Lappeenranta is situated close to the border with Russia and has a history going back more than 2,000 years. Once known as an important centre for the tar trade, Lappeenranta was granted city status in 1649, when the city’s Swedish name was Lapwestrandh. From the 1700s onward, Lappeenranta was often the focus of wars between Sweden and Russia, and in the 20th century the city was also caught up in Finland’s Civil War, the Winter War and the Continuation War.
Today, Lappeenranta is known as an innovative university city, whose cultural heritage has been shaped by its eventful history as part of the nations of Finland, Sweden and Russia. Lappeenranta also maintains the cultural heritage of Vyborg (Viipuri), which was formerly part of Finland. The city is known for its commitment to the environment and is among the top 14 cities in the WWF Earth Hour City Challenge. Lappeenranta is also part of a network of carbon neutral municipalities.
There is a lot for visitors to see and experience in Lappeenranta. Learn about the city’s interesting history by visiting Lappeenranta Fortress, whose walls enclose the oldest parts of the city. In the Fortress you will find ancient architecture, craft shops, galleries and the Cavalry Museum, South Karelia Museum and Finland’s oldest Orthodox Church. In Lappeenranta, lovers of the arts can enjoy not only museums, but also shows at Lappeenranta City Theatre and the Open Air Summer Theatre. Every year a new sandcastle, the largest in Finland and with a different theme each year, is built in the city, providing an added element of interest to the cityscape.
Active holidaymakers will find lots to do in Lappeenranta, which is situated close to the largest lake in Europe. Lappeenranta has 275 kilometres of pleasant cycling trails around the city and was named Cycling City of the Year 2015. Flowpark, which opened in 2010, has challenging high rope trails for adventurous visitors, built among living trees at heights of up to 25 metres. You can also hire a kayak or boat and explore Lake Saimaa at your leisure.
Lappeenranta is also a dream destination for golfers. Just get a golf visa and you can enjoy the greens and landscapes of Etelä-Saimaa Golf, Imatra Golf and Holiday Club Golf Saimaa. In the Saimaa area there are as many as four spas, for pampering and re-energising body and soul.
Lake Saimaa has played a central role in the area’s development as a trading centre, and the waterway is still very important for the spirit of the city – and its tourist industry. The Passenger Harbour offers a variety of cruises on Lake Saimaa, while the scenic Saimaa Canal gives access to visa-free cruises to Vyborg and St Petersburg. There are good transport links to Lappeenranta from the rest of Finland. The train journey from Helsinki takes less than 2.5 hours.
In Lappeenranta you can savour the city’s unique history, enjoy the magic of nature on the shores of Lake Saimaa, take part in countless different activities or pamper yourself at a relaxing spa. Visit Etelä-Karjala and experience for yourself what makes Lappeenranta a popular travel destination.