Experience the lake Saimaa region by car

roundtrip lake saimaa kartalla.jpg
8/16/2020 8:31 AM

Roadtrip in the heart of of the Finnish Lakeland

The lake Saimaa region offers plenty to see and do, marvel at and shop for. If you have a car, you can easily and conveniently tour the sights and explore a large area in a short time.

The towns in the region offer a wide range of attractions, events and interesting activities. Once outside the urban area, you can go for a brisk and energising excursion in the breathtakingly beautiful nature of the Saimaa region. Finnish roads are in good condition inviting visitors to take a drive. So don’t hesitate, jump behind the wheel and get to know these four towns located on Lake Saimaa, all of which have their own specialities to offer.


From Helsinki to Lappeenranta.................220 km
From Imatra to Lappeenranta......................36 km
From Imatra to Savonlinna........................125 km
From Savonlinna to Mikkeli......................104 km
From Mikkeli to Lappeenranta..................109 km


1. Lappeenranta

Lappeenranta is the regional centre of South Karelia, which shows in its range of activities and number of events. The Fortress of Lappeenranta, known as the Old Town, is familiar to many, but few take the time to wander its environs and the Pusupuisto Park (Kissing Park), which are definitely worth a visit. The history of the fortress was deeply influenced by the Russian soldiers housed there, and their mark is still visible in the area. In the summertime, the Lappeenranta harbour is a vibrant area, its restaurants and cafés filling up with people who come to enjoy refreshments and a good time. The restaurant boats and harbour market in particular offer a pleasant experience to visitors. You can easily also rent bicycles, SUP boards and canoes in the harbour area at the Sandcastle, and use them to get acquainted with this charming town at your own pace.

2. Imatra

The first thing visitors usually see when they arrive in Imatra is the impressive Imatrankoski rapids, which unfortunately will not be gushing this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The area is still worth a visit, as it is also home to Finland’s oldest nature reserve, the breathtakingly beautiful Kruununpuisto “Crown Park”. The arresting natural surroundings provide easy access to exciting giant’s cauldrons, Finland’s largest hydroelectric power station and the imposing castle hotel Valtionhotelli, constructed in 1903, where overnighting is a real treat. For a refreshing snack, head to the shores of the brook flowing through Imatra. Near the town centre you will find the Vuoksi Fishing Park, where you can fish for a fresh lunch yourself or enjoy a delicious portion of Finnish salmon soup.

3. Mikkeli

Mikkeli is the regional centre of South Savo, known particularly for its bustling market place in the summer. The marketplace stalls have provided visitors with events and activities and delicious local food since 1744. Mikkeli also serves as the departure point for an excursion to Neitvuori, the highest lookout in South Savo, which gives magnificent views of Lake Luonteri. The marked and signposted hiking trails and the trail stations equipped with toilets and campfire places encourage visitors to head out. When in Mikkeli, you should also visit the Kenkävero area, which housed a vicarage until 1969. It was then converted into a restaurant, catering to some of Finland’s foremost authors and other prominent persons. You can still sense the traditional Finnish culture in the place, while enjoying a delicious meal.

4. Savonlinna

The Savonlinna Opera Festival (will be organized in 2021) is reason enough to plan a holiday in Finland. The month-long festival attracts many people to the town, where visitors will find plenty to do from morning to night. Should accommodation in Savonlinna run low, you can also stay in Imatra, which is just a short drive away. If your holidays do not coincide with the Opera Festival, Olavinlinna castle, the construction of which started back in 1475, is another great attraction in Savonlinna. Since it is hard to over-advertise the natural surroundings of Finland and Saimaa, we should also mention Linnansaari National Park. Home to the Saimaa ringed seal, this awe-inspiring island is located a 30-minute drive and a boat ride away from Savonlinna.

Read more about a roundtrip for active travelers here >> 
If you 
are more into food and culture, check out an example program for a roundtrip here >>

The tourist information is always happy to help with any questions about the region!

Check out the latest news on travel restrictions during the Coronavirus pandemic here >> 

Lake Saimaa, Purest Finland Regional Council of South Karelia Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment Rural 2020 The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas
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