Lake Saimaa is Finland’s largest lake and well worth visiting in its own right, but what makes this region an ideal choice for your travel destination? We collected 10 reasons to visit the Saimaa region and spend your holiday in the beautiful Finnish lake district. Saimaa bids you welcome at any time of the year.
1. A unique lake
You won’t find a lake like this anywhere else. Lake Saimaa is a labyrinth formed by wide waters and thousands of islands, not just a simple lake basin. It has the world’s longest lake coastline, 14,500 km long, and it boasts 13,710 islands. This is Finland’s largest lake, and it’s the fourth largest natural freshwater lake in Europe. It made the Wall Street Journal list of the five most beautiful lakes in the world in 2014. The scenery Finland has to offer is at its best in the Saimaa region.
2. Pure nature
In Eastern Finland, in the Lake Saimaa region, you can experience the fascination of pure nature. The lake water is so clean in many places that you can drink it. Large natural forests hum with life and remain untouched by man. Many wild animals (the elk, foxes, small predators, the blue hare, and even wolves and bears) feel at home here.
The towns in the Saimaa area are characterised by their harmony with nature, which remains a part of them. Even the town centre of Savonlinna is considered a nature attraction. You can relax to the waves lapping against the shore and drink in the magnificent lake views from the centre’s cafés and terraces. Local residents stop at the market square by boat for a cup of coffee. Where else can you take a break from a leisurely stroll in the town centre for a refreshing dip in clear water?
3. The Saimaa Ringed Seal
The ringed seal is a true rarity offered by nature in the Saimaa region. This special local resident is the world’s most endangered seal. It is found only in Saimaa, with a population of just 310 seals. If you are lucky, you can encounter the gentle ringed seal on your travels, while in the Saimaa area.
4. A cabin on the shore, making unique memories
Time at a lakeside summer cabin is an essential part of the Finnish lifestyle. Finland has over half a million holiday cottages, and more than 50,000 of them are in the Saimaa region, in southern Savo. Some of these cottages are available for short-term accommodation, giving visitors a chance to enjoy the natural luxury of a lakeshore cabin with a private sauna, jetty, and rowing boat – you can enjoy your holiday exactly as you wish, in privacy.
5. A marriage of nature and culture
The unique nature and breathtaking lake views have inspired Finnish artists through the ages. Contemporary Finnish art and design too gets its inspiration from nature. Many cultural events in the Saimaa region are held in a natural environment, making nature a part of the experience. Why not combine a nature trail, for instance, with a visit to the Savonlinna Opera Festival or a local art centre?
6. Peace and quiet
Life in the small towns by Lake Saimaa is easygoing and has a relaxed pace – completely the opposite of a big city’s hustle and bustle. The best way to get the feel of an idyllic small town is to take a leisurely stroll there or pop in at a café on the market square or a terrace. At the core of the peaceful lifestyle is the surrounding nature, of course.
7. Tasty local food
In the Saimaa region, food is prepared from fresh and pure natural ingredients. There are many local producers. Vendace, the most important fish in the Finnish diet, thrives in the clean water of Lake Saimaa, and it is served by most of the local restaurants, prepared in various ways. And don’t forget to taste the local ‘lörtsy’ pasties in Savonlinna. Here even visitors can enjoy the bounty that nature has to offer by picking berries and wild mushrooms in the forests.
8. Friendly locals and pleasant service
Local people in the Saimaa region are friendly and easygoing. They receive visitors cordially and strive to provide friendly customer service.
9. Unique events
Summer in the Saimaa region is full of exciting events. The world-famous Savonlinna Opera Festival and Mikkeli Music Festival bring top international stars to the area and provide high-quality cultural experiences to satisfy even the most demanding of tastes. There are also original exhibitions, concerts, and many other events to enjoy.
Finland is famous for its peculiar events, and many of them take place in the Saimaa area – for instance, the world championships in mobile-phone throwing (www.mobilephonethrowing.fi) and the Elephant Ball World Championships (www.norsupallo.fi).
10. Light in the North and the northern lights
Wherever you go in Finland, you are quite far north, close to the Arctic Circle. The contrast in daylight and darkness between seasons is especially strong: during the summer, the nights are light, as the sun is below the horizon for only a few hours, whereas there is daylight for only a few hours in the winter. In what is known as Finland’s lake district, the quality of the light varies endlessly, and the experience is completely different between the various times of year. And, if you’re lucky, you might witness the aurora borealis here – this dancing of light in the night sky can be seen in Eastern Finland, in the Saimaa region.