Olavinlinna is a castle in Savonlinna, in Eastern Finland [Linna translates to ‘castle’ or ‘fortress’ from Finnish]. I had this place on my to-go list for a long time. After a road trip from Helsinki, we finally arrived – and it was POURING. We arrived yesterday and it was raining as well, today even more continuously. Rains like this aren’t so common in Finland.
We planned to go for the guided tour at the castle at 12:00 today and went there anyway. Driving from our camping village we go towards the town centre and the castle, where there seemed to be no free parking spots anywhere nearby. It was 11:45 when we finally found a parking and headed to the castle in the rain. Glad to have an umbrella. The line on the bridge to the castle was long. I thought it would be moving quick but we ended up in queue for almost an hour, missing the guided tour at 12:00.
Tickets (12€ for an Adult) includes a guided tour – available in English, Finnish, Swedish and Russian. If you miss one, you can wait for the next and they take place a few times everyday (thrice in English). Guided tours in Finnish are every hour. You can still check out the main parts of the castle without the guided tour. Today seemed exceptional. Or, I don’t know, this must be a very popular tourist site in Finland – haven’t seen such queues in many places around here. Considering the bad weather, we were surprised by the long line of people with their umbrellas waiting to get in. Without umbrellas and raincoats we’d be fully drenched.
So we purchased two tickets and the next guided tour was an hour later. Till then we hung around and also had a coffee at the very cosy restaurant of the castle, Linnantupa. They also made us a vegan bagel, which wasn’t even on the menu! (we asked them for vegan options since there weren’t any visible..) And it was really good.
The guided tour started at 14:00 and it was in Finnish. I understood quite well, when I listened carefully! J was listening intently. Most of the tour was indoors, inside the castle, but it felt like only a small part of it, mainly the stage area where they hold the famous Savonlinna Opera Festival. Cancelled this year..
Some facts about the place – The fortress was built in the 15th century by the Swedes (Sweden ruled Finland at the time) to protect the eastern border. It opened for tourists in the 19th century after being used as a prison for a while. The castle is named after St. Olaf of Norway. The castle originally had 5 towers but now there’s only 3.
After the tour, that lasted about 40min, we went to check out the towers more closely. Going up the towers wasn’t allowed now due to corona (what?). Looks like this seagull baby was enjoying the rain more than us.
After this we went to Sarastro Ravintola for some lunch – they had at least one vegan starter, main and dessert. The vegan dishes were marked with V so we didn’t have to look at anything else. We got the Fries and Sweet potato steak. And their G&T.
Our other experiences on this trip included a much needed eco Spa at Järvisydän resort, located in Porosalmi, a 40min drive from Olavinlinna. Read about it here: Hotel & Spa Resort Järvisydän, Spa day review.