Travelling around Finland: City of Mikkeli

Walks in Mikkeli

A small Finnish town Mikkeli (St. Michael), located on the shores of Lake Saimaa, named after the patron saint of these lands – St. Michael.

The coziness and quiet town attracts many lovers of family holidays, both fellow countrymen and foreign guests. In this city everyone can find something to his liking – from the noisy entertainment in the city center, to a quiet holiday at the cottage.

Fishermen, lovers of water entertainment and active sports come to this region with pleasure. Its advantageous location suits tourists from Russia, who come for recreation, or traveling through it to other areas of the country.

History

Walks in Mikkeli

The village of Mikkeli was first mentioned in 1323.

According to Orehov’s Treaty of Savolaks, where the village was located, joined the Swedish kingdom. In the early 19th century, Finland became part of Russia, in 1839 it received the status of a city and has acquired its own coat of arms.

During the Civil War, the White Guard Headquarters was located here, and during World War II the headquarters of the Finnish army under the command of Field Marshal Karl Mannerheim was arranged.

The city was once awarded the Order of the Liberty Cross, and its glory is told by local museums.

Where is it and how to get there

Mikkeli is marked on the map of Finland as the provincial capital of eastern Finland, in the province of Ita-Suomi. The city is situated almost equidistant from Helsinki and St. Petersburg.

Walks in Mikkeli

You can get here from Russia by several modes of transport:

  • By car. The distance from St. Petersburg to Mikkeli 320 km, which takes about 5 hours;
  • By train. Trains “Allegro” from Moscow and “Leo Tolstoy” from St. Petersburg go to the railway station of Kouvola. From here you can transfer to Mikkeli;
  • by bus. From St. Petersburg there are regular buses and shuttle buses, arriving at the bus station of the city;
  • By plane. There is no direct air service here. You can fly to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, located 200 kilometers from the city. From there you can get to Mikkeli by any available means.

The airport is 3 km from the city, which accepts only private jets and chartered flights.

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Attractions

A small provincial town of Finland, Mikkeli is rich in attractions.

Central Square

Walks in Mikkeli

This is one of the brightest assets of the town. In the central part of the square is a monument in honor of Field Marshal Mannerheim, seated on a horse.

The facades of the mayor’s office, various offices, financial institutions and a large department store overlook the central square.

On Saturdays there is a bustling open-air market, and next to it there is a covered market in an old Northern Art Nouveau building.

Cathedral

The cathedral is located on the central square and is the main church of the city. The red-brick building under the roof tiles was built in the neo-Gothic style by the Finnish architect Josef Stenbeck at the end of the 19th century.

In the middle of the last century a high bell tower was added to it. At the same time, an organ was made for it in Kangasap. On the large altar is an image of the scene of the crucifixion of Christ, donated to the city.

Walks in Mikkeli

There is a picturesque square with a pond near the cathedral. According to legend, the bridge across it grants any wish. On Sundays, a church choir sings on the central square, accompanied by an organ.

Mannerheim Wagon Museum

It is associated with events relating to the historical past of the country. The carriage was made in 1930 and was intended for Field Marshal Mannerheim’s travels. The carriage was equipped with all the conveniences needed for long journeys.

In 1942, in this carriage, Hitler honored the Commander-in-Chief on his 75th birthday. The last time the marshal rode in it was in 1946, after which it was given to the department of railroads for their general director.

Later there was a fire. After it was restored, it was given to a museum where you can take a virtual 3D journey. The car stands at the railway station in the city.

Art museum

Staks communication center

In the 1970s, an art museum was created in the town. It does not have a collection of world-scale collections, but there are works of domestic masters from the late 19th century to the 80s. 20th century.

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Most of the works are by expressionists and postimpressionists. The museum is located in a building built specifically for the works of local masters designed by Armas Ranka.

Museum of Mannerheim’s Headquarters

The actual setting of the Mannerheim Stavka has been preserved here. From here the commander in chief was in charge of directing and developing military operations during the Soviet-Finnish and World War II.

The rooms display photographs, maps, documents and other objects that, together with modern technology, illustrate the events of the time.

Locke Communications Center

Not far from the Stavka Museum, in the granite caves of Naisvuori, is the Loki Communications Center. It is one of the most interesting cultural treasures left over from the war times.

The caves housed the Stavka communications center, which was responsible for the telephone and teletype, the German observation post and their communications center. The museum displays telephone and radio equipment, weapons and uniforms of Finnish soldiers of the time.

Infantry Museum

Walks in Mikkeli

The museum is located in the old barracks of the 19th century. There are exhibits related to the Finnish infantry – uniforms, weapons, original photographs, personal belongings and soldiers’ items since 1881 until the present day.

Most of the exhibits were donated to the museum by local residents.

Suur-Savo Museum of Local History

The museum presents the exhibits that tell about the life and the life of the province. In the premises where it is located, there are exhibitions of artists.

Here you can visit the children’s festivals and themed events in conjunction with the holidays of the city.

Naisvuori Lookout Tower.

Walks in Mikkeli

The white-stone tower, built at the beginning of the last century, is located on Women’s Mountain.

This observation deck is now equipped with a modern elevator that rises to the top of the tower, which offers a panoramic view of the city.

