Escape Beyond the Arctic Circle
You don't have to go as far as New Zealand to see this beautiful landscape. Just a 4-hour flight from London and you're at the Arctic Circle at the north of Russia. If you're looking for a real adventure on a budget, which feels like an escape to another planet, then this is the place to go.
Start in St. Petersburg during the famed White Nights and then travel north to Petrozavodsk, the capital of Karelia – a region of pristine lakes and forests that was once part of Finland. Then take a train to Arkhangelsk – an ancient Russian port at the Arctic Ocean and home to Solovetsky Monastery. The monastery is located on an island that is said to possess healing powers (you could have seen its beautiful landscapes in the recent Russian blockbuster "Ostrov"). Murmansk is 8 hours away further north, well inside the Arctic Circle. It's not as cold in Summer and you get constant daylight. It's almost the most northern Russian town, close to Norwegian fjords and is a magnificent place that fuses beautiful northern landscapes with the relics of a mighty Soviet port town. Flying back to Moscow is only 2 hours and it's going to provide an exciting contrast to finish your trip.
Normally, you can organize this journey yourself – just get a visa, book the train tickets, and accommodation can be usually be found on the spot. If you don't want to bother about all the practical stuff, the UK-based Baltic Travel Company can take care of everything for you. For £1250 they will get you return flights from London to St Petersburg, 1st class trains between each city, and accommodation in Petrozavodsk, Vologda, Arkhangelsk, Murmansk and St. Petersburg. The price also includes tour guides, professional support in each city, and visa support. An extremely flexible company, they can also provide a tailor-made trip, from start to finish or just a part of your holiday, and give you advice on every aspect of your itinerary.
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