“So similar and so different: Pieksämäki & Varkaus”. Now we are going to talk about two different and at the same time very similar towns, Pieksämäki and Varkaus. It is quite easy to find them on a map if you find Mikkeli first. From Mikkeli you can choose which town to visit first. If you want to go to Kuopio or Joensuu, you are definitely going to pass Varkaus, because it is right on a “crossroads” of both ways. Besides, if you travel by bus, all drivers change on that bus station which is also a railroad station. On your way to Varkaus you are about to pass by Juva, a small but important town, through which you have to drive if you are headed to Savonlinna.
Where: Pieksämäki and Varkaus, Finland
What: “Travel Smart” series
But let us start our “journey” from the town of Pieksämäki. I brought only good emotions after visiting this town. It has some kind of a feeling of safety, and time does not seem to rush at all. It is the same feeling as I had in Porvoo, where it seems that time stops as you get to the old part of the town. It is very peaceful and beautiful.
Pieksämäki has its own uniqueness and “face”. It is quite hard to say exactly where the city center is, but it seems the town has two of them. One of them is near the railroad and bus station. You can feel it is a very comfortable town. There is a huge supermarket, K-citymarket, right next to the railroad station, and there is a big lake right across the street. People are happy to spend their free time on the shore and enjoy sunny days in summer and skate in winter.
Before we move on, I would like to speak a little about the way to get there from Mikkeli. First of all, if you are on the main speedway, which goes from Helsinki directly to Kuopio through Mikkeli, you have to follow the road signs saying when and where to leave the main road and to turn to Pieksämäentie, which actually goes directly to Pieksämäki. Option number two is to get on Juvantie, which is headed to Kuopio, Savonlinna and Juva, and to turn on Pieksämäentie. Option number three is to get to Prisma and get to Huuhkajankatu, keep going to the end of this road and turn right on Launialankatu and go till the end, then you will see the road sign showing directions to the above mentioned destinations and the road numbers 5 and 72 (where 5 stands for Kuopiontie, and 72 for Pieksämäentie). So once you turn left from Launialankatu to Salosaarentie, all you have to do is keep going straight passing by the intersection.
The road to Pieksämäki might seem a little boring, but once you get to the town, you are going to like the place. I should mention that while driving you might realize the road changes its name to Mikkelintie, which is funny because there is no certain point when it says so, it just slowly changes its name. Keep going on Yhdystie till you are on the intersection with Varkaudentie. There is a road sign showing the direction to Varkaus. Well, turn left to get to the city center of Pieksämäki and keep driving till you are on the bridge. Then you can stop at K-citymarket on the right side of the road. The main road you are on is Keskuskatu. It is easier to find your way if you are stick to it. If you decide to make a stop at the supermarket, you have a very beautiful and quite big lake just across the road. Take your time and walk there. Unfortunately, I did not have that much time in there and thus an opportunity to enjoy it the way I could, but it just leaves me another reason to get back and explore more of this town.
If you continue your way on Keskuskatu and see another road going to the right, Savontie, you might want to stop by and grab a coffee at one of the cafés or just walk there. There are some nice places even in a small territory. But if you continue walking, you will see on the left there is a nice and good bar & café RiikaLinna with a night club Galaxy. There is a nice atmosphere in that place, people feel very comfortable and relaxed. And it works almost all day long, which is great. It is located right before Lampolahdenkatu.
|Café and bar RiikaLinna and night club Galaxy|
You can continue walking and explore more, but if you get back a little to Kauppakatu, you will see S-market on the left side, and the central square on the right side. It is a very nice place with some cafés, shops and stuff you might need. So, take your time to enjoy it.
Well, now it is time to move to the town of Varkaus. So, get on Keskuskatu and drive all the way till you get to Varkaudentie and keep moving straight. And a few words about time, the road from Mikkeli to Pieksämäki will take you approximately an hour, even less. What comes to the road from Pieksämäki to Varkaus, it will take you just 30 minutes.
When you get to a huge intersection with a road going to Kuopio, you keep going straight and getting closer to the bridge. There you can take good pictures, the view is terrific. Once you are on the bridge you can see some road signs and company names (and many signs in the town) will be using an old spelling, Warkaus instead of Varkaus. Sometimes it is also Wanha instead of Vanha (it stands for “old”). Getting to another intersection, you can see a railroad and bus station on your left, some factories on your right and a road going to Joensuu ahead. For now let us choose a road to Joensuu and explore some areas in Varkaus.
Basically, it is not far where I would like to invite you, first of all, you are on Taipaleentie; the road number is 23. Go till you see Taipaleen kanava (channel) and there is a parking spot in there for people to take pictures. It is beautiful. If you continue going ahead, you are going to get to Joensuu. We are about to discover something about Joensuu in our next “chapter of the journey”, so for now we get back to the city center. Once you are on Taipaleentie and you are headed to the city center, just right after you have the lake on your left and right, search for Wahlinkatu, it is a small turn to the left. There is a small S-market with a parking spot. But get across the Taipaleentie and see some unusual things on that side. If you walk to Ahlströminkatu, you are going to see some interesting buildings. If you turn right to Kauppatori, you will have Scandic Hotel Oscar on your left and the square on you right. As for the hotel, it is quite unusual in design, but confusing as well. The plan of the hotel and its territory is not comfortable at all, especially if you arrive there for the first time. There is no real sign where the entrance is, if you go from Taipaleentie. So you could only guess or try every door. It seemed not nice at all, but the inside of the hotel is amazing. It has its charm and uniqueness.
Get back to Ahlströminkatu and walk till you see Wredenkatu. There on the left side you will see a funny bus stop; it has a shape of an ice-cream. I do hope it will be there for long. While walking there, you are going to pass a lot of interesting buildings and nice cafés. You can stop by and grab a coffee or tea. If you walk straight ahead, you will get to the park, where local citizens are spending their free time. But it is not the only place.
First, you have to return to Taipaleentie, and get back to that intersection with Relanderinkatu. Turn right there and you will get to the railroad and bus station. If you go straight on Relanderinkatu, you can get to K-citymarket, Lidl, Prisma, and other big stores and supermarkets. But if you continue going on this road, you are going to get to the road leading to Kuopio. My impression right on that street was that I appeared somewhere in the United States or in Canada. Maybe, I had this impression because it was quite wide and it reminded me of small towns or suburbs of North America. Maybe, it just has a little of that spirit… who knows… If you walk on Kauppakatu, you can take a coffee in a café or eat pizza, you will definitely find something for yourself.
And also visit another shore of Varkaus, where people spend their free time. It is just on the right side if you walk on Kauppakatu from Taipaleentie. This shore is bigger than the previous one, and it has some places for kids and more stuff. Take your time to walk there and breathe fresh air. Varkaus is located among water, which makes it a little longer in size than Pieksämäki. Basically, if you have a chance to walk and enjoy both of the towns, do that! It takes time but it will give you so many good memories.
What comes to the way back to Mikkeli, you need to go back to the intersection with Taipaleentie and turn right to get to Valtatie. From there it takes you 2-3 minutes to get to a big intersection with the speedway to Kuopio, there you need to take the second turn to the right (follow the road signs!) to Mikkeli. From there on the road is simple and pretty rapid. In the next “chapter” we will go to Joensuu and explore its beauty. So, enjoy the ride and get ready for more!
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 →
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