city in the region of Southern Savonia in Finland

Savonlinna (Swedish: Nyslott) is a small city in South Savonia province, Eastern Finland, close to the Russian border. It has about 35,000 inhabitants.

Understand Edit

Savonlinna was founded as a city in 1639 when the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf granted it city rights. The city grew rapidly around Olavinlinna Castle, and it became an important trading hub on the Saimaa waterway.

By the late 1800s, Savonlinna was a thriving city known as a center for culture and the arts. The city was a popular tourist destination, and many famous artists and writers, such as Jean Sibelius and Juhani Aho, visited and lived there.

During World War II, Savonlinna suffered significant damage when the Soviet Air Force bombed the city. Many buildings and infrastructure were destroyed during the bombings.

After the war, Savonlinna was rebuilt and has since thrived. The city remains a popular tourist destination and is famous for many events, such as the Savonlinna Opera Festival and the Savonlinna Music Academy. Savonlinna is also an important center for culture, commerce, and services in eastern Finland.

Get in Edit


By plane Edit

  • 1 Savonlinna Airport (SVL IATA) (13 km north from the centre). The airport is tiny and among the least busy ones in the country – except during the Opera Festival. As of 2021, there are two daily flights from Helsinki by Transaviabaltika, which only fly on weekdays; once a week flights are also available from Tallinn. Tickets are sold by NyxAir.    

By train Edit

As of 2016, there are 3–4 trains daily from Parikkala (70 minutes) where they meet intercity trains from Helsinki (altogether 4¼ hours) and from Joensuu (altogether 2¼ hours).

The main station in Savonlinna, next to the market square, is called Savonlinna-Kauppatori. The "station" is unmanned.

By bus Edit

Long-distance buses are also an option. There are 3 daily direct buses from Helsinki (4½–5½ hours) and 5 daily buses from Mikkeli (1½ hours) with connections from other destinations. There are directs routes also from Joensuu, Varkaus, Jyväskylä and Imatra. See Matkahuolto.

By car Edit

S/S Savonlinna, one of the steamers to go on a cruise – or get in – with

Savonlinna is about equidistant (about 100 km) from each of Mikkeli, Varkaus and Imatra, and a little longer from Joensuu. No matter from which direction you're coming from, it's a beautiful drive through the lake landscape, especially in the summer. From Helsinki it's 335 km; about 4 hr of driving, depending on traffic and road conditions.

By boat Edit

Lake Saimaa can be reached by yacht (height max 24 m) from the sea through the Saimaa Canal.

There are cruises e.g. from Varkaus, Kuopio and Lappeenranta. A cruise from Lappeenranta was the common way to get in for vacation travel from Saint Petersburg in Russian times, when the railway towards Helsinki had been built. There are still steamers on the route, but check dates.

Get around Edit

Savonlinna is stretched out on a series of islands in the middle of Lake Saimaa. While you can cover the central parts on foot, you'll need to resort to buses (or rent a car) to access the suburbs. If you want to rent a car, there is a Hertz rental office at the waterfront, near Hotel Tott. Savonlinna is surrounded by lakes and you can also rent a canoe to go around town centre.

By bus Edit

Information about local buses can be found here. There is a route planner for local transport trips. Routes and Tickets mobile app has an address based routing and also a ticket purchase option directly from the app.

By scooter Edit

See also: Finland#By motorised scooter

You can rent electric kick scooters for use in the centre from Finnish Joe Scooter.

By taxi Edit

  • Menevä Savonlinna, +358 50-471-0470 (head of office), toll-free: 0800-02120 (booking). Also bookable by app or web. Fixed price based on calculated route and time if destination address given when booking by app or web. Flag fall M–Sa 06:00–18:00: €4, other times and holidays: €7; 1–4 persons €0.90/km + €0.90/km, 5–8 persons minimum €20, €1.60/km + €0.90/min (July 2020).
  • Let’s go taksi, +358 20-001-510 (booking €1.07 + €1.6/min + pvm/mpm), +358 29-371-1206 (office M–Th 09:00–15:00), . You can order a ride by calling or using "Book a Taxi" smartphone app.
  • Smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi

