The hidden gems of Lappeenranta and Imatra region

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8/10/2020 11:54 AM

Lappeenranta and Imatra region is located in the heart of Lake Saimaa and on the shores of river Vuoksi, surrounded by beautiful pure nature. The area has a lot to offer all year round!

How many of these hidden gems are you familiar with?

1. Finland's oldest tourist attraction

Did you know that Finnish tourism originated in Imatra? Imatrankoski is not only a magnificent and historical national landscape, but also the oldest tourist attraction in Finland. Foreigners have been admiring the rapids in Imatra since the 18th century.

In the 1920s, the rapids were dammed to generate electricity, and since then the water has only flowed on special occasions. The rapids are an impressive sight, even if dry, and surely many who have experienced a summer or winter rapid show have been impressed by what they have seen.

2. Finland's largest castle

Where is Finland's largest castle located? This favorite place for families, built of sand, was built to the port of Lappeenranta again this summer. The area is also convenient for activities: you can rent a bike or a canoe or conquer Lake Saimaa on a floating sauna while enjoying a summery day!

Visitors often wonder how the sand sculptures stay in the pile throughout the summer. The sculptures withstand weather fluctuations surprisingly well, and the reason for this is the wood glue-water mixture sprayed on the works of art during the finishing phase. The first Sandcastle was built in Lappeenranta in 2004 and the castle's themes have changed every year.

3. The best café and the best coffee roastery in Finland

The port of Lappeenranta has both the best café and the best roastery in Finland. Satamatie 6 roastery café was chosen as the best café in Finland in 2018 and 2020. This café has also been voted the best café in Lappeenranta.

Lehmus Roastery in Lappeenranta has been chosen as the best roastery in Finland in 2017, 2018 and 2020. The selection is sure to have a favorite for all coffee lovers and many flavors are inspired by its hometown.

4. Strange stone

You can find this wonderful attraction in the Ruokolahti forest. This strange stone is called Kummakivi and it is a large glacier-carried boulder with a size of about 7 m x 4 m x 5 m and a weight of 500 tons. This natural wonder is definitely one of the most interesting sights in South Karelia.

5. Park with strange statues

The park, designed by an ITE artist Veijo Rönkkönen, is located in Parikkala. The special statues and the species-rich and lush garden form a very special entity. There are more than 550 concrete statues in the Parikkala Statue Park! The park is open 24 hours a day (no lighting). You can pay a voluntary entrance fee on site at the park boutique, which is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm in summer.

6. Finland's longest beach boulevard and Monaco of South Karelia

Did you know that the longest beach boulevard in Finland, titled “Monaco” of South Karelia, can be found in Lappeenranta? The Lappeenranta harbour area is especially popular with locals as well as tourists during summer. In the harbor area you will find idyllic cafés, coffee kiosks as well as nice restaurants and terrace boats. In the area you will also find a beach, Myllysaari, and you can also hop on a cruise. The Sandcastle and the old town of Lappeenranta, the Fortress, are right next to the harbor.

7. Ukonniemi is a paradise for sports enthusiasts

The wonderful Imatra and the magnificent Ukonniemi area are the number one destinations for tourists interested in active holidays and sports! Golf, paddle, mountain bike or hike in the woods or try out activity parks. There is also an attractive cycling hub nearby, Karhumäki Pumptrack, which is free of charge all year round, even in winter.

Friends of Frisbee golf can also enjoy Imatra’s expanded Vuoksenniska Firsbeegolf Center, which is close to Ukonniemi area. The center has expanded and now consists of a lavish 36-lane complex. There are also other tracks to play on within a short distance.

8. The world's most famous sniper Simo Häyhä

The battles of the Kollaanjoki river in the Winter War 80 years ago made Simo Häyhä, born in Rautjärvi, perhaps the most famous sniper in the world. The Kollaa and Simo Häyhä Museum is located in Rautjärvi's historic Miettilä reserve barracks area. The museum's Häyhä collection is the largest in the world and includes e.g. hunting and military weapons, personal items, photos and more.

The museum is open to groups all year round and the doors reopened for the summer season to anyone interested in history: 2.6 - 30.8.2020 (Tuesday-Sunday) from 11 am to 4 pm.

9. Saimaa Archipelago Route

The new Saimaa Archipelago Route opens a completely new route for cyclists across Finland's largest lake. Along the route you can get acquainted with e.g. attractions in the cities of Lappeenranta and Imatra, as well as three charming villages of Taipalsaari, Ruokolahti and Joutseno.

The new ferry connection of the route brings the cycling routes of South Karelia and South Savo together. The ferry transports cyclists in southern Saimaa from Taipänsaari's Kyläniemi to Sarviniemi and from there to Puumala Lintusalo (note! reservation must be made in advance). The connecting vessel now enables a ring trip of about 135 kilometers.

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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