Route Description: Lake Ladoga

This is an instant classic. Cycling around the lake makes perfect sense and allows you to see different kinds of regions in one trip. The downside is that you are, at times, forced to cycle on bigger roads. In other words this is not a bikepacking route designed to satisfy the needs of your sport-specific bike. It’s all about traditional bicycle touring, meaning the aim is to find the best route to places you might want to visit.

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Parts of the Lake Ladoga roundtrip overlaps with Areas Lost in the War, Imatra – Petrozavodsk and Olonets Region (as well as eurovelo 13). The suggested route described here starts at Niirala crossing point, more or less follows the lakeside clockwise and ends in Saint Petersburg. Mix and match to make a full circle (or two)!

Starting at Niirala crossing point offers two options. Follow the big road and visit the Ruskeala marble quarry or take a detour through Värtsilä, Soanlahti and Suistamo.

If your starting point was earlier than Niirala, a visit to Sortavalu and Valaam monastery is in order.

The road follows the lake near Kirjavanlahti in beautiful scenery. You’ll also find a modern villa designed by architect Pauli Blomstedt near by. Mind that the traffic can be dangerous.

Try to find a way to one of the promotories to enjoy Lake Ladoga at its best. The main road too occationally offers landscapes to remember.

The old border was at Salmi. Variskivi or Rajakivi was the borderstone from 1618 to 1917.

Vitele is an interesting place to visit. Nice houses by the the rivers.

Alavoisenjoki takes you to:


Old Karelian houses along the riversides near the city of Olonets are worth seeing. The city center is more sovietisque. Music festival of Olonets is a large annual event with folk musicians coming from Finland too.

Monastery of Aleksanteri Syväriläinen

is known as the monastery of Holy Trinity and it is one of the most important religious centers of the Olonets region.


Syväri river connects the lakes Ladoga and Onega. This is about where the line between the Karelian and the Russian cultures traditionally go. There are of course bridges, but you can cross the river by boat at Lotinapelto or Kovkenitsy. The hydroelectric powerplant is, among many other symbols of progress, built with forced labour. The monastery was used as the prison camp of workers during the build.


Lotinapelto (Lodeinoje Polje) was where Peter the Great built his ships. The Saint Petersburg-Murmansk train stops here.

When heading towards Novaya and Staraya Ladoga, try to avoid the main road. There are canals, rivers and smaller towns situated on the shores. Staraja Ladoga is one of the oldest cities in northern Russia. It dates back all the way to the times of the vikings and the Novgorodian Realm.

It should be possible to stay close to the shores of Lake Ladoga by following the canals all the way to Shlisselburg where the Peace Treaty of Nöteborg (Pähkinäsaaren rauha) was signed in 1323 between Sweden and Novgorod. Pay a visit to the fortress island if you can.

River Neva offers its views and is a natural choise of a route to head towards the 5 million people cluster of Saint Petersburg.

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