Lake Saimaa is the fourth largest freshwater lake in Europe and the largest lake in Finland, connecting many of the larger towns of Finnish Lakeland. Along with the fourth biggest lake in Europe, Saimaa region is also home to two magnificent National Parks and several geologically renowned sites. Lake Saimaa is in the province of Eastern Finland, in what many call the Finnish lake district. In this area, the towns of Imatra, Lappeenranta, Mikkeli, Savonlinna and Varkaus are all only a short drive from each other.
It is a destination to fulfil all your senses. Feast your eyes on the labyrinth of clear, sparkling waters and the winding green forestry full of nature’s delights from early spring to late summer. Hear the quiet call of birdsong, the occasional splash of fish jumping in the lake, the soft ripple of waves created by the gently blowing, warm, summer wind. Giving Saimaa another one of it’s unique aspects, is the endangered Saimaa ringed seal, or Norppa in Finnish – one of the rarest seals in the world, with only around 360 of them surviving today. You will never be bored at Lake Saimaa. The region offers plenty of activities for all seasons – whatever your activity or thrill-seeking level. Nature is also in the centre of Saimaa gastronomy. Fresh, local ingredients are the basis of the cuisine of the region – whether they come from a local farm, fisherman or forest.
Listed in the top 5 most beautiful lakes in the world by The Wall Street Journal in 2014, Lake Saimaa’s breathtaking scenery and the strong spirit of it’s people make it a unique destination to visit.Saimaa spirit is the purest Finland. It is water, nature, culture, history – it is us. It is you. Welcome.
Imatra is a National Wonder of Finland
Imatra is a special place, a true wonder. Situated in Karelia, which is known for its poem-singing tradition, the city attracts events and sights that by themselves draw attention. Several of them have found a permanent home in Imatra.
In the middle of it all, the rapids churn. This oldest tourist attraction in Finland runs through the city, forming a rugged canyon in the middle of a populated area. Dating back more than 6,000 years, the rapids have been one of the most significant sights in Europe since the 18th century, and the wild water has not lost its allure over the ages. The rapids have been visited and admired by many, including an empress of Russia and an emperor of Brazil.
The rapids are also mentioned in the Kalevala, the national epic of Finland.
Modern speed is featured in the form of the only motorcycle road racing competition in Finland – Imatranajo. You can get into the spirit of Imatranajo on the bank of the Vuoksi River, as the control tower, pits and finish line are a permanent part of a section of Vuoksentie, and the street corners that are part of the track feature blue-and-white curbs. The street track is an impressive sight to behold: you can watch motorcycles speed past you at a speed of more than 300 kilometers per hour while standing only a few meters away.
Imatrankoski is home to the only Art Nouveau style castle in the Nordic countries to have been built to serve as a hotel. Valtionhotelli (‘the state hotel’), originally known as Grand Hôtel Cascade, has accommodated aristocracy from St Petersburg and other visitors since the beginning of the 20th century. Imatran Valtionhotelli was once again chosen as the most beautiful building in Finland in 2017.
The view from the hotel rooms is also beautiful. The rapids are surrounded by the first nature reserve in Finland. The groves of pine trees and deciduous trees in Kruununpuisto, founded in 1842, provide cover for human-sized giant’s kettles.
Imatra residents have always had an appreciation for culture. Physical culture is represented by two spas located within six kilometers of the city centre, while intellectual culture is represented by Theatre Imatra, an international theatre festival and a high-level ballet event.
The doors to the newest theatre in Finland have seen many people pass through. In 2017, the theatre had more visitors than Imatra has residents.
There is no shortage of specialities in Imatra. In the winter, perfect acoustics can be found in the Soundome ice igloo erected on the bank of the Vuoksi River, where musicians perform with instruments carved from ice.
The city is also doing well financially. In present-day Finland, it is a downright miracle that Imatra’s financial statements have been positive for ten years in a row.
Welcome to Cheerful Lappeenranta!
The colourful events and historical attractions in Lappeenranta, together with the region’s magnificent nature, offer unforgettable experiences year around. Lappeenranta is a popular destination in Finland and a hub of lakeside tourism along the shores of Lake Saimaa, Europe’s 4th largest lake. You can get swept away by Saimaa’s fast-paced summer or winter activities, then relax in the warmth of the spas. You can stay in a high-standard hotel, or a lakeside villa, enjoying the luxury of peace and quiet.
