Imatra was once the darling of Russian aristocracy – one of the first tourists to the area was Catherine the Great who in 1772 gathered her entourage to view Imatra’s thundering rapids. Although the rapids were harnessed for hydroelectricity in 1929, the water pours forth again during dramatic daily summer shows.
The town has a number of dispersed, mostly modern 'centres' separated by kilometres of highway. Imatrankoski, the site of the rapids, is of most interest to visitors and has the majority of services. Boaties, beach goers and spa seekers may prefer the Imatran leisure area, 7km northwest of Imatrankoski.