Top 6 Things to do in Lappeenranta (Finland)

Harbour in Lappeenranta featured

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Looking for more places to visit in Finland not far away from the capital city? Check out these top things to do in Lappeenranta – a city west from Helsinki on the southern coast of Lake Saimaa.

Lappeenranta stands second among Finland’s most visited towns. It is culturally rich with Finland’s oldest Orthodox Church housed in the Fortress of Lappeenranta and several other museums.

It is also known for ten different orchestras or choirs, along with Scandinavia’s most enormous Sandcastle, and skiing on the slopes at Konka and Myllymäki, which is one of the best things to do in Lappeenranta.

Lappeenranta is a very popular international university city today, which is located in the heart of a stunning landscape at the southern part of the fourth largest lake in Europe, Saimaa. Its linden tree-lined historical streets and Fortress, combined with lots of natural and cultural activities in Lappeenranta.

Make it both a wonderland during winters and paradise in summers, for both locals and tourists who flock here from different parts of the world. Located only 215 km from both St. Petersburg and Helsinki and nearby the Finnish border to Russia, Lappeenranta is the second most well-known tourist attraction for foreign tourists. This town is well known for its cheerful vibes and a lot of amazing things to see in Lappeenranta all year round.

Quick information and Lappeenranta travel tips

  • Currency? Euros
  • Languages? Finnish and Swedish
  • Where is this place? Located in Northern Europe; Southeast of Finland.
  • What is Finland famous for? SkiingNorthern Lights, Santa Claus Village, Forest, Lakes, Vikings, and many more!
  • Best time to visit Finland? Visit during Winter (November to March) and do some winter activities, explore Santas Village, and witness Aurora Borealis. Come around Spring (March to May) to see the surroundings bloom to life and Summer (June to August) to explore the lakeside, festivals, and the midnight sun. That said, Autumn (September to October) is also a beautiful time to visit as the weather is still nice but chill and the surroundings start to change color from green to beautiful golden yellow and orange.
  • What to wear during winter in Finland? Read our winter packing guide and as well our jacket reviews
  • Closest Airport? Lappeenranta Airport
  • How to get to Lappeenranta? You can fly from Helsinki or take the bus or train – it takes about 3-4 hours by train
  • Other famous places in Finland? Lapland, Helsinki, Espoo, Porvoo, Vaasa, Tampere, Pori, Åland Island, Savonlinna, Turku, Rovaniemi, Salla, Jyväskylä, Kuhmo, Kajaani, Oulu, and Joensuu
  • Famous neighboring countries? Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Russia, and Sweden

Do you need a visa for Finland?

In order to enter Finland, you need to have a valid Schengen visa. If you’re a citizen of the EU group of countries, you can enter Finland without a visa. However, if you’re a citizen of Canada, the USA, New Zealand, and Australia – you can stay in Schengen areas for 90 days.

Check out our detailed guide on how to apply for a Schengen visa – read it here.

Where to book your flights to Finland?

Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.

Do you need travel insurance for Finland?

Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.

Experiences and top things to do in Lappeenranta, Finland

Sandcastle Lappeenranta

Sandcastle

It is probably the first thing that comes in mind when it comes to Lappeenranta sightseeing. Lappeenranta is well known for having a lot of sand, i.e., a whopping 3 million kilos. With the standards of sustainable growth in mind, it is recycled in a new and creative form every year.

It is designed by locals, school children, and foreign experts. Finland’s biggest Sandcastle has been built at Linnoitusniemi Cape. This tourist attraction in Lappeenranta welcomes tourists from the beginning of June to the end of August. You can enjoy different activities and rides around the area. You can also rent SUP boards, canoes, and bicycles.

This year, it is the 16th time when the Lappeenranta Sandcastle has been erected on the Fortress. Over the years, it has changed different themes like space, Finnish castles, sea adventures, jungle, etc.

The Sandcastle is built by using over 3 million kilos. This summer, the 370th birthday of Lappeenranta is being celebrated at the Sandcastle.

The area is now open from June 8 to September 1, 2019. It features an ice cream stand, a café, and rides. It is the area where the street train route starts and ends.

Read also: Top Islands in Finland you can explore

Living Fortress

Established in the year 1649 by the Fortress in Linnoitusniemi in 1649, the city of Lappeenranta has been stretched to its actual dimensions over the centuries.

Even though tar barrels are not rolled to Lake Saimaa anymore. And house cleaners do not climb up with water buckets to Vesiportinkuja Alley any longer. You can still go atop the fortification, drink the water of Lake Saimaa, and watch the ships gliding to the harbor.

On Kristiinankatu Street, the cobblestones take you to witness the treasures of museums and the past of border town, along with cultural events at the Cultural Centre and Event Kehruuhuone. The 200 years old complex was used early as a correctional facility. You can enjoy delicacies and restaurants served at the fantastic Majurska House at the Fortress.

rocky shores of Lake Saimaa

Lake Saimaa

Another best thing to do in Lappeenranta is exploring Lake Saimaa. Starting from Lappeenranta Harbour, Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland. You may witness the lake from the deck of Prinsessa Armaada, the iconic-tarred steamboat, berthed at Harbour Square, the Fortress at the old town. You may also head to the Promenade from Linnoitusniemi Cape to Myllyssari or also witness the same from the pier of a holiday cottage.

You can start your journey in a kayak, canoe, or rowing boat, which is available for family trips on rent at Sandcastle. You can also take several cruises from the harbor to the Saimaa Canal and archipelago. You can also get to the bridges, beaches, and Saimaa Canal by bicycle or car.

The Luukkaansalmi Bridge has also become famous as it was featured in Bordertown, an acclaimed TV series. You will be guided to the favorable routes and rent bicycles for an hour or week. 

Lappeenranta City Theatre

It is the whole New City Theatre located in the heart of Lappeenranta, on the Iso Kristiina shopping center (top floor). A hotel also operates in the proximity to the restaurants, theatre, and shops under the same roof. Its location is not known anywhere else across the continent. It is a unique solution that is seen as a structural change in the business. The performances are seen returning to their marketplaces.

The leading architect Ala Arkkitehdit Oy designed the City Theatre. It can be visited on a group tour organized by the Theatre Director. At least five people are allowed on the group tour at a time. It costs EUR 10 per person. Be sure to enjoy the iconic performances here.

Read also: Traditional Finnish foods you must taste when you visit Finland!

Angry Birds Activity Park

When weather is not that favorable, and you want your kids to enjoy their day to the fullest, there is no better option than adventure venues and indoor activities for those days.

Angry Birds Activity Park is one of the great indoor adventure venues in Rauha region, which is located next to Holiday Club Saimaa.

The Angry Birds Activity Park is a thrilling and fun venue spread over 2400 sq. m. It is situated at Capri shopping center. It has toddlers’ world and kids’ play world on the lower floor. The pedal cars, Angry Birds cinema, and rope bridges are also available on the lower floor.

It has unique themed activity areas and Space themes on the second floor. Exploring this park is one of the fun things to do in Lappeenranta.

Explore the Russian Border

Lappeenranta is the only European city that is closest to St. Petersburg, and it has a second-largest population of tourists in Finland. It welcomes over 1.5 million tourists from Russia every year.

The historic sites like Fortress and today’s services reflect the city’s proximity to the border and its internationalism. It has Finland’s oldest Orthodox Church at the Fortress. It also serves visitors and customers in Russian along with English and Finnish.

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