11 days

Russian White Nights

Russian White Nights

The Hermitage and canals of the 'Venice of the North’ - UNESCO World Heritage-listed St Petersburg

Trip rating
  • During May and June, St Petersburg comes to life during the period known as White Nights or, as the locals call it, Belye Nochi. The silhouettes of the canal bridges rising from the city will bring out locals and tourists alike who gather to enjoy this unique time of the year. There are many festivities to enjoy and the romantic atmosphere is unparalleled during this time when the city stays aglow all night long.


    Warning. This is a new trip for us!
    While we have thoroughly researched this area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is a relatively new trip for us. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but the warning is sincere. If it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year until we get any bugs ironed out.


    Day 1 - St Petersburg

    • You will be collected from the airport on arrival. (you must pre-book the arrival transfer with your booking agent in order to confirm this service). Your adventure will begin with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm. Please ask at reception for details of the meeting, keep in mind that you will need to have your insurance details with you at this meeting.
    • Your tour leader will arrange dinner at a traditional Russian restaurant after the meeting.
    • If you arrive early, we recommend that you get out and explore beautiful St Petersburg. The city has an abundance of baroque European architecture, interspersed with the incredible opulence of the Russian palace. It is truly a testament to its builder, the Russian tsar, Peter the Great.
    • St Isaac’s Cathedral is a must-do, as is a climb to the colonnade, where you can enjoy stunning views of the city.
    • You can also wander down the bustling Nevsky Prospekt, the main thoroughfare of the city, where you can sample some treats from one of the many bakeries and pancake shops. Those with a penchant for music and literature might enjoy a visit to the cemetery where Russia’s great Tchaikovsky and Dostoyevsky were laid to rest.
    Domina Prestige Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - St Petersburg

    • Your day will begin with an short orientation walk with our leader around the Hotels neighborhood.
    • After which you will have some free time until evening when we meet our local guide for a more in depth city walking tour finishing with a canal boat tour.
    • Having a local show you around offers a much more intimate and real perspective of the city.
    • Your guide will enlighten you with stories about the monarchs, artists, nobles and legends of the city from the time of Peter the Great, right through to Lenin and post-Soviet times.
    • You will uncover everything from the most beautiful rivers, bridges, canals, charming lane-ways, to the grandeur of the palaces, quays and busy marketplaces.
    Domina Prestige Hotel or similar

    Day 3 - St Petersburg - Kem (Overnight Train)

    • You will enjoy a highlight of St Petersburg today, the Hermitage Museum. One of the world’s most acclaimed art collections is housed here, within the walls of the former imperial Winter Palace.
    • In the evening we take an overnight train to Kem (approx 16 hours).
    • Travelling by train in Russia is truly one of the best ways to experience the soul of the country. As you traverse the vast land you'll have a chance to have a chat with the locals, most of whom use the trains as their main form of long distance transport. On this trip we travel 1st class in carriages which consist of compartments arranged in groups of two, with storage space for luggage.
    • Bedding and hot water are provided and there is a toilet with a washbasin at each end of the carriage.

    Day 4 - Kem - Solovki Island

    • Morning arrival into the port town of Kem.
    • Board a boat to take us across the bay to the Solovetsky Islands, (approx 4 hours).
    • Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the islands, commonly referred to as simply "Solovki" were once home to one of the biggest monasteries in the world. Their history took a completely different turn in the 19th century when they began to be used as a place of exile for political and religious figures.
    • During Soviet times Solovki became one of the most feared GULAGs (prison camps) in the USSR. Today much of the islands territory is once again owned by the Russian Orthodox Church and attracts many religious pilgrims. There is only one village on the island and once you leave it you are greeted with rocky bays, rolling hills, icy lakes, vast forests and sweeping vistas.
    • Visiting Solovki is truly a serene experience!
    • During our stay on the island we will experience Russian style hotel Solovki. It is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the Bolshoy Solovetskiy Island and surrounded by ancient fir trees and pines. It will take you only a couple of minutes to get to the White Sea shore where you will find famous northern labyrinths. Enjoy your stay in this rural, quiet, authentic area.
    Solovki Hotel or similar

    Day 5 - Solovki Island

    • Today we will enjoy a tour around the Kremlin of the Solovetsky island which includes the main monastery complex - the Transfiguration Monastery.
    • The monastery is a place of worship now and started out as a prison and later becoming a naval base. Most captivating are the artifacts relating to the GULAG years.
    • The rest of your day is free to explore as you choose!
    • Discover the island either by foot, boat or cycling to Hatchett Mountain.
    • The Botanical Gardens are a must to enjoy a diverse selection of flora and fauna.
    • Solovki's island location means that even in the height of summer it can be very cold and windy and the weather can change very quickly. We recommend you bring a jacket, scarf, gloves and hat to ensure that you are able to enjoy exploring the islands even if the temperature drops.
    Solovki Hotel or similar

    Day 6 - Solovki Island

    • Today you continue exploring the island.
    • We will attend a 2 hour GULAG excursion where our local guide shares the most captivating artifacts relating to the tragic history of people exiled here as political prisoners during 1923-1939.
    • There will also be plenty of free time in the afternoon to explore on your own and may be even discover abandoned prison camps, monastery drydock, stone labyrinths of prehistoric times, take a boat trip along the intricate canal system of the Island, connecting its largest lakes.
    Solovki Hotel or similar

