The Lake District

"The Land of a Thousand Lakes" in fact has almost sixty thousand lakes of more than a hectare. Lakeland views from beauty spots like Punkaharju and Koli encompass quintessentially Finnish landscapes portrayed by renowned artists.

Lakeland scenery in the Luonteri Area. Photo: Markku Tano

A glance at the map reveals a complex interconnected network of lakes, bays and channels stretching for hundreds of kilometres through central and eastern Finland. Many Finnish families have lakeside holiday homes and saunas in this region, usually set back far enough from the water's edge to leave lakeshore views unspoilt. Boating is also popular, and some lakeside national parks have free mooring sites where boaters may stay overnight and use basic toilet and campfire site facilities.

Boat trips are organised from lake ports like Savonlinna, Lappeenranta and Jyvaskylä during the summer months. Finland's largest lake, Lake Saimaa, is home to the Saimaa ringed seal (Phoca hispida saimensis) (www.metsa.fi, pdf, 1950 kb), an endangered lake seal found nowhere else in the world. Lake Saimaa and its two national parks, Linnansaari and Kolovesi, are popular with canoeists. Canoes can be hired locally in some areas.