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Although when under Communism Solovki’s remote and inhospitable location led to its conversion into one of the most infamous and cruel gulags, today restoration is underway to restore it to its former glory.

There is a short window of opportunity in the summer months of June and August when the weather is usually glorious. Although it is not an easy destination and accommodation is severely limited, the trip is well worth the reward.

Boats near Solovki Monastery
The Solovetsky Islands, Russia

The Solovetsky Islands

The Solovetsky Islands, which are also referred to as Solovki, are located in the cold waters of the southern White Sea, just outside the Arctic Circle. The islands have historically seen a range of human extremes from endurance and heroism to severe cruelty, and they are home to one of the most influential monasteries in the Russian Tsarist Empire, the Solovki Monastery.

The easiest way to reach Solovki is to travel from St Petersburg by train and boat stopping on the way to visit the little-known city of Kargapol, with its unique wooden architecture. On arrival, the best way to approach the island is by a rowing boat through the myriad of natural canals which criss-cross the island.


It’s all here. Things to see and do, places to explore and moments to discover.

Church of the Transfiguration

Visit the Church of the Transfiguration, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in 1714.

Sekirnaya Hill

Formally home to one of the cruellest Gulags, visit Sekirnaya Hill with its unique lighthouse church.

Big Solovetsky Island

Travel by boat along the canals of Big Solovetsky Island and see the town from the water.

Big Zayatsky

Wander through the stone labyrinths of Big Zayatsky, considered rare and valuable archaeological monuments.

Need Inspiration?
Browse our Russia holiday ideas.

Our Russia experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Kate Hitchen

My travels were first inspired by my love of the UK, which I take as much pleasure in exploring as countries far and wide. For me, travel is all about the adventure, the people I meet and the food I sample along the way.

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Katie Benden

The excitement of travelling the world has always hugely appealed. Largely cemented from my first solo trip to Egypt and the Middle East. The crazy hustle and bustle of Cairo was a huge assault on the senses, scrambling through the claustrophobic tunnels of the Great pyramid took me out of my comfort zone and I was left humbled by the warm hospitality of the Nubian people in Aswan as we shared dinner together.

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  • 01285 880 980

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Really helpful over the visa hurdles. Couldn't have negotiated the Russian questions without the excellent guide sheet.


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Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

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