi museum island

New Valaam monastery in Finnish Karelia

vk ruoka tarvikkeet

Tip 3. Karelian cuisine

Karelian cuisine is influenced by both Russian and Finnish traditions. Try the Karelian pasties, even join in making them! The forests are full of berries and mushrooms, also a major part of Karelian cuisine.

Karelian flavors in Finland

vk herranniemi lieksa ikoni ortodoksisuus

Tip 4. Cultural heritage

Karelian culture is a mixture of eastern and western way of life. The Karelians have a rich musical heritage and even their own language. One special feature is the
Orthodox faith and its churches, usually timber-built, as are most houses. Old timber architecture can also be found in museums.

Karelian culture in Finnish Karelia

Karelian culture in Russian Karelia

naisen bomban talo

Tip 5. The countryside

Kinerma village was voted the most beautiful in Russia in 2016. Deep in the Karelian forests, this is a village of wooden houses surrounding an attractive orthodox
chapel, tsasovnja. And the Ruskeala mountain park, created from a former marble quarry, is also worth a visit. The Karelian villages on both sides of the border
are an invitation to camera safari walks.

Traditional Karelian villages in Russian Karelia

Parppeinvaara village in Finnish Karelia

Tours to Karelia


The Many Cultures of the Russian and Finnish Karelia

7 days | Group tour | Pohjolan matkat DMC

Explore the Russian and Finnish sides of Karelia. Discover the Orthodox traditions, spectacular scenery and the grand cities of the area. Karelian-Finnish traditions and traces of left by the Soviet era are still visible in the White Karelia in Russia. We will visit the magnificent Solovetsky Monastery over the course of the tour.

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Lake Ladoga and the Treasures of Savo-Karelia

10 days | Group tour | Pohjolan matkat DMC

On the shores of Europe’s largest lake, Lake Ladoga, history and the present meet. The world’s northernmost city with over one million inhabitants, St. Petersburg, is situated on the southern shores of Lake Ladoga. Whereas on the northern tip of the lake, near the Finnish border, Sortavala beams the Orthodox history. Discover the Karelian way of life in Finland and Russia with us.

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Monastic Life in the Old and New Valamo

4 Days | Group tour | Pohjolan matkat DMC

Discover the Finnish and Russian Karelian Orthodox centres of the New Valamo Monastery in Heinävesi and the Old Vanamo Monastery in the archipelago of Lake Ladoga in Russia. The peaceful atmosphere and surrounding nature of the monasteries offer a unique opportunity to wind down away from the modern, hectic life.

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Tours from Finland to Russian Karelia

3-7 days | Group tours | Incoming tour operators

Our tour operators in Russian Karelia will take care about your guests during the tour providing all needed services from transfer, accommodation and excursions to the exclusive services. All tour operators have years of experience working with foreign tourist.

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A Culinary Sojourn in Saimaa-St.Petersburg

8 Days | Group tour | GreenEscape DMC

From freshly picked seasonal berries and chanterelles from the pristine forests of Finland’s Saimaa Lakeland to fancy Beluga and Salmon Caviar tastings and Russian classics such as Borscht, Blini, and Shashlik in St.Petersburg, embark on a culinary adventure discovering authentic and innovative local flavors.

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Food and culture along the Via Karelia route

Self drive culinary and culture route in Eastern Finland

Local food culture lives strong in Eastern Finland and brings new delicious insights to domestic and foreign food tourism enthusiasts. In addition to local specialties and traditional flavors, there are also modern options in each province on the Via Karelia route.

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We are here to help you plan your tours

Leena Tervakorpi VisitKarelia Account Manager

North Karelia in Finland

Leena Tervakorpi

Europe Account Manager
tel. / WhatsApp +358 40 614 7273


North Karelia in Finland

Anna Härkönen

Russia Account Manager
tel. / WhatsApp +358 400 239 619


Russian Karelia

Ekaterina Biktimirova

Tourist Information Center of the Republic of Karelia
tel. / WhatsApp +79114111333