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Savonlinna is a small city in South Savonia province, Eastern Finland, close to the Russian border. It has about 35,000 inhabitants. History :  The city was founded in 1639, based on Olavinlinna castle. The castle was founded by Erik Axelsson Tott in 1475 in an effort to protect Savonia and to control the unstable border between the Kingdom of Sweden and its Russian adversary. During the Russo-Swedish War (1741–1743), the castle was captured by Field-Marshal Peter Lacy. It was held by Russia between 1743 and 1812, when it was granted back to Finland as a part of the “Old Finland”.

In 1973 the municipality of Saaminki was consolidated with Savonlinna. In the beginning of year 2009 the municipality of Savonranta and a 31.24 km2 (12.06 sq mi) land strip from Enonkoski between Savonlinna and Savonranta were consolidated with Savonlinna.

Access : Coordinates: 61.868056, 28.886111 / By plane :  Savonlinna Airport (SVL IATA). Tiny,is among the least busiest passenger airports in the country, the exception being during the Opera Festival. As of 2016, there are two daily flights from Helsinki on weekdays flown by the Hungarian airline Base, tickets are sold by Airlink.

By train : As of 2016, there are 3-4 trains daily to/from Parikkala (70 minutes) where they meet intercity trains to/from Helsinki (altogether 4? hours) and to/from Joensuu (altogether 2? hours). The price is reasonable especially for students, seniors and juniors. The main station in Savonlinna is called Savonlinna-Kauppatori halt next to the market square. The “station” is unmanned, but you can buy tickets in the train with no surcharge if you board here.

By bus :  Long-distance buses are also an option. There are 6-9 direct buses to/from Helsinki (4½ to 5½ hours) and roughly hourly buses to/from Mikkeli (1½ hours) with connections to other destinations. For detailed schedules and fares check the site of Matkahuolto (central organization for intercity bus companies) By car :  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 a 4 hours’ drive depending on traffic and road conditions. By boat : Lake Saimaa can be reached from sea through the Saimaa Canal.

Get around : 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. Information about local buses can be found here. You can use route planner to seek local bus routes between given locations and addresses.

Attractions :1  Olavinlinna . The castle is open daily 10AM-6PM in summer, 11AM-4PM during the rest of the year.. Medieval Olavinlinna is the city’s symbol and main attraction.
2 Tuomiokirkko (Savonlinna Cathedral), Kirkkokatu . 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. edit
4 Maakuntamuseo Riihisaari (Provincial museum Riihisaari), Riihisaari . 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 . A museum of dolls and toys, especially teddybears.
6 Kasinonsaaret (The Casino islands). Islands close to the city center, a popular place among the locals for getting out in the nature. Hiking paths and places for swimming and barbecuing.

Activities : Savonlinna Opera Festival (Savonlinnan Oopperajuhlat), Olavinkatu 27. The city is renowned for its yearly Opera Festival organized within St. Olaf’s Castle. There is also a Ballet Festival at the same place earlier in the year. €55–270.
2 Sulosaari. A small island on the other side of the Kylpyla 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 Lake Saimaa. A nice way to see the city and its surroundings is from a cruising steamer. There are both one-hour cruises around the city and longer cruises to destinations further away. If you’re extremely lucky, you just might spot the very rare Saimaa Ringed Seal (saimaannorppa). You can also rent a boat, go fishing or hiking. In the winter when the Saimaa is frozen over there are designated routes for long distance skating on the ice.

Go next : Mikkeli / Kerimaki / Punkaharju

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