Savonlinna

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Savonlinna is a small city in South Savonia province, Eastern Finland, close to the Russian border.

Olavinlinna

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Tiny Savonlinna Airport (IATA: SVL) is served by Flybe, which offers flights from Helsinki to Savonlinna up to two times per week day, and daily during the Opera Festival. Advance fares start from €32/one way, cheaper than the train, but go up quickly as the plane fills. There is a shuttle service to and from the bus station, which departs one hour before the flight leaves.

By train[edit]

There are 3-4 trains daily from Helsinki or Joensuu to Savonlinna. The price is reasonable especially for students, seniors and juniors. It takes about 4 and half hour to Helsinki by train.

The main station in Savonlinna is called Savonlinna-Kauppatori halt next to the market square. The "station" is unmanned, but you can buy tickets in the train with no surcharge if you board here.

By bus[edit]

Long-distance buses are also an option.

Get around[edit]

Savonlinna is stretched out on a series of islands in the middle of Lake Saimaa. While you can cover the central parts on foot, you'll need to resort to buses (or rent a car) to access the suburbs. If you want to rent a car, there is a Hertz rental office at the waterfront, near Hotel Tott. Savonlinna is surrounded by lakes and you can also rent a canoe to go around town centre.

See[edit]

The cathedral and part of the city center
  •    Olavinlinna +358 15 531 164. The castle is open daily 10AM-6PM in summer, 11AM-4PM during the rest of the year.. Medieval Olavinlinna is the city's symbol and main attraction. Built in 1475 by Danish knight Erik Axelsson to protect the eastern border of the Swedish-Danish Kalmar Union, it was named after the patron saint of knights, St. Olaf. The Russians were soon on the offensive, but the castle withstood several sieges before capitulating in 1714. The Swedes recaptured it in 1721, but lost it again in 1743, and it stayed in Russian hands ever since. This also explains why it has stayed in such good shape: for the Russians, it was far inland and militarily useless, and hence not a target for the enemy either.Today, Olavinlinna is the world's northernmost medieval stone castle and easily Finland's best-preserved and most attractive castle, and it's quite a sight perched on the shores of the lake. The interior, though, is surprisingly small and sparse (virtually all furniture and decorations were lost in fires in around 1870), and free guided tours take one hour. There are two small museums inside the castle: the Castle Museum which covers the castle's history and the Orthodox Museum with Russian Orthodox Christian icons and paraphernalia. Guided tours in English run every hour in summer (enquire in advance at olavinlinna@nba.fi in other seasons), but you can still visit the museums and courtyards without it. Entry to the castle is €5/3.50 adult/child..
  •    Tuomiokirkko (Savonlinna Cathedral), Kirkkokatu +358 15 576800. The cathedral is Savonlinna's main church, opened in 1879. The church had a bishop in the years 1896-1924 and hence gained the right to bear the name cathedral.
  •    Pikkukirkko (The small church), Olavinkatu 29. Built as an Orthodox church in 1846, transformed into a Lutheran church in 1938, today a popular place for weddings.
  •    Maakuntamuseo Riihisaari (Provincial museum Riihisaari), Riihisaari +358 44 417 4466. On Riihisaari island you can learn more about the cultural history and the nature of the region around Lake Saimaa and also visit the natural exhibition of the governmental forest service.
  •    Kasinonsaaret (The Casino islands). Islands close to the city center, a popular place among the locals for getting out in the nature. Hiking paths and places for swimming and barbecuing.

Do[edit]

  •    Savonlinna Opera Festival (Savonlinnan Oopperajuhlat), Olavinkatu 27. The city is renowned for its yearly Opera Festival organized within St. Olaf's Castle. There is also a Ballet Festival at the same place earlier in the year.
  •    Sulosaari. A small island on the other side of the Kylpylä Hotelli Casino, as seen from the city centre. A very picturesque, and quiet place for a stroll. In wintertime, you can include it in a lake-traversing trek, provided the ice is thick enough to walk on (which it usually is).
  •    Lake Saimaa. A nice way to see the city and its surroundings is from a cruising steamer. There are both one-hour cruises around the city and longer cruises to destinations further away. If you're extremely lucky, you just might spot the very rare Saimaa Ringed Seal (saimaannorppa). You can also rent a boat, go fishing or hiking. In the winter when the Saimaa is frozen over there are designated routes for long distance skating on the ice.

Buy[edit]

  •    Taito Shop SavonlinnaPuistokatu 7. Southern Savonian handicrafts such as hand forged metal items and local herb products are sold in an old wooden building at the lake.
  •    AkselinpoikaOlavinkatu 33. Locally produced meat, fish and cheese delicacies.
  •    The shops LinnankatuLinnankatu. On Castle street leading to the Olavinlinna castle you can find many small shops selling souvenirs and such.

Eat[edit]

During the morning and afternoon, the best place to eat is the market square by the lake, where you can get Eastern Finnish delicacies like lörtsy meat pies and freshly fried muikku (vendace, a type of freshwater herring).

Budget[edit]

  •    Keisarin PuistoOlavinkatu 33. Chinese food.
  •    Pizzeria CaperoOlavinkatu 51.
  •    Uskudar KebapPilkkakoskenkatu 3.
  •    HesburgerOlavinkatu 39. The ubiquitous Finnish fast food chain.

Mid-range[edit]

  •    LiekkilohiKauppatori (Market square),  +358 50 3105 850. The flagship floating restaurant of a franchised chain, the menu here is simple: pick either one of their trademark flame-broiled salmon, fried muikku, the un-Finnishly immodestly named "world's best fish soup" (not quite, alas) for around €15, or go whole hog and get them all plus the amazing cold fish buffet with 17 types to sample for €35. Prices may be negotiable if it's quiet and you're in a group.
  •    MajakkaSatamakatu 11.

Splurge[edit]

Drink[edit]

Cafés[edit]

Bars and pubs[edit]

  •    HapytimeOlavinkatu 35.
  •    Olutravintola SillansuuVerkkosaarenkatu 1.
  •    Pub PlayoffPappilankatu 3.
  •    JuanitaOlavinkatu 44.

Nightclubs[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  •    Sokos Hotel SeurahuoneKauppatori 4-6. The traditional wing of Hotel Seurahuone was built in 1956, and it was renovated in 1989 when the new wing was completed. The hotel has 80 high-quality rooms - most of them with a view over the lake. 51 of the rooms are non-smoking and a few designed especially for women.
  •    BEST WESTERN Spahotel CasinoKylpylaitoksentie 7. Offers nice rooms in beautiful surroundings, on an island in the city centre.
  •    Perhehotelli HospitzLinnankatu 20. Next to the Olavinlinna Castle.
  •    Hotel Pietari KylliäinenOlavinkatu 15. City hotel located close to both service and nature.
  •    Lossiranta LodgeKalkkiuuninkatu 11.
  •    Holiday Centre JärvisydänPorosalmentie 303 (Rantasalmi). 30 min. drive from Savonlinna, in the village of Rantasalmi, right next to Linnansaari National Park, offering excellent surroundings for nature activities all year around. Summer cottages villas. Medieval style restaurant Piikatyttö.

Go next[edit]

  • Mikkeli — 100km away by car
  • Kerimäki — featuring the world's largest wooden church
  • Retretti, an art center with exhibitions inside caves in Punkaharju, is accessible by local train from Savonlinna. There are five trains a day, and a train ticket costs 3,90€ for adult.
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