Saimaa island tour is surrounded by beautiful lake views, flourishing countryside and forests. Route follows the shores of Finland’s largest lake, Saimaa. The shoreline varies from rocky to sandy beaches and summer cottages until arriving to Ruokolahti and Imatra. The towns of Lappeenranta and Imatra offer a diversity of services and entertainment.
Duration: 5 days
Lappeenranta – Saimaanranta/Taipalsaari 23/29 km
Saimaanranta – Taipalsaari/Utula 35/42 km
Utula – Ruokolahti 31 km
Ruokolahti – Imatra 19 km
Imatra – Lappeenranta 49 km
Tour begins by going through Lappeenranta harbour where you can find small cafes offering nice places to sit down and plan the days ahead. Tour continues along the shoreline of Lake Saimaa passing a nearby golf field on the way towards Lauritsala. The high Luukkaansalmi bridge after Lauritsala offers impressive views over the lake. Route continues in forest and lake landscapes to Vehkataipale, where is a good beach offering great place for a refreshing break. Taipalsaari village has different accommodation options available.
Tour continues towards the pick up place for a boat ride to Saimaanranta or Sarviniemi. Boat ride offers spectacular views for beautiful pictures and enjoying the serenity of the lake. On a clear day it is possible to see over the distance of 35 kilometers. At Kyläniemi the route follows a ridge with Lake Saimaa shimmering on both sides. There is a regular ferry connection between Kyläniemi and the mainland. There is an excellent, 1 km long, Huuhanranta beach before Utula village. Huuhanranta beach offers a great place for a break and you can prepare food by a lean to shelter. There is a grocery store with café in Utula village.
Route continues from Utula to the next boat ride’s pick up place at narrow Vuosalmi strait. After crossing the strait the route passes through forest- lake and countryside landscapes to the Soinilansalmi bridge connecting Härskiäsaari and Äitsaari islands. On Äitsaari you can see a 5000 years old rock paintings. At Ruokolahti you can refill food supplies and stop for a lunch. There is also an old church and fascinating wooden bell tower. There are some accommodation options available at Ruokolahti and more can be by continuing towards Imatra.
After ruokolahti the route crossesa bridge and on the right hand side you can see the impressive paper factory. Imatra is well known as having a long history in forestry and paper industries. On the intersection after the bridge you turn to cycle track leading towards Vuoksenniska. On the way you can spot the tree cross church designed by Alvar Aalto. At vuoksenniska you can find plenty of stores before crossing Vuoksi river and continuing to Imatrankoski. Water flowing in Vuoksi river belongs to Finland’s largest water system. There is a rapid show at Imatrankoski every day during summer time at 18:00. It is well worth seeing the spectacular force of this, now harnessed, rapid flowing with full force. You can spent the evening by walking the trails along the river or exploring the town of Imatra. There are several accommodation options in the area.
The section between Imatra and Lappeenranta follows small roads in the countryside passing some small rsindential areas with Lake Saimaa glimmering behind the trees. A few kilometers from Imatrankoski there is a South Karelian Motor Museum and some grocery stores after the museum. Before reaching Joutseno the route passes close to Lake Saimaa twice and there is a good beach at Hinkanranta. Joutseno offers accommodation options if you don’t wish to continue all the way to Lappeenranta. After Joutseno there is another beautiful swimming place, a crystal clear Lake Ahvenlampi. In Ilottula you can find an organic farm where it’s possible to see the farm animals. Before arriving to Lappeenranta harbor and town’s sights, there are still some places worth seeing, for example Saimaa Canal museum and Lauritsala church.
Good to know
There are not a great amount of steep ascents on the way. If you plan your breaks and accommodation beforehand and reserve proper snacks the route is suitable with children also. In joutseno you can spend one more night if the last day’s leg feels too long.
Reserve boat rides well in advance:
From Taipalsaari to Kyläniemi +358 400 886 903
From Utula to Härskiänsaari Island (Vuosalmi strait) +358 400 456 819
To start the tour
Lappeenranta can be reached by bus, train or airplane. Route starts from Lappeenranta harbour.