Responsible traveller's summer weekend in Mikkeli
Friday after 4 p.m.
Hop on a bus or a train and leave the strains of your everyday life behind. Watch the city scenery change to green forests, open fields and, as the journey progresses, more and more lakes glimmering behind the forests.
You will arrive at Mikkeli sooner than you think. The train station and the bus station are next to each other and only a couple of minutes walk from the market square – the very heart of the city of Mikkeli. If your accommodation is located in the city centre, such as Green Key -certified Original Sokos Hotel Vaakuna or Scandic Mikkeli, they are conveniently at a walking distance. You can also move about in the city area with a riksa (www.biketaxi.fi). It is a good choice if you stay, for example, in Apartment hotel Marja in the middle of the beautiful area of historical army quarters.
Enjoy dinner in one of the restaurants in the city centre many of which serve local food and specialties. Try, for example, the Scandinavian-Savonian kitchen of Gastropub Eino situated by the market square, local bistro ambience in Bistro Holvi or the best Savonian-Neapolitan pizzas in town at restaurant DOM.
Enjoying fresh coffee and local delicacies at the market square of Mikkeli will give you a perfect start for the day. The first cafes at the market square open early in the morning. Buy season's best produce, handicrafts or a birch whisk for sauna directly from the producers' market stalls. Or do like the locals: take a moment to relax and observe the local way of life and have a chat with others.
Hop on a tour bus at around 10 a.m. by the market square and head to the local attractions of your choice. The Hop On Hop Off tour bus will take you either to Neitvuori hill in Anttola, Astuvansalmi rock paintins in Ristiina or to the charming manor houses and gardens in the region. Check the season's itinerary and timetable at www.visitmikkeli.fi/en_hoponhopoff. Remember to book your tickets in advance.
If you have some energy left, have a walk to the most famous landmark of Mikkeli: Naisvuori observation tower. Enjoy the beautiful park around the tower and climb up to the top and marvel the view over the city. Have a nice cup of coffee and a delicious waffle in the café on the ground floor. Another nice destination for your evening walk is the city harbour. Enjoy supper in a relaxing atmosphere by Lake Saimaa on the terrace of Satama Cafe & Bistro.
After a tasty breakfast at the market square head toward the Urpola Nature Center which functions also as Saimaa Geopark visitor centre. In the nature conservation area of Urpola you can walk along the enchanting nature trail or rent a kayak from the Urpola Nature Center and paddle on the Urpolanlampi lake. The nature trail has a connection to the Kaihu Trail and Mikkelipuisto park both of which are part of Saimaa Central Park. Kaihu has a nice sandy beach if you want to take a refreshing plunge in Lake Saimaa. And if you are feeling hungry, stop in Restaurant Greeneri for lunch. Close to Central Park you will find one of the most beautiful attractions of Mikkeli: Kenkävero, the biggest historical vicarage in Finland. It is the centre of local food and design, so spare some time for shopping.
Muisti Centre of War and Peace offers some deeper food for thought if you are interested in Finnish war history from the perspective of real people of the time. Muisti is located only few blocks from the market square. In the same building with Muisti you will also find Headquarters Museum introducing the history of Mikkeli as the headquarter city, Lokki Communications Centre and cafe Rauha. Purchase your tickets for the museum visit in advance at www.muisti.org/.
If you have some more time and would like to have something delicious to eat, Tertti Manor offers internationally high-level gastronomic delights and local specialties in enchanting country surroundings. Only a ten-minute taxi ride from the city centre!
In the evening, it is time to say goodbye to Mikkeli and head home. Make use of the travel time and start planning your next trip to South-Savo. You haven't seen it all, the Mikkeli region has plenty to offer for several trips.
Note: Some of the services mentioned are open during summer only, so please check their opening hours.