Tiny Savonlinna Airport (IATA: SVL) is among the least busiest passenger airports in the country, the exception being during the Opera Festival. As of 2016, there are two daily flights from Helsinki on weekdays flown by the Hungarian airline Base, tickets are sold by Airlink.
As of 2016, there are 3-4 trains daily to/from Parikkala (70 minutes) where they meet intercity trains to/from Helsinki (altogether 4¼ hours) and to/from Joensuu (altogether 2¼ hours). The price is reasonable especially for students, seniors and juniors.
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.
Long-distance buses are also an option. There are 6-9 direct buses to/from Helsinki (4½ to 5½ hours) and roughly hourly buses to/from Mikkeli (1½ hours) with connections to other destinations. For detailed schedules and fares check the site of Matkahuolto (central organization for intercity bus companies).
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 a 4 hours' drive depending on traffic and road conditions.
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.
- 1 Olavinlinna, ☎ . 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 firstname.lastname@example.org in other seasons), but you can still visit the museums and courtyards without it. Entry to the castle is €5/3.50 adult/child..
- 2 Tuomiokirkko (Savonlinna Cathedral), Kirkkokatu, ☎ . 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.
- 3 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.
- 4 Maakuntamuseo Riihisaari (Provincial museum Riihisaari), Riihisaari, ☎ . 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.
- 5 Nukke- ja lelumuseo Suruton (Doll and toy museum Sorrowless), Linnankatu 11, ☎ . A museum of dolls and toys, especially teddybears.
- 6 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.
- 1 [dead link]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.
- 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. In wintertime, you can include it in a lake-traversing trek, provided the ice is thick enough to walk on (which it usually is).
- 3 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.
- 1 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.
- 3 The shops Linnankatu, Linnankatu. On Castle street leading to the Olavinlinna castle you can find many small shops selling souvenirs and such.
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).
- 1 Keisarin Puisto, Olavinkatu 33. Chinese food.
- 2 Pizzeria Capero, Olavinkatu 51.
- 3 Uskudar Kebap, Pilkkakoskenkatu 3.
- 4 Hesburger, Olavinkatu 39. The ubiquitous Finnish fast food chain.
- 5 Liekkilohi, Kauppatori (Market square), ☎ . 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.
- 6 Majakka, Satamakatu 11.
- 1 Cafe Alegria, Puistokatu 3.
- 2 HerkkuPekka, Olavinkatu 53.
- 3 Kahvila Saima, Linnankatu 11.
- 4 Cafe-Conditoria Sinikka, Olavinkatu 35.
- 5 Leivintupa, Kirkkokatu 8.
Bars and pubs
- 6 Hapytime, Olavinkatu 35.
- 7 Olutravintola Sillansuu, Verkkosaarenkatu 1.
- 8 Pub Playoff, Pappilankatu 3.
- 9 Juanita, Olavinkatu 44.
- 10 The Rocks, Olavinkatu 13.
- 11 Club Colo, Olavinkatu 40.
- 12 [dead link]Night & Bar Tamino, Kauppatori 4-6.
- 13 [dead link]Dance Restaurant Mefisto, Kauppatori 4-6.
- 1 Sokos Hotel Seurahuone, Kauppatori 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.
- 2 Best Western Spahotel Casino Savonlinna, Kylpylaitoksentie 7. Offers nice rooms in beautiful surroundings, on an island in the city centre.
- 3 Perhehotelli Hospitz, Linnankatu 20. Next to the Olavinlinna Castle.
- 4 Hotel Pietari Kylliäinen, Olavinkatu 15. City hotel located close to both service and nature.
- 5 Lossiranta Lodge, Kalkkiuuninkatu 11.
- 6 Holiday Centre Järvisydän, Porosalmentie 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.