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Savonlinna (Swedish: Nyslott) is a small city in South Savonia province, Eastern Finland, close to the Russian border. Savonlinna is one of the iconic tourism destinations of Finland with traditions of hospitality going back to the 19th century. The town has been attracting visitors with its spa, lake nature including two national parks. In summertime the town offers rich variety of lake cruises, many still operated with old lake steamers.


Savonlinna was founded as a city in 1639 when the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf granted it city rights. The city grew rapidly around Olavinlinna Castle, and it became an important trading hub on the Saimaa waterway.

By the late 1800s, Savonlinna was a thriving city known as a centre for culture and the arts. The city was a popular tourist destination, and many famous artists and writers, such as Jean Sibelius and Juhani Aho, visited and lived there.

During World War II, Savonlinna suffered significant damage when the Soviet Air Force bombed the city. Many buildings and infrastructure were destroyed during the bombings.

After the war, Savonlinna was rebuilt and has since thrived. The annual Savonlinna Opera Festival attracts about 65 000 visitors in July. Savonlinna is an important centre for leisure and culture in eastern Finland. It has about 32,000 inhabitants (2023).

Kerimäki, Punkaharju and Savonranta belong to Savonlinna since around 2010. They are handled in their own articles. Sääminki, which was merged in the 1970s, is handled here.

Get in[edit]


By plane[edit]

If you fly in from abroad, you probably fly to Helsinki (HEL IATA) and can continue by bus, train or plane. Lappeenranta (LPP IATA) also has some international flights, most of them operated by Ryanair.

  • 1 Savonlinna Airport (SVL IATA) (13 km north from the centre). The airport is served by two daily flights from Helsinki (HEL IATA). The flights can be reserved at the Norppa site. In 2023 seasonal charter flights were begun from Frankfurt (FRA IATA) and Rotterdam (RTM IATA). Savonlinna Airport (Q954725) on Wikidata Savonlinna Airport on Wikipedia

By train[edit]

As of 2016, there are 3–4 trains daily from Parikkala (70 minutes) where they meet intercity trains from Helsinki (altogether 4¼ hours) and from Joensuu (altogether 2¼ hours).

For Punkaharju train stops, see listings for Punkaharju.

  • 2 Savonlinna train stop. With connections to Parikkala, Joensuu, Imatra, Lappeenranta, Helsinki. Centrally located near the Market Square and hotels. Unstaffed but equipped with ticket machine.
  • 3 Pääskylahti train stop. Convenient access to trains from the eastern suburbs of the town.
  • 4 Kerimäki train stop. Kerimäki train station in Silvola village. It is 14 km from Kerimäki village. Kerimäki Church cannot easily be reached from here without pre-arranged transportation (taxi).

By bus[edit]

There are three daily direct coaches from Helsinki (4½–5½ hours) and five daily buses from Mikkeli (1½ hours) with connections from other destinations. There are directs routes also from Joensuu, Varkaus, Jyväskylä and Imatra. See Matkahuolto.

  • 5 Savonlinna Bus Station (Savonlinnan linja-autoasema), Tulliportinkatu 1-5. Unmanned. Long distance bus connection in the direction of
    - Juva-Mikkeli-Helsinki
    - Sulkava-Puumala
    - Rantasalmi-Varkaus
    - Enonkoski
    - Kerimäki-Kitee-Joensuu
    - Savonranta
    - Punkaharju-Parikkala-Imatra
    All local buses (along street Tulliportinkatu) serving city centre and the suburbs.

By car[edit]

S/S Savonlinna, one of the steamers to go on a cruise – or get in – with

Savonlinna is about equidistant (about 100 km) from each of Mikkeli, Varkaus and Imatra, and a little longer from Joensuu. No matter from which direction you're coming from, it's a beautiful drive through the lake landscape, especially in the summer. From Helsinki it's 335 km; about 4 hr of driving, depending on traffic and road conditions.

By boat[edit]

Lake Saimaa can be reached by yacht (height max 24 m) from the sea through the Saimaa Canal. Lake scenery can be appreciated in summertime on sightseeing cruises departing from the passenger harbour next to the market place.

  • 6 Savonlinna Passenger Harbour (Matkustajasatama), Satamakatu 7 (a 5-min walk from Savonlinna train stop, 15 minutes from the bus station). Here you can see the traditional lake steamers. All the sightseeing cruises depart from here.

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 paddle around town centre.

By bus[edit]

The town maintains information on local buses. There is a route planner for local transport trips. Routes and Tickets mobile app has an address based routing and also a ticket purchase option directly from the app. Local connections can also be searched on Google maps.

