South Karelia (Etelä-Karjala) is in Southern Finland. South Karelia's population is about 136 000.
Finnish. As elsewhere in Finland, most younger people and those who regularly communicate with travelers can speak English. As the area receives many visitors from Russia, service in Russian is also available in some places, especially in Lappeenranta. Swedish proficiency is much weaker than in Finland in general, although anybody born after 1970 has studied Swedish in school.
Lappeenranta airport (LPP IATA) is Ryanair's hub in Finland so there are a couple of direct flights to odd airports in Europe. Trains from Helsinki towards Russia (Saint Petersburg and Moscow) and Joensuu pass through the region. Bus routes from Russia are available, for example from Saint Petersburg and Vyborg. Lappeenranta and Imatra are connected by bus to major cities in eastern Finland as well as Helsinki, and as with most of rural Finland, car is always an option.
Trains of national operator VR are possible to use for travelling inside province.
Matkahuolto has a dense bus network covering most of the province.
Onnibus offers discount bus service by few routes.
Google Maps includes timetables of trains, long distance buses and local transport of many cities and towns. Other useful route planners are Matka.fi for trains and local buses and Matkahuolto Reittiopas for regional buses.
Saimaa Archipelago Route (Saimaan saaristoreitti) is a popular 154 km long cycling trip in the southern Saimaa region. The route passes through the centres of Taipalsaari, Ruokolahti, Imatra and Lappeenranta and offers cyclists numerous great views of the Finnish Lakeland. It is worth booking several days for the route, as there is a lot to see, such as several Saimaa Geopark destinations. The main geological feature is the Salpausselkä ridges, formed by the Ice Age and separating the Lakeland from the coast. The route is marked with blue signs and stickers and printed with map signs. Information about cycle ferries can be found from Saimaa Cycling website and from Routes and Tickets mobile app.
- National smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi, Menevä
- Imatra rapids and Vuoksi river
- Kotkaniemi in Luumäki, home to P.E. Svinhufvud, president of Finland in the 1930s.
- Taavetti fortress in Luumäki
- Cruises to Lake Saimaa.
- Cruises along the Saimaa Canal.
- Indoor water amusement park in the Imatra Spa.
Small coffee booths at the harbour and the market place (Kauppatori) of Lappeenranta offer traditional meat pies called vety (Eng. "hydrogen") and atomi (Eng. "atom"). Vety consists of a meat pie, ham, boiled egg and condiments. Atomi has either ham or egg, but not both.
South Karelia region is a safe place.