What to see around Lake Saimaa?





Mikkeli, Savonlinna and Varkaus sit on the shores of Lake Saimaa, Finland’s largest lake. Saimaa’s countryside is famous for its beautiful sparkling lakes, boundless green forests and rocky landscape. With tens of thousands of kilometres of shoreline and wild, forested archipelago, Lake Saimaa’s preserved natural beauty makes it a stunning destination adored by both the locals and visitors.

Lake Saimaa’s Ice Age heritage

Saimaa’s rocky landscape was carved and scarred by the last Ice Age. It’s easy to see, the sculpted bedrock exposed and visible throughout the countryside and rocky crags leaping out of the waters of Lake Saimaa. Finland’s maps show the tell-tale scraped marks of receded glaciers, and walking trails wind along sandy esker ridges with the lake a stone’s throw away on either side.

Lake Saimaa’s most famous inhabitant has also been with us since the Ice Age; the endearing Saimaa ringed seal. Critically endangered, Lake Saimaa’s ringed seal numbers only a few hundred and is unique in the world to Lake Saimaa. Seeing one sunning itself on the rocks or floating among the waves is a special moment, sure to raise a smile.

Boat trips and cruises offer the easiest option to get onto the lakes for the chance to see the seals and the beautiful surrounding scenery, as well as the Stone Age rock paintings of Astuvansalmi. Also check out the many outdoor activities in the area which will get you involved with the forests and lakes, from canoeing in the summer to snowshoeing in the winter.

Savonlinna region

Finland’s town of Savonlinna is home to the world’s northernmost standing medieval castle, Olavinlinna. Raised in 1475, and seeing centuries of disputes between the Swedish and Russian kingdoms, its stone walls stand surrounded by the waves of Lake Saimaa near the centre of town. Open to visitors, Olavinlinna is a must-see attraction of the area. Nearby is the small old town of Savonlinna with its charming wooden buildings from a bygone era.

The castle of Olavinlinna is also host to the famous Savonlinna Opera Festival which draws audiences from all over the world. The opera takes place in the covered castle courtyard, performed by some of the finest musical and theatrical talent of Finland. Its quality and unique setting in the shoreline castle of Olavinlinna make it an experience you’re unlikely to forget!

Mikkeli region

Mikkeli is the largest town and brings some urban flair to the otherwise quaint rural region. With many activities, events, attractions and facilities, Mikkeli is well worth the visit.  Mikkeli Music Festival bring top international stars to the area and provide high-quality cultural experiences to satisfy even the most demanding of tastes.

The beautiful gardens of Kenkävero and Mikkelipuisto meet the shores of Lake Saimaa, filled with blossoms and birdsong in the summer season. When exploring Mikkeli city center, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Muisti Centre of War and Peace museum.

Make sure to check out more information about what to see and do around Mikkeli, Savonlinna and Lake Saimaa as well as the best places to stay and eat in the area.

Varkaus region

Museum Center in Varkaus is a multifunctional cultural facility that showcases Varkaus’s industry, culture, and art, fostering the community’s engagement with its cultural heritage.

The Ämmäkoski flows through the middle of the city of Varkaus, connecting the Unnukka and Saimaa Haukivesi water systems. The rapids area blends into the 21-hectare Kämäri nature reserve. The people of Varkaus themselves enjoy their rapids area throughout the year. Its scenery and atmosphere are inexhaustible, as they constantly change depending on the time of year, time of day, or even the weather. In spring, the rapids roar at full force, while in midsummer and winter, their sounds and flow quiet down, making room for, among other things, bird concerts. The fragrance of lilies intoxicates the air in the early summer in the groves of the nature reserve, Finland’s national flower, and on the shores, the industrious otter, Varkaus’s namesake animal, can be seen. The nature of the area is wonderfully diverse, with a rich variety of animal species. For this reason, Ämmäkoski is one of the most photographed places in Varkaus, both among locals and tourists.