The Sights of Saimaa – Attractions near Mikkeli and Savonlinna

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The breath-taking Saimaa lake system stretches for miles in all directions. Its islands and peninsulas pepper the landscape and the unblemished beauty of its National Parks harbours endangered species. Rising from the waters are the stone walls of the world’s northernmost medieval castle in Savonlinna, and the surrounding region is full of cultural landmarks, from the blossoming gardens of Kenkävero to the Stone Age rock paintings of Astuvansalmi. Take a look at the unique sights and attractions of Lake Saimaa.

Where nature meets culture – sights in the ancient region of Saimaa

The stunning natural beauty of Lake Saimaa and its forests speaks for itself. No-one can fail to be charmed by its green forests, blue skies and rocky archipelago.

One of the most famous aspects of the lake is the critically endangered Saimaa ringed seal which is at the forefront of Finnish nature conservation. Having adapted to freshwater life in Lake Saimaa since the last ice age, its need for sufficient ice and snow for nests leaves its young vulnerable due to climate change in the region. Your best chance of a sighting is by boat; look for them sunning themselves on rocks, or bobbing in the water.

Our ancient ancestors from the Stone Age would have seen and hunted these seals when they made their settlements and artwork around Astuvansalmi. These settlements have been unearthed, the research of great interest to archaeology, and the rock paintings are still visible to this day even after five thousand years. Boat tours and cruises from Mikkeli offer a chance to visit these wonderful sights of Saimaa.

A changing world – Saimaa’s attractions

Work on the walls of St. Olaf’s castle in Savonlinna began in 1475 due to the rivalry between the Swedish and Russians that would last centuries. The world’s northernmost castle from the medieval period and one of the most notable sights of Saimaa, its massive stone walls and towers were expanded and developed throughout those years and have seen the world change and modernise around them. Nowadays, the castle hosts the annual summertime opera festival which attracts visitors from all over the globe.

The farming and brewing culture of Saimaa probably owes its roots to those early times too. Some delightful old farming estates have found a new purpose catering to visitors, offering quality local cuisine and accommodation in addition to hosting events. Saimaa attractions like the Huvila brewery restaurant and Ollinmäki winery, as well as the cosy villas known as the “Charms of Saimaa,” are perfect as places to stay or visit.

Visit too the lush gardens of Kenkävero in Mikkeli, one of the most popular of Saimaa’s attractions. The old vicarage buildings and blue lake of Saimaa are the backdrop for a dazzling array of coloured blossoms, the scents of the blooming flowers and the singing birds in the trees making for a wonderful, mesmerising scene. Its restaurant offers the perfect way to finish the day after taking in some of the exquisite sights of Saimaa!

Museums

Historical sights

Churches

Manors