Karelia in winter

A complete guide for tourists

Karelia, a region located in the northwestern part of Russia, is known for its spectacular natural beauty, unique cultural heritage, and a wide range of outdoor activities. While Karelia is undoubtedly a popular tourist destination in summer, it is also an ideal place to visit in winter.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the best places to visit in Karelia during the winter months, the activities you can enjoy, and how to get there. Let’s dive in.

Why Visit Karelia in Winter?

Karelia in winter is a completely different experience from the summer season. Here are some reasons why you should consider visiting Karelia in winter:

  • Northern Lights: One of the most stunning natural phenomena, the Aurora Borealis, is visible in Karelia during the winter months. The best time to catch a glimpse of this breathtaking display of colors is from late November to early April.
  • Winter Sports: Karelia is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. You can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snowmobiling in the numerous resorts and parks.
  • Festivals and Events: There are several festivals and events in Karelia during winter. The most popular is the Kizhi Winter Fest, which features ice skating, sleigh rides, ice fishing, and traditional Karelian cuisine.
  • Tranquil Environment: The winter season brings a sense of tranquility and serenity to the region, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful getaway.

Getting to Karelia

There are several ways to get to Karelia, depending on your starting point. If you are coming from Moscow, the easiest way is to take a direct flight to Petrozavodsk. Alternatively, you can take a train or bus from Moscow to Petrozavodsk, which takes around 16-18 hours.

If you are coming from St. Petersburg, you can take a direct train or bus to Petrozavodsk, which takes around 6-7 hours. You can also rent a car and drive to Karelia from Moscow or St. Petersburg.

Top Places to Visit in Karelia in Winter

  • Kizhi Island: Kizhi Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its 18th-century wooden architecture. In winter, the island is covered in snow, making it a picturesque winter wonderland. The Kizhi Winter Fest is held here annually.
  • Ruskeala Marble Canyon: The Ruskeala Marble Canyon is a natural wonder that features stunning blue-green water and white marble cliffs. In winter, the frozen lake and snow-covered cliffs create a breathtaking view.
  • Kivach Waterfall: The Kivach Waterfall is one of the largest waterfalls in Europe and is located in the Kivach Nature Reserve. In winter, the waterfall freezes, creating an incredible icy spectacle.
  • Solovetsky Islands: The Solovetsky Islands are a group of islands located in the White Sea. In winter, the islands are covered in snow, creating a magical winter landscape.
  • Paanajarvi National Park: Paanajarvi National Park is located in the northern part of Karelia and is home to several hiking trails that offer stunning winter views of the park’s snow-covered forests and frozen lakes.

Winter Activities in Karelia

  • Skiing and Snowboarding: Karelia has several ski resorts, including the popular RusSki Gorki Jumping Center, which was built for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. You can also enjoy cross-country skiing in the various parks and forests.
  • Ice Skating: Karelia has numerous ice skating rinks, including outdoor rinks that offer beautiful views of the surrounding winter landscapes.
  • Snowmobiling: Karelia has over 2,000 kilometers of snowmobile trails, making it an ideal destination for snowmobiling enthusiasts.
  • Dog Sledding: You can also enjoy dog sledding tours in Karelia’s snowy forests, which offer a unique and thrilling way to explore the region.
  • Ice Fishing: Karelia is known for its excellent ice fishing opportunities, with several lakes and rivers offering a chance to catch fish such as pike, perch, and whitefish.

This means that visitors need to pack warm clothes and gear for winter activities.

  • Outdoor Activities: In summer, Karelia is a great place to enjoy hiking, camping, and water activities like kayaking and fishing. In winter, visitors can enjoy winter sports, ice fishing, and other cold weather activities.
  • Landscape: The landscape in Karelia changes dramatically from summer to winter. In winter, the lakes freeze over, the forests are covered in snow, and the natural world is transformed into a winter wonderland.
  • Tourist Crowds: Karelia is much less crowded in winter than in summer, which means that visitors can enjoy a more peaceful and intimate experience of the region.


Karelia is a beautiful and unique destination for tourists in winter, offering a range of activities and experiences that are different from those in summer. With its stunning natural landscapes, cultural heritage, and winter festivals and events, Karelia is a great place to visit for those seeking a peaceful winter getaway. So pack your warm clothes and gear, and head out to Karelia to experience the winter magic!

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