The Leningrad region is one of the most interesting regions of Russia for car travel enthusiasts. There is an incredible, unique nature, and amazing historical heritage, and a variety of cultural objects. This trip is specially planned for brave and active people who love long walks, are interested in the culture and history of their country and its traditions. Our trip will begin with a car rental, after which we will travel north along the shore of Lake Ladoga. There we will have a one-day trip to Valaam Island. And after that we'll go westward towards the most "European" city of Russia - Vyborg, to walk along its ancient streets and feel the peace in the park with a very unusual landscape.
Journey to the Leningrad region begins! First we will go to the coast of Lake Ladoga, where we will see the most interesting cultural-historical and picturesque natural sights.
The first stop will be the famous Old Russian fortress, located on the Nut Island, with a rather funny name - the Nut Fortress. It was founded in the fourteenth century by the inhabitants of Veliky Novgorod and for a long time served as the most important outpost on the way to the Gulf of Finland, and today it is one of the most important cultural heritage sites of Russia in this region.
There are still quite a lot of events ahead of us, so to always have the strength and energy to take a short break and have lunch at a nice restaurant called Noteburg. The situation inside is very cozy and modern. Visitors here will find a wide choice of dishes from the most different culinary directions, among which there are Asian, European and national.
One of the most important cultural and historical objects near St. Petersburg is the Diorama Museum. His exposition reveals the details of Operation Spark in every detail. On the basis of archival documents and filming here are recreated the most important events of the seven-day battle for the breakthrough of the blockade of Leningrad.
The Leningrad region, along with the Republic of Karelia, is a unique region in terms of nature. Local forests and lakes have served as a base for many health centers, but perhaps the main treasure of these places is Lake Ladoga. It affects the formation of the local climate, making it softer. There are also quite a few picturesque sandy beaches.
After long excursions and staying outdoors, it's time to take a short break and have dinner in one of the coastal cafes called "The World of Lighthouses" or, as it's called, "By the Lighthouse". The atmosphere here is very calm and cozy, the interior is almost entirely made of wood, and the menu includes many dishes of fish and seafood.
Let's go to Priozersk. Before leaving, we will stop at the Road of Life museum. On the way we will stop in several picturesque places, and on arrival we will also visit the ancient fortress of Korela.
"The Road of Life" is one of the most interesting military history museums in the Leningrad region. Its extensive exposition is dedicated to the feat of the Ladoga Military Flotilla soldiers, thanks to which during the blockade of Leningrad the city was connected with the whole country. On the territory of the museum there are 12 complexes of various exhibits telling about the past of Ladoga, the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the blockade, the creation and defense of the key ice highway.
After a long excursion and a long transfer it is worth making a small stop in the countryside. For this purpose you can turn off the highway towards the Red Lake. It's right next to two small villages. The scenery here is picturesque and the environment is quiet, calm and not crowded. Swimming is allowed on the lake, as well as fishing.
After spending a lot of time in nature, you can take a short pause and have lunch in the restaurant complex "Davinci", which is located near Lake Borisov, surrounded by beautiful nature. There is also a bistro, a pub and just a restaurant. If you wish, you can go up to the third floor, where visitors have an open terrace.
Arriving in Priozersk, we have time to visit one of its main attractions - museum-fortress Korela. This massive defensive construction has long played an important role in the history of this region. In mass culture, this place became famous for the fact that some episodes of the cult Russian film "Brother" directed by Alexei Balabanov were filmed here.
The nature of the Karelian Isthmus is truly unique. Here among small lakes and coniferous forests one can find truly unique landscapes. One of the most beautiful and picturesque places is the Olkhovskoe Lake. It is popular among beach lovers, fishermen, and fans of hiking. Local landscapes have also inspired more than a dozen photographers.
Isn't it time to stop on vacation? You can warm up, fill up and buy goods on the way at Gazpromneft's filling stations.
After a long day, you can go to the Kexholm Hotel restaurant for dinner. Well-known dishes of Russian and European cuisine are served here in a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. The choice is quite extensive, but you can pay attention to the fish fillet with pickled vegetables and potatoes, as well as the local shashlik.
Today promises to be very interesting and memorable. We are planning a trip to the famous island of Valaam. Many people dream to get acquainted with the beauty of this place, so at the height of the season the influx of tourists here is so large that tickets can not be purchased otherwise than in advance.
In the morning you can go to one of the coastal cafes called "Dot on the map". It's been open since 9:00. The assortment here is pretty good. For breakfast, for example, you can try Viennese waffles with jam, cream and chocolate chips, if you want more nourishing dishes - try the fish fillet with vegetables.
Departures to the island usually take place at 11am. Back and forth tickets must be purchased in advance, as because of the large influx of tourists on the spot they may not be able to buy.
The Valaam Monastery is one of the most interesting historical objects in Russia. At the moment, it is impossible to say exactly when it was founded, however, in some chronicles this place is mentioned already in the tenth century. And the monastery started to develop already during the reign of Elizabeth. During the Finnish and World War II the monastery was significantly damaged, and its restoration began only in the 80s, when the museum-reserve was organized here.
You can also get hungry during a tour of the monastery. To quench your hunger, you should visit a local café called the Valaam Pilgrimage. Here, in a pleasant and hospitable atmosphere, dishes of Russian cuisine prepared by novices of the monastery are served. Prices are low and it's a pleasure.
