Top things to do

Top Choice Finnish in Lappeenranta

Wolkoff Restaurant & Wine Bar

This grand old-world restaurant utilises organic produce and seasonal ingredients to create gourmet Finnish cuisine with adventurous flavour combinations like reindeer tartare with Dijon mustard ice cream, and duck …
Top Choice Sandcastle in Lappeenranta


Every summer around 30 sand artists from Finland and abroad gather to build the Hiekkalinna, a giant themed ‘sandcastle’ made from some three million kilograms of sand. Previous themes have included dinosaurs, a Wil…
Top Choice Fortress in Lappeenranta


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 Karelian in Ilomantsi


Ilomantsi's one foodie highlight is this traditional house in the Parppeinvaara village, which does a real-deal pitopöytä (Karelian buffet) complete with a kantele soundtrack. Heap your plate high with vatruskoita (…
Top Choice Karelian in Joensuu


Locally sourced ingredients prepared in innovative ways are served in the town hall's art deco surrounds and beautiful summer terrace. Dishes span braised, smoked pork neck with wild boar sausage and rhubarb compote…
Top Choice Museum in Joensuu


Themed displays – on the region’s prehistory, its war-torn past, the Karelian evacuation, the importance of the sauna etc – cover both sides of the present-day border at this excellent museum.
Top Choice Cafe in Koli National Park


Right on the lakeshore at Koli harbour, this rust-red, double-storey timber building has two terraces overlooking the water (or, in winter, ice) and some of the best food for miles around: reindeer steaks with lingo…
Cafe in Lappeenranta

Kahvila Majurska

If you can’t border-hop to a genuine Russian teahouse, this is as close as you’ll get in Finland. A former officer’s club (check out the vintage furniture and august portrait of Mannerheim), it still serves tea from…
Regional Cuisine in South Karelia

Säräpirtti Kippurasarvi

The best place to sample Lemi's famous lemin särä (roast mutton) is the lakeshore restaurant Säräpirtti Kippurasarvi, which serves nothing but the town's signature dish, accompanied by thick rye bread and homemade k…
Greek in Lappeenranta


Start with a plateful of mezze dishes at this long-standing family restaurant in the stately old Nordea bank building, followed by Greek favourites like soutsoukakia (lamb meatballs in tomato sauce), garides (king p…