Lake Saimaa is a gorgeous lake in Finland with plenty of sightseeing to offer. You can also easily visit the surrounding towns Mikkeli, Savonlinna, Lappeenranta, Imatra, Joensuu, and Kuopio. Lake Saimaa is the biggest lake in Finland and the fourth’s biggest freshwater lake in Europe. It almost feels like being somewhere on the coast side of Finland. That is how big the lake really is!
- How to get there
- Where to stay and what to do
- Parikkala Sculpture Park
- The islands in Lake Saimaa
1. How to get to Lake Saimaa region:
You can travel to the surrounding towns by car, bus or train. It takes about 4 hours from Helsinki to Savonlinna, but you can also take the plane. If you like driving, it is possible to rent a car in Helsinki. It’s easier to go by car if you are planning to go to many different places rather than visiting just one spot. You get to experience Finland’s unique nature on the way to eastern Finland if traveling to Lake Saimaa by car. If you have a campervan, you can spend as much as you want exploring the nearby areas. Driving around with a campervan is quite popular in Finland, so it’s easy to find a place to park, often by the beach too. Plus, the roads are easy to drive!
2. Where to say and what to do:
There are so many great activities once you get to the Saimaa region. We were camping for three days by the lake, but there are several other options too. You can stay in nearby cute local hotels in Imatra or Lappeenranta, for example. Imatra spa hotel is a popular destination for families, but there are plenty of smaller places and guesthouses to look for at more affordable prices. During this time, the hotels need visitors, so finding accommodation shouldn’t be a problem. We decided to go camping and spent our nights at the beach. That’s an experience for sure! When it comes to sightseeing, the best things are just admiring the beauty of the region! You can go to Imatra to see Imatrankoski (the Imatra rapids) or visit the charming and historic Savonlinna. For activity junkies, you can hire a canoe or kayak and make a day trip around the lake. Or problem. If you really love the outdoors, you can camp in a tent, go canoeing for a day or even go for a longer route – The Squirrel route, Oravareitti, which is 57km long canoeing trail. That is a nature experience at its best.
3. Parikkala Scuplture Park
Parikkala Sculpture Park is one of the most jaw-dropping places to visit. Parikkala is near Lappeenranta Parikkala Sculpture Park is not yet overly well-known or that much of a touristy place, and maybe that’s why it’s an even more attractive place to visit. The park has over 550 handmade statues, all made by one man over 50 years. The artist dedicated his life to art and yoga, and the park is a fantastic representative of his life, fears, and inner reflections. While in the park, take your time, and admire the artwork. It’s quite a big area with old cottages and gardens, and you can go inside the cabin to see how the artist lived. The park has no opening hours so that you can visit anytime, but the small shop inside is open only during the summer season. There is a voluntary entrance fee of 5€ per person to help maintain the area, which you can pay at the shop or to a box at the entrance.
Imatra is probably best known for The Imatra rapids (Imatrankoski). It is one of the biggest rapids in Northern Europe, and people have visited it from abroad since the 18th century. They also arrange a show when they open the rapids in total for about 16 minutes. Another place to see in Imatra is Valtionhotelli (Scandic Imatra State Hotel), a castle-like hotel that was built in 1903. Valtionhotelli is just next to Imatrankoski, and the views are pretty nice. You can find more information here: https://www.gosaimaa.com/en.
5. The Lake Saimaa region and Green Gold Culture Road
The most beautiful part of Saimaa is the islands surrounding the lakes. You can find so many small beaches and islands to enjoy the day. We stayed in Kattelussaari island, which is about 30 minutes drive from Lappeenranta. You can drive through multiple small islands on the way there. The scenery and peaceful nature are truly breathtaking! If driving around Lake Saimaa, one of the roads to take is Route 62. This 250km road, Vihreän Kullan Kulttuuritie (the Green Gold Culture Road), stretches through the Saimaa lake district from Mäntyharju to Parikkala and is forest-themed. When driving through this road, you get to see some of Finland’s most beautiful natural scenery. There are plenty of places to visit along the way, including the city of Puumala, the sandy beaches in Pistohiekka, and the rock paintings in Asikkala. You can stop along the way in the harbors and have a taste of Finnish cuisine at its best!
Saimaa offers various places to see, experience, and explore, from nature trails, camping, kayaking to boat rides. The best time to visit is from May to September, July usually being the warmest month of the year. We spent four days in total, drivings included, but there are so much more to see! So, next time you’re planning a trip to Finland, make sure Saimaa is one of your destinations. Share and save this post for future travel inspo!Connect with me