The area of Savonlinna is the pearl of Lake Saimaa. Savonlinna is a beautiful and lively city of around 35 000 people in Eastern Finland, in the lap of lake Saimaa.
The historic frontier settlement of Savonlinna is one of Finland's prettiest towns and most compelling tourist destinations. Scattered across a garland of small islands strung between Haukivesi and Pihlajavesi lakes, the varied nature of the area of Savonlinna shows the beauty and gracefulness of Finland’s Lakeland. its major attraction is the visually dramatic Olavinlinna Castle, constructed in the 15th century and now the spectacular venue of July’s world-famous Savonlinna Opera Festival. In summer, when the lakes shimmer in the sun and operatic arias waft through the forest-scented air, the place is quite magical. In winter it's often blanketed in fairy-tale-like snow.
From Savonlinna, you can travel quickly to the beautiful scenery of Punkaharju so characteristic of Finland, the rugged rocky shores of Kolovesi National Park, and the open waters and many islands of Linnansaari National Park. Savonlinna itself is built on islands, so Lake Saimaa is never far away. If you find yourself in the newer part of town, you may wonder what all of the fuss is about. But fear not: magic lies just around the corner.
BEST TIME TO GO TO SAVOLINNA
In Savonlinna, the summers are comfortable and partly cloudy and the winters are freezing, snowy, and overcast. Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 9°F to 71°F and is rarely below -16°F or above 80°F.
Spring (March through May)
Humidity and temperatures combine to make this season feel moderately cold. Highs range from 65.6°F (18.7°C) and 31.1°F (-0.5°C) with far warmer temperatures in the later months. Rain is somewhat common with 4 to 6 days of significant precipitation per month. Spring is the second busiest for tourism, which makes it a good time for those looking for things to do.
Summer (June through August)
The middle-year months have comfortably cool weather with high temperatures that are comfortable. These months see moderate precipitation with 7 to 9 days of precipitation per month. June – August is the busiest season for tourism in Savonlinna, so lodging and other accommodations may cost more than usual.
Fall (September through November)
Fall daily highs range from 64.2°F (17.9°C) and 31.4°F (-0.3°C), which will feel chilly given the humidity and wind. It rains or snows a significant amount: 8 to 11 days per month. Tourism is the slowest during these months due to the weather, so hotels may be affordably priced.
Winter (December through February)
Weather is far too cold this time of year in Savonlinna to be enjoyable for warm weather travelers. The average high during this season is between 31.1°F (-0.5°C) and 16.4°F (-8.7°C). On average, it rains or snows a fair amount: 5 to 12 times per month. These times of year are fairly slow with tourists.
GETTING TO SAVOLINNA
Savonlinna is situated towards the middle of eastern Finland and Lake Saimaa, and cities such as Mikkeli, Joensuu, Varkaus, Kuopio and Lappeenranta are within a short driving distance. It’s not an overly long trip from the capital since it will only take about 3 hours to come and enjoy a local lörtsy pastry. To reach the heart of Lake Saimaa you can also use the bus, plane, boat or train.
By Car - From the Helsinki area, the shortest route to Savonlinna is via Lahti, Heinola, Mikkeli and Juva. For those coming from Oulu to see Olavinlinna Castle, the fastest route takes you past Kuopio and Varkaus. If coming from Tampere, you can drive via Lahti or Jyväskylä.
By Bus - You can travel to Savonlinna by bus from many parts of Finland, including Helsinki, and updated timetables can be found for example from Matkakeisari. You can also arrive to Savonlinna by Onnibus, an alternative bus service.
By Train - Train bring you to the middle of town through the beautiful national scenery of Punkaharju. From Helsinki you can just jump in a Pendolino or an InterCity train to Parikkala, and from there passengers can head straight to the heart of town by a local train through scenic Punkaharju. Travel time from Helsinki is around 4 hours. You can get off the train at Pääskylahti before Savonlinna town centre, or travel all the way to the marketplace.
By Plane - There is a plane from Helsinki twice a day to Savonlinna and the time literally flies while you’re on board. It is worth having a peek through the windows while getting closer to Savonlinna, since the biggest lake district in Europe looks amazing from a bird’s eye view.
