Northern seaside holidays: the Gulf of Finland's hidden gem

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The village of Repino is located in the Kurortny District of St. Petersburg on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. The Finnish name for the area is Kuokkala, which may mean “fish hook”. Kuokkala has been familiar to Russians because of its fishing grounds since the 14th century, since under the Orekhovetsky Peace Treaty with Sweden, the residents of nearby Novgorod were allowed to fish there (St. Petersburg had not been built yet).

Russian dachas began to appear in Kuokkala in the territory of the autonomous Principality of Finland immediately after the opening of the railway in 1870. Creative intelligentsia was especially pleased by the opportunity to travel from bureaucratic St. Petersburg to the Finnish spaces in just an hour and a half.

There were dachas of the artist Ilya Repin, the avant-gardist Ivan Punya, the children's writer Korney Chukovsky, and the playwright and theater director Nikolay Evreynov. In Kuokkala, the Bolshevik residence, which was located in a picturesque dacha “Vaza” was visited by Vladimir Lenin and Maxim Gorky. Here Vladimir Mayakovsky made his half-day walks along the shore of the bay and, having no money, worked on arranging with all the familiar summer residents, by days of the week, with whom and when he would have his meals. Velimir Khlebnikov lived in the dacha of the artist and writer Yuri Annenkov, and the first congress of Russian Futurists was held here. Thus, the quiet Finnish village became a place not only of political, but also of artistic activity.

Kuokkala was transferred to Russia after the North Russo-Finnish War. In 1948, the village was renamed to Repino, in honor of the artist who was especially liked by the Soviet authorities, whose estate museum, unlike most of the other dachas, was restored and still exists today. Now Repino is a respectable resort with clean beaches, an abundance of health centers (some of which are of interest as objects of late Soviet architecture), and good restaurants.

The railroad divides the village into two parts – the dacha wooded part and the sea resort one. Right at the station, you are met by a small shopping center and a dacha restaurant, the Shalyapin, which was opened here in 2000. Here you can enjoy Russian and European cuisine – from rasstegai with salmon to marbled beefsteak.

There is a small public park behind the Shalyapin. On the right hand in front of the highway, you can see a classic Stalinist building that has been transformed into the Residence Hotel & SPA (Repino). The left side road leads directly to the estate museum of Ilya Repin, the Penaty. The museum presents the home of the artist, including his studio with a skylight. More than six hundred paintings and drawings by Ilya Repin, his son Yury and his friends are kept here.

The Repin family was attracted to vegetarianism, so you can learn some special recipes in this house. The exposition also has archived videos. A shady park of the estate with amusement facilities and pavilions is also very interesting. The reserve communicates a cozy dacha and creative atmosphere, which prevailed here in the early 20th century. The grave of the artist is also located on the estate, as it was here, in Kuokkala, where he died in September 1930.

It is pleasant to spend an evening in Repino, walking along the shores of the Gulf of Finland. In the summer, people swim and sunbathe at the beach, although swimming in the sea is discouraged by the health authorities these days, and you need to go quite far from the shore to find a deep place. However, that does not stop the most daring swimmers. The Karelian Isthmus is the place for leisurely northern recreation, where a bronze tan and fussy splashing is replaced by the shadow of pines and meditative contemplation of the sea. Therefore, it is good to walk here even in late autumn, and in winter, you can go skiing, walk on the ice and watch the fishermen.

Here and there, the beach is equipped with playgrounds, and there is a small pedestrian esplanade for those who do not like to walk on the sand. You will never get bored with the noise of the sea, or with watching the seagulls and the setting sun.

Where to eat:

You will never stay hungry in Repino. There are many restaurants on the coast between the Gulf and the highway. Stroganoff Bar & Grill is distinguished by its very pleasant austere interiors: in addition to the traditional steakhouse menu, you can get very Soviet dishes for dessert there as well, such as the mille-feuille “Napoleon” or stewed fruit. The establishment also has a bar.

In addition to rooms and the restaurant itself, you can find bowling, billiards and a swimming pool with sauna in Cronwell Park Hotel.

In addition to European and Japanese (sushi) cuisine, the restaurant also offers oriental cuisine: dolma, saj, manty rays, and pilaf. There is a summer terrace there as well.

The alpine cuisine restaurant, the Chalet, is recognized to be one of the best, because it combines interesting and delicious dishes with moderate prices. It greets people with an open veranda overlooking the sea in the summer, and in winter, it is cozy to sit inside the wooden walls.

Those wanting a special feeling of being immersed in the history of the dying Soviet culture may go to cafes, coffee shops or the local health centers, for example, to visit the strange concrete spaces of the Zarya Boarding House.

The northern nature of Repino simply does not allow you to become stressed out, as you can always relax in pleasant solitude, spend a quiet romantic weekend or have a peaceful family rest.


Useful information:

Repin Estate Museum (Penaty)

411 Primorskoye Highway, Repino, St. Petersburg

+7 (812) 432-0828

Open every day, except Monday and Tuesday from 10:30 to 17:00 – in summer, from 10:30 to 16:00 – in winter (from September 15 to May 15).

Ticket price $9.5 (7 €)


Shalyapin Restaurant

1 Nagornaya St., St. Petersburg, Repino

+7 (812) 432-0775

Cost of dinner: from $48 (35 €) to $9.5 (100 €)


Stroganoff Bar & Grill

418 Primorskoye Highway, Repino, St. Petersburg

+7 (812) 432-0575

Opening hours: Mon-Thu, Sun – from 12:00 to 23:00 Fri, Sat and public holidays – from 12:00 to 02:00

Average bill: $63 (45 €)

422A Primorskoye Highway, Kurortny District, Repino, St. Petersburg

+7 (812) 922-2220

Daily from 12:00 until the last visitor leaves

Average bill: $30 (42 €)



448 Primorskoye Highway, Repino, St. Petersburg

Fri-Sun: 12:00-24:00. The kitchen works until 23:30.

Average bill: $50 (36 €)


Zarya Boarding House

423 Primorskoye Highway, Repino, St. Petersburg

8 (812) 432-0655

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