1. Living Fortress
The city of Lappeenranta was established in 1649 on the headland by the Fortress in Linnoitusniemi. From there, the city has spread out over the centuries to its current dimensions. Even though tar barrels are no longer rolled towards Lake Saimaa, and maids no longer climb up the Vesiportinkuja Alley with their water buckets, you can still drink the water of Lake Saimaa and go to the top of the fortification to watch the ships gliding into the harbour. The cobblestones on Kristiinankatu Street take you to see the treasures of the museums as well as the history of the border region, in addition to cultural events at the Event and Cultural Centre Kehruuhuone; the 200-year-old building was formerly used as a correctional facility for women of ill repute. At the Fortress, you can enjoy the offerings of the restaurants and the delicacies served at the idyllic Majurska House.
The crowning moment of the day is offered by the summer theatre with a covered outdoor auditorium close to the main gate of the old town; in addition to plays, people enjoy folk dancing and sing-a-longs there. You can find unique souvenirs and presents at the museum shops and boutiques. Nature tourists can roam the restored fortification looking for rare plants, and people in search of peace can find a quiet moment in the oldest Orthodox Church in Finland or take a stroll in the Old Park, better known as the Pusupuisto – the Kissing Park.
2. Saimaa starts from Lappeenranta
The largest lake in Finland starts at the Lappeenranta Harbour. You can admire Lake Saimaa from the deck of the legendary tarred steamboat Prinsessa Armaada berthed at the Harbour Square, the fortification at the old town or the Promenade travelling from Linnoitusniemi Cape to Myllysaari. You can dive into the lake at the Myllysaari beach or from the pier of a rental holiday cottage.
You can start your conquest of Lake Saimaa in a canoe, a kayak or a rowing boat suitable for family trips, rented from the Tourist Info at the Sandcastle in Linnoitusniemi Cape. Several cruises to the archipelago and the Saimaa Canal depart from the harbour. You can also reach the beaches, bridges and the Saimaa Canal by car or bicycle. The Luukkaansalmi Bridge is a familiar sight from the TV series Bordertown. The Tourist Info guides you to suitable routes and also rents bicycles by the hour or week.
3. Atomi and Vety
Lappeenranta has the best quick snacks in Finland. You can taste the hearty traditional treat, served for more than 40 years, at the Market or Harbour Square. Originally, the meat pies were called atom or hydrogen bombs; the atomi (atom) consists of a meat pie filled with either smoked or boiled ham or a boiled egg, while vety (hydrogen) has both ham and egg. Options for additional fillings include raw onion, garlic mayonnaise, pickled cucumber salad, ketchup and mustard. No visit to Lappeenranta is complete without this local delicacy.
Lappeenranta has plenty of sand – 3 million kilos of it, in fact. In accordance with the principles of sustainable development, we recycle it into a new form every year. Schoolchildren, locals and foreign experts assist us with the design effort. For over a decade, the biggest sandcastle in Finland has been built at the end of Linnoitusniemi Cape. The popular attraction is open from early June to the end of August. The Sandcastle area features rides and other activities for the whole family. You can also rent bicycles, canoes or SUP boards there.
Over the years, the themes featured at the Sandcastle have included the circus, knights and fairy tale castles, history, and Kalevala. In honour of the centenary of Finland independence, the current theme is ‘Finland 200 Years’. This means that the Sandcastle is looking into the future, showing what Finland will look like in a hundred years. As we foretell the future, we also take stock of the past and the present.
5. Lappeenranta City Theatre
Lappeenranta's new City Theatre is located in the city centre, on the top floor of the IsoKristiina shopping centre (Kaivokatu 5, 3rd floor from the deck level). A hotel also operates under the same roof in close proximity to the theatre, restaurants and shops.
The location of the Lappeenranta City Theatre on the top floor of a shopping centre is a unique solution, not known anywhere else in Europe. The solution can be seen as anticipating a structural change in the theatre business. The performances are returning to their roots – to marketplaces and amongst the people.
The City Theatre was designed by Ala Arkkitehdit Oy. You can visit the theatre on group tours lead by the Theatre Director; the tours are arranged for groups of at least five people at a time. The price is EUR 10 per visitor.
You should also take the opportunity to enjoy the performances at the theatre. The repertoire of the City Theatre in the autumn of 2017 includes ‘Pähkinänsärkijä – Klaaran ja Nikolaksen tarina’ (Nutcracker – the story of Klaara and Nikolas) performed in cooperation with the Lappeenranta Dance School.
6. Sorjonen’s Lappeenranta
Where else could you step right into fiction while on holiday, if not in the Bordertown milieu in Lappeenranta? Two worlds meet in the Lappeenranta border region: the fictional crime series Bordertown and the real summer destination of Lappeenranta. First broadcast by Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE in the autumn of 2016, Bordertown was specifically written with Lappeenranta in mind and shot in the town in the late summer of 2015. According to Miikko Oikkonen, the Lappeenranta-born creator of the series, the town is depicted in Sorjonen as if it were one of the main characters.
The crime series tells the story of Detective Inspector Kari Sorjonen, one of the best detectives of the National Bureau of Investigation, whose wife Pauliina is recovering from a serious illness. The family decides to move to the small border town in Eastern Finland where Pauliina grew up. In Lappeenranta, Sorjonen accepts a position in the Serious Crime Unit so that his family can spend more time together, and to give himself fewer serious crimes to solve.
Tours of the locations of Bordertown, which feature many lesser-known facts about TV series, are arranged during the summer.
On the tour, you will also be among the first to hear about Bordertown’s second season, which will be shot in Lappeenranta in the autumn of 2017.
The tour is available in Finnish and English. English-speaking tours are provided upon request for groups of at least five, or for 50 euros per tour.
Further information and reservations:
tel. +358 5 667 788
7. City on the Russian border
Lappeenranta is the closest European city to St. Petersburg, and it is the city with the second-largest number of visitors in Finland. The city has approximately 1.5 million Russian visitors every year. Internationalism and the proximity of the border are reflected in the historic sites of Lappeenranta, such as the Fortress, as well as the services of today. The Fortress has the oldest Orthodox Church in Finland. In addition to Finnish and English, the city also serves customers and visitors in Russian. Nuijamaa is a popular modern border-crossing point, only 30 kilometres from Lappeenranta.
The Saimaa Canal offers a visa-free connection to Vyborg and St. Petersburg for 72-hour trips. You must register on your trip three days before it starts. The travel agency Saimaa Travel serves you as regards issues related to travelling to Russia. Lappeenranta also has a Russia Visa Application Service Centre, and you can travel from the Vainikkala railway station to St. Petersburg on the Allegro in only 1.5 hours.