The City of Lappeenranta (population 70,000) is the economic and cultural centre of south-east Finland near the border of Russia and at the southern shore of the Saimaa, the largest lake (system) of Finland. Its culture and dialects are strongly part of eastern Finland, although Wikivoyage treats it as part of Southern Finland. Also known as Villmanstrand (its Swedish name and previous English name), Lappeenranta has a colourful, 360-year history influenced by its location in the border dividing western and eastern cultures.
Two highways, 6 and 13, pass through Lappeenranta. Bus companies operate frequently from Helsinki and other cities, even Saint Petersburg in Russia. Highway 13 extends to the Russian border, some 25 km from the city centre, where the 1 Border Station of Nuijamaa/Brusnichnoye (Нуйямаа-Брусничное) is the second busiest border crossing in Finland. Russian tourists usually use this pathway to come to the city either by bus or a car.
If you drive from Helsinki, three almost equal routes are available. You can either drive through road 6 or via Hamina (roads 7, 26 and 6) or Vaalimaa (roads 7 and 387)
At late evening you can take a train to Kouvola and then continue further to Lappeenranta by Yöksi kotiin taxi service, price is €50. Order must be made at least 24 hours before departure.
The bus station is located next to the main railway station.
There are direct connections by bus from Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Kouvola, Joensuu, Kotka, Mikkeli, Porvoo and Imatra. Coming via Tallinn or Stockholm, there may be coach connections from the port with arranged transfer, mostly via Kamppi. For timetables, see Matkahuolto.
The nearest international flight hubs are in Helsinki and St. Petersburg. If you come to Helsinki airport at late evening, you can use Yöksi kotiin taxi service which transports you from Helsinki airport to Lappeenranta, price is €87.50. Order must be made at least 24 hours before departure.
Lappeenranta is a popular destination for boaters within the Saimaa lake area. Some cruise boats operate from Lappeenranta to other destinations within the lake area. Lappeenranta is connected to the Gulf of Finland through the Saimaa Canal. Visa free (remember to always check the current situation) cruise boats operate from Lappeenranta to Vyborg, Russia through the canal. The canal is also popular among boaters, and private boats occasionally come from as far as Southern Europe. Check Boating on the Baltic Sea for instructions on how.
As of April 2022 the future of the Saimaa Canal seems uncertain, because of the Russian war on Ukraine and Finland possibly joining NATO as a result. The canal opened officially in March, but there is no commercial traffic to Russia or from the sea. If coming by own yacht, check whether the canal really is open, and whether there are risks involved in passing through Russian waters (are you on their sanction list? they might find an excuse to give you a hard time).
Everything in the centre is within walking distance. Even the airport is within walking range if you do not have much luggage, but taxi or local bus is probably preferable.
Getting further to the suburbs is easy by bus. City of Lappeenranta has bus schedules. There is a graphical route planner to find timetables. Routes and Tickets mobile app has an address based routing and also a ticket purchase option directly from the app.
You can use NFC payment with Visa, Mastercard or Eurocard (Diners Club and American Express do not work) or a mobile device with Apple Pay, Pivo or Google Pay: the payment card or mobile device is displayed to the reader device, which then says "Lähimaksu hyväksytty" ("Proximity payment accepted").
When travelling to ruralside, school buses can be used. The ride must be booked in advance.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, ☏ 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.
Electric kick scooters
- See also: Finland#By motorised scooter
- Taksi Saimaa, ☏ , email@example.com. Also bookable by app. Flag fall M–Fri 06:00–20:00: €5.90, Sa 06:00–16:00: €5.90, other times and holidays: €9.00; 1–4 persons €1.76/km, over 4 persons €2.28/km (July 2020).
- Menevä Lappeenranta, ☏ (head of office), toll-free: 0800-02120 (booking). Also bookable by app or web. Fixed price based on calculated route and time if destination address given when booking by app or web. Flag fall M–Sa 06:00–18:00: €4, other times and holidays: €7; 1–4 persons €0.90/km + €0.90/min, 5–8 persons minimum €20, €1.60/km + €0.90/min (March 2021).
- Smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi
- The 1 historical fortress, the original city center which was established in mid-17th century. The old buildings include artist workshops, the 2 oldest orthodox church in Finland, completed in 1785, as well as 3 the Museum of South Carelia and 4 the Art Museum of South Carelia.
- 5 Sandcastle. The biggest one in Scandinavia. Each summer an ever larger sandcastle is built by artists on the northern end of the harbour area. Each year they have a different theme and make sculptures on the walls of the castle accordingly. There is a small theatre inside the castle playing acts intended mainly to children and families.
- 1 Harbour area. The harbour, the parks nearby, the fortress and Myllysaari beach are a perfect place to chill out in summertime, sitting on the terraces, drinking, eating and watching the boats and things that happen. Live music played on many summer days. Early in August there is a popular festival called "Linnoituksen yö" (Engl. The Night of the Fortress) in the harbour and fortress area.
