Ruskeala is one of the strongest positive impressions from visiting Karelia.
Almost everyone has heard about this mountain park. If, by chance, someone does not know, this mountain park was arranged near the village of Ruskeala, on the site of an old marble deposit. The park is a monument of mining in Russia and Finland, a monument of nature and architecture.
The local marble was used for the construction of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg and many other buildings.
Mountain park «Ruskeala». Behind me is the still ice-covered Marble Canyon. Photo from personal archive. Mountain park «Ruskeala». Behind me is the still ice-covered Marble Canyon. Photo from personal archive.
How to get to Ruskeala from Sortavala?
Going to Karelia, we planned to visit Ruskeale for sure. The park is located about 30 km from Sortavala . You can get there on a retro train from Sortavala and even from St. Petersburg and Moscow. But, besides Ruskeala, we had several more important places to visit, so we abandoned the retro train in favor of a rented car.
You can also get there by bus. From Sortavala to Ruskeala from the bus station during the day, several buses leave, different carriers. The schedule needs to be specified, it may change depending on the season. Most buses stop in the village of Ruskeala, and not in the mountain park . And you still have to walk about 2 km to the mountain park of the same name. The price of a bus ticket is in the range of 120-150 rubles.
In the summer, from May 29 to August 29, you can drive directly to the park on tourist buses No. 931 and No. 932. Buses start from Srtavala railway station. The ticket costs about 500 rubles.
Let’s get back to the retro train. Of course, I really wanted to ride it, but it did not fit into the logical plan of our trip. Therefore, we just admired it from the side and looked out the windows.
Steam locomotive «Ruskeala Express». Photo of the author. Steam locomotive «Ruskeala Express». Photo of the author.
Ruskeala Express is a branded steam-powered train that runs between Sortavala and the mountain park. From Sortavala to the Ruskeala park, the express train takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. And it even has a dining car. The ticket price today is about 1,000 rubles for a common car, one way.
In addition to the Ruskeala Express, there is also just a Retro Train from Sortavala to the mountain park. There are also old-fashioned wagons, but it is diesel-powered. The cost of a one-way ticket (shared carriage) is from 900 rubles.
The cost of tickets for the retro train and the Ruskeala Express today. The cost of tickets for the retro train and the Ruskeala Express today.
If you buy tickets in advance, at least 2 weeks in advance, you can save about 150 rubles on each ticket.
How much does it cost to visit the mountain park «Ruskeala»
A standard ticket bought at the box office at the entrance to the park costs 450 rubles .
- Students and people 60 and older pay 250 rubles for admission.
- Schoolchildren — 200 rubles.
- Children under 7 years old are admitted free of charge.
- Disabled people of group I + one accompanying person, disabled children, residents of besieged Leningrad can visit the park for free.
Our tickets to the mountain park. Our tickets to the mountain park.
In addition to the entrance ticket, you can immediately buy excursions at the entrance. We bought an excursion «Underground Ruskeala» — to the underground adits where marble was mined. This tour is quite expensive — 2000 rubles per person.
Together with the entrance tickets, we were given (free of charge) a map of the mountain park and a booklet “4 seasons in the Ruskeala mountain park”.
The map is very useful. Without it, it would be difficult to navigate the park on your own. Because the park is huge, and there are many interesting objects there. And on the map there are cafes, toilets, there is a train schedule.
Park map and booklet given to us at the ticket office. Photo of the author. Park map and booklet given to us at the ticket office. Photo of the author.
I also liked the booklet: there is a historical background about the park, it describes when events are held, what season and what you can do. By the way, many events are organized here: from concerts and music festivals to sports competitions.
When is the best time to go to Ruskeala Park?
So it asks to say on the tongue: «In the summer.» Of course, when the forests are green, and the pearl of the park — Marble Canyon pleases the eye with turquoise water, it’s wonderful here. You can rent a boat or board and swim through the canyon.
On May 1, 2022, Marble Canyon was still completely covered in ice. Photo by the author May 1, 2022 Marble Canyon was still completely covered with ice. Author’s photo
But let’s take into account the fact that tourists are apparently invisible here in the summer. There will be queues in cafes and toilets. This time. In the summer in Karelia, mosquitoes are rampant. This is two.
One of the attractions of the park: huge old kilns for firing marble in order to obtain lime. Photo of the author. One of the attractions of the park: huge old kilns for firing marble in order to obtain lime. Photo of the author.
And in winter here, they say, even more beautiful than in summer. Yes, the forests are covered with snow. But with the onset of dusk, multi-colored lights turn on, and the canyon looks simply magical.
Italian Quarry. The beauty of this place does not depend on the season. Photo of the author. Italian Quarry. The beauty of this place does not depend on the season. Photo of the author.
We were in the off-season — May 1st. It was still cold and there was even snow in some places. But in the dungeon we saw ice stalactites-stalagmites. And the ice sculptures were still completely intact. True, the underground lake was still ice-bound.
Sculptural ice images of Karelian churches in the Ruskeala underground. Photo of the author. Sculptural ice images of Karelian churches in the Ruskeala underground. Photo of the author.
And yes, there were a lot of people. We arrived at 10 in the morning, for the opening of the park, and put the car in the parking lot without any problems. And when they walked up and decided to leave, they did not immediately find their car: the parking lot was packed with traffic. And when we were already taxiing out of our parking space, two cars rushed there like kites. I don’t know who managed before, didn’t they collide? :))
Car crowd in the parking lot in front of the park in the afternoon. Photo of the author. Car crowd in the parking lot in front of the park in the afternoon. Photo of the author.
In general, the conclusion is this: in Ruskeala at any time it is interesting and there is something to do. Summer, yes, has its advantages. But there are also disadvantages. If you want to definitely see the canyon unfrozen, then you need to go no earlier than May 10-15.
You can easily spend the whole day in the park. People come here with their whole families. Well, at least half a day. There is something to see, where to walk, what to do.
You can go to the «Abode of the Angels» and admire the wooden sculptures (for a fee).
You can ride a zip-line («bungee») over the canyon.
You can have lunch. There are already 5 cafes on the territory of Ruskeala. On the first of May, only 3 worked, in my opinion. We went to one of them to have a bite to eat. Prices are higher than in Petrozavodsk or Sortavala, but not outrageous. The food is quite normal quality, the coffee is delicious.
The most interesting objects of the Ruskeala park are the stories ahead.
Health to everyone!
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