The Finland–Russia border may only be crossed at official border crossings. The nearest border crossings to Saimaa are Imatra, Nuijamaa and Vaalimaa.

When crossing the border, your identity will be verified and your travel documents will be inspected. Your luggage and vehicle may also be inspected.

We recommend reserving some extra time for crossing the border.


  • Nuijamaa/Brusnichnoye (26 km from Lappeenranta city centre / 30 km from Vyborg / 170 km from St. Petersburg)
  • Imatra/Svetogorsk (7 km from Imatra city centre / 55 km from Vyborg / 190 km from St. Petersburg)
  • Vaalimaa/Torfyanovka (63 km from Lappeenranta city centre / 54 km from Vyborg / 205 km from St. Petersburg)

You can find the contact details and opening hours for border crossings on the Finnish side of the border on the Finnish Border Guard’s website.

Opening hours and contact details for border crossings on the Russian side of the border can be found here.


To travel to Russia, you will need a passport and a travel visa. A travel visa is a travel document granted by the Russian Consulate. You can apply for a visa through travel agencies that specialise in providing visa services.

The type of visa you will need depends on the length of your stay and whether you are travelling for work or as a tourist. You can also apply for a group visa if you are travelling as a group of 5 or more. The group must travel in the same vehicle both when entering and exiting the country. You can be travelling to either St. Petersburg or Leningrad Oblast.

You can also apply for a Russian visa electronically. With a Russian e-visa, the maximum duration of your stay in St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast is 8 days. You can apply for an e-visa through the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ system by filling in an electronic form in English or Russian. If you are applying independently, the e-visa is free, but responsibility for any errors lies with the person who submitted the application. (E-visas are currently unavailable due to travel restrictions.)

Some nations have bilateral visa waiver agreements in place with Russia. Citizens of the nations in question do not require a visa to travel to Russia. A list of these countries can be found here

Visa-free cruises are organised regularly along the Saimaa Canal. Tourists arriving in Vyborg from Lappeenranta have the right to stay in Russia for up to 72 hours without a visa. For more information about these trips, see Saimaa Travel.

Documents required for a visa

  • Visa application
  • Passport
  • Official passport photo
  • Travel insurance certificate from your insurance provider

You should check your passport’s date of expiry. The passport must be undamaged, valid for at least 6 months after the expiry date of the visa and have at least 2 blank pages. Please note that, because the visa sticker will be added to a page in your passport, the passport will remain at the consulate until your visa application has been processed. Processing time ranges from 8 days to a few weeks, depending on the type of visa and the applicant’s nationality.

In order to get a Russian visa, you will need to attach a passport photo and a certificate of travel insurance from your insurance provider to you visa application. The image must be an official passport photo of the applicant in colour and must have been taken in the last 6 months.

A group visa will require a carefully completed visa application form, passport photocopy, official passport photo and insurance provider’s travel insurance certificate from each person in the group. The head of the group should take care of the visa for the duration of the trip.