GETTING AROUND SAVOLINNA
The best way to get to know the area of Savonlinna is to drive it by car, several places hire bikes in summer but the more crucial travel destinations have good connections by public transport. A train goes between Savonlinna and Punkaharju, and other places can be reached by jumping on a local bus.
WHERE TO STAY & EAT IN SAVOLINNA
Situated in Savonlinna, Cafe-Restaurant & Hotel Saima has a restaurant, garden, terrace, and free WiFi throughout the property. The hotel features family rooms. The rooms at the hotel are fitted with a seating area and a flat-screen TV. The private bathroom is fitted with a shower and a hairdryer. A continental breakfast is available each morning at Cafe-Restaurant & Hotel Saima. The nearest airport is Savonlinna, 13 km from the accommodation, and the property offers a paid airport shuttle service.
One of our top picks in Savonlinna.Just 100 m from the bridge to Olavinlinna Castle, this small boutique hotel is next to Lake Saimaa in Savonlinna. It offers individually decorated rooms with scenic views and free wired internet. Lossiranta Lodge is an eco-friendly hotel and is certified by Green Key. Each room at Lossiranta Lodge is named after a historic aspect of the building. Some include cooking hobs, a microwave and fridge. Bathrobes, slippers, along with a TV and iron add further comfort. A sauna, outdoor hot tub and bicycles are on site to rent. During the summer, guests can enjoy breakfast in the garden pavilion and in their rooms the rest of the year. Lossiranta serves a Finnish breakfast with local and organic products. Swimming and fishing from the private jetty in the lake are common area activities. The harbour, market square and a variety of shops and restaurants are all within 800 m of the property.
This 1930s hotel, designed by Finnish architect Wivi Lönn, lies on Lake Saimaa. Olavinlinna Castle is only 400 m away. It offers free Wi-Fi, a quiet setting and cosy, individually decorated rooms. Each guest room at Hotel Hospitz has a flat-screen TV and private bathroom. Some also have a balcony with views of the lake or the hotel’s apple tree garden. During summer the Garden Bistro serves tasty food and refreshments and offers a beautiful view of Lake Saimaa. A traditional Finnish sauna is another relaxation option. During the Opera Festival in July, guests can enjoy a gala dinner before the opera and a light buffet afterwards. Hotel Hospitz offers free private parking and is just 3 minutes’ drive from Savonlinna Train Station. Guests arriving by boat can dock along the hotel’s jetty.
Situated on a private island on Lake Saimaa, Spahotel Casino is 500 m from central Savonlinna. The 15th-century Olavinlinna Castle is 1.5 km away. It offers free pool-, gym- and sauna access, as well as free WiFi, free private parking and rooms with a balcony. All rooms at Spahotel Casino have modern furnishings and a flat-screen TV with cable channels. Many rooms feature lake views. Guests can book massages and spa therapy sessions in the spa and wellness centre. Other facilities include bicycle rental and boat cruises, arranged by hotel staff. Restaurant Casino serves both Scandinavian cuisine and international dishes, often using local ingredients. It has a summertime terrace with lake views, where breakfast can also be enjoyed.
Situated 600 m from the 15th-century Olavinlinna Castle, Hotel Pietari Kylliäinen offers free WiFi, free parking and rooms with a TV. Savolinna city centre is a 7-minute walk away. All the air-conditioned rooms at Pietari Kylliäinen Hotel have a fridge and a work desk. Each has a private bathroom with shower. A breakfast is served every morning at the in-house restaurant. The dinner menu features daily specials and pizzas. A 5-lane bowling alley is located on site. During weekends glow bowling activities are arranged. Other relaxation options include a sauna. The crafts shops in the quaint Linnankatu street are within a 5-minute walk of the hotel. Savonlinna Train Station is a 7-minute walk away.
