Eastern Finland, the heart of Finland, in the summer is a paradise of natural beauty and tranquillity. Lush green forests, shimmering lakes, and rolling hills create a picturesque backdrop for road trips – both long and short.
We recommended starting your tour of Eastern Finland in Savonlinna, the Karelian city known for its annual Opera Festival. While in the area, don’t forget to visit nearby Punkaharju and its famous ancient ridges. Shaped by the retreat of glaciers, these ridges form one of Finland’s most famous natural wonders. For nature lovers, a visit to Finnish Forest Museum Lusto is also a must.
From Punkaharju, continue the road trip south on Highway 6 towards Imatra. Stop by at the Parikkala Sculpture Park – a one-of-a-kind outdoor art gallery featuring an extensive collection of whimsical sculptures created by Finnish artist Veijo Rönkkönen. When in Imatra, visit one of Europe’s biggest rapids, Imatrankoski, or go for a cruise in Lake Saimaa. Stay the night in Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli, a renowned, castle-like hotel near the rapids.
The next day, continue towards nearby town of Lappeenranta, where you can visit the Lappeenranta Fortress, an integral part of Finnish, Russian, and Swedish cultural heritage. Finland’s oldest Orthodox church is also located on the Fortress premises. When in Karelia, don’t forget to try the famous, savory Karelian pies!
From the southern Karelia region, the road trip proceeds to southern Savo region and Mikkeli. When leaving Lappeenranta, stop by at the historical war-themed Salpaline Museum and bunkers in Miehikkälä. In addition to historical sights, like the Headquarters Museum in Mikkeli, this region is home to many lovely manor houses. Visit places like Kyyhkylä Manor and Hotel and Tertti Manor to experience traditional manor house living in Lakeland.
From Mikkeli, continue on to Puumala along one of the most scenic roads in Finland, road 62. The road, selected as one the five most beautiful routes in the Nordic countries, follows the shores of Lake Saimaa. If you’re feeling tired, stay overnight at Sahanlahti Resort or Okkola Holiday Cottages.
The next day carry on towards Rantasalmi where you’ll find the unique lake spa Järvisydän and the luxurious Kuru Resort. In nearby Linnansaari National Park, you can go on a guided lake safari to spot the rare Saimaa Ringed Seal.
The last stop on this Savo-Karelian tour is Kuopio. This vibrant city offers a blend of cultural attractions, such as the famous Puijo Tower and the versatile Kuopio Museum, along with opportunities for outdoor adventures, including cruising on Lake Kallavesi. If events are more your cup of tea, don’t miss the annual Kuopio Wine Festival or the iconic Kuopio Dance Festival in June and July.
For more information about this road trip and additional places to visit, go to visitkarelia.fi.