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Lappeenranta is one of four pilot cities involved in the Towards resource wisdom project of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, aiming to seek and develop means of making Lappeenranta waste-free and carbon-neutral by 2050.
Located on the shore of the fourth largest lake in the whole Europe, Saimaa, Lappeenranta has always been a strategically important place. A former military camp, the town close to the Russian border is now a remarkable gateway between the East and the West. Both Helsinki and St. Petersburg are within 200km from Lappeenranta, with good connections to both places.
Not only is the whole town engaged in making Lappeenranta an environment-friendly place through different kind of projects, some of them in collaboration with the local universities, but a lot of thought is put in the city development. For instance, in 2015 Lappeenranta was named as the Cycling City of the Year for the town’s dedication to developing its cycling routes. However, the most visible sign of the town’s commitment to green development must be the nearby Muukko, Finland’s first windmill park.
Lappeenranta is a vibrant center of modern Karelian culture, and attracts many people to visit and to stay there. The town has four higher education institutes, and over 15,000 full-time students from almost 70 different countries! The city attracts also great numbers of students for the summer terms.
With large numbers tourists, especially from Russia and Asia, visiting the town, Lappeenranta offers many leisure time activities, as well as a versatile and diverse selection of restaurants, bars and clubs. The town has great shopping possibilities, too, and a theatre in the middle of the IsoKristiina mall. After a busy day, the harbor avenue is a place to relax and enjoy picnics, or try some treats from the kiosk stands. You can also drop by at market square to enjoy a cup of coffee, and watch the buzz of the town from a prime spot.
Population: 73,000 permanent residents, but due to tourism and students the real number of people is remarkably greater
Foreign nationals: 4.1%
Total area: 1,433km2
Warmest month: July, 22.3C
Coldest month: February, -7.8C
The largest sand castle in Finland: over 3 million kilograms of sand
Currency: Euro (€)
Located next to the Lake Saimaa, the climate in Lappeenranta is a mixture of continental and maritime. The coldest month is February, when the temperature drops to an average of -7.8C, and the winters bring heavy snowfall. The summers, however, are full of sunlight, and the hottest month is July, when the temperature increases to an average of 22.3C.
The food scene in Lappeenranta reflects the city’s history under the influence of both East and West. What combined the idyllic traditional taverns and sleek modern restaurants is the use fresh local ingredients, from the surrounding Karelian forests and the clear waters of Lake Saimaa. The city embraces the Nordic coffee culture, too, and is scattered with various cafés. The Market Square and the Harbour Square sell local delicacies and ingredients to bring home.
Being a university town, Lappeenranta does not lack in nightlife, either. On top of various pubs, bars, and clubs, the universities in Lappeenranta are famous for organising their own events, celebrations, and parties. Did you know that the biggest student festival in Finland, the First of May, is celebrated for the longest among students Lappeenranta, a whopping three weeks!
The Lappeenranta Airport is the oldest one in Finland, and can be reached from Helsinki, as well as multiple other European destinations. The city is easily accessible by train and by bus, too, and is well connected to the rest of Finland, as well as to St. Petersburg and Moscow. In the city, you can easily get around by foot, bicycle, or local busses.
You get a 30 % student discount on basic tickets when travelling on long-distance trains, as well as on 10 and 30 journey multi-tickets. You are also entitled to a 50 % student discount when travelling on commuter trains in commuter train services area on single tickets and on 10 journey multi-tickets.
More information: https://www.vr.fi/cs/vr/en/students_new
For single trips exceeding 60 kilometres, Matkahuolto grants a 50% discount for normal adult tickets. For shorter trips, the discount is smaller. The tickets are always cheaper when purchased online in advance. There is also a five-trip travel card available for students, that entitles the card holder for five travel times in the specified route. To receive the student discount, you must a full-time student at a Finnish institution, and have a student ID with Matkahuolto stamp on it. Alternatively, you can get a Matkahuolto and VR student ID from any bus terminal.
More information: https://www.matkahuolto.fi/en/
In Lappeenranta, you can travel in local public transports with a one-time ticket, or use Waltti.
Waltti is a zone-based payment system, that consists of single tickets. Either value for pay-as-you-go fares, or a 30-day travel unlimited pass are loaded on your Waltti travel card.
You can get a Waltti travel card and either top up value on it, or buy a travel pass at www.nettilataukset.waltti.fi/, the City Hall’s Customer Service Centre Winkki, or campus shop Aalef in Skinnarila. Students buy their cards at Aalef or Winkki, and have to display a valid student card or certificate of enrolment.
More information: http://www.lappeenranta.fi/en/Maps-and-transport/Local-Public-Transport
In Finland, the meals for students are state supported, and thus healthy, nutritious, and very affordable.