This hotel is set in a renovated late 19th-century building by the shores of Lake Saimaa. It offers free WiFi, a terrace and rooms with minibars and seating areas. Summer Hotel Villa Aria’s spacious rooms feature fresh décor and high ceilings. Most provide lake views. Relaxation options include a sauna, available at a surcharge. Staff can also help to arrange archipelago boat tours. Home to the Savonlinna Opera Festival, the 15th-century Olavinlinna Castle is 1 km from Villa Aria. There is also a gym 500 m away that guests can use for a fee.
Located 500 m from Savonlinna Train Station, this hotel is 10 minutes’ walk from the 15th-century Olavinlinna Castle. All rooms offer a TV and minibar. All bathrooms at Summer Hotel Tott include a shower and hairdryer. Some rooms also feature a kitchenette. Relaxation options include a lobby bar. A buffet breakfast is served at the hotel each morning. Tott's staff are always willing to recommend activities and local attractions.
This hotel is on Savonlinna’s main square, Kauppatori, right by Lake Saimaa. It provides free WiFi and sauna access, and a rooftop lake-view restaurant open in the summer. Savonlinna-Kauppatori Station is 100 m away. Original Sokos Hotel Seurahuone Savonlinna's guest rooms have a private bathroom with bathtub or shower. All feature a minibar and a flat-screen TV with cable channels and internet access. Most have lake views. In addition to the seasonal rooftop restaurant, the hotel has an à la carte restaurant, a dance restaurant and a night club. Guests can relax with a drink in Café Opera, Sokos Hotel Seurahuone Savonlinna’s European-style café. The hotel’s 2 saunas on the 6th-floor offer panoramic views over Savonlinna and Lake Saimaa. WiFi is free in public areas. Original Sokos Hotel Seurahuone Savonlinna is right next to the city’s main street, Olavinkatu. The 15th-century Olavlinna Castle is less than 15 minutes’ walk away.
Boutique Hotel Tavis
Tavis is a hotel situated in Savonlinna. This hotel offers a garden. Guests can enjoy lake views. The rooms in the hotel are equipped with a kettle. With a private bathroom, some rooms at Tavis also offer a garden view. The units will provide guests with a microwave. A continental breakfast is served daily at the property during summer season. Guests at the accommodation will be able to enjoy activities in and around Savonlinna, like cycling. Savonlinna Airport is 9 km away.
Located next to Lake Suurjärvi, Tanhuvaara Sport Resort offers a private beach area, buffet restaurant and variety of on-site activities. Guests have free access to WiFi and to the fitness centre. All rooms have a flat-screen TV and private bathroom. Some feature a kitchenette, while others have access to a shared kitchen and common living room. Laundry facilities are also available. The Tanhuvaara Sport Resort restaurant and bar, Espilä, serves Finnish and international cuisine. Drinks and snacks are also available in the lobby café. Guests can book tennis courts, saunas and many other facilities. In addition, Tanhuvaara Sport Resort staff is happy to help arrange activities such as hiking and fishing. The scenic surroundings provide opportunities for relaxing strolls, and a sandy beach is just 50 m away. Aholahti Ski Centre and Savonlinna are within about 15 minutes’ drive. On-site parking is free.
WHAT TO DO IN SAVONLINNA
Play golf in the breath-taking scenery of Lake Saimaa! The Savonlinna area has two golf courses, Kerigolf and Rantasalmi golf. Kerigolf’s 18-hole course is surrounded by beautiful forest scenery. This golf course is challenging and its differences in elevation bring challenges to your game. Kerigolf is situated by Kerimaa holiday village, where it’s also easy to book handy accommodation. This golf course is situated only 17km from the centre of Savonlinna.Rantasalmi golf’s 9-hole course is in the middle of lovely Finnish nature. This course runs over hilly fields and lake scenery. The course is situated in the village of Asikkala, which is 52km from Savonlinna city centre.
Oravi Savonlinna Sailing Center is the only sailboat rental company in the Saimaa lake area. Sailboats are ready for your archipelago trekking adventures. The Joe 17 type small sailboats, accommodation is suitable for two adults. The Year 2020 is the fourth business year of our company, they expand their operations according to demand.
