Attractions

Top Choice Fortress in Lappeenranta

Linnoitus

Standing guard above the harbour, this hulking hilltop fortification was begun by the Swedes and finished by the Russians in the late 18th century. Today it contains galleries, craft workshops and fascinating museum…
Top Choice Museum in Lake Pielinen

Paateri

Between Vuonislahti and Vuonisjärvi, Paateri was the home and workshop of Eva Ryynänen (1915–2001), Finland’s most respected wood sculptor – as well as her greatest work, Paateri Wilderness Church (1991). Carved flo…
Top Choice River in Imatra

Imatra Rapids

The 1929 construction of Imatra's hydroelectric complex (Finland’s largest) dammed the river, but the watery wonder lives on with the spectacular 20-minute Rapids Show, when the dam is opened to a rousing son et lum…
Top Choice Public Art in Lappeenranta

Hiekkalinna

Every summer, around 30 sand artists from Finland and abroad gather to build the Hiekkalinna, a giant themed ‘sandcastle’ made from some 3 million kg of sand. Previous themes have included dinosaurs, a Wild West sce…
Top Choice Museum in Joensuu

Carelicum

Themed displays – on the region’s prehistory, its war-torn past, the Karelian evacuation, the importance of the sauna etc – cover both sides of Karelia's present-day border at this excellent museum. Highlights inclu…
Sculpture in South Karelia

Parikkalan Patsaspuisto

What looks like an ordinary roadside rest stop adjoins a woodland area with 256 surreal life-size sculptures of figures in yoga poses. They're the work of sculptor Veijo Rönkkönen (1942–2010), who lived on the site …
Village in Ilomantsi

Parppeinvaara

Karelian traditions are celebrated at this little village 2km south of Ilomantsi. It's named for bard and kantele player Jaakko Parppei (1792–1885), whose songs inspired the Kalevala epic. Listen to the harpsichord-…
Historic Building in Hattuvaara

Taistelijan Talo

The striking wooden Taistelijan Talo was designed by Joensuu architect Erkki Helasvuo in 1988 to symbolise the meeting of East and West. On the ground floor, the restaurant (buffet €19) offers an excellent all-day K…
Island in Lake Pielinen

Paalasmaa

Lake Pielinen's largest island, Paalasmaa, is the highest in Finland at 225m above sea level. The best view is from the 18m-high wooden observation tower, 3km along a marked trail from the Paalasmaan Lomamajat campg…
Museum in Lappeenranta

Cavalry Museum

The cavalry are honoured as Lappeenranta’s greatest heroes and the 1772-built former garrison (the town’s oldest building) at the Linnoitus fortress tells how this band of red-trousered warriors began as the finest …