“Welcome to Mikkeli!” This chapter of the journey in Finland gets us to a very beautiful, unusual town of Mikkeli, which is 1.5 hour drive from Lappeenranta, a very popular destination among Russian tourists. Mikkeli is very attractive not only for tourists, but also for Finns, who are eager to explore more of their own land. Besides, the town is very comfortable if you consider that everything practically in one place, i.e. the harbor, the railroad station, and the city center.
If you consider the best accommodation in Mikkeli, you can stay at Sokos Hotel Vaakuna, which is right in the city center. It is a very comfortable and nice hotel, not fancy, but it is not needed. Guests are offered all kinds of services; besides, there is a night club, which is very popular among young people. The club works on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights on a regular base and during national holidays. There is also a bar within the hotel. But if you feel that you would like to see more, you can walk across the street and check out some other bars. They are located on Porrassalmenkatu (as well as the hotel).
There is a bus and a railroad station really near the hotel; it takes 3 minutes to walk there. If you need some shopping places, keep going on this street (since it is one of the main streets in town). You will see a big square on the left and plenty of shops occupying the first floor of the buildings. As soon as you reach Nordea bank, you see a pedestrian street crossing Porrassalmenkatu. That pedestrian street is kind of a central one; it starts from the railroad station building and goes to the church.
|Mikkeli Railroad and bus station|
|Main square (to the right), Nordea bank and Railroad station (straight) and Stella shopping center (to the left)|
If you follow that pedestrian street directly to the church, you will see the same square on the left, a huge shopping center Stella on the right. There are many cafes near Stella and on the square, which is full of people in summer. There you can find some kind of a flea market and farmers, cafés and some performances. If you keep going straight, you see the police station on the left side, and Akseli shopping center on the right side. Yes, there are lots of shops in Mikkeli, so that visitors as well as guests are able to find anything they need. On the corner side of Akseli there is an Irish pub, which is a part of Cumulus Hotel. It is located on Mikonkatu. The hotel is very comfortable, nice and really suitable for any type of trips. It is in the heart of Mikkeli, just one small block away from the church, few steps from shops and in the city center. A good choice for any traveler!
If you continue your walk straight ahead, you will get to the church, the main one in town. It is very big and quite old, very beautiful and glorious. It is one of the symbols of Mikkeli. As you are going to find out that most of towns and cities in Finland have something as a symbol, for instance, Olavinlinna Castle (fortress) as a symbol of Savonlinna. Therefore, the more we move on, the more we are about to discover.
If you are on Mikonkatu and Cumulus Hotel is on your right, keep going straight till the road goes a little to the hills. There you see a lot of interesting buildings, some parks, but most importantly, there is another symbol of Mikkeli, which is Naisvuoren Näkötorni. There is a small tower and a café in that “building”. The place is called Naisvuori (it means “women’s mountain”). It is a very lovely place, there is a small fountain and a park, and the view to the whole town is breath-taking. Take your time to visit it.
Well, one might ask if there is another symbol of Mikkeli, and the answer would be “yes, there is!” To get there, you will need to get back to that pedestrian street and walk all the way down to the railroad station, which is sometimes also considered as another symbol of the town. It looks beautiful and worth taking pictures. From there just turn right and passing through the bus station, you get to the elevator (it works approximately till 11:30 p.m.) or you can use the stairs. You need to get to the 3rd level and walk all the way down the bridge to the harbor. The bridge is a covered one, so it is warm in winter; and it has clocks and schedule screens inside. Once you get to the harbor, you just take your time and enjoy everything you see in there. Unlike Lappeenranta, it does not seem large, because this part of the lake Saimaa is not big enough. However, the boats are able to sail pretty far getting to the bigger part of the lake. It is very picturesque. There are everyday cruise boats leaving the harbor, so you might choose the right one on the website.
There at the harbor you can have a dinner on a boat, or grab a coffee in a café; it is totally up to you how to enjoy the day. There plenty of options for everyone to be satisfied with a trip and many destinations to visit. If you are willing to purchase some souvenirs from Mikkeli, the best place to do that is on the parking level in Stella. There you will see the first (the corner) shop in front of the entrance to the S-Market. There are many nice souvenirs for a good memory.
