Top ChoiceMonastery in Solovetsky Islands

Solovetsky Transfiguration Monastery

This imposing, stone-walled monastery is the heart and soul of the Solovetsky Islands. Founded in 1429, it has played various roles throughout its existence: a hermit's retreat, a vibrant religious community, a...

Top ChoiceNatural Pool in Murmansk

Ice Bathers' Hut

Home to Murmansk's ‘walruses’ – hardy souls who swear by the health benefits of regularly bathing in icy waters – this wooden hut on the edge of Lake Semyonovskoe dates from the Soviet era. Wooden steps lead down...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Kizhi

Kizhi Museum Reserve

One of Russia's unmissable attractions, the reserve is home to dozens of 18th- and 19th-century log buildings, some furnished in period style, which were moved here from Karelian villages during Soviet times....

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Solovetsky Islands

Gora Sekirnaya

Literally translated as Hatchet Mountain, this infamous 71m-high hill was the site of tortures and summary executions described in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. The unassuming hilltop Ascension...

Top ChoiceChurch in Vologda

St Sofia’s Cathedral

Powerful five-domed St Sofia’s Cathedral has a soaring interior smothered with beautiful 1680s frescoes. The astonishingly tall iconostasis is filled with darkly brooding saintly portraiture.The massive stone...

Top ChoiceIsland in Solovetsky Islands

Bolshoy Zayatsky Island

This small, wind-whipped island is famous for its 13 labyrinths, including the largest one in northern Russia. A boardwalk loops around the island from the dockside wooden church. Bolshoy Zayatsky Island was used...

Top ChoiceBoat in Murmansk

Nuclear Icebreaker Lenin

Murmansk is a centre for nuclear icebreakers that carve their way to the North Pole, but even in port you can give in to your wildest seafaring–Arctic explorer–Cold War spy fantasies aboard the 1957 NS Lenin, the...

Top ChoiceRuins in Kirovsk

Abandonded Soviet Train Station

This colossal Soviet-era train station stands abandoned and half-forgotten amid the harsh Arctic landscape. The two-platform station, which once took passengers as far as Murmansk and Leningrad (St Petersburg),...

Top ChoiceChurch in Kargopol

Nativity Cathedral

The five-domed, 1562 star of Sobornaya Ploschad sports intriguing timber-encased corner buttresses and houses a splendid iconostasis on the 2nd floor (only open in summer). On a pillar, the superb 18th-century...

Top ChoiceAmusement Park in Kirovsk

Snow Village

Every November, ice sculptors from all over the region make their way to Kirovsk to chisel the snowy halls and tunnels of the Snow Village into existence, wowing visitors with ice sculptures and annually changing...

Top ChoiceMonument in Murmansk

Alyosha

Alyosha

One of Murmansk’s most memorable sights is a gigantic concrete soldier nicknamed Alyosha, erected to commemorate the Arctic fighters who perished in the Great Patriotic War (WWII). From his hilltop perch,...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Arkhangelsk

Northern Naval Museum

Beautifully presented nautical exhibits cluster around the striking centrepiece – the prow of a ship – in the light-filled main hall of Arkhangelsk's most modern museum. Lose yourself amid fishing and whaling...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Arkhangelsk

Regional Studies Museum

The history section charts the development of the harsh north, from its settlement by dispossessed and exiled peasantry in the 1930s, to the Gulag camps, to the suffering of the 'second St Petersburg' during...

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Vologda

Kremlin

Vologda’s multidomed, attractive kremlin is the city’s historical centrepiece, a 17th-century fortified enclosure built as a church administrative centre to accompany St Sofia’s Cathedral next door. Peeking into...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Petrozavodsk

Fine Arts Museum

Besides the permanent exhibitions that feature medieval icons, and folk art such as embroidery, weaving and birch-bark creations, there's a collection of 18th-century Russian Masters that includes a dark and...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Lovozero & Around

Sami History & Culture Museum

This excellent museum delves into the Sami people's troubled history and their way of life, which continues to be threatened. It also celebrates the heroic efforts to keep Sami culture alive, and the revival of...

Top ChoiceChurch in Kenozero National Park

St Alexander Svirsky Church on Khizhgora

Some 2km into the national park, in an elevated clearing in the forest, stands the atmospheric St Alexander Svirsky Church on Khizhgora. This onion-domed wooden church was completed in 1866 and is located on what...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Apatity

Mineralogy Museum

This museum has over 900 types of minerals and ores, many of them rare and unique. Entry is by an appointment made in advance; friendly academics speak English. Located on the top floor of the Kola Scientific...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Arkhangelsk

Fine Arts Museum

Arkhangelsk’s most compelling art gallery has regularly changing exhibitions that range from modern reflections on Soviet propaganda to pop art. Upstairs are impressive icons, bone carvings and decorative art...

Monastery in Northern European Russia

Kirillov-Belozersky Monastery

In the 16th and 17th centuries, this monastery in the lakeside town of Kirillov, 130km northwest of Vologda, was northern Russia's largest, and one of the country's most powerful. Founded in 1397 by a monk from...