One of the goals of a Geopark is to support local residents to get to know and appreciate their local area by revealing the geological heritage of the area and by making it a part of life for the local community. Schools and other educational establishments and communities can use the contents of a Geopark in various ways for education. The goal is to increase the appreciation of the Geopark area both locally and internationally.
Saimaa Geopark received UNESCO Global Geopark status in spring 2021.
MUNICIPALITIES OF SAIMAA GEOPARK:
Sulkava- An easy-rowing atmosphere
Sulkava is a particularly joyful municipality of just the right size located in the province of Southern Savonia. Sulkava has everything you need to live well. In Sulkava it’s a joy to spend both your working hours and leisure time in the eye-catching natural surroundings on the shores of Lake Saimaa. Though there is a rural feel to the area, local services and exciting recreational activities are never far away. And what’s more, Sulkava is brimming with authentic Savonian culture!
Ruokolahti – a rural archipelago
The municipality and parish of Ruokolahti was founded over 440 years ago. Ruokolahti is located on the shore of Lake Saimaa in South Karelia, in the province of Southern Finland. The municipality has a large surface area; 1,200km2 (of which 943km2 is land and 276km2 is water).
Ruokolahti is a rural archipelago since there are over 500 lakes and ponds in addition to Lake Saimaa itself. The gorgeous nature has attracted plenty of tourists and there are more than 3,000 holiday homes in the municipality. There are around 5,400 permanent residents in the municipality, spread between 90 villages and 21 village committees. The central population centre is called Rasila, which also includes Salosaari. The urban area is split by Saimaa’s smaller Haapavesi lake.
Juva- Lively and thriving at 575 years
The municipality and parish of Juva celebrated its 575th birthday in 2017. The parish of Juva was founded on 19 January 1442. Then the Bishop of Turku, Maunu Tavast, and 12 men from Juva signed a detailed agreement in Turku concerning the priest’s salary.
Since that agreement was signed many things have changed; not just locally, but nationally and internationally. Despite the changes, Juva is still a lively and thriving rural centre in the middle of Southern Savonia, situated along highway 5, the main motorway that runs through eastern Finland.
Juva is known for its range of good services, thriving countryside, and entrepreneurship: Juva is home to over 300 working farms and more than 300 companies. Entrepreneurship is strong in the area with more and more companies popping up all the time. Well-known products from Juva include books, organic milk, lettuces, and other foodstuffs. The forests are also a good source of employment.
Savitaipale – for well-being, exercise, and nature enthusiasts
The lively southern Karelian village of Savitaipale is strengthening its position as a site of interest for its existing residents and others who value exercise and well-being services. In comparison to its population count, the municipality is the favourite for summer cabins in South Karelia. Thanks to the almost three thousand summer cabins in the village, Savitaipale’s population of 4,000 swells to three times its normal size during the summer season.
For a small municipality, Savitaipale is home to exceptionally good exercise, well-being, and cultural services. There are four sports centres and the opportunity to practice a wide range of sports. Nature observation, hiking, skiing, fishing, rowing and holidaying at summer cabins are all firm favourites in Savitaipale. During the winters, it is possible to hike across the frozen Lake Kuolimo on skates.
Taipalsaari- Saimaa’s archipelago
Taipalsaari, a municipality in Saimaa’s archipelago, is an active part of the recreational areas on the shores of Lake Saimaa. Half of the municipality’s area consists of the blue waters of Lake Saimaa, while the other half is made up of roughly 700 islands. The municipality boasts an impressive 1,008 kilometres of shoreline. The thriving archipelago municipality offers a wide range of recreational opportunities and events. It is home to a wide range of tourism industry services, from accommodation and restaurant services to customised event programmes.
Puumala- the beating heart of Saimaa!
If you haven’t visited Puumala, you haven’t really seen Saimaa. Known as the Gibraltar of Saimaa, Puumala is a small archipelago municipality surrounded by water and nature in Southern Savonia. The municipality is one of Finland’s most prominent when it comes to holiday accommodation.
The church parish has a wide range of services and a number of villages are home to their own special features and attractions. It’s easy to enjoy yourself in Puumala’s cafés and restaurants all year round, whether it’s Monday morning or Saturday night. For people who enjoy water activities there is a wide range of harbour services all over the municipality. Summer cabins and other accommodation options to suit all tastes are also available to purchase or rent.
Puumala’s nature, services and people offer excellent conditions for great living and leisure. Life is for living, and Puumala provides the best setting in Finland.
Eco-friendly values and actions guide development in Lappeenranta
Lappeenranta is an international university and tourism town on the southeast border of Finland. Development in the area is steered by eco-friendly values and actions. Once again named as the climate capital of Finland, Lappeenranta on the shore of Lake Saimaa is a firm favourite among shoppers and nature tourists alike.
Lappeenranta wants to set an example as an environmentally friendly town. Cooperation between the town, university, university of applied sciences and regional entrepreneurs is packed with green energy and vitality. The university develops sustainable energy solutions and inventions relating to environmental protection for use by local businesses and others. Visible results have been achieved in the protection of waterways, such as Pien-Saimaa. Dedicated work is under way to reduce traffic emissions and waste.
The town creates a solid foundation for vitality by promoting fair and equal recreational opportunities for its residents and by ensuring a pleasant living environment. As city-centre services are increased, green axes are also being strengthened and inhabitants are encouraged towards a more physically active lifestyle.
Commercial services, an entrepreneurial mindset, lakeside nature and history all combine in a unique way in Lappeenranta. The harbour and historic fortress on the outskirts of the city centre are considered by residents and tourists alike to be the heart of the city, which is famous for its hospitality.
Imatra – None has conquered Vuoksi, nor gone over Imatra
Over the decades, scattered settlements have grown into a pleasant and spacious town – Imatra, dominated by Lake Saimaa, the River Vuoksi and the Finnish border. The Imatrankoski rapids, the largest in Europe, flowed freely until 1929. The Imatrankoski rapids are the most famous attraction in Imatra, and people have been visiting them since the 18th century.
At the turn of the century the rapids were Finland’s most popular tourist attraction and the Imatran Valtionhotelli hotel was built just adjacent to them. The Imatrankoski rapids are permanently illuminated, so they can be admired all year round.
The western branch of the River Vuoksi, which runs through the town of Imatra, provides excellent fishing conditions throughout the year. Vuoksi does not freeze over completely, even during the winter. Finland’s most beautiful pedestrian and cycle paths wind their way around Vuoksi, and there are dozens of different kinds of bird to spot. To the west, Imatra is bordered by Saimaa, which means it’s possible to boat along the Saimaa Canal all the way to the Gulf of Finland. There is also a lively guest harbour next to the Imatran Kylpylä spa in Ukonniemi on the shore of Lake Saimaa.
Mikkeli – Saimaa’s beautiful Mikkeli
Why not spend a weekend or longer holiday in Mikkeli in Saimaa? There are always events and things for you to do in Mikkeli. Urban getaway and cabin holidays – the Mikkeli region has it all. In particular, it is home to good food, manors, gardens, Saimaa and other fantastic natural sites, though not forgetting urban adventures. It’s closer than you think.
Mikkeli is a modernising town centre situated near to clean, lakeland nature. There are 10,195 holiday homes in the area, making Mikkeli one of Finland’s largest cabin holiday municipalities. Visit and find out why so many people love Mikkeli!