    Day 7 - Solovki Island - Kem - Petrozavodsk

    • This morning is time for you to say your goodbye to this fascinating and unique part of Russia.
    • In the afternoon, around 4 pm we take a return boat to Kem (4 hours) to catch overnight train to Petrozavodsk (approx. 8 housr)

    Day 8 - Petrozavodsk/Kizhi

    • We arrive early morning into Petrozavodsk.
    • We will have breakfast here and then take a speed boat to Kizhi island (approx 1- 2 hours)
    • From Kizhi pier a boat will transfer us to Peter’s Guesthouse located at the nearby Bol'shoy Klimetskiy Island (approx. 8 km from Kizhi) where we can check in, and freshen up.
    • After lunch we return to Kizhi Island and have a guided walking tour which will include a visit to the UNESCO Heritage Church of the Transfiguration and Kizhi village.
    • Located in the center of Lake Onega Kizhi island once served as a defence post against Swedish and Polish invasions. Now it is famous for the architectural delights typical of medieval and post-medieval orthodox settlements.
    • The main attraction on the island being the Museum Site of History and Architecture (opened in 1960), where early wooden barns, houses, a windmill, and several churches were collected and restored as part of an open-air museum.
    • In the evening a 'Banya' (Traditional Russian steam house), is waiting for you to help you unwind.
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 9 - Kizhi - Petrozavodsk

    • This morning is free time for you to experience a quiet life on the bank of the lake and maybe even join the host for a spot of fishing.
    • After lunch we take return to Petrozavodsk, (approx. 1-2 hours).
    • After we check into our hotel we will set off on a walking tour of Petrozavodsk, which literally translates as 'Peter's factory'.
    • It is situated on the shore of Lake Onega, 420km northeast of St Petersburg and is one of Russia's loveliest cities. The city was founded by Peter the Great in 1703 and was originally used by both the tsars and the Bolsheviks as a place to exile troublemakers from St Petersburg. It's the capital of the Republic of Karelia, an area of Russia that historically has belonged to both Russia and Finland and home to the native Karelian people.
    Onezhsky Zamok or similar

    Day 10 - St Petersburg

    • The morning is free for you to enjoy.
    • Try your hand at a traditional Karelian cooking class, or ginger bread baking or perhaps a painting workshop.
    • This afternoon we board a train to take us back to St Petersburg, (approx 8 hour journey).
    • Arriving into St Petersburg around 10pm this evening is free.
    • It will still be light outside so you might head out for a night on the town to say 'do svidaniya' and celebrate our last taste of Russia White Nights.
    • Think back over the amazing journey we've just had and celebrate with your new friends.
    Domina Prestige Hotel or similar

    Day 11 - St Petersburg

    • There are no activities planned for day 11 and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time from the hotel is at 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. If you would like some more time to explore the St Petersburg, we recommend you book
    • accommodation to extend your stay. An airport departure transfer is not included, however your tour guide will be hand to help should you require assistance.
    Domina Prestige Hotel or similar
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • An experienced, English-speaking Peregrine leader and specialist local guides at some sites
    • Authentic Accommodation: 8 nights hotel, 1 night overnight train, 1 night guesthouse
    • Meals: 9 Breakfasts, 2 Dinners
    • Arrival transfer
    • Gratuities included for the essential services only that you will receive as part of your tour package. Please see our Tipping section of these trip notes for more information
    • Sightseeing: Walking tour of St Petersburg, St Petersburg evening boat ride, Hermitage Museum, Day tour of Petrozavodsk, including visit to Kivach waterfall, Day tour to Kizhi island
    • Russian visa support

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Departure transfer
    • Visas
    • Meals unless specified in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry - may be available at locations where we stay two or more nights
    • Optional tours or activities during free time
    • Daily Budget

    Safety Information


    Most visits to Russia are trouble-free, but petty crime does happen in cities. Be alert to the possibility of mugging, pick pocketing and theft from vehicles or hotel rooms. Be wary of groups of women and children who beg. In St Petersburg there have been reports of street crime where tourists have been specifically targeted. These crimes are carried out by well-organised gangs. Be aware of pickpockets in the main tourist areas and around the main railway concourses. A common scam is to drop a wallet or bundle of money in front of a tourist. The criminal then “finds” the money and asks if it is the tourist’s or offers to share the money with them. If you are approached in this way, you should walk away without engaging in conversation. Bogus police officers have harassed and robbed tourists. If you are stopped always insist on seeing identification. Avoid openly carrying expensive items, or anything that might easily identify you as a tourist. Avoid walking about late at night alone. If you are travelling by overnight train in a sleeping compartment, store valuables in the container under the bed or seat.  Incidents of violence in major cities are usually linked to criminal/business activities and are not usually directed against foreign visitors. Political rallies may occur in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other places across Russia.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PCRW
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: St Petersburg, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia
End City: St Petersburg, Sankt-Peterburg, Russia
Style: Small Group

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