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My trip around Lake Ladoga by car

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Submitted by Visit Plus on Wed, 08/12/2020 - 16:07

Are you considering where to travel next time? If you like to travel by car, then one of the most interesting routes for you can be a trip around Lake Ladoga in the north-west of Russia.

The length of the route on the map is about 800 km. The road runs through the Leningrad region and the territory of the Republic of Karelia. You definitely want to deviate from the shortest routes to visit interesting places, and therefore your actual route will be a little longer.

Of course, such a path can be traveled in one day, but then the trip will not make any sense. After all, you are going on this trip to relax and have fun, and not to get tired?

The notes and photos on this page were taken in the summer of 2020. I also visited these places in the summer of 2021.

Road to the Republic of Karelia

Many of us like to visit uncrowded places and beautiful natural areas. The Republic of Karelia in Russia is just such a place.

The distance between St. Petersburg and the city of Lodeiniye Polye is about 220 kilometers. The route runs on the R21 "Kola" highway (Russian Р18 «Кола»).

About 100 kilometers from the St. Petersburg ring road and 10 kilometers from the highway R-21 "Kola" there is the village of Staraya Ladoga. This is one of the oldest settlements in Russia. (Founded in 753.) Here you can see the ancient fortress and the place where the Wise Prince Oleg is buried. You should definitely visit this place.

Lodeynoye Pole city has few attractions. The main natural site of the city can be considered the Svir River, which flows from Lake Onega to Lake Ladoga. The road passes Lodeynoye Polye by bypass road, but since we are on our way and there is no hurry, it is better to drive through the city. (The road through the city is 10 km shorter than the bypass road.)

Near the border between the Leningrad region and the Republic of Karelia, on the shores of Lake Roshinskoye, is Alexander Svirsky Holy Trinity Monastery. I recommend that you visit the monastery. You only need to turn off the road and drive about 5 kilometers to the side.

There is a hotel near the monastery. You can linger here and spend time in a beautiful place by the lake.

Alexander Svirsky Holy Trinity Monastery
Pictured: Alexander Svirsky Monastery. (Leningrad region.)

Olonets is the first city in Karelia, on its way from St. Petersburg around Ladoga Lake. It is an old town, but no historical sights have been saved in Olonets. The city has a museum and an exhibition hall. In winter, the city hosts Santa Claus festivals.

There is a monument to Lenin in the central square. The statue of Lenin is probably in all Russian cities.

On a small island, at the confluence of the Olonka and Megrega rivers, there is a church.

The pedestrian bridge is next to the bus station. There are few such bridges in Russia.

The church in Olonets
Pictured: church on the island in the city of Olonets.

The "Olonia" hotel is located in the city center at the crossroads of three roads leading to St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk (Murmansk) and Pitkyaranta (Sortavala).

Hotel Olonets
In the photo: hotel in Olonets. We recommend booking in advance.

Hanging, pedestrian bridges can be found at two points along the route. The bridge wobbles a little as pedestrians walk on it.

Hanging, pedestrian bridge
On the photo: Hanging, pedestrian bridge.

The road "86-K8" runs from Olonets to Pitkäranta, and further to Sortavala, and to the border with Finland. The road runs via settlements Ilyinsky (Ильинский), Tuloksa (Тулокса), Vidlitsa (Видлица), Pogrankondushy (Погранкондуши), Salmy. To the north of Tuloksa village, the road runs along the shores of Lake Ladoga (in some places it is getting closer, and in some places it moves away from the shore).

Between the villages of Tuloksa and Vidlitsa and north of Vidlitsa there are places where you can drive to the beach of Ladoga (put up a tent, swim and sunbathe). (The distance from the road to the beach is about 400 - 500 meters in this section.)

The shore of Lake Ladoga here is a wonderful, many kilometers long, shallow sandy beach. There are no crowds here and you can relax, swim, sunbathe, walk on the sand without the crowds. (I would call this place the Ladoga Riviera.)

Ladoga Lake beach
Pictured: The shore of Lake Ladoga.

A tourist hotel was recently built there, very close to the lake shore.

How's the water? The water in Ladoga in July was "refreshing", but quite suitable for swimming. Both adults and children swam. (I can't say the temperature of the water in degrees.) The water can be cool in Lake Ladoga even in summer.


  • Olonets - Pitkäranta - 120 km.
  • Olonets - Petrozavodsk - 150 km.
  • Olonets - Priozersk - 310 km.
  • Olonets - Niirala, Finland (Värtsilä) - 240 km.

