The largest lake district in Europe, Lakeland is characterised by calm blue waters, small islands, rolling hills and rich green forests. Not only is the area extremely beautiful, but the lakes also provide a range of outdoor activities such as swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking and scenic hiking along the banks. It’s no wonder why many Finns choose to spend their summers here at idyllic lake-side cottages with family and friends.
As well as attracting leisure seekers and holiday makers, photographers and artists seek to capture the still, mirror-like surfaces and lonely islands against the backdrop of the midnight sun. With only a few hours of darkness a day here in the summer, the quality of light is something quite magical.
The best way to explore the area is definitely cruising the waterways and channels by boat, as was historically, the main way to travel. Organised trips cast off from lake ports such as Jyvaskylä, Savonlinna and Lappeenranta. Getting on board a traditional steamboat is a charming experience, while sail boats and canoes offer quieter and more peaceful options.
The number of national parks in the region mean that the area is well preserved with marked hiking routes, nature trails and campfire sites. The concept of Everyman’s Right under Finnish law also means that everyone has the right to roam Finland’s countryside, lakes and forests freely and also forage for food such as berries and mushrooms, no matter who owns the land.
While away the early evening by a campfire, submerged in the magical light of the midnight sun, nibbling on fresh self-picked berries.
The largest lake system in Finland is Lake Saimaa and is the only home to the rare Saimaa ringed seal. Measuring at 4,377 square kilometers, it a popular destination amongst leisure seekers who are drawn to this picturesque spot for the range of things to do and see. The calm waters are popular with sailors and canoeists. In fact, every July Lake Saimaa hosts the Sulkava Rowing Race, a four-day event where over 5,500 participants row 60km. Meanwhile, Lake Päijänn, which is connected to Lake Saimma, is the location for Finland’s largest lake regatta. For those who prefer to relax, there are plenty of manor houses to visit as well as the Ollinmäki berry wine farm and the impressive Olavinlinna castle at Savolinna. And although it seems impossible, if you get tired of the quiet and picturesque surrounds, a town or city is never too far away.
As the weather grows cold and the nights get darker, many lakes will freeze and you will find people in the region taking up ice-skating, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and ice-fishing. If you’re feeling really brave, you can even take a dip in the icy water, which some choose to do after a traditional Finnish sauna. It goes without saying, that if you choose to take the plunge, you must do so with care and in a place specifically designated for this.
Lakeland truly is a national treasure, whether you opt to enjoy the lustrous summer evenings under the midnight sun, breathe in the crisp autumn air as the season turns, or get your snowshoes on for a hike through a winter wonderland.
In partnership with Visit Finland.