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Finding Ways to Slow Down in Saimaa

Published: April 16, 2014 (Issue # 1806)



  • A seasonal sauna on the shores of Lake Saimma offers an idyllic respite.
    Photo: Mikko Nikkinen / goSaimaa.com

  • Launch yourself into the fun with Finlands most popular export, Angry Birds.
    Photo: holiday club

Finlands Saimaa region, which includes the towns of Lappeenranta and Imatra, is known as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Finland among St. Petersburg residents. The region has recently embarked on a program to expand the range of activities it offers Russian and other foreign travelers in a bid to increase visitor numbers.

Lappeenranta and Imatra, located just across Finlands border with Russia, are currently most popular among Russian travelers for the shopping opportunities they offer. However, Saimaas regional government wants foreign travelers to also discover the other attractions the region offers, including a wide range of leisure activities and historical sights.

We are happy to have Russian tourists come shopping here but we want them to know that there are also many other interesting places in our area, said Mirka Rahman, head of Marketing Communications at Lappeenranta City Office.

For instance, we have a nice spa and aqua park at the Saimaa Holiday Club hotel, which is located just outside Lappeenranta. It seems people dont know enough about it yet. Last summer the hotel also opened the Angry Birds Activity Park to offer more activities for children. Not to mention the Flowpark and Atreenalin Adventure parks, the Sand Castle in Lappeenranta, numerous options for summer cruises along Saimaa Lake as well as the historical fortress and the museums, Rahman said.

Saimaa Hotel World

Located in Rauha, just outside Lappeenranta, Holiday Club Saimaa offers a whole world of opportunities for adult visitors and families. Both adults and children flock to the hotels aqua park, while the more laid-back prefer the numerous saunas and a spa-zone. The aqua park presents an assortment of illuminated fountains that children inevitably have fun in, followed by a bit of diving, a vertiginous water slide and even the chance to play water polo.

The hotel also offers a separate wing called The Castle, which is meant exclusively for adults looking to have a romantic time away from the kids. The rooms in The Castle are as spacious and atmospheric as the name suggests.

Another attractive option offered in Holiday Club Saimaa is an ice rink where anyone can rent skates and enjoy a bit of winter sport even as temperatures soar outside during the warmer months. Children and youth hockey teams often use the hotel for training, especially as Holiday Club Saimaa does its utmost to accommodate the budding athletes.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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