- 2 Lake Saimaa and the Saimaa Canal. Take a cruise from Lappeenranta to the Saimaa, Saimaa canal or Vyborg, Russia through the canal! This canal was built to connect the Saimaa to the Baltic Sea at the dawn of industrialisation. The canal was modernized in the 1960s. The canal connects to the Bay of Finland, on Russian territory, close to Vyborg (Finn. Viipuri). The canal is mostly used by cargo ships, but there are also passenger boats operating from Lappeenranta to Vyborg. It is also used by private boats from Finland and abroad. In 2022 the cruises seem to extend only halfway down the Canal, keeping to the Finnish side, because of the Russian war on Ukraine.
- In winter, the city seems to quiet down a little. The main attractions during winter are the city theatre and major league ice hockey and basketball games. Also many possibilities exist for practising winter sports. There are tens of kilometres worth of cross-country skiing tracks (a popular stage circles around the airport), and also a small downhill skiing slope. Many outdoor and indoor ice-rinks are available for skating. The city bay becomes a skating track during winter.
- LPRHC Fest: . Hardcore, punk and rap festival in Lappeenranta in early August. After party and more. (date needs fixing)
Situated close to the border, Lappeenranta is one of the most popular destinations for Russian shopping travellers. The two major shopping mall chains Prisma and Citymarket are located at the outskirts of the city.
- 1 Citymarket, Toikansuontie 4 (at the crossing of highway 6 and regional road 390).
- 2 Prisma, Puhakankatu 9 (at the eastern end of the airport).
- 3 Iso Kristiina, Brahenkatu 3–7. The largest mall in the city centre, Iso-Kristiina hosts an Anttila department store and a variety of smaller shops, mostly selling clothing.
- Small coffee booths at the harbour and the 1 market square (Kauppatori) offer traditional meat pies called vety (Eng. "hydrogen") and atomi (Eng. "atom"). Vety consists of a meat pie, ham, boiled egg and condiments. Atomi has either ham or egg, but not both. Also other snack food is offered by the booths. Just ask for 'vetyatomi' and you'll be understood in nearly all the grillikioskis in Finland.
- 2 Wolkoff, Kauppakatu 26, ☏ . M-F 11:00-24:00, Sa 16:30-23:00. A nice, cozy 50-seat restaurant in a historical 150-year-old house. Non-smoking. In the summertime, seats also available on the courtyard. Main dishes €14-28..
- 3 Lappeenrannan Kasino, Ainonkatu 10. An old, classy restaurant. Has also a separate terrace docked on the water at the harbour.
- 1 Majurska, Kristiinankatu 1, ☏ . Open M-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 11:00-17:00, an hour longer in summer. A romantic café in the historical old Fortress. Delicious homebaked cakes and tarts. Not necessarily for small children because of limited space and fragile décor.
- 2 Coffee House, Kauppiaskatu 29-31 (In the shopping mall Amanda), ☏ . M-Th 08:00-22:09, F 08:00-00:00, Sa 09:00-00:00, Su 13:00-20:00. A nice, modern cafe.
- 3 Café Galleria, Koulukatu 15 (In the Galleria shopping mall), ☏ . M-F 07:30-17:09, Sa 09:00-15:00. A small cafe.
Most of the popular bars are located in the city centre.
- 4 Prinsessa Armaada, ☏ . Harbour. 10:00–02:00 daily in summer (subject to weather). A popular hangout place in the summer, this restaurant is built on an old parked steamboat. Most people come here for drinks, although they also serve food. Another similar boat restaurant, S/S Suvi-Saimaa, is located next to Prinsessa Armaada. main dishes €9–17.
Some mid-range and budget hotels are present.
- Local student housing foundation, LOAS, offers affordable accommodation during the summer months for tourists.
- 1 Pitotalo Miekkala, Partalantie 136, ☏ . A typical Bed and Breakfast hotel, 10 km from Lappeenranta towards Joensuu. B&B €25/person.
- 2 Matkustajakoti Turisti-Lappee, Kauppakatu 52, ☏ . Centrally located. The shower facilities are shared, the double rooms have private toilets but the single rooms do not. Prices include breakfast and the use of the sauna facilities. double €51, single €31.
- 3 Camping Lappeenranta, Kuusimäenkatu 18 (2 km west of the city centre), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The prices include breakfast and the use of the swimming pool.
- 4 Lahtelan maatilamatkailu, Lahtelantie 120, ☏ . Bed and Breakfast in Ylämaa, south of Lappeenranta.
- 5 Sokos Hotel Lappee, Brahenkatu 1 (next to Galleria shopping mall), ☏ . A comfortable chain hotel in the middle of the city overlooking a desolate square with the town hall's blocky architecture and a fountain.
- 6 Hotel Cumulus Lappeenranta, Valtakatu 31, ☏ , email@example.com. 95 rooms with TV, radio, pay-channel, hair dryer and free broadband connection."
Lappeenranta is a safe city very accustomed to foreigners. Lappeenranta is the second most popular destination in Finland, mainly due to Russian shopping tourists, but also many other nationalities visit during summer months.
- Imatra - 40 km northeast. See the rapids of Imatrankoski (free flowing at special occasions) and other attractions that the Russian czars used to visit in the 19th century.
- Punkaharju - drive through Finland's national landscape on a road on the top of a ridge that partially divides Lake Saimaa.
- Savonlinna - 120 km north, home to a well preserved medieval castle where an opera festival is held each summer.
- Vyborg - take a one, two or three day visa free cruise to Russia through the Saimaa canal. These cruises run in the summer only.