Anyone who travels a lot in North-West Russia sooner or later has an idea to visit the island of Valaam. Tourists to Valaam are attracted by:
- The opportunity to enjoy the nature of the northern island, see Lake Ladoga.
- Opportunity to visit the Valaam Monastery. (For some, it is a sight, but for others, holy places.)
- It is a pleasure in itself to travel on a cruise ship.
This spring, I also had the opportunity to visit the island of Valaam.
Valaam Island is located in the northern part of Lake Ladoga. Motor ships go to Valaam only in the summer season, from about May to October.
Small motor ships and hydrofoils (one of the types of such ships in Russia is called "Meteor") go to Valaam from the cities of Sortavala (in Karelia) and Priozersk (in the Leningrad region), but a cruise departing from St. Petersburg is the most comfortable option.
A cruise - what could be better! You, as it were, check into the hotel (on the ship) and the hotel itself takes you to the sights. The cruise ship departs from the river port of St. Petersburg in the evening, the next day you can spend on the island, in the evening the ship leaves the island and in the morning you return to St. Petersburg.
The route of the ship passes along the Neva River and Ladoga Lake. (Lake Ladoga is the largest freshwater lake in Europe.) The total length of the path is about 220 kilometers, of which about 50 kilometers along the Neva River.
When leaving, you can look at the Bolshoi Obukhovsky Bridge. This is the largest bridge across the Neva in St. Petersburg and a kind of attraction.
At the exit from the Neva River to Lake Ladoga, the ship passes the Oreshek fortress. This is another attraction on your itinerary. In our case, the ship passed the fortress at about 8 pm (on the way there) and at about 5 am (on the way back).
The river port of St. Petersburg is located on the outskirts of the city, on the Oktyabrskaya embankment of the Neva River.
You can get to the River Port by bus from the Lomonosovskaya metro station.
At the Vodokhod cruise company, free buses can leave from the Proletarskaya metro station on the days of trips.
Or you can just order a taxi and get to the River Station with comfort.
On our cruise, the bus took tourists directly to the territory of the River Port. Despite the fact that several ships were boarding at once, it did not take long. When boarding the ship, we were given a room key, a program for the evening (departure time, dinner, performances by artists) and a guided tour program for the next day.
The double cabin on the motor ship "Yuri Andropov" fully met expectations. Large enough cabin. (A cabin on a motor ship cannot be large, unless it is a "suite".)
The beds are comfortable enough. There are wardrobes, a bathroom with a shower.
Before departure, there was a presentation of the crew and the cruise program in the bar on the upper deck. If the weather is favorable, I recommend that you watch the departure of your (and other) cruise ships and then go to dinner. The departure of the ship is also a kind of show.
Departure to music around 8 pm and dinner right away. A glass of wine was served at the entrance to the restaurant.
Meals on the ship (in our case) three times a day (included in the price).
In the evening, an entertainment program was organized on the ship: you could listen to music, you could dance. In good weather, you can just stand on the deck and look at the banks of the Neva River and Lake Ladoga. (There are places where you can sit down.) At the "reception" of the ship until 23:00, someone is on duty and you can ask questions.
Don't miss the arrival of the cruise ship to Valaam Island. The ship passes along the picturesque shores at the entrance to Bolshaya Nikonovskaya Bay. You will be able to take beautiful photos.
The cruise ship arrives at the island at around 8 am. Immediately after breakfast, we went on an excursion. One excursion before lunch and one after. We were offered a choice: before lunch - visit the monastery (on foot or by boat).
Afternoon: walking tour along one of two routes.
Cruise ships moor in Bolshaya Nikonovskaya Bay, but the central estate of the monastery is located in Monastyrskaya Bay. The way to the monastery on foot is about 7 kilometers. Therefore, in order not to waste time and energy, it is better to go to the monastery on a small boat. On our cruise, tourists were delivered to the monastery by the motor ship "Northern Athos". (The cost of a round-trip transfer was 450 rubles in 2021.) In addition, the ship offers a wonderful view of the shores of Valaam Island and Lake Ladoga.
If the weather is warm, you can go on deck. The motor ship passes by the most beautiful places (on the left side), entering the Monastery Bay and approaching the monastery.
A guided tour of Valaam and the monastery is included in the cost of the cruise. It can be interesting for both tourists and pilgrims. You can also just walk around the territory of the monastery on your own. The main thing is to have time to get back on board the transfer ship on time, otherwise you will have to go to the Cruise ship on foot and you may be late for lunch.
After lunch, tourists were offered one of two excursions to choose from: along the sketes of the Valaam Monastery or along the coast of Valaam Island. The most interesting thing in each excursion, in my opinion, is the nature of Valaam Island, small granite rocks, trees and the shore of Lake Ladoga. Keep up with the group so as not to be late for the boat. There is a kiosk on the pier where you can buy souvenirs.
Departure of the ship from the island at about 8 pm. You can watch the departure of the ship from the pier, take photos and go to dinner. In the evening the entertainment program continued in the bars, but there were not many people in the bars and on the deck. Apparently walking in nature tired everyone.
The ship arrived in St. Petersburg at about 7 am. Some of the tourists immediately went ashore, donating breakfast. The cruise company's bus also took tourists to the metro station.
How much does a cruise to Valaam Island cost? In my case, a short cruise for two people cost 20 thousand rubles. 4000 rubles were returned in the form of a cashback for the Rostourism action. But it was the discount price when purchased in April. In the high season, prices will be slightly higher. Perhaps the prices will be lower in September, but by that time the white nights season in Karelia will end. It is best to travel around Karelia during the white nights season, from about the end of May to mid-July.
Video report about the trip to Valaam is posted on Youtube.
I wish you a pleasant journey.