Ice skating in Finland is a nationwide phenomenon during the winter months. From kids in their first years of school to professional figure skaters and ice hockey players, people all over Finland love to be out on the ice.
Lake Saimaa is no exception. Local ice rinks buzz with activity as parents play with their children while the frozen lakes of Saimaa call to those looking for adventure. Tour skating – skating on a maintained route on frozen Lake Saimaa – is very popular and an amazing experience on a crispy, sunny, winter’s day.
A world of white and blue – Finland in winter
They say that the Finnish flag gets its blue cross from its clear skies and lakes, and its white background from the snow that covers the country in winter. In the heart of Finland’s lake district, Saimaa must be the embodiment of this with endless white expanses stretching out over its frozen waters.
This is a land of discovery. Towns such as Mikkeli and Savonlinna have routes many kilometres long allowing you instant access to the frozen archipelago and its stunning views. Smooth ice, gently falling snow and a slight breeze in your face; that’s skating on Lake Saimaa.
On these routes, you’ll also find cosy places selling warm drinks for a pit-stop when you want a break, but you’re just as welcome to stop off at a lean-to shelter and grill your own food over a campfire. Feel free to bring your own skates or hire them locally for your Saimaa skating trip.
Ice skating and winter sports in Saimaa
With the winter being such a big part of life in the Nordic countries, winter sports like skating are found everywhere in Saimaa in both the countryside and towns. There will always be at least one local outdoor ice rink, often at schools, open for public use. Here you’ll find people of all ages enjoying the ice not only because it’s healthy but also because it’s fun and quite addictive! Once you’re comfortable skating, you might even consider trying ice hockey.
In bigger towns like Mikkeli, Savonlinna and Varkaus, you’ll also find indoor ice rinks. Not only are they often bigger that those outdoors, they also come with the benefit of being open all year round.
Lake Saimaa’s skating season – choosing when to visit
The skating season on Lake Saimaa depends a little on the year but typically lasts from around December to March. The lakes typically freeze over around December and don’t fully open again until April but during the earliest and latest parts of the season, the ice will be quite thin, wet and unsafe to go on.
Of course, the temperature in January or February might be as low as -30°c and the lakes can be very exposed to the wind; warm clothes are a must when skating in Finland. Then again, when you get too cold, the Finnish sauna is an instant remedy!
The lakes are waiting for you. Enjoy ice skating on Lake Saimaa!