Savonlinna is sometimes called the “Venice of Finland”. This is due to the fact that a little less than half of its entire territory is occupied by rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. They are connected by bridges, you can ride ferries along the rivers, and one of the most beautiful places in the city is the Punkaharju ridge. This unique natural phenomenon has remained here since the Ice Age: 7 km of a narrow strip of land overgrown with spruce forest, on both sides of which there are clean and very beautiful lakes.
When a hotel with a bath was first opened in Savonlinna, wealthy Petersburgers began to come here. Today, many budget hotels have been built here, and it is not necessary to be very rich to look at the ancient Olavinlinna castle, wooden churches and the beautiful nature of this Finnish city.
How to get to Savonlinna
According to Wholevehicles, the easiest way to get to Savonlinna from St. Petersburg is via Helsinki, as the communication between the two cities is very well established.
From the Helsinki-Vantaa air hub to the railway station of the Finnish capital, electric trains run every 30 minutes and buses run every 20 minutes, half an hour on the way. Train ticket price: 35-51 EUR, bus ticket: 49-75 EUR. A taxi ride will cost 60-110 EUR.
An alternative way is to sail to Helsinki on a cruise ferry. The ship runs several times a week, ticket prices start from 65 EUR.
There is a regular bus service between St. Petersburg and Savonlinna. Services are offered by several carriers: Sapsantrans (off. site), BusToFinland (off. site), Eurocar, many even pick up passengers at addresses. In some cases, the transport only leaves if the number of passengers is more than 4, and it is often necessary to make a reservation. Travel time – 5 hours, ticket prices – from 44 EUR.
Travel agencies organize 1-2 day trips with sightseeing along the way, shopping and boat trips.
Buses also run from Helsinki to Savonlinna. Direct flights are offered by carriers Onni Bus (off. site in English) and Savonlinja (off. site in English). Travel time – 4-5 hours, tickets – from 12.70 EUR.
There is no direct railway connection between St. Petersburg and Savonlinna. From Finlyandsky and Ladozhsky railway stations several times a day direct trains leave for Helsinki (on the road – 27 hours, tickets – from 70 EUR). In the Finnish capital, it will be possible to buy a ticket for a train going to a place with a transfer in Parikkala. All transportation is carried out by Finnish Railways (off. site in English). The total travel time is the same 5 hours.
The history of Savonlinna, the oldest settlement in Finland, is closely connected with the history of another fortress, Olavinlinna, founded by the Swedes in 1475. In 1534, the walls of the building were renewed and strengthened, and it became the center of the Savo province. In 1639, Savonlinna received the status of a city, followed by wars, dramatic sieges, changes of rulers, and in 1811 – accession to Finland.
Since 1475, the Olavinlinna Fortress has stood in the city. In the old days, it served as a Swedish border outpost. Its powerful walls have seen a lot, they look very severe and mysterious. This did not prevent the fortress from taking an important place in the cultural life of Finland: since 1912, it has hosted annual international opera festivals that gather participants from different European countries.
Well-placed voices sound especially bright in the old stone walls, the audience gets real pleasure listening to opera arias.
In Savonlinna, guests are welcomed by a considerable number of hotels of various categories: from simple rural cottages to five-star complexes, apartments and bed and breakfast hotels are also available. You can stay both in the city itself and in the surrounding area.
A standard double room in the Lomamokkila 4* family hotel costs from 75 EUR. A room in the budget Summer Hotel Vuorilinna 2 * will cost at least 65 EUR in the warm season (this option is often chosen by students). If you try, you can find a small wooden house by the lake for 45-50 EUR per day, designed for 5-6 people.
People come to Savonlinna not only for relaxing in the bosom of nature or hiking in the sights – travelers from Russia and all of Scandinavia have long appreciated the assortment in local stores.
For Finnish-made clothes, you should go to Sokos and Seppala chains, gourmet meat delicacies and cheeses (both Finnish and foreign) are presented in large quantities in the Akselinpoika farm supermarket, for low prices and excellent quality, you need to go to German Lidl, where they sell food, electronics, household goods and toys.
Salmiakki, a sweet and savory delicacy, Lapponia wild berry liqueurs and delicious fish products, which are cooked with special skill in Finland, will be an excellent, albeit short-lived reminder of the trip.
The Taitoshop souvenir shop (address: Puistokatu, 7), located in a building from 1895, is also worth a look.
Festival in Savonlinna
One of the key events in the city is the International Opera Festival, which has been held on the territory of Olavinlinna (the first Swedish fortress) since 1912 every summer in July-August. Throughout the month, the best performers come to Savonlinna to please the audience with their skills. The concerts feature Finnish works created based on the Kalevala folk epic, recognized masterpieces of world classics and works by little-known composers. Sometimes the organizers delight the audience with unexpected premieres.
The best time to visit the resort is June-August and the entire winter period from December to March, when the surrounding forests are covered with an even white cover. In the off-season, it can rain continuously here, although even in such bleak weather there will be something to keep oneself busy. Sometimes in the first half of September there are several sunny and rather warm days – at this time it is possible to fully enjoy the beauty of the transparent surface of the lakes and the greenery of the forests that have not yet begun to wither.