View from Ukko-Koli hill in Koli National Park Leisure cruise passing Olavinlinna Castle in Savonlinna Winter in Koli National Park

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Lakeland - The largest lake region in Europe!
What to see & do


The Finnish Lakeland is the largest lake region in Europe with thousands of blue lakes and small tree-covered islands. This region is a popular holiday destination for Finnish families who travel to the region from the cities in the South and the West. The main appeal of the area is the peace and serene natural beauty of the still lakes, abundant wildlife and dense, green forests. If you really want to get away from it all, this is the place to do it. The area offers amazing natural attractions, as well as culture, history, charming towns and lively ski resorts.


Ski Resorts

Downhill skiingTahko Ski Resort
Tahko Ski Resort has 23 ski slopes for downhill skiing, 13 ski lifts and 2 half-pipes and a street for snowboarding. The resort also has a ski school, where you can learn to downhill ski, slalom ski, snowboard, cross-country ski or telemark ski according to your interests. All ski equipment can be rented from the resort's own rental shop and all children who are under 7 years old, wear a helmet and are accompanied by their parents ski for free!

Huskies in VuokattiVuokatti Ski Resort
Vuokatti has excellent facilities for winter activities such as snowmobile and husky safaris, snowboarding and downhill and cross-country skiing. All ski equipment can be rented from the rental shop and a ski school is also available. Children have their own play area and safe ski slopes. In summer, popular activities include hiking, horse-riding, cycling and fishing.

Downhill skiingHimos Ski Resort
Himos Ski Resort offers plenty to do during the ski season from October to April. The resort has 21 ski slopes, 13 ski lifts and excellent facilities for cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing. All ski equipment can be hired from the rental shop and a ski school also operates in the resort. Beginners and children under 7 years old wearing a helmet ski for free! 


Year Round Attractions

Olavinlinna CastleOlavinlinna Castle
The magnificent Olavinlinna Castle in Savonlinna dates from 1475. The castle was built strong to protect the Swedish Kingdom from Russian attacks and the castle remained untouchable for 240 year. Today the castle can be entered via a suspended bridge that takes you across the lake to its own island and the world famous Savonlinna Opera Festival is held in the castle every July. 

Driving in PunkaharjuPunkaharju Ridge
Punkaharju Ridge is a 7km long unusually narrow ridge that naturally formed during the ice age 10 000 years ago. The area is unique in the world and was one of the first areas in Finland to gain a status of protected environment. Driving through the this unique area small tree-covered islands and blue lakes is an exhilarating experience not to be missed! 

Valamo resident monksThe Orthodox Monastery of Valamo
Valamo Monastery in Heinavesi is the centre of Orthodox religion and worship in Finland. A visit to the Monastery offers you a rare insight into the daily running of the Monastery and its resident monks. Take part in a guided tour or a daily service, or dine in the Monastery restaurant below paintings depicting the most important figures of the Orthodox world. 


Winter Attractions

SnowmobilingSnowmobile Safaris and Horse & Sleigh Rides
Snowmobile safaris are available in ski resorts, as well as directly from some of the cabin owners, who can often arrange tailor-made itineraries. Horse and sleigh rides, that are also organised by individual cabin owners, are very romantic and take you to the snowy woods and frozen lakes for some traditional winter fun!

Lake view in winterFrozen Lakes and Ice Roads
In winter the lakes in this region completely freeze over and the ice is often thick enough to carry cars. The roads are regularly checked by the civil authorities and are completely safe. One of the most famous ice roads is the one between Vuonisjoki and Koli National Park.


Summer Attractions

RetrettiRetretti Art Centre
One of the largest art centres in the Nordic countries and a unique experience as some of the exhibitions are
located in the caves underground. Retretti even has its own underground concert hall, where classical concerts 
                                                      are held summer. 

River rafting in RuunaaRuunaa River Rapids
Experience the white water thrills and spills on an organised boat or inflatable raft trip along the Ruunaa River Rapids near Lieksa. Running through the many rapids along the route is great fun and gives you an ideal opportunity to enjoy this region from water. 


Towns to Visit

Lake PaijanneJyväskylä
Jyväskylä has a variety of shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as a pretty harbour, where you can take a cruise on Lake Päijänne, the longest and the deepest lake in Finland. If you are interested in architecture, visit the Alvar Aalto Museum dedicated to the work of the world famous Finnish architect and a former resident in the town.

Joensuu Railway StationJoensuu
Joensuu provides an excellent day trip destination with its beautiful harbour, bustling market place and a variety of department stores, restaurants and cafes. Do not miss enjoying a few refreshing drinks on the Bar Boat Elina, that docks in the harbour every summer and serves drinks on its two decks. Joensuu also has an interesting Orthodox church and a few good art museums, where mainly Finnish art is displayed. 

Puijo Tower in KuopioKuopio
Kuopio a lively town with a wide variety of shops, restaurants and museums to visit. Make sure you visit the 75m high Puijo Tower, from where you can admire one of the best views in the Lakeland region while dining in an A la Carte restaurant or a more informal cafe, both of which go round 360 degrees in an hour. 


National Parks

Winter in Koli National ParkKoli National Park
The Koli area was considered sacred in ancient times and was then a site of pagan worship. The famous highpoint of Koli Hill (347m) is formed of two contrasting sides; the Ukko-Koli (Old Man Koli) that offers breathtaking panoramic views over Lake Pielinen, while the Akka-Koli (Old Woman Koli) offers far reaching views over green forests.

Mountain bikingLeivonmäki National Park
You will find clearly marked nature trails suitable for beginners and families in Leivonmäki National Park. The park has a varied terrain, that consists of two woody and rocky areas separated by the barren Rutajärvi Lake. Climb to the top of the 1.5km long Joutsniemi Ridge to admire the view or go fishing, mountain biking, swimming or picking wild  berries and mushrooms. 

Bears live in the Hiidenportti National ParkHiidenportti National Park
Hiidenportti National Park offers an oasis of calm with spectacular scenery, particularly around the famous Hiidenportti Gorge where rock faces travel straight down for up to 20m. The park area is formed of thick pine woods, swamps and small lakes that provide suitable habitat for wildlife including bears, lynxes, moose, beavers, wolves, wolverines, pine martens and numerous birds.

Lynxes can be spotted in Repovesi National Park Repovesi National Park
The fantastic Repovesi National Park consists of clear lakes and rocky, wooded hills. The park offers a number of nature trails for leisurely walks and the high points along the trails offer lovely views over the park and you might even spot a moose, lynx, pine marten, an otter or one of the rare birds. 

Canoeing on a sunny dayKolovesi National Park
Kolovesi National Park is 23km² area of lakes, woods and rock walls reaching as high as 40m. The park was formed during the last ice age and you can still spot signs of life from the stone ages. The park today is inhabited by endangered Saimaa seals, as well as trekkers and canoeists on day trips. 

Lake PaijanneLinnansaari National Park
The 38km² Linnansaari National Park is formed of more than 130 islands and large areas of water making this park an ideal destination for all water lovers. The park was created in 1956 to protect the spectacular archipelago and beautiful lake views and today the park is one of the few areas in the world where you can still spot endangered Saimaa seals. 

Mountain bikingIsojärvi National Park
Isojärvi National Park consists of 22km² of quiet forests, narrow lakes, rocky shore lines and over 20 small islands, where a number of water birds and Canadian beavers can be spotted regularly. The park has a total of 30km of signposted hiking trails, while cycling, swimming, canoeing, fishing, cross-country skiing and picking wild berries and mushrooms are also possible. 


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