photo @ Discovering Finland
Tourism Lappeenranta & Lappeenranta Guide
Situated 215km equidistant from Helsinki to the west and St. Petersburg to the southeast on the southern shores of Lake Saimaa, Lappeenranta is the second most visited town in Finland. It is a town rich in cultural history, with numerous museums and Finland’s oldest orthodox church located within the Fortress of Lappeenranta, and possesses ten different choirs or orchestras, as well as the largest sandcastle in Scandinavia, and excellent skiing on the slopes at Myllymäki and Konka.
Today Lappeenranta is a vibrant international university city, situated in the midst of a stunning landscape at the southern end of Europe’s fourth largest lake, Saimaa. It’s historical fortress and streets lined with linden trees, combined with a wealth of cultural and natural attractions, make it both a Summer paradise and a Winter wonderland, for both locals and the many visitors and travellers who arrive here from around the world. 215 km away from both Helsinki and St. Petersburg and close to the Finnish border with Russia, Lappeenranta is the second most popular tourist site for foreign visitors.
Tourist attractions Lappeenranta
Following the period known as ‘The Great Hate’ in 1721 the Swedes began the fortification of the town, with little success – the fortress fell in the Battle of Lappeenranta in 1741 in five hours! Shortly after, it fell under Russian rule, almost 100 years before the rest of Finland. In 1811 ‘old Finland’ and the rest of the country were reunited, and this saw Lappeenranta enjoy a long period where it was no longer the centre of battles, but instead a peaceful lakeside district.
Lappeenranta today is the administrative, cultural, and commercial centre of South Karelia, a modern, thriving town and a hub for tourism. Situated at the southern end of Finland’s largest lake system, Lake Saimaa, it is the second most visited city in the country, thanks in no small part to the Russians who love to shop here. The easy-going Karelian locals are among the friendliest in all of Finland, and have an obvious love for music which you’ll hear almost everywhere you go. There are over ten different choirs or orchestras in Lappeenranta, including a permanent orchestra and theatre, and numerous museums to visit, including the South Karelia Art Museum, the Cavalry Museum, the Wolkoff House Museum, and the Museum of South Karelia.
Most of these are located in and around the Fortress of Lappeenranta, which is one of the most visited attractions in Finland. Surrounded by the ramparts, this historic district represents the original town which began as a medieval trading centre during the Swedish regime in 1649. It is also the site of Finland’s oldest orthodox church, completed in 1785. With such a rich mix of fascinating history, wonderful scenery, delightful handicrafts shops and workshops, and so many museums, it is hardly surprising that the Fortress of Lappeenranta is one of the most visited and popular sites in all of Finland.
The city is also famous for its sandcastle, the largest in Scandinavia, and a real favourite for families with children. Every summer artists gather on the northern end of the harbour to build an ever-increasing sandcastle (using over 3 million kilos of sand), with a different theme every year. In fact, the harbour area in general is a fun-packed spot to bring the kids to, with numerous free rides and activities for children of all ages. Water lovers can hire paddle boats, or go kayaking or canoing. In the summer and autumn the harbour is also a busy point of departure for numerous boats an ships, some sailing on cruises among the labyrinth of islands on Lake Saimaa, others to more distant towns and cities further up the same lake.
Lappeenranta has a vast selection of activities for visitors, whether they prefer adventures in the outdoors, or relaxing by the side of the lake enjoying peace and quiet in a serene environment. All the usual water sports are available here, and the region is a haven for fishermen, horseback riders, nature enthusiasts and bird watchers, golfers, swimmers, cyclists, and even dancers. Whether you’ve spent the day laying on the beach at Myllysaari, or playing beach volleyball, you should take the opportunity to enjoy a traditional wood burning sauna there, or visit one of the many smoke saunas in the region.