The road between Olonets and Pitkäranta was in poor condition in the summer of 2020. Take care of the vehicle suspension and wheels. (Road repairs are underway now. Road repairs are scheduled to be completed by autumn 2022.)

Until 1940, the area of the village of Pogrankondushy was the border between Russia (Soviet Union) and Finland (before that, between Sweden and Russia). There is still a landmark (rock) on the shores of Lake Ladoga. (There is a sign on the road - "Варашев камень".)

Stop at Uuksu village and see the rapids and the remains of a stone bridge on the Uuksunjoki River.

The distance from Pitkäranta to Sortavala is about 70 kilometers. The A-121 road is in good condition (summer 2020).

On the way you will see a power plant in the village of Läskelä. A kind of papermaking machine has been installed (as a monument) near the power plant.

About 30 kilometers from Sortavalla, on the road from Sortavalla to Niirala (Värtsilä) there is the Ruskeala stone park. It was a marble quarry before that has become a popular tourist destination.

When approaching the city of Sortavala, the road passes near the shore of Ladoga, but the lake is completely different from what the southeastern shore looks like. There are many islands, peninsulas, straits and bays in the north of Lake Ladoga. it is a very picturesque area.

Sortavala is a small town, but it has some architectural landmarks, old buildings. But the main attraction of Karelia is its nature.
The historic buildings are mainly located on Karelskaya Street. Nearby, on Lenin Street, is a beautiful old wooden town hall building.
Fire station in Sortavala
Pictured: old, wooden fire station and Leanter's house in Sortavala.

In the center of the city there is a pier on the shore of the lake. Ships regularly leave from the pier to the island of Valaam in the summer (from about May to October).

See also: my short cruise to Valaam Island.

It would be nice to book a hotel in the city of Sortavala (or nearby) and stay one more day. I didn't succeed, but you can book a hotel or other place to stay in Sortavala here. Failed this year, but succeeded the next.

The road from the town of Sortavala to St. Petersburg runs through Lahdenpohya and Priozersk cities. The road to Lahdenpohya is very winding and hilly, so be careful. (The asphalt pavement was in good condition this year.)

Niirala – Värtsilä is the nearest Finland border crossing point. The distance from Niirala to Sortavala is about 60 km.

About 10 km from Lahdenpohya, near the village of Lumivaara, is a Finnish church.

Finnish church in the village of Lumivaara
Pictured: Finnish church in the village of Lumivaara.

To get to the church, you have to turn off the A-121 road. The road has not an asphalt surface (2020).

The distance from Sortavala to Priozersk is about 120 kilometers. The road is in good condition.

Priozersk is in the Leningrad region. The most famous attraction of Priozersk city is a Castle (ven: Крепость Корела).

Priozersk castle
Picture: Priozersk castl.

The distance from Priozersk to St. Petersburg is about 130 km. The road is in good condition. (Near St. Petersburg, the road has two lanes in each direction.)

Ladoga-route map.
Ladoga-route map.

If you don't like the heat or if the hot climate is bad for your health, then you may like your vacation in Karelia.

What to do in Russian Karelia? Most importantly - do not rush. Leave your business and worries at home. Rent a lakeside cottage or hotel and spend a few days in nature.

Karelia is divided into two parts: one part is in Finland, the other one is in Russia.

Try local dishes: fish, berries, mushrooms, pastries. (Look at local stores and canteens, not chain stores.)

"Kalitki" - Karelian pasties, Karelian pies or Karelian pirogs are a traditional Karelian dish, small open pies stuffed with potatoes, millet porridge, etc. In Finland they are called Karelian pies (Karjalan piirakat).

The best time to travel to Karelia is June and July. The white nights season lasts from about the end of May to the middle of July. At this time, it is light at night and you can walk until the morning if the Karelian mosquitoes do not chase you away.

Do not forget. Northwest Russia is not the south of Europe. The weather will not necessarily be warm and sunny. The water in the lakes can only warm up by the middle of summer (or not at all).

Spend more time in nature. Karelia is a region with beautiful, northern nature, good ecology and a leisurely pace of life. Take your time, make stops in beautiful places, on the banks of lakes and rivers. Take your books, a fishing rod and try not to go online or watch TV. Disconnect from the urban rhythm of life. Otherwise, why go to Karelia?

Mobile communications did not work everywhere along the route. The largest coverage area of the telephone operator Megafon.

Enjoy your trip.

I also visited these places in the summer of 2021.

See more of my travels here.



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