By taxi[edit]


The cathedral and part of the city centre
  • 1 Olavinlinna (Olofsborg), +358 15 531-164. Daily 10:00–18:00 in summer, 11:00–16:00 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 until Finnish independence. This 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 around 1870), and free guided tours take one hour. There are small exhibits inside the castle. Guided tours in English run every hour in summer (enquire in advance at in other seasons), but you can also visit the museums and courtyards on your own (entrance to some areas only on a tours. €5/3.50 adult/child. Olavinlinna Castle (Q251272) on Wikidata Olavinlinna on Wikipedia
  • 2 Riihisaari Museum (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.
  • 3 Tuomiokirkko (Savonlinna Cathedral), Kirkkokatu, +358 15 576-800. 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. Savonlinna Cathedral (Q1236619) on Wikidata Savonlinna Cathedral on Wikipedia
  • 4 Saints Zachary and Elisabeth Church (Little Church of Savonlinna (Pikkukirkko)), Olavinkatu 29. Possible to see during church services. Built as an Orthodox church in 1846, transformed into a Lutheran church in 1938. The church was returned to the orthodox parish in 2022.
  • 5 [dead link] Kasinonsaaret (The Casino islands). Islands close to the city centre, a popular place among the locals for getting out in the nature. Hiking paths and places for swimming and barbecuing.
  • 6 Kirkkoniemi bell tower, Kellotornintie 26 (Take local bus #3 to the stop Kirkkoniemi). Bell tower of the old church of Sääminki from 1773, surrounded by a quiet graveyard. A place for meditation.


View from Linnansaari National Park
Punkaharju esker from air.
  • 1 Cruises (from Kauppatori). June–August, late morning to evening, with earlier and later departures in July. A nice way to see the city and its surroundings is from a small cruise ship. There are cruises of an hour or an hour and a half around the city or the surrounding archipelago, leaving every half an hour or so all day, some with old steamships, some with modern ships. Most have a café of sorts or even restaurant, some are accessible with wheelchair (not necessarily including the toilet). Some have multi-language commentary on the route. There are also longer cruises, even to Kuopio and Lappeenranta. €18/15/9.
  • 2 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.
  • 3 Saimaa Holiday Oravi (Oravi Village) (please inquire from the operator about the transportation). Activities and access to lakes and national parks by boat or canoe. Guided tours. Transport by boat to Linnansaari National Park is available from here. Equipment rental, restaurant and hotel.
  • 4 Kolovesi National Park (visitor centre in Enonkoski, 33 km from Savonlinna centre; boat, bike, car or taxi needed to reach the park from there, with boat from the Heinävesi route). A labyrinth of islands with rocky cliffs by narrow channels. Ancient rock paintings and the Saimaa ringed seal. Best explored with a canoe. Motor boats are off limits in most of the park. Kolovesi National Park (Q1779681) on Wikidata Kolovesi National Park= on Wikipedia
  • 5 Linnansaari National Park (daily coaches to near Porosalmi, which has boat services to the park; the Savonlinna–Varkaus shipping/boat route goes through the area, reachable from several directions; also cruises from Savonlinna). Lush islands and rocky islets. Best explored by boat or canoe, but there is a boat service to the main island and taxi boats available. Nature trails, an old croft, Saimaa seals and osprays. Tour skating in winter. Linnansaari National Park (Q1826934) on Wikidata Linnansaari National Park on Wikipedia
  • 6 Spahotel Casino, Kylpylaitoksentie 7. The spa is equipped with a recreational pool, a spa tub, and a children's pool. There is a hot water outside and a gym nearby.
  • 7 Tanhuvaara Sport Resort (Tanhuvaaran urheiluopisto), Moinsalmentie 1042 (buses to Pellossalo, bus stop "Tanhuvaara"), +358 15 582-0000, . Football hall, ice rink, ballroom, gymnasium,ski trails, tennis courts, mini golf, beach. Spa has wellness pool with hydromassage points, a hot tub, cold water pool, a combined paddling pool slide for small children and a water slide.
  • 8 Tour of artistic birdhouses, Puistokatu 5. Spot cemetery worker and folk artist Marko Ruuskanen's artistic birdhouses on a self-guided tour in Savonlinna city centre. Also, have a look at other trail and tours in Savonlinna on
  • 9 Kerigolf (bus stop for service between Savonlinna and Kerimäki is 1 km from Kerigolf along road 71). Kerigolf course is located in a varied forest landscape, which brings certain difficulties and variety into the play. The first-class services meet even the requirements of an experienced player. The golf course, famous for its natural beauty, is individually constructed in every detail. You will meet the symbol of Kerigolf – the bear – several times during your play round. A state-of-the-art restaurant serves you here.


Savonlinna offers a wide range of events all year round, especially music. The opera festival brings people from afar, but there are also numerous fringe events in the summer. In wintertime, the orchestra, choirs, clubs and event venues offer different kinds of concerts.

  • 10 Savonlinna Opera Festival (Savonlinnan Oopperajuhlat), Office: Olavinkatu 27. July. The city is renowned for its yearly Opera Festival organized within St. Olaf's Castle. There are arrangements to accommodate a few wheelchairs, book a wheelchair seat if relevant. €55–270. Savonlinna Opera Festival (Q917300) on Wikidata Savonlinna_Opera_Festival on Wikipedia
  • Savonlinna Music Academy summer concerts (Savonlinnan Musiikkiakatemia), . The Music Academy concerts are one the most extensive classical music festivals in Finland. It is based on world-class professors giving master classes for students from all over the world and making music together. It is probably the least advertised festival in Finland, but provides the most memorable moments especially in chamber music.


