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Kotka is the southeasternmost major city in Finland, an important port at the mouth of the Kymi river (Kymenjoki). It is part of the Kymenlaakso region. The port town heritage and associated folklore is central for its identity. The Maritime Museum of Finland is located here.


The municipality has a population of around 52,000 (2020) and much of its area is made up of water. The name comes from the island Kotkansaari ("eagle island"), where the town was built and were most of its centre still lies. The former parish village Karhula, now a kind of a second centre with a number of shopping malls, is a few kilometres to the north, crossed by the E18 motorway.


In medieval times, the rich fishing around the river mouth attracted people from elsewhere to settle here: mainly Tavastians, but also Savonians, Karelians and even Swedish, when the Vyborg (Viipuri/Viborg) castle had been built in 1293 and thereby Swedish rule had been established.

The Russian border moved west to the Kymi river in 1743, and after the Svensksund battle 1790 Russia built a fortress on the islands. The fortress sustained a mostly Russian population of some 8,000 – a major town at the time. When all Finland became a Russian grand duchy the fortress lost its importance; most of the fortress was destroyed in 1855, during the Crimean War, by a French-Brittish navy.

In the 1870s a strong sawmill industry developed, thanks to log driving along the Kymi river. One of the sawmills had a Norwegian owner and many Norwegians in the workforce. 1879 Kotka became a chartered town. The streets were laid out according to those of the former fortress town. 1890 Kotka got railway and its role as the main city of the area was cemented.

In 1907, the Second All-Russian Conference of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party was held in the city.

Historically the city had a substantial Swedish-speaking population, which declined during the 20th century, and today approximately 96% of the municipality's inhabitants are native Finnish speakers, only 1% native Swedish speakers (but there is still a Swedish school). The city's long history of industrialization is evident; paper and pulp mills have remained an important part of the regional economy.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Acceptably quick local trains connect Kotka to Kouvola and Lahti where you can change trains to get to Helsinki and elsewhere.

By car[edit]

Route E18 connects Kotka to Helsinki, Hamina and Saint Petersburg. Also highway 15 connects Kotka to Kouvola.

By bus[edit]

There are frequent coach connections to Helsinki and other cities including Saint Petersburg in Russia. See Matkahuolto and Onnibus for the domestic services. Some bus routes, especially those which come from Lappeenranta and Russia and go towards Helsinki stop only at Karhula which is about 9 km away from Kotka center, local transport is available to travel between Karhula and Kotka center.

Coming via Tallinn or Stockholm, there may be a coach connection with arranged transfer from the port, mostly via Kamppi.

Services from Saint Petersburg are operated by Lux Express and Transgold.

Get around[edit]

The centre of the city, the island Kotkansaari, is small enough to get around by feet. However if you need to go to other parts of the city, bus, taxi or a hire car may be more convenient.

By bus[edit]

Check bus schedules from You can use the route planner[dead link] to seek local bus routes between given locations and addresses. Waltti mobile app can be used for ticket purchase. Matkahuolto Routes and Tickets app is able to first plan the route and after it sell the right ticket for it.

Asiointitaksi is a service open to everyone that complements public transport. The customer only pays the price of the bus ticket and the taxi route enables weekly transport, for example to the market. The trip is ordered from the driver no later than the previous day and can be picked up from any route where it is safe to stop the car. The car can also make a small deviation from the route and pick up the customer closer to home.

By bike[edit]

There is a bike sharing system using bluetooth and the Donkey Republic about €1.50/1 hr, €4/5 hr, €12/24 hr. For longer stays becoming a member is cheaper: €9 or €18/month covers all trips of less than 1 hr respectively 12 hr, also in other towns using Donkey Republic – but you need to register as member in the country of your card (available: most countries in western Europe and USA). Customer service , +358 44 716 0644 daily 09:00–21:00. Several towns in south-east Finland use the same system, which is in use also elsewhere in Finland and abroad.

By taxi[edit]

You can call a taxi from number 100 41 (in country only).

  • Smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi, Menevä, Taksini


Langinkoski Imperial Fishing Lodge
  • 1 Maretarium Aquarium, Sapokankatu 2. An aquarium displaying almost all Finnish fish species.
  • 2 Sapokka Park (Sapokan vesipuisto). Ponds, trees, flowers, a waterfall, a rock exhibition.
  • 3 Langinkoski Imperial Fishing Lodge and Nature Reserve (Langinkosken keisarillinen kalastusmaja), Keisarinmajantie 118 (Langinkoski is 7 km from the city centre), +358 29-533-6991. Daily 10:00–16:00. This old fishing lodge was made of timber in 1889 for Russian Emperor and Grand Duke of Finland Alexander III. It is situated between the branches of the Kymi river, in beautiful surroundings with rapids, trees and small rivers. The area of the nature reserve is 28 hectares (60 acres). There is also a small Orthodox Chapel here. The entrance to the nature reserve is free and the entrance to the Fishing Lodge about €4 (children €2). Langinkoski Imperial Fishing Lodge (Q30689533) on Wikidata Langinkoski Imperial Fishing Lodge on Wikipedia
  • 4 Maritime Centre Vellamo (Merikeskus Vellamo), Tornatorintie 99, +358 40-350-0497, . Summer (school vacations) M Tu Th–Su 10:00–18:00 W 10:00–20:00; winter Tu Th–Su 10:00–17:00 W 10:00–20:00 M closed, ships closed. The Maritime Museum of Finland, Kymenlaakso museum and Coast Guard Museum are located in this architectural masterpiece in the old port of Kotka. In addition to the exhibition, work, teaching and seminar facilities of the Maritime Museum of Finland, Kymenlaakso museum Coast Guard Museum, the building will house a 200-seat auditorium, museum shop, restaurant and an extensive library with emphasis on maritime topics. Ships on display includes the icebreaker Tarmo (built 1907) and Finland's last lightship Kemi (built 1901 and restored to its last lightship years in the 1960s and 1970s). €15/10, children under 18 years free; W 17:00– free; museum card valid; separate ticket for the ships €10, children free. Maritime Centre Vellamo (Q2945864) on Wikidata
  • 5 Orthodox Church of St Nicholas. The present Church of St Nicholas was built between 1799 and 1801 in accordance with drawings by Jakov Perrin, architect of the St Petersburg Admiralty. The columns at the three entrances together with the belfry and dome of this church representing Neoclassicism form an impressive façade. The icons and several objects inside the church are very beautiful. One of the most extraordinary icons depicts St Nicholas in Kotkansaari, with a view of the area of the Ruotsinsalmi naval battle behind him. Outside the church, there is a statue of Maria Purpur, who is reputed to have prevented the destruction of the church during the Crimean War. The church is the oldest building in today’s Kotka.
  • 6 Haukkavuori observation tower (Haukkavuoren näkötorni), Keskuskatu 51. mid-June to mid-August:Tu-Sa 12-18. A former water tower converted to an observation tower where you can see all of Kotka and its surroundings, and if the weather is clear, all the way to Suursaari island. free.
  • 7 Katariinan meripuisto. A park in district of Katariina. The park of more than 20 hectares is on the island of Kotkansaari in the centre of Kotka. In the park are the ruins of Fort Katarina of the Maritime Fortress of Ruotsinsalmi.
  • 8 Yrttipuutarha Redutti, Haukkavuorenkatu. An herb garden established in 2002 in the restored, small fortress structure of Ruotsinsalmi, where you can get to know about a hundred different herbs and medicinal plants.


