• Cycling in Saimaa

    A fabulous view from the new 23 m high bridge at Toijansalmi. The central span of the bridge is the second longest in Finland at 120 metres and it is as wide as the sound it crosses.

  • From Toijansalmi bridge it isn’t far to Hostel Mansikka where you’ll find food and drink and excellent service from the inn’s Belgian owner.

  • A misty Lake Saimaa from Toijansalmi Bridge.

  • Saimaa was just waking up on this autumnal morning while we were already out on our bikes. Here is a view from the 11 metre high Kirjamoinsalmi Bridge.

  • A shoreline route winding its way around Lappeenranta attracts cyclists. Photo of the Sunisenselkä shoreline landscape from the old barracks area.

  • Kivisalmi’s beach and rocks sit on the border of Lappeenranta and Taipalsaari, and are the perfect place for a break.

  • There are many kilometres of cycle routes navigating the shoreline and more are being added every year.

  • One of the many bridges on the route, Kirjamoin bridge links Lappeenranta and Taipalsaari.

  • Taipalsaari is an island, meaning that water is never far away. Lake Pien-Saimaa can be seen on both sides of the causeway.

  • The newest bridge in Taipalsaari spans Toijansalmi, replacing the cable ferry that ran up until a few years ago.

  • Taipalsaari church is kept open for visitors in the summer, and guided tours are provided.

  • Luukkaansalmi bridge is the most impressive bridge on the route. From its 25 m height you can see the huge timber shipments to the paper mills and in the summer plenty of boats.

  • The cycle route from Taipalsaari ridge to Lappeenranta is one of the most beautiful routes in Finland at any season of the year.

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Cycling in Saimaa

Southern Karelia is home to numerous cycle routes that gently wind their way through Saimaa, the country’s largest lake network. There are tens of kilometres of shoreline cycle routes, with more being added every year, meaning water is always close-by and that there is no shortage of beauty spots to stop off for a break.

Finland’s most beautiful cycle trails

The stretch of road running from the centre of Lappeenranta to the village of Taipalsaari is one of the most popular and most recommended routes in the area – it is even considered to be one of the country’s most beautiful roads. The route is not particularly long, just 30 kilometres there and back, but detours can always be made into the local countryside if you need a more demanding challenge.

The journey starts by the water

It can be hard tearing yourself away from the fabulous smell of the sweet factory at the start of the route, but it’s worth heading down to the shoreline trail and on to the historic barracks area. The Sunisenselkä shoreline is part of the town’s ancient setting. From the shoreline trail, the route joins the cycle path to Taipalsaari.

Lots of bridges over Saimaa

The first recommended place for a break is after about seven kilometres, where the route goes up Linnavuori hill on the island of Kuivaketvele. On a clear day, it’s a great observation point with views stretching across the vast Lake Saimaa. A little further on, the Kirjamoin Bridge is another place from which to fully appreciate the scenic countryside.

The route continues to Toijansalmi, where a traditional cable ferry once used to run until it was recently replaced by a towering 23 metre bridge. From the bridge, the views of the lake open out before you. If you fancy a swim, this is the perfect place because there is a beach beneath the bridge.

Strawberry Inn

A kilometre from Toijansalmi is the Hostel Mansikka (meaning ‘strawberry’), which is very popular with cyclists thanks to the excellent restaurant service offered by its Belgian owner.

As you continue, the cycle route gradually becomes more rural and you are also treated to sights such as the water pumping station at Vehkataipale and the locks between the lakes Pien-Saimaa to Suur-Saimaa – these locks are still winched open and shut by hand.

One more bridge

At 25 metres, Luukkaansalmi Bridge is the most impressive of all the bridges along the route. It offers amazing sights, such as the huge timber shipments heading to the paper mills, the busy boat traffic and a bird’s-eye view of the country’s most attractive golf courses.

From Luukkaansalmi, it’s another 5.5 kilometres back to town. It’s worth mentioning that you should stick by the water’s edge and take the shore road via Myllysaari and the harbour.

Lakeland

The largest Lake District in Europe: In a scarcely populated country there’s enough scenery and shoreline for all, allowing you to easily lose yourself in thought or be inspired by the vast clear lakes, intricately splintered by islands, isthmuses and green spits.

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