One thousand islands,
kilometres of shoreline
Puumala, the archipelago municipality, is located on the lake Saimaa waterway in between Savonlinna and Lappeenranta. The area of outstanding natural beauty on the Lietvesi scenic route is one of Finland’s most frequently photographed lake landscapes. Stunning landscapes also surround the Puumalansalmi bridge and the scenic café at the top of the bridge tower.
Day 1. Arriving to Puumala, accommodation and local fine dining at Sahanlahti resort
“Various vendace and several salmons in the vast waters of Saimaa. Cosy cottage renters and hundreds of holiday makers by the bays of the lake. A thousand travelers of the blue, with tons of things to do. Ancient rock paintings a dozen from when the waters were still high, but where now only the seagulls fly by. Only one great bridge, one dear church, one bustling port and one steamboat Wenno to cruise on in the wonderful sceneries of Puumala!”
Sahanlahti is a small, family run resort with hotel and cottage accommodation and two restaurants serving the best of local food made from seasonal ingredients. Both restaurants offer the most amazing lakeside views and the small guest harbour hosts visitors from near and far in the summertime. Built around an old sawmill, Sahanlahti is steeped in history and has a story or two to tell you as you wander around the resort.
Food based on high-quality, fresh and local products and the dedication to ethical and responsible farming are the cornerstones of Sahanlahti dining. All of this and the skill of people growing and preparing your food can be clearly tasted on your plate when dining at the atmospheric Koskivahti restaurant at Sahanlahti.
And remember to try local, Finnish sauna in Sahanlahti resort!
Day 2: Exploring local nature & Saimaa ringed seal – cruise to Puumala arhipelago
Saimaa ringed seal is one of the rarest seals in the world, and it only lives in lake Saimaa. The environment in Puumala is ideal for over 20 seals living in the area.
The first five weeks after ice-out are the best weeks of the year to see seals lying on a rock sunbathing, as the adult seals are changing their fur during that period. Later in summer seals can normally be seen only in water as they come breathing to the surface. You can join friendly captain Arto on a Seal watching cruise and get to know Saimaa seal, its habits, habitat, and if you are lucky… see a Saimaa seal with your own eyes.
Arto’s Ecoboat is the most seal-friendly boat in lake Saimaa, and it brings you on the waters of Saimaa seal during all summer. Ecoboat is very comfortable and weather-proof, the covered cabin keeps you warm, and it is great for photography. There is a daily departures thru summer season from Puumala harbour.
Day 3: baking “Karelian pies” with Paula
Okkola Holiday Cottages is a family run business located on the island of Niinisaari in the idyllic Puumala archipelago. Paula, along with her family and dog Pomppu, welcome you to their home to experience local Saimaa life.
The humble, but majestic, Karelian pie is a living legend from Eastern Finland. A curiosity for many foreigners, this rye-crusted pie filled with creamy rice porridge is cooked in a tradional wood burning oven and served with lashings of egg-butter. Hearty and delicious, this pastry has been made in the region for centuries and is an important part of Saimaa’s cultural and gastronomic heritage.
Paula, the lady of the house at Okkola, invites you to her home where the woodburning oven is the heart of the house and the family history evident all around you. Their lovely dog, Pomppu, has his own miniature cottage on the grounds.
We recommend you also to visit open-air museum Liehtalanniemi. The museum estate and nature reserve, tucked in a sheltered cove on Niinisaari, will take you back in time. See what life was like in the archipelago in the beginning of the 20th century and hear the story of Jalmari Reponen, the last owner of the estate.