  • 1 [dead link] Taito Shop Savonlinna, Puistokatu 7. Southern Savonian handicrafts such as hand forged metal items and local herb products are sold in an old wooden building at the lake.
  • 2 [dead link] Akselinpoika, Olavinkatu 33. Locally produced meat, fish and cheese delicacies.
  • 3 The shops Linnankatu, Linnankatu. On Castle street leading to the Olavinlinna castle you can find many small shops selling souvenirs and design items.


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 of smoked muikku (vendace, a type of freshwater whitefish). You can find these typical local products also in the supermarkets. Canned smoked vendace (savumuikku) is a nice gift to bring home. You can also buy Muhosen luomuruisleipä – organically farmed traditional sourdough rye bread.


  • 1 Pizzeria Capero, Olavinkatu 51. Pizzeria run by a local family with tradition.
  • 2 Uskudar Kebab, Olavinkatu 53. M-Sa 10:30-22:00, Su 12:00-21:00. Ranks among the best kebab restaurants in Finland. Buffet including kebab, pizza and salads.
  • 3 Hesburger, Olavinkatu 39. The ubiquitous Finnish fast food chain.
  • 4 Opetusravintola Paviljonki, Rajalahdenkatu 4. 11:00-13:00 or 14:00. Restaurant school serving quality lunches.
  • 5 Ravintola Kansakoulu, Puistokatu 5. 11:00-14:30. Restaurant serving typical Finnish lunch with a bountiful and fresh salad buffet included in price.


  • 6 Majakka, Satamakatu 11.
  • 7 Perlina di Castello, Kauppatori 4-6, +358 10-764-2440. Italian restaurant.
  • 8 Wirta Pizza and Pasta, Puistokatu 2. Italian.
  • 9 Ravintola Kripa, Karjalantie 11. 10:30-21:00 (varies according to day of the week). Nepalese restaurant.
  • 10 Waahto brewhouse, Satamapuistonkatu 5. Brewery restaurant serving dishes prepared on a charcoal grill.


  • 11 Hospitz Restaurant. Serving Opera Festival guests with its famous fish buffet. Other times pampering guests by reservation.



  • 1 HerkkuPekka, Olavinkatu 53.
  • 2 Kahvila Saima, Linnankatu 11 (near the castle, most easily accessible during visit to there). Offers pastries, cakes and light lunch during daytime. Also a boutique hotel.
  • 3 Leivintupa, Kirkkokatu 8.
  • 4 Phin Cafe Station, Olavinkatu 35.
  • 5 Kotileipomo Kupsakka. This is the must place for Savonlinna people who savour delicious bakeries and visit here for the popular inexpensive breakfast in the morning.

Bars and pubs[edit]

  • 6 Olutravintola Sillansuu, Verkkosaarenkatu 1. Widest variety of beers in town.
  • 7 Pub Playoff, Pappilankatu 3.

Night clubs and entertainment[edit]

  • 8 Beats Club Savonlinna, Olavinkatu 35 (in the centre). Night entertainment. Karaoke.
  • 9 House of Olaf, Asemantie 19 (15 min. walk from city center). Concert and entertainment venue, restaurant.
  • 10 Kulttuurikellari, Olavinkatu 34 (in city center). Club and restaurant featuring a rich variety of interesting programmes by various organizers. Jazz, folk, theatre... you name it, or organize an event of your own.


There are opportunities ranging from boutique hotels to steam boat cabins to hostels and rental cottages. During the opera festival in July, expect higher prices and reduced availability of accommodation in the centre.

  • 1 Seurahuone, Kauppatori 4–6, +358 10-764-2200 (€0.0835/call+€0.121/min), . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Now a Sokos hotel. All rooms fully renovated, the traditional feel probably gone. If you want to a treat, reserve a luxurious suite with cool Nordic design. Some twin rooms allow for two extra beds. Also "apartments" (the standard ones just a room with water heater, some with living room and kitchen) in a building 300 m away. Free Wi-Fi. €170–500.
  • 2 Spahotel Casino, Kylpylaitoksentie 7. Nice rooms in beautiful surroundings, on an island by the city centre.
  • 3 Hotelli Hospitz, Linnankatu 20. Cosy family run hotel. The art deco style building was designed by the famous Finnish female architect Wivi Lönn.
  • 4 Hotel Pietari Kylliäinen, Olavinkatu 15. City hotel.
  • 5 Lossiranta Lodge, Kalkkiuuninkatu 11. Charming boutique hotel.
  • 6 Hostel Anna Catharina (Kartanohostel Anna Catharina), Juvolantie 1353 (some 25 km towards Varkaus, halfway to Linnansaari national Park). Hostel style cosy accommodation in a peaceful village.

Go next[edit]

  • Punkaharju — see the iconic Finnish national landscape
  • Kerimäki — see world's largest wooden church
  • Savonranta — idyllic village between Savonia and Karelia along Saimaa waterways
  • Enonkoski — a small municipality about 30 km north of Savonlinna
  • Rantasalmi — relax in the spa resort Järvisydän and enjoy the natural wonders of Linnansaari national park.
  • Sulkava — venue of an annual big rowing competition with traditional boats

This city travel guide to Savonlinna 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.