Travel ideas

Culture and nature programs

The Lakeland area enjoys a rich and diverse culture, with a mix of Finnish and Russian influences coming together to give you the Karelian culture of the area.

The culture is mixing both old and new, embracing the qualities of the area such as the lakes through Spa Resorts and opening up the past with visits to Valamo Monastery or a visit to Olavinlinna Castle of Savonlinna.  

Nature and everything it has to offer is embraced with open arms by people of the area and nurtured through the sometimes harsh seasons of Lakeland. Trips to the forests give you an opportunity to berry pick or forage for mushrooms, enjoy the abundant wildlife, and find your inner peace. Heading out onto the waterways of Lakeland opens up the opportunity of fishing and even seeing the very rare Saimaa ringed seal basking in the sun.

Visit to New Valamo Monastery, Heinävesi

Valamo Monastery is a working monastery and an active centre of the Orthodox religious way of life and culture in Finland. Located in the beautiful surroundings of Heinävesi, the monastery welcomes visitors throughout the year. The peaceful atmosphere of the monastery and close proximity to nature offer hurried people in the busy world of today a rare opportunity to relax − far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

During your visit you have the choice of participating in one of the divine services or even staying overnight in the peace of the monastery. The icons presented in the churches, as well as the exhibitions provide a unique art experience. The monastery restaurant Trapesa offers a buffet style lunch which always includes the monastery's own sauerkraut! Most of the rolls and pastries are the produce of the monastery's own bakery and the restaurant also serves the monastery's own wine, beer and spirits.

Visit to Olavinlinna Castle, Savonlinna

This iconic travel destination, the origin of a thousand stories and the site of numerous battles, Olavinlinna Castle is one of the best-known sights in Finland.
This beautiful castle, situated in Savonlinna has quickly developed into a significant tourist attraction, and a popular location for festivities. In the summer of 1912 opera singer Aino Ackté organised the first out of five opera festivals, these being the predecessors of the contemporary annual Savonlinna Opera Festival that started in 1967. Today Olavinlinna events are held inside its restored halls and rooms.

Visit to Hakoapaja, home of folk artist and primitive-timber builder Mr Esa Heiskanen, Rantasalmi

A visit to Hakoapaja introduces you to the fascinating and unique work of folk artist and primitive-log builder Mr Esa Heiskanen, his lifestyle, work and exhibition.
The work process of Mr Heiskanen involves collecting ancient logs from the bottom of nearby lakes, drying the logs through and then creating art work and buildings with them. According to surveys, the oldest logs were over 4000 years old. During your visit you will hear stories told by Esa’s wife Mari and see different exhibitions of his work. Coffee, pancakes and fried vendace are also available on a beautiful terrace.

LUSTO - The Finnish Forest Museum, Punkaharju

Lusto is a national museum and science centre focusing on the Finnish forest culture and illustrating the interaction between man and forest from the past and into the future.

Lusto’s exhibitions, events, work demonstrations and theme days provide a diverse and illustrative insight into the significance of forests in the life of Finns. The main exhibition, The Century of Forest Improvements, interactively depicts the forestry industry throughout the 20th century. Lusto is sure to appeal to visitors of all ages.

Parppeinvaara Bardic Village, Ilomantsi

On a hilltop amid the forests and fells of eastern Finland and with views stretching for miles across the beautiful horizon, sits Parppeinvaara Bardic Village. It combines all aspects of the Karelian culture; poem singing, kantele music, handicrafts, the Orthodox faith and traditional food in one beautiful village.
A guided tour at the Bardic Village includes an introduction to the Karelian lifestyle and architecture, fascinating kantele music and the history of rune singing in Ilomantsi. The village also contains history on war and conflicts which have struck the area, an essential part of the history of Eastern Finland, and the Mesikkä Animal Museum which illustrates the bond between human and nature.

Eva Ryynänen Ateljee and Paateri Church, Vuonisjärvi/Lieksa

In the scenic and beautiful landscape of Lieksa and on the shore of Vuonisjärvi Lake lies the sculptor Eva Ryynänen’s (1915 - 2001) Atelier, Paateri Church, her former house and a cafe.
All the buildings are designed by Eva and within them you can admire her work, sculptures, carvings and unique structures and furnishings. Her greatest work is the Paateri Church which was completed in 1991. Influenced by her work with wood, the benches are made with hard wood sourced from Russia, while the altar is made with Karelian Spruce. Her other great works are presented in her house, some even carved directly into the walls of her house for you to enjoy.

Summer facts

June - August

Daylight 12 - 19 hours
Temperature +15 - +30 degrees
Midnight sun brings with it wonderfully long sunlit days

Autumn facts

September - November

Temperature +5 - +15 degrees
Indian summer (autumn colors)

Winter facts

December - March

(snow guarantee from the middle of January)
Daylight 4 - 6 hours per day
Beautiful winter landscapes highlighted by the brightness of the snow
Temperature -5 - -30 degrees

Spring facts

April - May

Temperature +5 - +15 degrees
Nature (flora and fauna) waking up and starts to come green again

You can reach Lakeland from Helsinki by bus, train or aeroplane. There are flights (45 min - 1 hour in duration) to Lakeland airports from Helsinki (HEL) airport. Kuopio is the capital of Lakeland and it has an international airport (KUO). Other airports in the area are Joensuu (JOE), Savonlinna (SVL) and Lappeenranta (LPP).

Travelling by bus or train from Helsinki: 2,5 – 4 hours (depending on a destination).

Wild Nordic Finland also organises private transfers from Helsinki to the Lakeland area or from airports within Lakeland to different destinations.