Here you can find a list of the student restaurants catering in Lappeenranta: https://asiointi.kela.fi/opiskelijaravintolahaku/OpruokaApplication?karttalinkki=eng08000405
More information about student meals and meal subsidies can be found from http://www.kela.fi/web/en/meal-subsidy
In Finland, the health care of students is organised by Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS, in Finnish: Ylioppilaiden terveydenhoitosäätiö, YTHS). The FSHS services are available for all students studying on Bachelor’s or Master’s level at universities and have paid their student union membership fee to a student union that is affiliated with the FSHS. Those studying for a Licentiate of Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Medicine degree are also entitled to use the FSHS’s services. The health services are not available for Doctoral students, so if you are admitted to Doctoral level studies, please contact your university for advice and options on local health care.
If you are studying at a university of applied sciences (UAS), the health care services are usually provided through municipal health care providers. You can find more information on your health care arrangements from your UAS directly.
Please note that even when your student status makes you eligible to access the student health care services, this does not replace the need for a valid insurance.
You can find more information from FSHS website: http://www.yths.fi/en/ or directly from your own UAS or university.
The Lapeenranta fortress is an important part of the Finnish, Swedish, and Russian cultural heritage. The fortress, surrounded by charming Old Town, hosts nowadays the Cavalry Museum, South Karelia Museum of Arts, the Orthodox Church, the buildings dating back to the 18th century. The fortress has also an artisan shop and restaurants, and while a Christmas market takes place there every December, another market, The Old Town Days, is held in August.
27km outside of the city centre, the Myllymäki Ski Resort is number one spot for winter sports in Karelia. Myllymäki has downhill and cross-country skiing tracks, children’s slopes and a sledge slope, sauna and a campfire area, as well as ski rental and maintenance services and skiing lessons. In between the sports you can enjoy a mug of hot chocolate in the restaurant!
The historically most important canal in Finland, Saimaa Canal, was opened in 1856 and is 43 long and has eight locks, three on the Finnish side and five in Russia. You can make a cruise to the idyllic Lake Saimaa archipelago, or even visit Vyborg or St. Petersburg in Russia, visa-free! The visa exemption applies to all nationalities, as long as the journey is a roundtrip cruise. This is the perfect opportunity to explore the beautiful Saimaa area and go for a mini-holiday!
Next to Holiday Club Saimaa, in a total of three hectares, is the Atreenalin Adventure Park. Tracks built in an environment-friendly way, the park has five courses of different levels, a total of 1,5km. The incredible climbing experience includes safety introductions and equipment, but still offers thrilling challenges to all!
For over 10 years, Finland’s largest sandcastles have been built in Lappeenranta. More than 3 million kilograms of sand are used to construct the incredible masterpiece, that has a different theme every year. The sandcastle area is open from early June to late August, and features also rides and other activities.
Located on the Lake Saimaa, Lappeenranta is a city with a long shore line and multiple natural beaches. The Myllysaari Beach and Recreation Area, close to the city centre, has a diving platform, roller slide, a parkour track, beach volley courts and an exercise and climbing area in adttion to the sandy beach and extensive green areas. During the winter, there is a hot public sauna and avanto, a swimming area in the middle of the ice, available for everyone.
Karhusjärvi reindeer farm, just outside of Lappeenranta, lets the visitors experience a piece of Lapland. You can see the reindeers up close and feed them! The organised trip includes transportation to the farm from the city centre and back, as well as lichen to feed the reindeers, coffee, tea, or glögg (mulled juice), and gingerbread cookies.
Bouldering, or climbing without the large amounts of equipment that is typical for rope climbing, is a good way to build up your strength and coordination, but also requires problem solving skills and steady nerves. Boulder Saimaa is a brand new indoor climbing centre close to the Lappeenranta Airport. First time visitors get instructed on safety precautions, but no previous experience is required. While bouldering is a great form of exercise, it is, most of all, super fun!
Located in the Holiday Club Saimaa resort, the spa section is here something else. Opened in 2011, Cirque du Saimaa features music, lights, fountain shows, a cocktail glass shaped whirlpool bath – a galore of circus and spa fun!
To calm yourself and relax in peace, head to the Harmony Spa section. Here you can find everything from different types of massages to luxury facials and other treatments!
The lake Saimaa is one of the most beautiful ones in the whole Europe, and Lappeenranta is a perfect place to see its beauty yourself. Take a stroll along the harbour – besides the amazing view and being the perfect place for picnic, there is many other things to do. Hit the Halkosaari beach to relax, or drop by at the harbour market to hear some live music. Sit down to the restaurant Kasino to enjoy great Finnish cuisines. The restaurant is operated by Fazer, one of the biggest and most popular bakeries in Finland, so make sure to try their bread and pastries as well!
Ranked among the five most beautiful lakes in the world by Wall Street Journal, Saimaa is something you won’t want to miss! An amazing way to experience the lake is to rent a kayak, a SUP board, or a row boat that seats the whole family or a group of friends. Don’t be afraid of trying any of these activities – they are easy to learn, and super fun!
Representing the jegend style from the 19th century, the Old Town Hall is worth a visit. Although severely damaged by bombing in the 1940s, the building was restored almost exactly to its old glory. The Lappeenranta Town Hall is the oldest still existing wooden town hall in Finland!
See Visit Lappeenranta for more amazing things to experience!