Top things to do in South Karelia

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 Finnish in Imatra

Ravintola Nuotta

Two sizes of bliny (Russian buckwheat pancakes), topped with hot or cold salmon, trout roe, crayfish tails, or sour cream, pickled cucumber, red onion and local herbs, are the speciality of this fabulous lakeside ba…
Top Choice Coffee in Lappeenranta

Lehmus Roastery

Crowned Finland's best coffee roastery at 2017's Suomen Paras Paahtimo awards, Lehmus occupies a red-brick former warehouse overlooking the lake. Behind the gleaming espresso machine, passionate staff roast four typ…
Top Choice Bar in Lappeenranta

Prinsessa Armaada

Built in 1902, this tar steamship, which once transported timber to St Petersburg (and briefly served in the Russian Imperial Navy in 1914) has operated as a bar since 1959 and has great ciders and craft beers. Its …
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…
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 …
Karelian in South Karelia

Säräpirtti Kippurasarvi

The best place to taste Lemi's famous lemin särä (roast mutton) is this family-oriented lakeshore restaurant, which serves nothing but the town's signature dish, prepared according to a thousand-year-old recipe, and…
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 …
Museum in Lappeenranta

Karelia Aviation Museum

Backing onto the runway of Lappeenranta airport (Finland's oldest still in operation), this extraordinary museum has three exhibition halls housed in hangars with helicopters, aeroplanes (including a supersonic MiG-…