Summer’s coolest escape – Lakeland in Finland

by Anna Karmila

Finland has a cool nickname: The Land of a Thousand Lakes. Believe it or not, the name is actually an understatement, because we have a total of 188 000 lakes here, and Lakeland in Eastern Finland is where you can find Saimaa, the country’s most magnificent lake.

As record-breaking heatwaves smother most of Europe, refreshing temperatures in restful surroundings start to sound incredibly tempting. Summer weather in Finland can be very varied, but if we are lucky, we get to enjoy weeks of pleasant temperatures from around 20 to 25 degrees celsius. That’s perfect t-shirt weather; comfortable enough to stay active and spend time outdoors.


Summer Cottages

Finnish cottage

Finnish cottage

Many Finns still keep up an old tradition of spending their vacation at the summer cottage. There is an unbelievable number of over half a million summer cottages here, with many of them built on the shores of beautiful inland lakes, hidden from view by thick forest. Many families pack their belongings into a car and head out of town at the beginning of July, only to come back weeks later. They spend the whole month chilling with friends and relatives at the cottage, visiting each other, taking part in various summer activities and enjoying life in slow motion.

Renting a cottage from a holiday village is also becoming more and more popular, mainly to keep the necessary maintenance work at a minimum. It is a common joke among us Finns that visiting the summer cottage of distant relatives can quickly turn into a labour camp! If you think repairing old buildings, digging ditches, building saunas and fixing things like old tractors and leaky boats is what the vacation is all about, fine, but it’s perfectly OK to just sit on the dock and let the gentle gusts of wind take all your worries away.



Finnish Cottage

Lakeland_Summercottage. Picture Credits: Julia Kivelä/VisitFinland


Nowadays, a lot of the rented cottages are modern and well equipped, but it is also possible to find very simple, old fashioned, basic accommodation. To enjoy a quiet vacation on a rented cottage, a tent or a caravan by a lake, it’s always a good idea to blend in with the locals. They’ll be glad to help you with all kinds of useful advice, sometimes even with some crazy stuff. For example, it is a good idea to ask about the rules of the sauna. It can be a superhot (+100C) naked sauna for all. Or in other places, it’s a convenient, mild and mindfulness-like session.

Even if you are all alone, it’s good to know exactly what is safe and what is not. For example, our smoke sauna is a specific kind of sauna, supposedly the best one for purifying your soul and your body. It gets heated with smoke, so it’s burning hot and jet black on the inside. You have to know precisely what you are doing, so you don’t get into trouble with carbon monoxide. Also, don’t forget to ask about the purpose of fresh birch twigs…

In general, the lakeside creates a beautifully relaxing “back to basics” feeling with simple pleasures such as delicious local farmers produce, fresh air and good forest vibes. Rowing on the lake, swimming in water that is clear – and cold – enough to drink, bird watching, berry picking and mushroom gathering in wild forest can be real eye-openers to what is really meaningful in life.

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