  • 1 Cruises to Kaunissaari and other islands. Kaunissaari (literally Beautiful Island) Island is a traditional, small but still lively fisherman village. Boats from Sapokka Harbour (in front of Maretarium Aquarium) about 2–3 times a day in the summer. Tickets are sold on boats. On the island you find a very small museum, a restaurant (good fish dishes) and accommodation. Remember to taste extremely delicious salmon pastries which are sold at a kiosk near the museum. There are also cruises to the islands of Tammio (only one permanent inhabitant!), Ulkotammio and Haapasaari (10 inhabitants, 25 km from Kotka). Ferry schedules are available at the Finferries website.
  • 2 Gulf of Finland National Park. Hundreds of islands and islets in the Baltic Sea outer archipelago in front of Kotka and Hamina, some of which can be reached by the above mentioned cruises. See also Boating in Finland. Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park (Q2554309) on Wikidata Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park on Wikipedia
  • 3 Valkmusa National Park (buses from Kotka to Vastila and Hirvikoski have a stop 200 m from the park, with car there are several options). Extensive open bogs. Bird site. Butterflies, cranberries. Bird watching tower, day hut, campfire site. Valkmusa National Park (Q1515255) on Wikidata Valkmusa National Park on Wikipedia
  • 4 Uimala Katariina, Puistotie 9-11. A public swimming hall with lido.
  • 5 Mansikkalahti. A beach located in the Katariina district, which is divided into two parts: a stone-bottomed main beach and a smaller children's beach next to it.
  • Football: KTP (Kotkan Työväen Palloilijat) were relegated in 2023, so they now play soccer in Ykkönen the second tier. Their home ground Arto Tolsa Areena (capacity 4800) is 1 km south of town centre. The playing season is April-Oct.


  • Kotkan Meripäivät: . The free-of-charge city festival ("Kotka sea days") in late July is the biggest happening in Kotka. It may be difficult to get a guest marina quay during this week-end. (date needs fixing)
  • Dark River Festival: . The Dark River Festival is a metal and hard rock festival in Kotka and Honkala in mid-August. (date needs fixing)


  • 1 Pasaati shopping centre, Keskuskatu 10. A large mall in the centre of Kotka. It has shops for every taste and is particularly full of Russian shopping tourists.
  • 2 Jumalniemi, Jumalniementie 7-10. Jumalniemi shopping area can be found next to the E18 freeway. You can find many different shopping malls in the area.


Ships in the port of Kotka at the Tall Ships' Races

There is a list of lunch offers for each day.


Cheap places to eat include:

  • 1 Erkan Kebab, Keskuskatu 35. Standard-issue Finnish-style kebab.
  • 2 Hot dog stand, at the corner of Keskuskatu and Kaivokatu. As traditional Finnish night food as it gets. Try Lihapiirakka kahdella nakilla (small meat pie with two frankfurters).
  • 3 Efes Pizzeria, Keskuskatu 29. Kotka's staple pizzeria/kebab house. Budget, no frills. Go for Kebab ranskalaisilla for gyros meat and fries.
  • 4 Kuusisen Kalamaja, Juha Vainion katu 95, +358 500-559625, . Summer: 9:00-18:00; Winter: 9:00-16:00. A café restaurant, where, among other things, salmon soup and salmon bread are offered. Possibility to rent for private events.
  • 5 Otsolan Pizzeria, Hiidenkirnuntie 53 (in Karhula), +358 5 268 8866. Daily 12:00-22:000.



  • 14 Rosso, Kauppakatu 5 (on the first floor of Pasaati shopping centre). Italian style chain restaurant offers mainly pizza and salad bar, some other plates as well.





Karhulan Hovi



Stay safe[edit]

You can go more or less anywhere in Kotka any time of the day. Although Kotka has its share of violence and drug use, violent crime happens mostly between addicts and criminals themselves. Robbings are very uncommon.

You might want to avoid jumping a line anywhere during the night, particularly at Finnish hot dog stands ("nakkikioski"). Drunken fights are not unheard-of.


Go next[edit]

  • Hamina — A historical fortress town, the easternmost sea port in Finland.
  • Kouvola - The other big city in Kymenlaakso, best known as an industrial city and railway node.
  • Russia — If you have a valid visa, the Russian border isn't far away.
Routes through Kotka
HelsinkiPyhtää  W King's Road E  HaminaVyborg
HelsinkiPyhtää  W  E  HaminaSaint Petersburg

This city travel guide to Kotka is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.