The easiest ways to reach the Solovetsky islands are: - either by plane from Archangelsk (twice a week in summer, depending on weather conditions) - or by boat from Rabocheostrovsk, which is about 10km from the town of Kem (Saint Petersburg Murmansk line). Boats leave in summer at 8am and 11am and return 4pm and 6.30 pm. The journey takes 2h30. Cost: 1600 rubles one way. Good connection from St. Petersburg: Catch train 22 at 17:20h, arrive at Kem at 8:59h, cost 3400 rubles in second class, take a taxi (not so expensive) or bus to Rabocheostrovsk, catch the boat at 11:00h. Return: Leave on the boat at 16:00h, take bus from Pier at Rabocheostrovsk (or walk outside and wait about 20 minutes for the local bus (20 rubles) to Kem. Train 21 leaves for St. Petersburg at 20:37h. - by boat from Belomorsk (uncertain)
There is no paved road
Mystical home of monasteries and chapels, priests and holy fools, Solovetsky symbolises Russia's spiritual past. Memories of Stalin's infamous GULAG camps speak of darker times.
- Solovetsky Monastery, ☎ +7 8183590 298. A large monastery and one the principal spiritual homes of the Russian Orthodox church. In use since the early 15th centenary. During the crackdown on organized religion in the early Soviet Union it was closed down and became a detention centre for prisoners. Includes the Holy Gates, Transfiguration Cathedral, Assumption Church, Nikolskaya Church, Annunciation Church and the Refectory Complex.
Great Solovetsky Island
Sekirnaya Hill & Church of the Ascension
Botanical Gardens & Makaryevskaya Hermitage
Zayetsky Ostrov. Small island with labyrinths.Very pleasant. Excursion: 550 rubles, twice a day in summer.
Beluga-watching: The belugas arrive late June. The visitors' centre organizes excursions by bus, followed by a 4 km walk.
Hire a bike, but the roads are extremely poor.
Beware of midges & mosquitoes in the summer !
Hotel Priyut: nice and clean, 1900 rubles for a single with common bathroom