It also has a cafe and restaurant. In early summer, there is an art festival for children on the mountain, with drawing and song contests, and you can also see puppet shows.

Kenkavero Manor

The manor of the parish priests was built back in the 15th century on the shores of the lake. Since then, the abbots of the local church have lived in the house. Now there is a small museum of local history, where the life of the priests’ families is presented.

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In the summertime the farmstead, which is cared for by professionals, is fragrant with flowers and greenery. In Kenkiavero you can spend Christmas and New Year in an interesting way.

What’s interesting

Walks in Mikkeli

In addition to the sights, Mikkeli has great places for recreation for the whole family. The largest water park in Mikkeli has the largest swimming pool in the country. There are also saunas, baths, gyms and jacuzzis.

For children there is a whole system of entertainment:

  • The outdoor “Turtle” area;
  • In a special pool you can learn to swim;
  • on the ground to play children’s polo.

At the ski resort Tornimäki in Mikkeli you can actively relax with the whole family. Here visitors can go skiing, snowboarding, go sledging, go on a snowmobile safari and enjoy the beauty of the area.

Useful Recommendations

Lovers of shopping will love the factory stores in Mikkeli, where you can buy inexpensive products – from textiles to household items.

Regardless of when you’re in town, there are interesting places to visit.

Mikkeli

Mikkeli is a picturesque small lake town in South Savo, where I spent almost a year. During that time I had time to see all its metamorphosis with the changing weather. You could say that it goes to sleep in mid-autumn and wakes up in spring.

I can say with full confidence that it will be equally interesting to those who are going to Lapland and want to visit other cities on their way, as well as to lovers of country holidays. It is especially popular with St. Petersburgers.

Here everyone will find something to do and see – from the city center with its many bars, stores and restaurants, to the peaceful atmosphere of dacha vacation. On the streets of the city you can meet people of all ages, and the tourist is simply impossible to get lost: even the oldest inhabitants of at least a little, but speaks English. Every year, thousands of students come to Mikkeli to study at one of the best universities in Finland – Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences.

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But, in my opinion, the city is perfect for a family vacation, because it is so peaceful and quiet.

In addition to the university, Mikkeli is also famous for its neo-Gothic cathedral. It can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. And Lake Saimaa, on the shores of which is located the city, is a favorite place for fishermen and the largest lake in Finland. In summer, from the port of Mikkeli you can go on a cruise to Savonlinna and have a look at the medieval fortress.

How to get there

Mikkeli is 230 km from the capital of Finland, in the eastern part of the country. Since Finland is the country of a thousand lakes and the city itself is literally buried in them, you can get here even by water. But if you come from Moscow you’ll take a trip around the world, so it’s much faster to get to Helsinki Airport by plane and then take a bus or a high-speed train. Approximate travel time is 10 hours.

If you’re traveling from St. Petersburg, then it’s best to take a minibus or bus. But here you can not predict the travel time: it all depends on the mood of border guards and the time of day and year when you get to them. Do not forget about the most comfortable, in my opinion, form of transport – the ferry St. Petersburg – Helsinki, which will allow you to have a nice time. But personally, I would prefer it for longer, cruising trips in Scandinavia.

By plane

The closest airport to the city of Mikkeli that accepts scheduled flights is in the Helsinki suburb of Vantaa. The main airlines operating such flights are airBaltic, S7, Finnair and Aeroflot.

I’ve flown from Moscow and have always preferred the latter two airlines: the flights are direct, the planes fly several times a day and it was about 4,000 ₽ one-way if you book in advance. You can monitor prices here.

On the evening flight, I noticed several times that the departure boards showed Finnair and Aeroflot separated by fractions: the airlines often combined their flights, and there was a sort of jackpot at stake – whether I would get dinner or not.

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The flight from Moscow only takes about an hour and a half, and the Finns offer dinner for money, so a sandwich on board will cost you about 8 EUR. However, a drink will be complimentary.

The difference in price between flights from Moscow or St. Petersburg is not so striking and is about 1 thousand rubles. And the travel time from St. Petersburg is half an hour less. Other details about how to get to Helsinki, you can learn here.

How to get there from Vantaa

Arriving in Vantaa airport, you should take a bus to Mikkeli. The bus stop is located directly from the exit of the airport doors, on the second level of arrivals.

You can buy your bus ticket in advance on the Matkahuolto website. When you buy in advance for some flights, the company offers discounts, as well as benefits for students and children. The price varies and on average is about 10 EUR and travel time is about two and a half hours. At the stop there is a board with information about approaching buses. Sometimes the routes are joined and the bus driver after about twenty minutes can announce changing the bus to another one to Mikkeli. The bus moves with stops and runs on different routes. All the information about the stops and the time is listed on the company’s website. It is worth noting that the bus is modern, comfortable and provides free wi-fi.

If you have a few hours to spare and want to walk around the capital, at the same stop very often runs a bus to Helsinki. Ticket costs about 6 EUR. The bus also accepts cards. You will be taken directly to one of the capital’s main shopping centers Kaampi, from where you can later go to Mikkeli.

The bus station is on the minus first floor.

The ticket is convenient to buy at the ticket office (the yellow kiosk in the photo with the Matkahuolto logo) or from the driver. The price is about the same as if you were departing from the airport. But there are also sweet specials from Onnibus for only euros.

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