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From Saimaa to Russia

Lappeenranta and Imatra region is located very close to the Russian border. While visiting the Lappeenranta and Imatra region it is very convenient to use the opportunity and spend a few days in Vyborg or St. Petersburg in Russia.

Vyborg is a town, where one can come across the medieval fairy-tale: the memories of the historical past and the perspectives of the present. In this town you can admire the only medieval castle in Russia, walk along the romantic Monrepos Park and visit the historical Viking village of Svargas.

St. Petersburg is a magnificant metropolis just about 200 km away from Lappeenranta and Imatra region. In the city with population almost equal to whole Finland, the posibilities are infinite. Here one can enjoy endless shopping possibilities, neverending nightlife, tastiest local and foreighn cuisines and astonishing architectural sites. In addition to all that St. Petersburg is well-known as the cultural capital of Russia, with world-famous Hermitage museum, breathtaking Mariinsky Theatre, best balley, art and classical music performances.

How to get there

There are many ways to travel to Russia, ranging from a comfortable train ride in Allegro train with a restaurant to a cruise along the Saimaa Canal. Some of them require visas, others do not.

Visa-free cruises to Russia

Jump aboard of M/S Carelia in the Harbour of Lappeenranta and enjoy a cruise along the historical Saimaa Canal to Vyborg, or continue to St. Petersburg. Once onboard, you will witness amazing scenery while enjoying your food and beverages. Cruises are visa-free for nationals of all countries! The only catch is that you need a multiple-entry visa to Finland.

By train

Vainikkala railway station is located 20 km from Lappeenranta. Here you can board a fast and comfortable Allegro train that takes you to Vyborg in 20 minutes and St. Petersburg in 1,5 h. There are several trains every day. Those wishing to travel to the heart of Mother Russia, namely to Moscow, should board a Tolstoy train leaving every evening from Vainikkala and arriving in Moscow the next morning. An overnight train is very convenient especially if you believe the saying "Moscow never sleeps". Tickets can be easily purchased in VR online shop or alternatively by using VR mobile application.

By bus

From June 7, 2019, the international bus company ECOLINES started regular traffic on the route St. Petersburg (Russia) – Lappeenranta–Imatra (Finland). The company took into account the needs of passengers and added to the bus stops the bus stations in the cities of Lappeenranta and Imatra, a stop in the centre and at the airport of Lappeenranta, as well as at Holiday Club Saimaa and Imatra Spa Resort.

Comfortable buses will depart from the bus station of St. Petersburg daily. The schedule is based on the fact that passengers do not need to use the services of a taxi. They will be able to come to the bus station and leave the bus station by public transport. The schedule provides a long stay in Lappeenranta during a day trip, sufficient for recreation, shopping and local attractions. Book tickets here.

There is also a bus connection from Lappeenranta to Vyborg. This is very convenient for a day trip to the historical town, whether it is sightseeing or a shopping trip. Those preferring to take their time and appreciate Vyborg before continuing to the megapolis of St. Petersburg will also find bus connections the most efficient way of travelling. There are also several transportation companies arranging bus trips to Russia for groups.

With your own or rental car

If the journey is more important than the destination, consider going to Russia with your own or rental car. Before crossing the border with a car, please read the border crossing instructions.


The closest border crossing point

St. Petersburg



25 km (Nuijamaa)

195 km

62 km


7 km (Svetogorsk)

210 km

65 km


Through Saimaa Canal

Saimaa Canal welcomes captains to explore the waters of Saimaa on their own vessels. The total length of the Canal is 43 km, of which 23 km lies on the Finnish side of the border and the rest 20 km in the section leased from Russia. The Saimaa Canal connects Vyborg and Lappeenranta. The water levels of Lake Saimaa are 76 metres higher than the Gulf of Finland and its offset by eight locks. The canal connects to various areas in Finland as well as to several countries in Europe.

All necessary rules of navigation, vessel size limitations, information about locks and contact information of Saimaa Canal authorities can be found in English on the Finnish Transport Agency website.

The building of the Canal began in 1845 and it was opened for traffic on 7 September 1856.

Lappeenranta Etela-Suomen Laani Finland