Discover Lakeland, Finland

Have you ever imagined a place where water is more abundant than land? Lakeland is Europe’s most extensive lake district in the heart of Finland, a serene tapestry of blue and green. With around 188,000 lakes, you’re never far from the gentle lap of water against the shore.

Saimaa, the largest of these lakes, sprawls across the Finnish landscape, offering a paradise for water enthusiasts. Whether you’re gliding in a boat through its serene expanse or lounging by the water’s edge at a cottage, the connection with nature is undeniable.

And it’s not just about relaxation; the Finnish Lakeland is bursting with activity all year round. In the summer, the lakes become playgrounds for swimming and kayaking, while in winter, they transform into icy stages for cross-country skiing and ice skating.

So, if you’re yearning for a place where water whispers tales of ancient glaciers and peaceful retreats, pack your bags for Finnish Lakeland. And who knows, you might just leave a piece of your heart among its tranquil lakes and whispering pines.

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Top 3 Facts about Lakeland in Finland

01

Lakes Galore

Lakeland is home to over 187,000 lakes, ranging from small ponds to vast expanses of water. These lakes cover approximately 55,000 square kilometers (21,236 square miles) of the region’s total area, making it one of the largest lake districts in Europe.

02

Saimaa Ringed Seal Population

The Saimaa ringed seal, a critically endangered species found only in Lake Saimaa within the Lakeland region, has a population of around 400 individuals. Efforts to protect and conserve this unique subspecies have included creating artificial nesting sites and reducing human disturbances in their habitat.

03

Tourism Impact

Tourism plays a significant role in Lakeland’s economy, with the region attracting millions of visitors each year. In 2020, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lakeland welcomed over three million overnight stays in accommodation facilities, contributing substantially to the local economy.

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Must See Attractions

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Olavinlinna Castle

Castle

Picture this: a majestic 15th-century fortress rising above serene waters. Make sure your cameras are ready because Olavinlinna, home to the famous Savonlinna Opera Festival, is where memories are made. Seriously, the festival is a spectacle of music and culture like nothing else.

Kuopion Tuomiokirkko

Cathedral

Are you a fan of unique architecture? Kuopio’s cathedral may strike you as unassuming initially, but its stone structure has stood the test of time since the 19th century. It’s the quiet beauty of places like this that gives you the essence of Finnish history.

Linnansaari National Park

National Park

Located in the heart of Lake Saimaa, Linnansaari National Park is renowned for its pristine natural beauty and diverse wildlife, including the endangered Saimaa ringed seal. Visitors can explore the park’s rugged landscapes, hike along scenic trails, and enjoy camping, fishing, and kayaking amidst stunning surroundings.

Annual Events and Festivals

July

Savonlinna Opera Festival

Held annually in July in the city of Savonlinna, this internationally renowned opera festival takes place in the historic Olavinlinna Castle. The festival attracts opera enthusiasts from around the world who come to enjoy performances by leading opera singers and orchestras against the backdrop of the castle’s medieval walls.

June

Kuopio Dance Festival

The Kuopio Dance Festival is one of the largest dance events in the Nordic countries, held annually in June in the city of Kuopio. The festival features a diverse program of dance performances, workshops, and masterclasses, showcasing a wide range of dance styles including ballet, contemporary, folk, and street dance.

July

Punkaharju Ridge Jazz:

Held in Punkaharju, a picturesque ridge area known for its natural beauty and historic wooden architecture, this jazz festival brings together top Finnish and international jazz musicians. The festival usually takes place in July and features outdoor concerts, jam sessions, and workshops set amidst the stunning lakeside scenery.

Top Hiking Trails

Ukko-Koli Nature Trail

STARTS FROM Ukko-Koli Visitor Centre

Located in Koli National Park, this 3.5-kilometer loop trail offers stunning views of Lake Pielinen and the surrounding landscapes. The trail winds through lush forests and rocky terrain, passing by iconic lookout points such as Ryläys and Akka-Koli. It’s a relatively easy hike suitable for families and offers interpretive signs to learn about the area’s flora, fauna, and cultural history.

Helvetinportti Trail

STARTS FRom Helvetinkolu Parking Area

Situated in Helvetinjärvi National Park, this 7-kilometer trail takes hikers through the rugged landscapes of the Devil’s Church Canyon. The trail starts at the Helvetinkolu parking area and leads visitors along wooden walkways, rocky cliffs, and moss-covered boulders. Highlights include the deep ravines of Helvetinkolu and the tranquil shores of Lake Helvetinjärvi, offering plenty of opportunities for photography and exploration.

Puijo Ridge Trail

Starts from Kuopio

Beginning near Kuopio, this 3.5-kilometer trail follows the scenic ridge of Puijo Hill, offering panoramic views of Lake Kallavesi and the surrounding Lakeland scenery. The trail passes through diverse forest ecosystems, rocky outcrops, and open meadows, culminating at the Puijo Tower observation deck. Hikers can also explore side trails leading to cultural landmarks such as the Puijo Chapel and the Puijo Ski Stadium.

Water Sports

Canoeing & Kayaking

Imagine gliding across crystal-clear waters, just you and your thoughts, punctuated by the dip and pull of your paddle.

Canoeing and kayaking are cherished activities in Lakeland. You can rent gear from local outfitters like Jannen Kalastus ja Kayakki or join a guided tour.

For a touch of adventure, steer your canoe towards Päijänne National Park and be captivated by Kelvenne island’s beauty.

Boating

With thousands of lakes scattered across the region, boating is one of Lakeland’s most popular water activities.

Whether you prefer sailing, motorboating, or kayaking, you can explore the tranquil waters and scenic landscapes at your own pace.

