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Varkaus

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Varkaus is a town in North Savonia.

Understand

Varkaus is an industrial town with about 20,000 inhabitants (2021), best known for its paper factories. The name of the town translates to "theft" in modern Finnish, but it's more likely that town got its name from the old Finnish word for strait.

Get in

By car

Highway 5, one of the major roads between southern and northern Finland, passes through Varkaus. The distance from Helsinki is a little more than 300 km.

By train

Trains between Pieksämäki and Joensuu stop in Varkaus.

By bus

Varkaus is at the crossroads of highways 5 and 23. Buses between Helsinki to Kuopio, among others, stop in Varkaus.

By plane

There are no longer any scheduled flights to Varkaus airport. The closest airports with regular passenger traffic are in Kuopio, Jyväskylä, Joensuu and Savonlinna. All of these entail at least an hour on the road, and only have flights from Helsinki anyway, so flying is not a practical alternative for getting in.

By boat

Varkaus is situated on the shores of Lake Saimaa which is accessible from the sea via Saimaa Canal. The shipping fairway from the Gulf of Finland to Kuopio passes Varkaus, size limits should suffice for any yacht (onwards from Kuopio to Iisalmi the height limit may get critical).

Get around

There are a few local bus lines operated by City of Varkaus in the town center (map) if you don't want to walk or drive. Matka.fi and Moovit route planners include local buses of Varkaus.

  • Smartphone apps: Valopilkku, 02 Taksi, Taksi EHT

See

  • 1 The Museum of Mechanical Music (Mekaanisen musiikin museo), Pelimanninkatu 8, ☏ +358 10 2390 380. Tu-Su 11:00-18;00, closed in the winter months and Mondays. As the name reveals, it's a museum presenting mechanical music instruments, gramophones, jukeboxes and such. adults €14, children €7. 
  • 2 Taipale canal (2 km from the center towards Joensuu). Finland's first canal with guard locks, opened in 1840. Nowadays the boats use a wider canal, opened 30 years later, but the original one is still open as a museum. 
  • 3 Church of Varkaus, Savonkatu 1. The main sight is the altar fresco – the largest in Northern Europe. 
  • 4 Varkaus Water Tower, Nakskovinkatu 8. The water tower is unique in that the tower is also inhabited. It has a lookout post and café on the roof. (updated Dec 2020)

Do

  • 1 Linnansaari National Park (daily coaches to the Porosalmi crossroads, 1.5 km from the park, also services to Oravi on the other shore; the Varkaus–Savonlinna shipping/boat route goes through the area, reachable from several directions). Lush islands and rocky islets. Best explored by boat or canoe, but there is a boat service to the main island and taxi boats available. Nature trails, an old croft, Saimaa seals and osprays. Tour skating in winter.  
  • 2 Orinoro, Mustinmäentie 83 (Leppävirta;), ☏ +358 44-790-6033, matkailuneuvonta@leppavirta.fi. Nature trails leading through a gorge. The longer circle trail (7 km) starts from Mustinmäki-talo (community centre with sports ground and beach) 15 km (by road) east of Leppävirta (in turn 23 km north from Varkaus), the shorter one (3 km) from Hanhisentie 2.3 km farther north-east. The gorge is 200 m long and 20 m high. A few ponds along the route, one with lean-to shelter and campfire place (not to be used during wildfire warnings). The trail is quite rough in places, duckboards through the gorge; rubber/hiking boots may be needed at wet times. Free. 

Festivals and events

  • Sampea ja sampanjaa:  – August. Music festival in late July with a program for small children. (date needs fixing)

Buy

Eat

  • 1 Severi, Käpykankaantie 10 (in the Teboil gas station next to highway 5). All-you-can-eat lunch buffet (10:00-18:00), popular among truck drivers. Outside lunch hours they serve a la carte and different hamburgers and pizzas. lunch buffet €8.90. 
  • 2 Sodexo Ravintola Navitas, Wredenkatu 2, ☏ +358 50 3476049, navitas.FMS.FI@sodexo.com. (updated Jun 2022)

Drink

Sleep

  • 1 Hotel Oscar (formerly Scandic Hotel Oscar), Kauppatori 4, ☏ +358 17 579 011, fax: +358 17 579 0500, hotel@hoteloscar.fi. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. (updated Jan 2018)

Connect

Go next

  • Kuopio – the largest city in Northern Savonia is one hour away by car or bus.



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