There are many places on the island of Valaam where a peaceful and pleasant atmosphere reigns, and one of them is the Nikolsky Skit. As in the rest of the island, the area is very clean and well maintained, with beautiful views of the lakes.
Since ferries and motorboats from the island always depart on schedule, it is mandatory to be at the quay by six o'clock in the evening.
Upon arrival from the island it will be a pleasure to go straight to one of the local restaurants for dinner. As the café at the Kexholm Hotel has already proved itself to be a good place to spend the rest of the evening. If you don't plan to drive in the future, you can supplement the evening with a variety of wines from the bar list.
Today promises us many interesting discoveries and memorable experiences. In the morning we plan to leave Priozersk and go to Vyborg. We are going to get acquainted with its historical sights, many of which are included in the list of Cultural Heritage Objects of the Peoples of Russia.
The city of Priozersk is relatively small, and there are not many suitable places for breakfast, so you can go to the already familiar and proven cafe "Tochka na map". Since the road ahead is quite a long one, it makes sense to take food skillfully. At the same time it will be possible to have a picnic somewhere in the nature.
In the small village of Melnikovskoye there is a building of Kirkhi, a small Lutheran church, which is not typical for these places and is also a museum. It was built in the style of Finnish national romanticism. Services are not frequent, of course, and the temple is closely adjacent to the cultural house.
Arriving in Vyborg, you should definitely visit one of the main symbols of the city - Vyborg Castle. Experts believe that it was built in the late thirteenth century. During its history it has been destroyed and conquered many times, but it has always served as an important military outpost. In the 70's a museum was organized here, and in 2017 its major restoration, as well as the development of the island was taken over by local authorities. The work is still in progress, but it does not prevent tourists from entering the island itself.
After a long drive and a long walk you should take a break and go to one of the local cafes for lunch. A place called "Tavern" would be perfect for us. And the interiors and menu are stylized in the Middle Ages, so you will not just have a hearty lunch, but a real feudal meal!
Vyborg is a very culturally developed city. For example, a branch of the famous Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg is located here. Under its roof, the exhibition centre contains works from the Hermitage state art funds. In particular, among the collections one can see ornamental art of the XVII-XVIII centuries.
The evening can be spent in one of the most popular walking places among citizens and tourists - on the Big Ladle Quay. All along the quay there are beautiful views of the Vyborg Bay, the paths here are also decorated with interesting sculptures, and in the summer season there is a fountain.
The cafe is stylized as an old Parisian street, it looks kind of funny but cozy. European cuisine, large portions, good wine selection.
The acquaintance with Vyborg continues. We will walk around the park with the French name "Montrepo", see the central square, and spend the evening in nature, by the lake.
Another symbol of Vyborg is the picturesque Montrepo Park. Its famous rocky landscape is a real decoration of these regions. According to geologists, the local unusual relief, which gave many reasons for many fantastic legends and tales, was formed by a glacier, as well as numerous earthquakes. Throughout history, many legendary personalities have visited the area, and the park is still one of the most beautiful in Europe.
I bet you can't say the name of the hero of the Kareg-Finnish epos Väinämöinen the first time. That's what happened to me, for instance. The monument itself is located in a very interesting place, not far from it there are several stone grottoes and an unusual gazebo made of birch trunks.
The city of Vyborg is famous for its magnificent architectural heritage, which you can start with a short walk on the Old Town Hall Square. It is located near the promenade and is the central point of the city. It is also noteworthy that the square has not been radically rebuilt since the seventeenth century, thus preserving the authentic atmosphere of the times of the Russian Empire.
Not far from the square, on Krepostnaya Street, there is a quite good cafe with the same name, where we stopped for lunch. Prices are low, but they cook delicious, we took borscht and omelette, we were satisfied.
Unusual ruins surrounded by giant trees. Mossy stairs leading to nowhere, cellars and bunker-like structures all add to the mystery of the place. Be sure to come here again with a good camera for a themed photo shoot.
What could be better than a vacation by the lake? Probably just a vacation on a beautifully landscaped clean beach with all the amenities. You can go fishing, take a boat ride and have a barbecue.
AmBar is a typical recreation center restaurant in a good sense. It has massive wooden furniture, local grilled catch and homemade snacks. There are also classics of European cuisine - pizza, pasta, salads.
Today ends our trip to the Karelian Isthmus. We managed to visit many interesting and amazing places during these six days, and now we are going back to St. Petersburg. On the way we will make several stops to walk and enjoy the natural landscape.
Too bad I'm not an artist! As soon as we found ourselves in this larch forest, I immediately wanted to take brushes, paints and create a masterpiece, very beautiful here!
Well, you can find many interesting sights on the way to St. Petersburg. Zelenogorsk Park of Culture and Recreation is the only thing worth visiting. For tourists there is a small amusement park with a Ferris wheel, a museum of retro cars and a zoo. The walking area is well-groomed and decorated with various statues and fountains. At the entrance to the park visitors are met by a figure in a cylinder, from afar it seemed that this is a monument to Pushkin, in fact - Vitsyn.
After a long walk in the park you can go for lunch to a small cafe on the Gulf of Finland with the original name Our Dacha. During the summer season, visitors can dine both indoors and outdoors. The menu offers dishes of Russian and European cuisine.
The last stop on the way to St. Petersburg is a wide sandy beach. If you look at the local scenery for a long time, you may even forget that you are near the Northern Capital!