Founded by Tsar Nicholas I in 1842, Finland's oldest nature park is one of the 27 Finnish national landscapes selected in 1992 as part of the 75th anniversary of the country's independence, representing its unique culture and environment. The 5000-sq-metre park spans both sides of the Vuoksi river, and takes in the hydroelectric plant powered by the rapids, as well as imperial pavilions and statues.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Karelia attractions

1. Imatra Rapids

0.09 MILES

The 1929 construction of Imatra's hydroelectric complex (Finland’s largest) dammed the river, but the watery wonder lives on with the spectacular 20…

2. Imatran Taidemuseo

1.65 MILES

Attached to the public library, this bright white space has temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection of 1400 works concentrating on Finnish…

3. Myllysaari

20.43 MILES

On the lakeshore, this sandy beach has an outdoor swimming pool, beach volleyball, a water slide and kiosk, along with the Myllysaari beach sauna. Hardy…

4. Hiekkalinna

20.86 MILES

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…

5. South Karelian Museum

20.92 MILES

Focusing on the history of Lappeenranta – and of its two sister towns, Käkisalmi (Priozersk) and Vyborg, lost across the Russian border in 1939, this…

6. Orthodox Church

20.95 MILES

At the Linnoitus fortress, Finland’s oldest church was completed in 1785 by Russian soldiers and features a glittering iconostasis and other saintly…

7. Linnoitus

20.96 MILES

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…

8. Lappee Church

20.98 MILES

Diagonally across the park from its own bell tower, the adorable wooden Lappee Church was built in 1794 to an unusual ‘double cruciform’ floor plan, the…