Fly&Drive Lake Saimaa Finland
Finnish Lakeland for food&culture lovers, Lappeenranta and Imatra region
Spend memorable holidays by Finland’s largest lake, Saimaa. Lappeenranta and Imatra are located in the region of South Karelia in south-eastern Finland. The magnificant metropolis of St. Petersburg is just about 200 km away from Lappeenranta and Imatra. The region’s cultural life is rich and varied, mixing both old and new. There are events galore, particularly during the summer months. In the waters of Lake Saimaa, by far the greatest attraction is nature: the archipelago and lake scenery and the clear water. If you are lucky, you may even see a Saimaa ringed seal basking on a rock on a summer’s day.
Discover the harbor and old town of Lappeenranta
Lappeenranta and Imatra region offers plenty of cheerful events to enjoy especially in the summer season. Visit the old town or take a cruise on Lake Saimaa. Today the waters of Lake Saimaa, dotted by hundreds of islands, provide excellent opportunities for boating.
Surrounded by the ramparts, the Fortress area of Lappeenranta represents the original town which was founded in a medieval trading centre during the Swedish regime in 1649. Following renovation, they now house private residences, handicraft workshops and cultural and business premises. Graced with a fascinating history, magnificent scenery and a myriad of attractions, the Fortress is today a popular tourist destination.
There are numerous cruises available that take you around local routes or all the way to Vyborg. On the visa-free cruises to Vyborg, you can admire the city's sights in addition to the stunning views. The visa exemption applies to all nationalities, so combining a visit to this Russian city full of traditions to your visit to the Saimaa area is definitely a good idea.
Admire the historical sites and the foaming rapids of Imatra
The Imatra market town was founded in 1948 by joining together three industrial communities. Over the last fifty years, the town has grown from a group of isolated population centres into a pleasant and modern town, which is given it's distinctive character by the greenery of the parks, Lake Saimaa, River Vuoksi, and the closeness of the Fenno-Russian border.
Empress Catherine II of Russia and her entourage came to admire the magnificent waters of Imatrankoski Rapids in Imatra in 1772, and a hundred years later the rapids could only be crossed in a basket hanging from a wire. A bridge crossing the rapids was completed in 1892, and by the first decade of the 20th century it was already Finland's most popular tourist attraction, where artists and others arrived to seek inspiration. The freeflowing Imatrankoski rapids were finally harnessed in 1929 in order to generate hydropower. Today you can admire the rapid shows daily during the summer season. Situated along the rapids, Rantasipi Imatran Valtionhotelli in the Jugend style also provides a relaxing spa.
Local food restaurants in Lappeenranta and Imatra region
South Karelia has always been a region of hearty meals, so the traditions of the Saimaa cuisine have stewed and simmered thoroughly and for a long period, with several decades and generations of expertise. You should definitely taste the delicacies of the local cuisine, rich with tradition, but you can also swap the local fish, Karelian stew and meat aspic for the flavours of international cuisine.
Everything good in life takes time. One of the seven wonders - Särä, the lamb stew from Lemi - also needs time to stew. The secret of Särä is hidden in the way it’s prepared in a birch-wood trough called “särä”, which gives this traditional dish its name. The basic ingredients are lamb and potatoes, and the only spice used is salt. Before Särä is ready to be served it stews slowly in a wood-heated oven for as long as 8 hours.
While waiting for the särä to be ready, the hungriest visitors can pop out to Lappeenranta to try Vety and Atomi, the favourite local snacks. The jokingly named Vety and Atomi (Hydrogen and Atom) are made at the Kesämäki bakery using a secret recipe. Filled with ham or egg, these rich pies are eaten year-round in the Lappeenranta market square, and in the harbour market square during the summer. These treats can be enjoyed with mustard, ketchup, cucumber pickle, onion and mayonnaise. The recipe was developed in the 1960s on the basis of customers' wishes.
Delicious vendace are small relatives of the whitefish, which can be found on the menus of many restaurants, in markets and at summer-event food stalls. Fried vendace is particularly worth trying!
Vety & Atomi meat pies, Harbour area of Lappeenranta
Wanha Makasiini, Harbour area of Lappeenranta
Säräpirtti Kippurasarvi, Café: Market square in Lappeenranta, restaurant: Lemi
Kehruuhuone, Fortress of Lappeenranta
Nordic Kitchen Kastanja, Imatran Kylpylä Spa
Imatran Kylpylä Spa hotel and holiday apartments www.imatrankylpyla.fi
Airport, transportation, distances
Lappeenranta International Airport (LPP), only 2 km from city centre
International flight connections by Ryanair www.ryanair.com
More information please contact the tourist information offices in Lappeenranta and Imatra:
+358 (0) 5 667788
+358 (0)5 235 2330