Savonlinna is one of Finland’s most beautiful old cities, seated right in the heart of the shimmering Saimaa Lakes and surrounded by lush greenery. You won’t see large crowds in this charming place, so no matter if you want to enjoy a short city break, relax, or engage in one of many available activities, you will easily be able to do so. From exploring the well-preserved and attractive medieval castle to strolling across the market square or cruising on a traditional steamboat, there is no shortage of things to keep you amused during your one day in Savonlinna.
What’s the best time to visit Savonlinna?
What is the best time to visit Savonlinna? With its continental climate,it is pleasantly warm in the summer and chilly in the winter.
The best time to visit Savonlinna is in summer, from June until August, when you can revel in warm temperatures. However, traveling during winter is also not a bad idea as there are plenty of winter sports activities to engage in.
Savonlinna is known for various events taking place all year round. There are concerts and theatre shows, exhibitions, cultural events, and outdoor sports during both summer and winter.
There’s much more to witness during summer, though. That is when events such as the Savonlinna Opera Festival, concerts, and summer theatre shows take place.
But Savonlinna has a busy winters too, hosting many outdoor events, concerts, theatre, and exhibitions. It also offers one of the best Christmas markets, the Tuomaan Markkinatheld at the medieval Olavinlinna Castle.
A few facts about Savonlinna:
– Savonlinna, a city founded in 1639, is a fairly small place with a population of 33,580, surrounded by the beautiful Lake Saimaa.
– Olavinlinna Castle, the city’s symbol and the main attraction, is recognized as the world’s northernmost medieval castle, and it is the best-preserved castle in the whole of Finland.
– This region is home to one of the rarest seal breeds in the world; the Saimaa ringed seal.
– Savonlinna region offers a wide variety of restaurants that focus on authentic food that use fresh, locally-produced ingredients and the medieval atmosphere in which it is served.
One Day in Savonlinna Itinerary:
This helpful Savonlinna itinerary will make sure you make the most of your visit. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in the amazing city.
Breakfast at the Old Town
Kick start your day with a delectable breakfast at one of Savonlinna’s local breakfast joints in the beautiful Old Town, a typical Finnish historical town setting located near Savonlinna’s harbor. After a hearty Finnish breakfast, wander the stunning cobblestone streets lined with colorful wooden buildings. This is the perfect place for a calm stroll and to witness old city charm.
Visit the Olavinlinna Castle
You can get to the Olavinlinna Castle on foot since it’s only a 2-3 minutes’ walk from the Old Town. Marvel at the amazing, iconic medieval castle that speaks of many stories and battles.
The perfectly intact fortress was constructed to protect the Savo region from Russian forces in the 15th century by a Danish noble, Erik Axelson Tott. Today, Olavinlinna Castle is the northernmost medieval stone fortress that stands as a preserved national symbol in Finland.
There are hourly guided tours, which provide you with a better understanding of the castle’s history and purpose.
Spot the rarest Saimaa Ringed Seal
The next activity on your journey is to spot the Saimaa ringed seal, found only in the Saimaa lakes region, which is the rarest in the world, with about 360 seals remaining in the wild.
The best place to catch a glimpse of the Saimaa Ringed Seal is in their natural habitat in Linnansaari National Park.
Visit the Lusto Forest Museum
Brush up on your knowledge of one of the primary industries in Finland. The best place for that is the Lusto Finnish Forest Museum. It is one of the more unusual places to visit in Savonlinna.
It’s known that the Finns have a special bond with the great outdoors and their forests, so spend the next 2 hours here to witness a series of exhibitions that will take you through Finland’s entire history and teach you about modern-day forestry.
Try out Savonlinna’s local delicacy for lunch: Lörtsy
All that sightseeing and walking will have you feeling hungry. So, try out a local delicacy, Lörtsy. A delicious, doughnut-like, half-moon-shaped meat pie topped with a cucumber salad. This local dish exclusively from Savonlinna can be found in the Savonlinna Market Square.
Take a closer look at Kerimäki Church
Next, move on to what’s known as the world’s largest wooden church, Kerimäki Church. The 45 meters long, 27 meters high, and 42 meters wide building is large enough to fit over 3000 people in one go!
The church’s size was the result of a misestimation of measurements given by the architect. However, it’s quite impressive, no matter if you’re inside or observing it from the outside.
