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Exploring the Saimaa Region in South Eastern Finland

I love Helsinki, the capital of Finland and love all the things to do in Helsinki. In fact, I’ve already been there more than 5 times but I also love the nature in Finland. The first time I visited this country in the far north of Europe was in winter 2010 when I took a cruise to explore Tallinn and Stockholm.

Since then I’ve been back many times, always in winter and I finally managed to visit Finland in Summer and have to say that I absolutely loved it. The nature, the hundreds and thousands of lakes, the many cottages on the islands and woods, the food. I could go on and on!

I recently had the change to leave the cities of Finland behind me and dived into the outdoors of the Saimaa region and was amazed by the things I saw in south eastern Finland:

5 Things To Do In The Saimaa Region

Picking Berries in Finland

There is a reason why I mention this first. I thought picking berries is something very boring to do and never considered doing this voluntarily myself.

Luckily I’m always open to new things and I gave it a try and loved it. Picking berries in Finland isn’t only rewarding since you get to taste the freshest berries immediately and you don’t even need to clean them but also it is very relaxing.

As a travel blogger I get to go to all these amazing places. The last 30 days I went kayaking in West Sweden, attended the hipster festival in Berlin and visited Slovenia for the first time. Many impressions, many write ups and in between I manage not only Off The Path but also Blog Camp, Transit Media, Support Me and recently launched my brand new and FREE iOS app called Swapp.

Picking fresh berries in Finland was a great way to get out and relax and stop thinking about the ongoing things. I was able to focus on finding, tasting and picking the berries while enjoying the beautiful outdoors around me.

Blueberry season in Finland is, depending on weather and latitude, between July and September and anybody can pick them. In Finland they have the “No Man’ Land” right, this means that you can pick berries anywhere unless it is a private property and you are strictly advised to not do so.

Finish Smoke Sauna

There are about five million inhabitants in Finland and it is said that there are over two million saunas in Finland. This is an average of one sauna per household. I really don’t think it can get more Finnish than with a smoke sauna.

In Finland, sauna is a place to relax with friends and family, to chat and also a place for relaxation. While to us a sauna is a luxury thing we usually use in spa hotels, to Finns this is just a necessity. Contrary to general belief, it isn’t a no go to drink in the sauna in Finland. In fact, many Finns hang out in and around the sauna for hours, drink, eat, go for a swim and repeat this over and over again.

In Lautasaari, our host Jukka introduced us to the art of Finnish smoke sauna. The wood is burned in a big stove. Once the sauna is hot enough (really hot) the fire is allowed to die and the smoke fills the room.

By pouring water on the hot stove, the water vaporises creating more heat! After and between the saunas you can either shower really cold or jump into a nearby lake. This is also good for your blood circulation!

Fishing in Finland

Thanks to the “No Man’s Land”-Right it is also possible to fish anywhere with a rod. You can simply go to any lake, stand on the shore and let your rod into the water waiting for the fish to bite. And there is plenty of fish in the lakes!

We went fishing at Saimaa Lake with Mika who runs Saimaa Fishing Travels. He has a very modern boat and is very knowledgable. I think I also heard somebody telling me that he was awarded as the best fishing guide of all Finland. Very impressive and easy to believe!

Linnansaari National Park

On a little boat tour with Saimaa Holiday we stopped at the main island called Linnansaari where we went hiking for a little bit. It isn’t a big island and the hike was only about 700 meters long and very easy but the view over the many islands and the huge Saimaa lake was beautiful!

Kayaking on Lake Saimaa

In Järvisydän we rented a few kayaks and canoes and went paddling for two hours. Kayaking is a great way to get around on lakes and to see the places from a different perspective.

Since I did the canoe marathon in Sweden I’m a big fan of kayaking and really enjoy being on the water! The greatest thing was that a few locals invited us for a drink to their little island as we passed it. The best pit stop I’ve ever done, sipping white wine, while sitting in a kayak and talking to friendly Finns on their island!

Apparently you can buy an island in Finland starting at 75.000 €. I had to ask!

Nordic Walking

Another thing that I never expected to do in my life. I thought that Nordic Walking was something that only old people do and looks stupid. I have to admit, that I was very wrong.

Luckily I had my nordic walking introduction with one of the best coaches in the world. Marko Kantaneva is one of the pioneers of nordic walking and has been active as a trainer since 1997 when it was first invented. He developed his own walking poles and has been promoting and training this sport all over the world!

After 10 minutes of doing it wrong and using the poles like walking sticks, Marko showed us the right was and I felt every muscle of my upper body being trained while walking through the beautiful woods of south eastern Finland!

I never thought it would be so effective. Great way to walk through such beautiful landscape and still do something for your body!
 When are you going to Finland?

Sebastian Canaves
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