There are two main ways to reach the Solovetsky Islands: by air from Arkhangelsk, or by boat from Kem'/Belomorsk.
Nordavia Regional Airlines (a subsidiary of Aeroflot) fly the 50-minute journey from Solovki to Arkhangelsk up to twice a week. Prices start at approximately RUB 5000 one way. The airport is in close proximity to the monastery and the islands' main settlement.
By boat from Kem': Kem' is easily accessible as a stop on the Petersburg-Murmansk mainline. From there, it is 12 km to the port settlement of Rabocheostrovsk, a journey that can be done either by bus (regularly from 6am) or by taxi. In the summer season, boats leave three times a day (June-August 2016: 08:00, 12:30, 17:30), take 2 hours, and cost RUB 1200 for an adult. Booking the journey out to Solovki is advised, as it regularly books up fully. If, however, you arrive and have not booked, there are boats owned by the monastery that leave at 07:00 (frequency uncertain), and it has been suggested that they are reluctant to leave people stranded in Rabocheostrovsk. The cost is also RUB 1200, and definitely an experience!
By boat from Belomorsk: Belomorsk is also accessible by rail, boats leave daily to Solovki, taking 4 hours and costing RUB 1200.
By boat from Arkhangelsk: In the summer months, boats also ply the route between Arkhangelsk and Solovki (up to three times a month) but it is worth consulting a travel agent about this for prices and availibility
There is no paved road.
Mystical home of monasteries and chapels, priests and holy fools, Solovetsky symbolises Russia's spiritual past. Memories of Stalin's infamous GULAG camps speak of darker times.
- 1 Solovetsky Monastery, ☏ . A large monastery and one the principal spiritual homes of the Russian Orthodox church. In use since the early 15th century. During the crackdown on organized religion in the early Soviet Union it was closed down and became a detention centre for prisoners. Includes the Holy Gates, Transfiguration Cathedral, Assumption Church, Nikolskaya Church, Annunciation Church and the Refectory Complex. It is being renovated. Free.
- Great Solovetsky Island
- Sekirnaya Hill & Church of the Ascension
- Botanical Gardens & Makaryevskaya Hermitage
- Zayetsky Ostrov. Small island with labyrinths.Very pleasant. Excursion: RUB 550, twice a day in summer.
Beluga-watching: The belugas arrive in late June. The visitors' centre organizes excursions by bus, followed by a 4-km walk.
Hire a bike, but the roads are extremely poor. Many places offer hire, prices start at RUB 100 for an hour.
Beware of midges & mosquitoes in the summer!
- Hotel Priyut: nice and clean, RUB 1900 for a single with common bathroom.
- Peterburgskaya Obshchezhitie (Petersburg Hostel) has beds for as low as RUB 450, but booking in advance by phone is essential in peak season. (+88183590375)
- Apartment on Primorskaya 9 (Natalya's Apartment) (walk 7 minutes heading SW from the monastery), ✉ email@example.com. Natalya has a cute single room for US$22 (as of Summer 2018) and a living room that can accommodate up to 4 people for $70 with breakfast included. She also offers home-cooked meals for a reasonable price. You'll want to eat here; she was the former cook at the monastery. There is one shared bathroom with a toilet and shower with hot water. No Wi-Fi. Natalya speaks conversational English and normally spends the winters in Moscow. US$22-70.
Sloboda Hotel is the only place to access semi-reliable Wi-Fi on the island - RUB 100 for 24 hours access.