Lappeenranta has grown with Eastern and Western cultural influences that are best visible in the old town, the Fortress. The Fortress is a valuable part of the Finnish, Russian and Swedish cultural heritage and is part of the Castles and Fortifications chain of cultural destinations. The oldest buildings, including the guardhouse at the Main Gate, the Museum buildings and Finland’s oldest Orthodox Church date from the latter part of the 18th century.
The beautiful harbour area begins at the Rantapuisto park, and the magnificent boardwalk runs along the City-Bay to the largest sandcastle in Finland and the Myllysaari beach. You can enjoy the cultural events and activities spread around harbour, Sandcastle and Myllysaari beach recreational park. You can avail tourism services and hire bicycles, kayaks, canoes or SUP boards at the Sandcastle Tourist Info.
Finland’s climate capital Lappeenranta together with our LUT University is a sustainability pioneer ensuring the purity of Lake Saimaa. During summer and autumn, several ships depart from the harbour, heading for the labyrinth of islands or through the Saimaa Canal to Vyborg or St. Petersburg. Canal Cruises take you to Russia visa-free. Lappeenranta is also the famous Finnish Bordertown of the fictional inspector Sorjonen.
Lappeenranta is easily accessible by train, bus, plane, boat or car. Lappeenranta is only 215 kilometres from Helsinki and 195 kilometres from St. Petersburg. Ryanair brings you to Lappeenranta from multiple destinations.
Welcome to learn more at Lappeenranta Tourist Info!
Mikkeli – St Michel
City of Wartime Headquarters, Manors and Gardens
Mikkeli is a quaint, historical city situated on the shores of the fourth largest lake in Europe, Lake Saimaa. Only 2,5 hours away from Helsinki, Mikkeli is also easily reachable by public transport. In Mikkeli, you will find the perfect mix of nature experiences, history and local life.
Mikkeli served as the headquarters of the Finnish defence forces during four wars and the city’s many museums and exhibitions tell the story of Mikkeli’s significance in the history of Finland.
The many manors and gardens of the city offer an interesting insight in to the days gone by, coupled with varied events, shopping opportunities and fresh, local food.
Visit historical Astuvansalmi rock paintings or hike up Neitvuori mountain for stunning lakeland views. Take a breather in the city’s many urban parks – or if you want action, try stand up paddling and canoening or cross-country skiing and tour skating on natural ice just a few minutes away from the city centre.
Inimitable Atmosphere of Savonlinna
Paradise for Experience Nature and Culture!
Savonlinna city and its surroundings within the naturally beautiful Lake Saimaa region, offer the perfect environment for culture, spas, cottages, activities, nature breaks, a day in the town or a combination of everything. Escape the everyday hustle and bustle into the serene lakeland scenery, a peaceful spa or to a cabin nestled on the lake shore. Relax at the lively harbor marketplace of this small city, have a seat at the summer terraces, pop into the boutiques or into the cosy cafes, or take a drive into the idyllic countryside which is filled with charming places to visit.
The Savonlinna region is one of the most popular areas to visit in Finland. The beautiful and clean nature of the area, its characteristic places to visit, and its diverse cultural attractions tempt tens of thousands of visitors to the area every year. The annual Savonlinna Opera Festival in July is one of the most notable international events in Finland. The medieval Castle Olavinlinna, built in 1475, serves as the main stage for the Opera Festival.
The region of Savonlinna is surrounded by the waters of Lake Saimaa in the largest lake district in Europe whose diverse and dazzling scenery is unparalleled. Lake Saimaa is nature’s work of art, consisting of 120 sparkling blue lakes and 1,400 lush green islands, in a sprawling network of open expanses, maze-like waterways, narrow channels, rocky shores, verdant forest scenes and rolling hills. Its simple beauty will enchant anyone.
For those who enjoy a more active holiday, the region of Savonlinna offers many different hiking and nature destinations, and wonderful locations for trekking, canoeing, fishing, golf, cycling, and many other sports. The magnificent national parks, Linnansaari and Kolovesi, offer new experiences in nature at their best. Scenic and lake cruises are definitely the most popular way to admire the vistas of Lake Saimaa from a relaxed perspective on the lake itself. It is difficult to outdo the beauty of the lakes in the summer, but the area offers interesting things to do all year round. For example, snowshoeing trips in the forest and tour skating days on the ice of Lake Saimaa in winter will be remembered for a lifetime. The annual cycle at Lake Saimaa is diverse and full of experiences.
Get to know our area and come for your very own holiday in the heart of Savo and Saimaa!