Built directly on rock in the middle of the lake (now accessed via bridges), this heavily restored 15th-century fortification was constructed as a military base on the Swedes' restless eastern border. The currents in the surrounding water ensure that it remains unfrozen in winter, which prevented enemy attacks over ice. To visit the castle's upper levels, including the towers and chapel, you must join an hour-long guided tour. Guides bring the castle to life with vivid accounts of its history.
Historical old Savonlinna
At the feet of Olavinlinna Castle, you can get a feeling of old historical Savonlinna with its wooden houses and old avenues. Savonlinna is built on islands nestled by Olavinlinna castle and Lake Saimaa. The city itself started gaining form slowly towards the end of 1400. During the time that the castle was being built, the area gained a lot of craftspeople, masons and other people who worked in the castle. The community stabilized, and in the year 1639 Pietari Brahe founded the city of Savonlinna. The old city centre was located on Linnankatu (Castle Street). In the beginning of 1900 it was thought to be so fine with its cobbled streets and street lamps that people often called it by another name, Parisian street. Nowadays Linnankatu is a popular place to live, and a comfortable place for visitors to feel the history of Savonlinna. In the street’s wooden buildings, there are many restaurants, galleries and handycrafts shops. At the end of Linnankatu you will find Riihisaari, Lake Saimaa Nature and Culture Centre, and the pride of our city, Olavinlinna Castle.
On an island that was once a naval port, this museum housed in a handsome 16th-century granary recounts local history and the importance of water transport. It also has a number of exhibits about the history, flora and fauna of Lake Saimaa, including a 12-minute video about the underwater world of Torsti, an endangered ringed seal pup living in the lake. Exhibits on the ground floor are more interesting than those upstairs.
This internationally renowned event is Finland’s most famous festival, with an enviably dramatic setting: the covered courtyard of Olavinlinna Castle.
Canoes, kayaks and Sup - boards
Saimaacharter rent equipment at the Spahotel Casino we offer canoes, kayaks, sup-boards, rowing boat, outboard motor etc. We also organize canoeing/sup-paddling excursion, sup-paddle course and boatsafari.
Going fishing at Lake Saimaa truly is the fisherman’s paradise! The lake district surrounding Savonlinna city is the biggest in Europe, and you can find many different fishing grounds and fish species there. Fishing in Savonlinna and Lake Saimaa is a wonderful experience for lake fishermen!
Olavinlinna Castle hosts Jäälinna, an ice-sculpture contest.
Take a break within nature and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Savonlinna area from horseback. There are many stables in the area that offer high quality riding services all year round. You can ride indoors, on outside fields or along different forest paths, calm sandy roads and on magnificent beaches.
During the winter, you can also try ice floating at Lake Saimaa. You will be cosy inside a big specialised floating suit while you bob harmlessly amongst bits of ice in the lake, just like the endangered Saimaa ringed seal.
During the winter, you can also swim inside in Savonlinna. The area has many spas and indoor swimming pools for you to choose from in swimming halls and spas. Additionally, at swimming halls and spas you can relax in different styles of saunas, get spa treatments like massages and try different sports and leisure activities.
Savonlinna and its surrounding areas offer many maintained skiing routes. The skiing routes are situated in the breath-taking scenery of Lake Saimaa, over the lake ice, through the forests, and over the hills and fields surrounding it. In Savonlinna you can start skiing straight from the town itself. Savonlinna area offers many suitable skiing routes for skiers of all levels. You can rest and take a break in the many lean-tos, kotas, skiing huts and winter cafes situated along the routes. Whilst on your skiing trip it is always a wonderful moment to take a breather and enjoy a cup of something hot.
Great catches await at Lake Saimaa! Winter fishing and ice fishing on the frozen surface of Lake Saimaa call for anyone with an interest in fishing. Lake Saimaa gives plenty of fish even during the cold winter months. Fishing in winter means fishing with a small rod through a hole in the ice or netting through the ice. A sunny winters day on the ice on Lake Saimaa, sitting by the bore hole while waiting for something to take the bait is a wonderful way to spend a part of your holiday. You can also fish by nets on the lakes during the winter.
