Petrozavodsk is the capital of the Republic of Karelia (Республика Карелия)streching along the western edge of Lake Onega. Literally meaning "Peter's Factory", the city was founded in 1703 to house an iron foundry to manufacture and supply anchors for the Baltic Fleet during the Great Northern War between Russia and Sweden. The city is no longer home to the foundry, however the remnants and ruins can be seen one of the cities numerous parks.
Due to it's location, Petrozavodsk has a blend of Russian and local Karelian culture, which is personified in the local cuisine and language. The architecure of the city is mainly neo-classical, however traditional wooden buildings can be found off of the beaten track. As the capital of Karelia, it is a local hub for nightlife and shopping, with several new shopping centres opening in recent years.
The city is easily reached by train and is located nine hours north-east of Saint Petersburg. There are both day and night trains leaving from Ladozhsky station, a second class sleeper ticket will set you back about 1100 RUB. Moscow is 16 hours away on a over-night service, trains depart from the Leningradsky station with second class tickets costing from 2200 RUB. All trains bound for Murmansk makes stop-overs here so there are long-distance connections with Kaliningrad (44 h), Kiev (41 h), Minsk (24 h) and seasonal trains from Black Sea resorts as Sochi (55 h) which serves mostly tourists getting home. Slow regional trains also connects with various smaller cities in Karelia such as Kostomuksha (13 h) and Suoyarvi (4 h).
There are bus services from Saint Petersburg daily with Avokzal and a international connection from Helsinki with Incoming Finland on Fridays and Sundays. Buses depart from the Helsinki railway station at 7AM and arrive at Petrozavodsk at 8:30PM. There is also a bus service from Tampere leaving the Tampere railway station at 8AM each Monday and Friday and arriving at 8:30PM. A one-way ticket costs €40, return €75.
Petrozavodsk is along the M18 highway, also known as Kola Highway which links Saint Petersburg and Murmansk. The road is mostly in good condition but expect long driving distances and few gas stations along the way.
The town is a moderate size and easily walkable. A taxi anywhere in town costs 100 Rubles or less. Buses run frequently along the major routes.
The railway station is located at the southern end of Leninsky Prospekt, which cuts through the center of town all the way to the embankment on Lake Onego. It is about a 30 minute walk from the station to the lake.
Marshrutka's (Маршрутки) run frequently across the city, and are the quickest way to get around the city and it's environs. They are inexpensive, and zig zag quickly through the city's traffic. The destinations of the Marshrutka can be found on a board inside the window with a route number and districts through which it stops. They don't call at all stops and need to be flagged down by holding out your right hand parallel to the ground. Once on board, when you reach the desired location, simply shout "ah-stah-nah-VEE-tyeh"(Stop!) and pay the driver upon deparure. Can get crowded in peak times.
For a city it's size, Petrozavodsk has a reasonably large Trolleybus network, with 8 routes that traverse the city from east to west. They call at every stop regardless, and once on board pay fare to the conductor.
Visit the Finnish Theater. Beautiful and authentic experience.
Go mushroom and berry picking. If you are visiting in the fall, consider joining the locals as they head into the woods to pick delicious mushrooms and berries.
The market.. This large outdoor marketplace has many typical food and wares vendors. As in any large city, get your vaccinations and have your stomache ache medicine ready before trying outdoor shish ka bobs or other foods. In the fall this is a good place to get fresh mushrooms, berries, fruit, and vegetables.
Go fishing. Find a friendly local guide and go fishing at one of thousands of nearby lakes with an overnight stay or without.
Dine out. Check out one of several local restaurants. Many trend foreign but some still serve local cuisine. Karelian dining often features fish cooked whole in its own soup.
Visit Kivach Waterfalls. While not as impressive as the Niagara Falls, Kivach is close by and is worth seeing if you have the time.
Visit the Martial Waters. This area houses several natural springs which are said to be very good for your health. There are also resorts nearby.
Visit Kizhi. A hydrofoil can take you to this gem in Lake Onega. While there, admire the architecture and the island.
Karelian wooden artworks. Karelian birch is of particular beauty and skilled artists add to its value as well. Avoid buying any antiques (especially of military character such as medals) that could be considered of cultural value by the Customs.
Photo books. They make great presents at home and can be a replacement for photos that might be hard to take such as Kizhi (if you don't happen to get out on the island).
Maksi Shopping-Entertainment Centre, 14 Prospekt Lenina, Petrozavodsk, . Main Shopping Centre 10AM-9PM Daily; Hypermarket 'Sitma' 9AM-11PM Daily; Mirazh Cinema 10AM-2AM Mon-Thurs & Sun, 10AM-3AM Fri-Sat; Restaurant Kaudal' 10AM-Midnight. Large Western style shopping mall towards the lake on Prospekt Lenina. Home to several international brands including Addidas and Nike, as well as the city's first McDonalds which serves food 24/7.
Karelskaya Gornitsa, . At Karelskaya Gornitsa you can try lots of local dishes, including bear meat, elk meatballs and a range of locally caught fresh fish. The restaurant is pleasantly furnished, with a log cabin feel and waitresses in traditional dress. Prices are noticeably tourist-oriented.
Green Street Irish Pub, Grestsena, 35, ☎ 637765. Irish Pub opened in may 2014. The owner speaks very good English, really nice environment.
Hotel Karelia, Gulling Embankment 2 (Northeast of the railway station, about a 45 minute walk or 10 minute bus ride), ☎ +7 (8142) 733-333 (email@example.com), . A new well-run hotel with several amenities, including gym, spa, restaurant, and a helpful tourism department that runs tours to Kizhi. Part of the Best Eastern Hotels group.
Hotel Fregat, Prospekt Karla Marxa 1a (On the lake side of the ferry terminal building), ☎ +7 (8142) 774-853 and 764-162 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +7 (8142) 764-163), . A small but clean hotel close to the ferry dock. Good for early risers who want to catch the first boat to Kizhi in the morning. It is a little hard to find; the door faces the lake, not the street. Then the reception desk is left from the entrance. Ask bartenders at the bar in front of the entrance.
Hotel Severnaya, Prospekt Lenina 21 (Halfway between the railway station and the lake, about a 15 minute walk from the station), ☎ +7 (8142) 762-080 (email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org), . An older but decently-maintained hotel in the downtown area, closer to the railway station than the other hotels. Part of the Intourist Hotels group.From R700 per night.
Hotel Petrozavodsk, Krasnaya,28 (2nd floor) ул.Красная,28, . Located in the very center of Petrozavodsk. Dorms from 390 RUB, clean and nice, free wi-fi, friendly English speaking staff.
Finland (Petrozavodsk office of the General Consulate of Finland in Saint Petersburg), Gogol street, 25, ☎ +7 (8142) 555-025, +7 (8142) 761-564, +7 (8142) 766-208 (common), +7 (921) 726-0874 (Fri 4:15PM to Mon 8:30AM for the cases of emergency with the citizens of Finland) (email@example.com, fax: +7 (8142) 767-167). Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri - 9-00 - 12-00 and 13-00 - 15-45; Wed 9-00 - 12-00.
Sweden (Swedish representation at Petrozavodsk office of the General Consulate of Finland in Saint Petersburg), Gogol street, 25, ☎ +7 (8142) 766-208 (common), +7 (921) 726-0874 (Fri 5PM to Sun 11PM for the cases of emergency with the citizens of Finland) (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +7 (8142) 767-167). Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri - 9-00 - 12-00 and 13-00 - 15-45; Wed 9-00 - 12-00.