Moving on, it is worth mentioning some other options as accommodation. First of all, there is a company, proving apartments for rent for students. But there is one building for rent for visitors. It is cheaper than a hotel room, but it does not have breakfast included, obviously. But it is a very good choice if you are not willing to pay extra or if there are no vacant places in one of the above mentioned hotels. The company name is MOAS. You need to open the front page in English and then choose sections “Apartments” and there “Short-term apartments”. It is one of the options you can consider when visiting Mikkeli.
The above mentioned accommodation is located on Raviradantie, as well as another option. There is a self-service hotel Uusikuu right next to those apartment buildings. The prices there are affordable and everything is very nice and comfortable. But there is no reception within the hotel; everything is made online. If you choose this option, please, read the information carefully, since it might seem a little confusing for the first time. But it is very simple.
There are more options exist, of course, but those three are the most popular and pretty near to the city center. What comes to the city center, you might be interested in a sightseeing tour. The best way to see a lot is Mikke-Juna (which means “Mikke-Train”). It is a long funny bus with a very unusual design and bright colors. The bus goes all across the town, visiting different distant places and the city center. Mikke-Juna also goes to the territory of the main university in the town, Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences. There will be a separate chapter on the university and offered programs later on. So far I can say that it is a very good study place; I have one of the most incredible times in the university. So, go check it out.
This year (I mean 2013) Mikkeli is celebrating its 175th birthday. You can check out the website for more information. This summer the town is one of the most attractive places in Finland due to a large amount of festivals, concerts and different events taking place. For instance, the Ballet Festival in Savonlinna, which took place in July, was also complemented by Vaganova Ballet Academy Master Class in Mikkeli, where teens could become a part of a bigger picture for the future of ballet. Also, you might remember Mikkeli Soikoon, the music festival in Mikkeli, which lasted for 2 days in June and gather hundreds of people. There is a marathon taking place in town every summer, so that everyone can participate. All marathon runners were able to drink juice, lemonade or water for free at special points with tables provided for such needs. It is very considerable to have it all well prepared.
Another event that took place in Mikkeli was a festival of retro American cars in Visulahti Park. There were different cars from different countries, but mostly from the United States. Finns keep them in a very good shape and are happy to show their pride during such festivals. The festival was on June 22. It was very remarkable for people; besides, anyone could purchase souvenirs and take pictures in front of or inside of those cars, enjoying a lovely weather. There is also another festival coming up soon, Jurassic Rock, from August 9 till August 11. Looking forward to it as there are many world famous stars performing, the main headliner is System of a Down.
Visulahti Park is very beautiful itself; it a good family place with a wax cabinet, some funny places, and the waterpark. There is a restaurant for the guests, who are willing to take a little break during a long enjoyable day in the park. Prices are very affordable; you can purchase an all-day ticket with an access to all parts of the park. It is the best option. There is also a hotel (motel) in the park for visitors from distant places. You can enjoy the trip and have a good rest being in a gorgeous place not far from Mikkeli. Visulahti Park is approximately 10 km away from Mikkeli if you go to Kuopio or Savonlinna. It is on Kuopiontie, the road going to the mentioned destinations. The best option is a car or a bus to get there. You can get more information at the Info Office in Stella on the 2nd floor. It is worth visiting and spending a day or a couple of days in the park.
Obviously, Mikkeli has a lot to offer to its citizens and guests as well. It is a very interesting and beautiful town, as well as a very comfortable one. In the following “chapter of the journey” we are going to continue discovering Mikkeli and speak more about transport and some other interesting places to visit. So, do not forget your camera, get ready to take lots of pictures, have fun and keep traveling!
Kirill “Traveler” Malyutin
About Travel Smart series:
“Travel Smart” is a section, narrating about different countries and good travel tips, advised by the author, Kirill Malyutin. The series contains recommendations, including selected places to visit, character accommodation, and reasonable shopping. Simply get inspiration!All stories of the series →
О серии «Travel Smart»:
«Travel Smart» – раздел, в котором автор Кирилл Малютин рассказывает о разных странах и дает необходимые в путешествии советы. Серия включает в себя рекомендации по посещенным автором местам, характерным средствам размещения, а также разумному шопингу. Вдохновитесь приключением!Все выпуски серии →