Saimaa Archipelago Cycling Route

The Saimaa Archipelago Route is a traditional popular cycling tour in the southern Saimaa region. On the route you can explore the sights of the cities of Lappeenranta and Imatra, as well as three attractive smaller centres: Taipalsaari, Ruokolahti and Joutseno.The route offers several Saimaa Geopark destinations. Specially for geology enthusiastics cycling along the vast marginal formations of Salpausselkä, shaped by the continent. The first Salpausselkä can be seen from Imatra to Lappeenranta and the Second Salpausselkä in Kyläniemi and Utula, Ruokolahti.

There is a ferry transport on the route, which must be booked in advance. You can do it here.

Information about the route

Turn-by-turn directions

The city centres of Lappeenranta and Imatra operate as the starting points for the route. When taking the route counter-clockwise from Lappeenranta, we first cycle over Saimaa Canal towards Joutseno and at the beginning of the journey cyclists can familiarise in the history of Saimaa Canal at the Canal Museum (Saimaa Geopark site). Necessary services can be found in Joutseno, as well as in Imatra. Finland’s oldest tourist attraction can be found in Imatra, the Imatra rapids (Saimaa Geopark site), which tourists have admired since the 1700s. Vuoksi, which guides Saimaa's waters to Laatokka, separates the city landscape. The bicycle path follows beside Vuoksi for approximately seven kilometres. There are several museums and memorials along the way.

Next, we arrive at Vuoksenniska, which is Imatra’s second town centre that has been created by industry. The Three Cross Church designed by Alvar Aalto, which is located there, is a significant attraction. Kaukopää’s factory is one of the world’s largest paper factories, which can be seen from the dam’s road leading to Salosaari.

We arrive in Salosaari from across Ukonsalmi bridge to Ruokolahti Church (Saimaa Geopark site). The church is known from Albert Edefelt’s painting Women Outside the Church at Ruokolahti. The church that was built in 1854, the old bell tower that was built in 1752 and the graveyards together with their soldiers’ graves offer a peaceful environment to have a break. At the church hill, you will also find Ruokolahti Museum and Ruokolahti House, where old Ruokolahti outbuildings have been placed in the yard area. In Rasila, you will also find shop and restaurant services, as well as a beach. There are also accommodation services to meet cyclists’ needs in Ruokolahti.

The journey continues along Puumalantie, where you have to stay strictly to the edge of the road, because the shoulder area is narrow and there is a lot traffic, such as timber lorries, that use the road. Stop by at Syyspohja’s Salpa station, where you can see completed fortresses, incomplete and fallen dugouts, water-filled foundations of dugouts and the armoured vehicle barrier line that is built of large rocks.

From Puumalantie, we turn towards Utula. Utulantie runs on the Second Salpausselkä (Saimaa Geopark site), where rough boreal forests of pine trees are typical. There, you have beautiful views to the southern side of Saimaa, as well as to the village of Utula as you approach it. In Utula, there is a shop where you can replenish your snack storage.

After leaving Utula, Huuhaanranta is approximately five kilometres away, which is one of Saimaa’s longest sand beaches. It is approximately one kilometre to the beach from the main road. Huuhaanranta is also a Saimaa Geopark site. You can find a lean-to shelter and campfire sites, as well as an opportunity for self-maintained camping there.

The Second Salpausselkä continues to Kyläniemi, which nowadays is an island. In the 1700s, Southern Saimaa was divided between Russia and Sweden, and to secure access, the Russians built the canals known as Suvorov’s Canals under the supervision of Russian General Aleksandr Suvorov, one of which made Kyläniemi an island. Thereafter, the canal has been made wider, and it is now crossed with a cable ferry. The cable ferry trip takes a few minutes, and during that time, you can enjoy the amazing sceneries.

 

The sceneries are also magnificent in Kyläniemi: The ridges of the Second Salpausselkä, the rocky areas left by the Ice Age and the varying terrain of the ancient Saimaa shore are all visible along the route. At the tip of Kyläniemi there is the pleasant Rastiniemi recreational area (Saimaa Geopark site) which has a barbeque shelter. It is possible to camp there.

NOTE! Boat transportation must be booked and confirmed no later than during the previous day https://www.varaaheti.fi/puumala/fi/yhteyslautta/

 

After boat transfer you land to Sarviniemi, which is yet another Saimaa Geopark site and worth having a rest there before heading towards Taipalsaari. In Taipalsaari, there are accommodation services along the way, and there are also restaurant services in the parish. In the vicinity of the church and town hall, there is the historic Röytty local history house, which has been a military deanery and tavern. During the summer, a cafe operates there.

 

One of the most beautiful scenic roads can be found between Taipalsaari and Lappeenranta, where there is a safe bicycle path. Kuivaketvele’s prehistoric hillfort is located on route to Lappeenranta. It is worth visiting the Fortress that was built at the request of Russian General Suvorov, which is part of the late-1700s fortress chain known as Suvorov’s fortresses. Hillfort and Fortress are Saimaa Geopark sites.

 

Tips, hints and links
It is possible to take a different route from Kyläniemi and alternatively order boat transportation to the north, to Puumala’s Lintusalo, where there are tourist services. From Lintusalo, you can continue the journey towards the parish of Puumala, where the bicycle routes continue with different themes.

Bicycle ferry Norppa II runs daily between Lintusalosaari and Hurissalo.

NOTE! All transportation must be booked and confirmed no later than during the previous day.

More information https://www.outdooractive.com/en/route/bike-riding/south-karelia/saimaa-archipelago-route/28315365/?i=28315365#dmdtab=oax-tab1