Embark on a steamboat cruise
After a long day, it’s now time to enjoy a relaxing, wonderful Finnish steamboat cruise on Lake Saimaa and take in the history of a medieval era. Considered one of Finland’s best activities, traveling on these traditional steamboats will give you a glimpse of what travel in the steamboat epoch was like.
Several old steamboats around the Lakeland region offer tours departing from Savonlinna harbor, allowing you to enjoy jaw-dropping scenery and the sights of Savonlinna’s medieval past.
Hit the Sauna and enjoy a dinner break!
This is precisely what you need after a day full of exploring. Revel in a wellness retreat as you try to make up your mind on which sauna to use. Here you’ll find a range of saunas from traditional smoke saunas, steam saunas, and more. As your day comes to a close and it begins to get darker, treat yourself to some craft beer and a wonderful dinner in a medieval setting before you end your one day in Savonlinna.
Where to stay in Savonlinna, Finland?
Savonlinna, Finland, offers accommodation to suit every taste and budget, from chic city-center hotels to recreational centers or budget-friendly options that will give you an unforgettable stay.
Mikonkiventie 209, 57310 Savonlinna, Finland
Lomamokkila Cottages encircled nature nestled right next to Lake Pellosjärvi, and less than 20 minutes drive from central Savonlinna. The cottages offer a great location, free Wi-Fi, and spacious accommodation. Each fully-equipped cottage offers a terrace with views of the lake, a kitchenette, a fireplace, and a wood-heated sauna.
Original Sokos Hotel Seurahuone Savonlinna
Kauppatori 4-6, 57130 Savonlinna, Finland
Located on Savonlinna’s main square, this chic hotel, right next to Lake Saimaa, is a classically styled hotel that offers an excellent location just a few minutes away from major tourist attractions. Original Sokos Hotel Seurahuone Savonlinna’s guest rooms provide comfortable settings, ensuring you a memorable holiday.
Linnankatu 20, 57130 Savonlinna, Finland
A beautiful hotel Hospitz from the 1930s is located right on Lake Saimaa, very close to Olavinlinna Castle. If you come here during summer, you will be able to enjoy their fantastic Garden Bistro, plus the place offers a traditional Finnish sauna. The rooms are very cozy and comfortable, so you can expect an excellent stay.
Olavinkatu 44 Possentornit, 2 kerros, 57100 Savonlinna, Finland
Perched in a convenient location, Savonlinna Rentals, is a budget-friendly option ideal for couples and solo travelers. Enjoy free Wi-Fi, fully-equipped rooms with air conditioning, and a shared kitchen.
Day trips from Savonlinna
Apart from the other wonderful things to see and do in Savonlinna, you can take a day trip from Savonlinna to Linnansaari National Park, a must-visit for all nature lovers. Here you can feast your eyes on the natural beauty of the impressive Finnish Lakeland, with pristine waters and a multitude of craggy islands. What is more, this scenic area is home to countless unique flora and fauna. You can make your way here by canoe or boat or even hike on the marked nature trails.
A day trip from Savonlinna to Punkaharju will reward you with jaw-dropping views of the most attractive areas in Finland. Punkaharju is an amazing place to spend time outdoors to explore the striking landscape at Punkaharju Ridge; examine the collection at the Parikkala Sculpture Park, a truly fantastic place to visit on your trip to Savonlinna. Afterward, take in the impressive artwork at Retretti Art Centre.
This next trip is to Sulosaari Island, a place perfect for hiking and spending a relaxing day. It is located in the heart of Savonlinna, behind Casino Island.
Although Sulosaari island is nestled smack in the middle of the city, it is far from the city hustle and bustle. With plenty of walking trails, Sulosaari offers stunning Lakeland scenery. Here you’ll find plenty of spots for relaxing, or you can even take a dip in the waters of Lake Saimaa.
Extra tips for visiting Savonlinna:
– English is spoken in Savonlinna, so it shouldn’t be a problem to understand. However, it’s good to learn the basics of the native tongue.
– Savonlinna is a culturally rich destination and hosts many cultural events and festivals, such as the annual Savonlinna Opera Festival. So, read up about it beforehand.
– Make sure to pack according to the season in which you’re traveling in. Summertime in the region offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, swimming, boating, and fishing, while wintertime offers ice-skating, skiing, and snowshoeing.
– It is nice to explore the city on your own, but booking a guided tour in advance is recommended so that you don’t miss the little but essential things.
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