Mikkeli is a sizeable provincial town on the shores of Saimaa, Finland’s largest lake. It’s an important transport hub and was the headquarters of the Finnish army during WWII; museums relating to those years are the main sights in town. It’s still an important military base, and soldiers sometimes seem to outnumber civilians. It’s a friendly place though, and although there’s little to see, it often makes a convenient stopover between the northern and southern parts of the country.
Päämajamuseo was Gustav Mannerheim’s command centre during the war; and Jalkaväkimuseo is one of the largest military museums in Finland. You can also visit Mannerheim’s wartime railway carriage at the train station. The Mikkeli area is excellent for fishing – the lakes teem with perch, salmon and trout, and ice-fishing is popular in winter. The tourist office can help with permits, guides and equipment rental.
Mikkeli Music Festival, held here in late June/early July, is a week-long classical music event featuring top Finnish and Russian conductors. Balancing it out is Jurassic Rock, a two-day festival in early August that features plenty of Finnish and Scandinavian bands.