• Venture into the isolated north-west territories of Russia and encounter unique monastic communities
• Make a whole day excursion by boat to Kizhi Pogost on Lake Onega to see masterpieces of 18th century wooden architecture
• Discover the great pilgrimage site of the UNESCO-listed region of Solovki, with visits to the Solovetsky Monastery
Depart London Heathrow 0920 on British Airways via St Petersburg, arriving Archangel 1435. Transfer to Dvina Hotel for three nights.
Tour of Archangel with visits to the restored Merchant’s House, Gostinyi Dvor, Fine Arts Museum and city churches.
Excursion to Antonievo-Siiskii Monastery followed by visits in Kholmogory (16th century centre for English merchants) and churches at Zaostrovje (time permitting).
Morning: Malye Korely (Museum of Wooden Buildings) before transfer to Vaskovo Airport for afternoon flight to Solovetsky Islands. Transfer to Solovoki Hotel for three nights.
Morning: first visit to Solovetsky Monastery. Afternoon boat trip to Bolshoi Zayatsky Island (tundra vegetation and prehistoric labyrinths).
Optional boat trip to Muksalma Island (dam built by monks and former monastery farm). Afternoon: Sekirnaya Gora (former concentration camp).
Excursion by rowing boat on monk-made canals and lakes with visit to botanical garden. Afternoon: second visit to Solovetsky Monastery. Transfer by ferry to Kem for overnight stay at Hotel Prichal.
Transfer to Petrozavodsk (founded by Peter the Great) with visits en route to the Church of Peter the Apostle and Kondopoga (impressive 18th century wooden Church of the Dormition). Three nights at Hotel Fregat.
Vists in Petrozavodsk including the Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Karelia (collection of 17th and 18th century icons), National Museum and a selection of town churches.
Morning lecture: Wooden Architecture at Kizhi. Whole day excursion by boat to Kizhi Pogost on Lake Onega: UNESCO-listed masterpieces of 18th century wooden architecture including the Transfiguration Church (topped with 22 wooden domes).
Travel through picturesque Karelia lowland via 250 year old Kinerma village. Continue to Sortavala for walking tour (Finnish Art Novueau architecture) and transfer to Ladozhskaya Usad’ba for overnight stay.
By hydrofoil to island of Valaam on Lake Ladoga: Valaam Monastery (14th century stauropegic Orthodox monastery famous for the Valaam men’s choir) and smaller convents. By hydrofoil to Priozersk and continue to St Petersburg for overnight at Hotel Ambassador.
Morning: Russian Museum (Russian icons) followed by some free time. Depart St Petersburg 1530, arriving Heathrow 1705.