See Edit

The cathedral and part of the city centre
  • 1 Olavinlinna (Olofsborg), +358 15 531-164. Daily 10:00–18:00 in summer, 11:00–16:00 during the rest of the year.. Medieval Olavinlinna is the city's symbol and main attraction. Built in 1475 by Danish knight Erik Axelsson to protect the eastern border of the Swedish-Danish Kalmar Union, it was named after the patron saint of knights, St. Olaf. The Russians were soon on the offensive, but the castle withstood several sieges before capitulating in 1714. The Swedes recaptured it in 1721, but lost it again in 1743, and it stayed in Russian hands until Finnish independence. This explains why it has stayed in such good shape: for the Russians, it was far inland and militarily useless, and hence not a target for the enemy either. Today, Olavinlinna is the world's northernmost medieval stone castle and easily Finland's best-preserved and most attractive castle, and it's quite a sight perched on the shores of the lake. The interior, though, is surprisingly small and sparse (virtually all furniture and decorations were lost in fires around 1870), and free guided tours take one hour. There are two small museums inside the castle: the Castle Museum which covers the castle's history and the Orthodox Museum with Russian Orthodox Christian icons and paraphernalia. Guided tours in English run every hour in summer (enquire in advance at in other seasons), but you can also visit the museums and courtyards on your own (entrance to some areas only on a tour). In July there is a weekly tour to the backstage, but not in 2022. €5/3.50 adult/child.    
  • 2 Tuomiokirkko (Savonlinna Cathedral), Kirkkokatu, +358 15 576-800. The cathedral is Savonlinna's main church, opened in 1879. The church had a bishop in the years 1896–1924 and hence gained the right to bear the name cathedral.    
  • 3 Pikkukirkko (The small church), Olavinkatu 29. Built as an Orthodox church in 1846, transformed into a Lutheran church in 1938, today a popular place for weddings.
  • 4 Maakuntamuseo Riihisaari (Provincial museum Riihisaari), Riihisaari, +358 44-417-4466. On Riihisaari island you can learn more about the cultural history and the nature of the region around Lake Saimaa and also visit the natural exhibition of the governmental forest service.
  • 5 Nukke- ja lelumuseo Suruton (Doll and toy museum Sorrowless), Linnankatu 11, +358 40-760-5434. A museum of dolls and toys, especially teddybears.
  • 6 [dead link] Kasinonsaaret (The Casino islands). Islands close to the city centre, a popular place among the locals for getting out in the nature. Hiking paths and places for swimming and barbecuing.

Do Edit

View from Linnansaari National Park
  • 1 Cruises (from Kauppatori). June–August, late morning to evening, with earlier and later departures in July. A nice way to see the city and its surroundings is from a small cruise ship. There are cruises of an hour or an hour and a half around the city or the surrounding archipelago, leaving every half an hour or so all day, some with old steamships, some with modern ships. Most have a café of sorts or even restaurant, some are accessible with wheelchair (not necessarily including the toilet). Some have multi-language commentary on the route. There are also longer cruises, even to Kuopio and Lappeenranta. €18/15/9.
  • 2 Sulosaari. A small island on the other side of the Kylpylä Hotelli Casino, as seen from the city centre. A very picturesque, and quiet place for a stroll. In wintertime, you can include it in a lake-traversing trek, provided the ice is thick enough to walk on (which it usually is).
  • 3 Kolovesi National Park (visitor centre in Enonkoski, 33 km from Savonlinna centre; boat, bike, car or taxi needed to reach the park from there, with boat from the Heinävesi route). A labyrinth of islands with rocky cliffs by narrow channels. Ancient rock paintings and the Saimaa ringed seal. Best explored with a canoe. Motor boats are off limits in most of the park.    
  • 4 Linnansaari National Park (daily coaches to near Porosalmi, which has boat services to the park; the Savonlinna–Varkaus shipping/boat route goes through the area, reachable from several directions; also cruises from Savonlinna). Lush islands and rocky islets. Best explored by boat or canoe, but there is a boat service to the main island and taxi boats available. Nature trails, an old croft, Saimaa seals and osprays. Tour skating in winter.    
  • 5 Spahotel Casino, Kylpylaitoksentie 7. The spa is equipped with a recreational pool, a spa tub, and a children's pool. There is a hot water outside and a gym nearby.
  • 6 Tanhuvaara Sport Resort (Tanhuvaaran urheiluopisto), Moinsalmentie 1042 (buses to Pellossalo, bus stop "Tanhuvaara"), +358 15 582 0000, . Football hall, ice rink, ballroom, gymnasium,ski trails, tennis courts, mini golf, beach. Spa has wellness pool with hydromassage points, a hot tub, cold water pool, a combined paddling pool slide for small children and a water slide.

