Petrozavodsk: healing waters, ships and Nordic cuisine

Petrozavodsk: healing waters, ships and Nordic cuisine

Karelia is not only the Ruskeala mountain park with its marble canyons. The capital of the region is also worthy of your attention: the first medical resort in Russia still operates here, and local residents stage plays in Finnish and revive national cuisine. We tell you how to organize a weekend in Petrozavodsk, which museums are worth visiting and where to try traditional Karelian dishes.

How to get there

Petrozavodsk is located 400 km from St. Petersburg, so the most convenient way to get here is by car: the journey will take about 6 hours. An option for those who do not drive is the Lastochka train, which runs between the Northern capital and Petrozavodsk twice a day. You will spend 5.5 hours on the way. 

From Moscow to Petrozavodsk you can fly by Severstal airline (from 5,000 rubles one way*) in 1.5 hours or travel by train (from 3,000 rubles one way*) in 15 hours.

Where to stay

Hotel LOFT Ptz (rating 9.1) – from 2,800 rubles* per night. Hotel with a terrace and capsule-type rooms. Nearby are the Cathedral and the Drama Theater, where performances are staged in Finnish and Karelian.

Spa hotel “Karelia” (score 10) – from 5,000 rubles* per night. A hotel with laconic decoration of rooms and an emphasis on spa services. There is a pier within a 5-minute walk from where you can go to Kizhi Island. A special plus is that guests are allowed to stay with pets.

Hotel Cosmos (rating 10) – from 7,000 rubles* per night. The hotel building is located in the picturesque part of Onega embankment: the city center is a 15-minute walk. You can choose a room with a terrace and panoramic views of Lake Onega.

Where to go

Devil’s Chair Rock

Petrozavodsk: healing waters, ships and Nordic cuisine

The name of this place was given by a legend: once a witch was angry with a local fisherman and gave his granddaughter in marriage to the devil. He imprisoned the girl on an island in the middle of Lake Onega and watched her from his “chair”. In fact, the rock owes its shape to the flow of lava – the Great Vaara volcano once rose here. Now the rock resembles a granite plateau, from which a view of the expanse and islands of Lake Onega opens. You can get to the Devil’s Chair from the city center in 25 minutes by car or taxi.

Botanical Garden

Petrozavodsk: healing waters, ships and Nordic cuisine

It is convenient to combine a trip to the Botanical Garden with a walk to the Devil’s Chair rock. Before entering the garden, you will see a stone labyrinth – an art object especially popular with children. The Botanical Garden presents plants from different climatic zones: from America to Asia. The downside is that there are no signs with the names of species, so you’ll have to remember your biology lessons and use your imagination.

Employees of the Botanical Garden adapt seedlings of a variety of plants to the northern climate. You can take a pear, apple tree or even cypress with you – stop by the nursery and study the assortment of seedlings.

Museum of Fine Arts

The collection of this museum includes iconography of Northern Rus’, landscapes by Shishkin, Levitan and paintings by Karelian artists. The exhibition is small, so you should set aside one hour for your visit and devote the rest of the time to painting master classes. The museum is running an ongoing “Adopt a Picture” campaign: you can donate money for a picture frame from the fund, and your name will be imprinted on a plaque next to the exhibit.

Embankment of Lake Onega

Petrozavodsk: healing waters, ships and Nordic cuisine

Local and foreign sculptors were inspired by the views and turned the embankment into the main attraction of the city. Walk from the rotunda pavilion to the pier and along the way you will see several art objects and installations. The sculpture “Fishermen” stands out the most. Some see a deep meaning in it – supposedly, these are the apostles Peter and Andrew, who spread Christian teaching over the world as a “net”. Hidden next to the “Fishermen” is another art object – “Formula of the Karelian Forest”. To solve it, remember the principles of Alexander Druz or ask a passerby for a hint.

Museum “Polar Odyssey”

It’s better to come here with a tour: they will tell you about the history of the Polar Odyssey tourist club and their travels on schooners, longships and brigantines. Try on an old diver’s helmet or ring the bell – you are allowed to touch every object on display. Finally, take a look at the workshop: ships are designed and repaired here, and the boat “St. Nicholas” is also stored here. You can go up to the deck of the ship and explore each cabin.

National Museum of the Republic of Karelia

Center for Karelian history, culture and applied arts. Here you can see petroglyphs – rock symbols that ancient Karelians painted more than 5,000 years ago. It is better to allow about two hours for your visit: the museum has several floors of exhibition, and they also conduct master classes on applied arts.

Branch of the Kizhi Museum

If you don’t have time to travel to the island, take a look here – in the Petrozavodsk branch of Kizhi you can get acquainted with some of the exhibits. To do this, go to the storage building and sign up for a tour. They will tell you why Peter I banned the sale of medicines in local shops, what hot drink was loved in Rus’ and, of course, about the history of Kizhi.


A harmonious end to the weekend. The Petrozavodsk Philharmonic has a varied repertoire – choose between rock hits performed by a symphony orchestra, a performance by bagpipers and an evening of organ music. It is better to buy tickets a few weeks before the concert.

Marcial Waters Resort

Petrozavodsk: healing waters, ships and Nordic cuisine

The trip from Petrozavodsk to Martialnye Vody requires thorough preparation, but it’s worth it. This place appeared earlier than Essentuki and Mineralnye Vody, and all thanks to Peter I: the emperor was inspired by European resorts and organized something similar in Russia. To experience the local healing waters and mud in action, you need to get a ticket to the Marcial Waters sanatorium. And if you want to explore the area first, take a look at the Museum of the History of the First Russian Resort.

Restaurants and bars

Petrozavodsk: healing waters, ships and Nordic cuisine

Joki Restaurant

The establishment positions itself as an adept of Nordic cuisine. All Scandinavian recipes are based on products from Karelia and the Murmansk region. Try the Finnish fish soup “Lohikeitto”, sous vide venison with pumpkin puree, and for dessert – ice cream with vendace caviar.

Restaurant “Karelian Room”

The first and most popular restaurant of Karelian cuisine. You can be convinced of this even at the entrance: on the walls there are photographs of celebrities who have been here. Take a closer look at meat dishes – for example, venison or bear meat – and take a set of berry liqueurs as a drink. The restaurant itself is stylized as a Karelian hut. While you wait for the dish, you will have time to see the stove with the brownie, the room of the old mule and the newlyweds’ nook.

Fregat Restaurant

Petrozavodsk: healing waters, ships and Nordic cuisine

An establishment on the shore of Lake Onega with European cuisine and a Karelian accent. Pay attention to the fish items – all products for these dishes are local or brought from the Murmansk region. For dessert, order “Karelian caviar” – you will be pleasantly surprised by the presentation.

Telegraph Restaurant

An option for those who want to pause their acquaintance with Karelian cuisine. Try tokboki, chicken curry or tom yum – the traditions of India, Korea and Thailand are mixed here. It is better to book a table in advance for evenings and weekends.

Teahouse “Anton Palych”

A charming pastry shop in the style of a 19th-century manor. Tea here is served in painted dishes, the waiters “hide” the menu in books, and each item comes with aromatic bagels. The most popular dish at Anton Palych is pancakes. The interior of the establishment has been thought out to the smallest detail. Study photographs, old books and figurines on the shelves, because “if a gun hangs on the wall, it will definitely fire.”

*Prices are current at the time of publication.

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