Swimming & Beach Activities

During the warm summer months, many lakes in Lakeland offer excellent swimming opportunities, with sandy beaches, clear waters, and designated swimming areas.

You can relax on the shore, build sandcastles, or play beach volleyball with family and friends.

Winter Activities

Cross-Country Skiing

With its vast network of well-maintained trails, Lakeland is a paradise for cross-country skiing enthusiasts. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skier, you can explore scenic routes through snowy forests, across frozen lakes, and over rolling hills, immersing yourself in the tranquility of the winter landscape.

Ice Skating

When lakes and ponds freeze over, they become natural ice rinks perfect for ice skating. Lace up your skates and glide across the smooth, frozen surfaces, enjoying the crisp winter air and panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Many towns in Lakeland also offer outdoor ice skating rinks and indoor skating arenas for visitors to enjoy.

Ice Fishing

Fishing enthusiasts can try ice fishing on the frozen lakes of Lakeland. Drill a hole in the ice, drop your line, and wait for a bite while enjoying fellow anglers’ peaceful surroundings and camaraderie. Common catches include perch, pike, and trout, which can be cooked over an open fire for a delicious winter meal.

Where to Eat

Majakka Savonlinna

$$ – $$$ • Seafood

Fransmanni Kuopio

$$ – $$$ • French

Pannuhuone Järvisydän

$$ – $$$ • Finnish

Where to Shop

Puu-Vallila

Finnish handicrafts

Kuopiontori

Farmers market

Punainen Tupa

Boutique store

Where to Sleep

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Tips on Renting a Vacation Home in Lakeland, Finland

Start Early

Begin your search for vacation rentals well in advance, especially if you plan to visit during the peak summer season or over holidays like Christmas and New Year. Popular properties tend to book quickly, so it’s a good idea to start looking as soon as you know your travel dates.

Research Locations

Lakeland is a vast region with many towns, villages, and lakeside communities. Research the area thoroughly to find the best location for your preferences and interests. Consider factors such as proximity to lakes, national parks, outdoor activities, and amenities like shops and restaurants.

Check Amenities and Features

Make a list of amenities and features important to you in a vacation rental, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen facilities, Wi-Fi access, parking, and outdoor space. Use filters and search options on rental websites to narrow your choices based on your preferences.

Set Your Budget

Determine your budget for accommodation and stick to it when searching for vacation rentals. Keep in mind that rental prices can vary depending on factors such as location, size, amenities, and seasonality. Be sure to factor in additional costs such as cleaning fees, security deposits, and taxes.

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Going Deeper: History and Cultural Significance of Lakeland, Finland

Have you ever wondered about the stories etched into the serene landscapes of Lakeland, Finland? These tranquil waters and forests are steeped in history, echoing tales from ancient times.

History Lakeland’s past is written in its myriad lakes, formed by glacial melt after the last Ice Age. Historically, this region was a stage for significant events such as the Winter War and Continuation War. Would you believe you can walk through history along the 150-kilometre Ilomantsi War Route? It’s like stepping back in time with each former battle station and monument you encounter.

Cultural Significance: Are you familiar with Karelian culture? It’s the vibrant soul of the area, with customs and traditions that have survived centuries. And if you’ve heard the rhythm of a kantele, it’s likely thanks to the Kalevala, Finland’s epic national poem that has roots deep in Lakeland’s soil.

  • Karelian Culture: Known for its hearty cuisine, colorful crafts, and warm hospitality, Karelian culture gives Lakeland its unique heartbeat.
  • Kalevala: This poetic saga is not just a collection of myths but a cornerstone of Finnish identity. It’s said that the lush, green forests and sparkling lakes of Lakeland inspired these verses.

So, as you sip on your cup of steaming Finnish coffee, reflect on the rich tapestry of history and culture that Lakeland weaves. From ancient sagas to the struggles and triumphs of war, this region isn’t just beautiful—it’s a living museum waiting for you to explore!

Frequently Asked Questions about Lakeland

You’ll want to bask in the magic of the midnight sun during summer and engage in some spectacular ice skating or cross-country skiing in the winter. The region is a tapestry of blue and green, mingled with forests ripe for exploration.

Trains and buses from Helsinki will seamlessly carry you to the Lakeland. You might consider driving for a more scenic route, which offers the flexibility to stop by the numerous charming Finnish towns along the way.

The best time to visit Lakeland depends on your interests and preferences. Summer (June to August) is ideal for outdoor activities like boating, hiking, and swimming, while winter (December to February) offers opportunities for skiing, snowshoeing, and seeing the Northern Lights. Fall and spring are also beautiful seasons to visit, with fewer crowds and changing landscapes.

Lakeland experiences a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are mild and warm, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). Winters are cold and snowy, with temperatures often dropping below freezing, especially in January and February. Spring and fall are transitional seasons, with temperatures ranging from cool to mild.

Yes, it’s possible to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in Lakeland, especially during the winter months when the nights are long and dark. While Lakeland is not as famous for aurora viewing as northern Finland, such as Lapland, you may still have a chance to witness this mesmerizing natural phenomenon, especially on clear, dark nights away from light pollution.

Lakeland’s cuisine reflects its natural surroundings and Finnish culinary traditions. Must-try dishes include smoked fish (such as salmon and vendace), Karelian pasties (karjalanpiirakka), creamy salmon soup (lohisoppa), rye bread (ruisleipä), and traditional Finnish desserts like cinnamon buns (korvapuusti) and blueberry pie (mustikkapiirakka). Many restaurants in Lakeland also offer reindeer dishes and wild game specialties.

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