Hytermä islands in Kerimäki (Puruvesi, Lake Saimaa) are one of the most beautiful and interesting places to visit in Lake Saimaa. Hytermä islands are nature reserve area and museum islands, about 7km from the centre of Kerimäki towards Hälvä. Hytermä was declared a protected nature area in the year 1931, and the fact that is has survived almost completely in its natural state is all down to an ex-rural police chief (1916-1940) Heikki Väyrynen, a.k.a. Romu-Heikki, and his wife. The islands have a one-of-a-kind collection of art made from rocks, and easily walked nature paths. Hytermä can only be reached by boat which you can rent before rowing the 400m to the island. Once there you will also find a wonderful sandy beach and a pier. Hytermä is situated 7 km from the centre of Kerimäki (Savonlinna-Kerimäki 23 km), address: Hälvänsaarentie 80, Kerimäki.
You can enjoy snowshoeing at many places on Lake Saimaa, such as in our beautiful national parks. The winter snows will not stop you from enjoying walking in our woods and glades. Put some snowshoes on, take some ski sticks, and you are ready to explore the forests and shores of Lake Saimaa. Many good snowshoeing routes can be found in our local national parks Linnansaari and Kolovesi, or at Onnellisten Saari right by Savonlinna city centre. You can do solo trips or hire a guide to take you. Snowshoes and other equipment can be rented from rental shops and from companies that offer guided tours.
Exhibitions and galleries
Many galleries & exhibitions in Savonlinna and its surrounding areas are open all year round. During the summer, the art life of Savonlinna area really wakes up, when small galleries and exhibits open their doors. The art manor of artist Johanna Oras is open during the summer, as is artist Pentti Ikäheimonen’s Villi Villa. Of course, they have exhibits during the wintertime too. Savonlinna’s provincial museum Riihisaari has its permanent exhibition plus many other changing cultural and historical exhibits and art exhibits throughout the year. The exhibition at the bottom floor of Olavinlinna Castle tells the history of the castle. The Finnish Forest Museum Lusto has an exhibition that shows the importance of forest to Finnish people through the ages. Lusto also has other changing forest themed exhibits.
WHERE TO SHOP IN SAVONLINNA
Shopping in Savonlinna is a great fun, even though Savonlinna is a small town there are great opportunities for shopping. Your wallet may lose some weight, but in the other hand the merchandise is high quality.
The location alone in the heart of the lively summer tourist city, amidst the exceptionally beautiful lake scenery and on the banks of the fast-flowing Haapasalmi, which connects the lakes Haapavesi and Pihlajavesi, makes Savonlinna market square unique. The principal city parks and the passenger harbour are integral parts of its setting.
During the festival season, the start of each day of opera is celebrated in Harbour Park next to the market square every morning. Historical steamships call their goodbyes in the harbour and modern motor cruisers start their journeys from their berths at the square, adding their own greetings to the general hubbub. With the general structural change, the businesses on the market square has also adapted, putting more emphasis on the summer, which has become all the livelier with an ambience you can almost touch.
The market provides unforgettable moments for visitors as well as locals, enjoying the delicacies of market cafés, fish restaurants and market stalls.
The quintessential display includes the world-famous lörtsy pasties, fish pies and other tasty baked goods, fresh vegetables, berries and fruits; seedlings and flowers according to season; and a wealth of handmade items from traditional textiles to fishing gear and jewellery. There are natural and organic products, but industrial items are also available. In other words, Savonlinna market has it all!
The vendors on Savonlinna market square deserve a special mention: here you will find the prettiest market maidens and the most vital young men, not to forget the traditional market ‘grannies’ and ‘grandpas’, all waiting to serve you to the best of their abilities. Welcome to the market square – a unique experience at the heart of the Opera Festival City.
Everything in this gorgeous atelier has been handmade in Savonlinna. Textile designer Mervi Pesonen uses natural materials such as flax, wool, park skirt and cotton marshmallow to make stylish bags, cushions, throws and tea towels.
Taito Shop handcraft shop is situated in an old wooden house on Saimaa lake shore just a stone throw away from the Market Square. There you can find a large variety of Finnish products as well as local ones consisting of e.g. hand beaten cast iron works and herbal products. There is also an exhibition room.