Savonlinna is one of Finland’s most relaxed towns, renowned for its opera festival (015 476 750, www.operafestival.fi) in July. Book well ahead if you’re visiting in summertime. Out of peak season, its streets and beaches are uncluttered, and the town’s easy-going mood and lovely setting – amid a confluence of forests and lakes – make it a pleasant place to linger.

The best locations for absorbing the atmosphere are the harbour and market square at the end of Olavinkatu. At the square, try the Savonlinna speciality of lörtsy, a delicious meat-and-rice-filled pastry.

Follow the harbour around picturesque Linnankatu, or around the sandy edge of Pihlajavesi, which brings you to atmospheric and surprisingly well-preserved Olavinlinna Castle (hourly guided tours Jan–May Mon–Fri 10am–4pm, Sat & Sun 11am–4pm; June to mid-Aug daily 10am–6pm; mid-Aug to mid-Dec Mon–Fri 10am–4pm, Sat & Sun 11am–4pm; €8), perched on a small island. Founded in 1475, the castle witnessed a series of bloody conflicts until the Russians claimed possession of it in 1743 and relegated it to the status of town jail.

Nearby is the Savonlinna Provincial Museum in Riihisaari (Tues–Sun 11am–5pm, plus Mon same times June–Aug; €5), which occupies an old granary and displays an intriguing account of the evolution of local life, with rock paintings and ancient amber carved with human figures.

 

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Finland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

In pictures: brushing shoulders with bears in Finland’s newest national park

In pictures: brushing shoulders with bears in Finland’s newest national park

In 2017, Hossa – an area of pristine wilderness with superb hiking near Finland’s eastern border – will become the country’s 40th national park. Photog…

19 Sep 2016 • George Turner insert_drive_file Article
Brave new world: the quirks of Finland’s saunas

Brave new world: the quirks of Finland’s saunas

To Finns, it is the most natural thing on the planet: disrobing, sweating it out naked in front of strangers in temperatures of 80°C, occasionally self-flagell…

11 Aug 2016 • Luke Waterson insert_drive_file Article
18 beautiful pictures of Finland

18 beautiful pictures of Finland

Professional travel photographer Tim Bird shares his love of photographing Finland.  "I’ve been based in the Finnish capital Helsinki for more than thirty…

12 May 2015 • Tim Bird insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month