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Tsarskoe Selo: list of main attractions

The Russian island of Valaam has been one of the favorite places of religious pilgrims for hundreds of years. The 14th century monastery and the natural beauty of Lake Ladoga attracted visitors from different parts of Russia and the world.

The beautiful island of Valaam

Valaam is located on Lake Ladoga in Karelia, 170 km and four hours from St. Petersburg. It is the main island of the archipelago of the same name. The main attraction is the Valaam Monastery.

What to do on Valaam if you are not a pilgrim?

We will list interesting points that can encourage you to spend at least one day visiting the island, and give some tips on how to avoid some of the risks.

Valaam, often referred to as the Russian Vatican, is a place completely ruled by the monastery and its brotherhood, including all tourist activities.


Traveling to the island is primarily a religious type of tourism, both ideologically and officially, although this does not prevent non-believers from visiting it to enjoy the architecture and landscapes of Valaam.

If you are an atheist or profess not Orthodoxy, but a different religion, a trip to the island will allow:

    • get a deeper understanding of the foundations of Russian culture;
    • see the buildings of wooden architecture;
    • enjoy the water landscapes – the route to the island includes a 1.5-hour trip along Lake Ladoga;
    • listen to church music – the monks are working on the reconstruction of the ancient school of singing and during the season they perform for tourists;
    • take photographs against the backdrop of beautiful landscapes;
    • to relax in body and soul – the local nature provides excellent opportunities for meditation and reflection, which is why many come here many times.

How to get to Balaam?

The route to the island from St. Petersburg can consist of one (sea) or two parts (land and water).

The first option is to get to your destination by motor ship from St. Petersburg . A typical tour is designed for three days: in the evening the ship leaves the city, the night is spent on board near Valaam, the second day is devoted to excursions, and the last day is to return back.

The second option, which includes land and water travel, involves two trip schemes: as an independent traveler, or together with an organized group of tourists as part of an excursion.

We recommend buying a bus tour from a travel agency. One of the advantages of organized tours is that all tickets and transfers are already included in the price.

A typical excursion by bus and boat is as follows:

    • in the morning the bus leaves from St. Petersburg to Priozersk;
    • in Priozersk, the group moves on board the ship;
    • after 1.5 hours, tourists arrive on the island and make several excursions.

How to get to Valaam on your own? The first stage is a trip from St. Petersburg to Priozersk. You can choose between three options: car, bus or train. The journey will take about three hours. There are more bus routes than railway ones, their schedule is more flexible.

Trains and buses leave from different points:

    • from the Finlyandsky railway station – the metro station “Lenin Square”;
    • from the Central Bus Station – Obvodny Canal embankment, 36, Obvodny Canal metro station;
    • from the bus station “Severny” – Leningrad region, pos. Murino, Privokzalnaya square, 3, metro station “Devyatkino”.

Upon arrival in Priozersk, it is advisable to call a taxi and ask the driver to take you to the Priozersk pier of the Valaam Monastery (about 6 km). From there, you can get there by Meteora (1 hour 15 minutes) or by boat (3.5 hours).

Important: It is difficult to predict in advance whether there will be enough tickets for individual tourists. Priority is given to pilgrims and organized groups, so it may happen that you have to stay ashore rather than enjoy the boat trip.

Returning to Priozersk is fraught with the same risks: no one can guarantee that you will receive the tickets for the ship and leave the island. By the way, in the history of the monastery there was a period when people who came here to serve the Lord had no right to return, according to the laws of the monastery.

What can you buy on Valaam?

There are no traditional Valaam souvenirs as such, but you can buy various Karelian goods on the island.

What to bring from Valaam as a gift:

    • Valaam gingerbread and Karelian wickets (local pies) – sold in the Valaam pilgrim cafe next to the monastery;
    • smoked fish – presented in numerous shops;
    • birch bark products – purely Karelian souvenirs of bast shoes, boxes, baskets;
    • Karelian ceramics – dishes, figurines.

We hope that photos with descriptions of the sights of Valaam will inspire you to travel

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