Events Edit

  • 7 Savonlinna Opera Festival (Savonlinnan Oopperajuhlat), Olavinkatu 27. July. The city is renowned for its yearly Opera Festival organized within St. Olaf's Castle. There are arrangements to accommodate a few wheelchairs, book a wheelchair seat if relevant. There are security checks; no glass bottles are allowed. There is also a Ballet Festival at the same place earlier in the year. €55–270.    

Buy Edit

  • 1 [dead link] Taito Shop Savonlinna, Puistokatu 7. Southern Savonian handicrafts such as hand forged metal items and local herb products are sold in an old wooden building at the lake.
  • 2 [dead link] Akselinpoika, Olavinkatu 33. Locally produced meat, fish and cheese delicacies.
  • 3 The shops Linnankatu, Linnankatu. On Castle street leading to the Olavinlinna castle you can find many small shops selling souvenirs and such.

Eat Edit

During the morning and afternoon, the best place to eat is the market square by the lake, where you can get Eastern Finnish delicacies like lörtsy meat pies and freshly fried muikku (vendace, a type of freshwater herring).

Budget Edit

  • 1 Keisarin Puisto, Olavinkatu 33. Chinese food.
  • 2 Pizzeria Capero, Olavinkatu 51.
  • 3 Uskudar Kebap, Pilkkakoskenkatu 3.
  • 4 Hesburger, Olavinkatu 39. The ubiquitous Finnish fast food chain.

Mid-range Edit

  • 5 Liekkilohi, Kauppatori (Market square), +358 50-3105-850. The flagship floating restaurant of a franchised chain, the menu here is simple: pick either one of their trademark flame-broiled salmon, fried muikku, the un-Finnishly immodestly named "world's best fish soup" (not quite, alas) for around €15, or go whole hog and get them all plus the amazing cold fish buffet with 17 types to sample for €35. Prices may be negotiable if it's quiet and you're in a group.
  • 6 Majakka, Satamakatu 11.
  • 7 Panimoravintola Huvila, Puistokatu 4. A gastro-pub in the city center, brewing its own beer.

Splurge Edit

Drink Edit

Cafés Edit

Bars and pubs Edit

  • 6 Hapytime, Olavinkatu 35.
  • 7 Olutravintola Sillansuu, Verkkosaarenkatu 1.
  • 8 Pub Playoff, Pappilankatu 3.
  • 9 Juanita, Olavinkatu 44.

Nightclubs Edit

Sleep Edit

During the opera festival in July, expect all lodgings near the centre to be fully booked. If planning a stay at that time, book just after New Year or book a couch with local friends. There is also transport arranged from many hotels farther away in the region. Camping may be possible with shorter notice. For camping wild, the woods south-west of the centre may be an option, but then you might want a bike for the distance of 5 km or so.

  • 1 Sokos Hotel Seurahuone, Kauppatori 4-6. The traditional wing of Hotel Seurahuone was built in 1956, and it was renovated in 1989 when the new wing was completed. The hotel has 80 high-quality rooms – most of them with a view over the lake. 51 of the rooms are non-smoking and a few designed especially for women.
  • 2 Best Western Spahotel Casino Savonlinna, Kylpylaitoksentie 7. Offers nice rooms in beautiful surroundings, on an island in the city centre.
  • 3 Perhehotelli Hospitz, Linnankatu 20. Next to the Olavinlinna Castle.
  • 4 Hotel Pietari Kylliäinen, Olavinkatu 15. City hotel located close to both service and nature.
  • 5 Lossiranta Lodge, Kalkkiuuninkatu 11.
  • 6 Holiday Centre Järvisydän, Porosalmentie 303 (Rantasalmi, bus stop "Porosalmi th"). 30 min. drive from Savonlinna, in the village of Rantasalmi, right next to Linnansaari National Park, offering excellent surroundings for nature activities all year around. Summer cottages villas. Medieval style restaurant Piikatyttö.

Go next Edit

  • Mikkeli — 100km away by car
  • Kerimäki — featuring the world's largest wooden church
  • Enonkoski — a small municipality about 30km north of Savonlinna
  • Retretti, an art center with exhibitions inside caves in Punkaharju, is accessible by local train from Savonlinna. There are five trains a day, and a train ticket costs €3.90 for adult.

This city travel guide to Savonlinna is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.