Four new self-guided driving tours have been created for visitors to Finland’s southern Lakeland region and are now available to download online.
Launched to enable travellers to discover Helsinki and the Lakeland by car, there are routes for families, nature lovers, culture fiends and, for the essential Finnish experience, a route following the best and wildest saunas in the area. The routes start in Helsinki, are approximately 1,300km in length (about 800 miles) through the Finnish Lakeland and include suggestions of accommodation, restaurants and attractions along the way. The four detailed route descriptions and maps are all available to download from the VisitMikkeli.com, the tourism website for the town of Mikkeli by Lake Saimaa, Finland’s largest lake.
Helsinki and Finnish Lakeland routes: For Family Fun
(Helsinki - Kouvola – Mikkeli – Savonlinna – Jyväskylä – Tampere – Helsinki, approx. 1,300 km)
Helsinki and the Lakeland region are ideal destinations for active families and this tour passes through some of Finland’s best family-friendly attractions on a round-trip from Helsinki, crucially avoiding heavy traffic routes. Starting in the capital city, the Linnanmäki Amusement Park, Helsinki Zoo and Hietaniemi Beach are some of the recommended places to visit with kids. Moving into the Lakeland, from hiking in Repovesi National Park and cottage life on the shores of Lake Saimaa to a steam boat cruise in Savonlinna harbour and the Spy Museum in Tampere, there’s plenty to keep kids and adults of all ages interested as they drive past beautiful country and lakeside views. The route also suggests good places to stop on the drive between destinations, as well as accommodation and restaurants that are particularly geared towards families. Try the Orilampi holiday centre near Kouvola, on the edge of the Repovesi National Park for Finnish wilderness at its best, or Maatilamajoitus Saarinen in Tampere, which offers unique accommodation in a converted cowshed. Download the Family Route here: http://visitmikkeli.fi/sites/default/files/u14/perhe_englanti_final.pdf
Helsinki and Finnish Lakeland routes: For Nature Lovers
(Helsinki-Kouvola-Mikkeli-Savonlinna-Jyväskylä-Tampere-Helsinki, approx. 1,250 km)
Finland’s alluring Lakeland region offers a wealth of natural sights, national parks and active holiday options and this route passes along some of Europe’s most beautiful scenic routes to guarantee a particularly memorable holiday. In Helsinki, nature-lovers are recommended to make the most of the seafront, strolling along the shoreline or sailing across to one of the many islands just off the coast. Mäntyharju, in the Mikkeli region, ‘the northern gate’ to the Repovesi National Park, offers numerous cycling, hiking and canoeing routes as a way to discover the Finnish wilderness. Located amidst the thousands of lakes of the labyrinthine Saimaa Lake region, the town of Savonlinna is home to the rare Saimaa ringed seal. With four national parks to its name, the Jyväskylä region is also not to be missed, where the impressive old-growth forests can be found in the Pyhä-Häkki National Park in Saarijärvi. Accommodation for nature-lovers largely involves farm stays, intimate B&B options and lakeside camping. Download the Nature-Lovers Route here: http://visitmikkeli.fi/sites/default/files/u14/englanti-luontokierros-final.pdf
Helsinki and Finnish Lakeland routes: For Sauna Lovers
(Helsinki-Kouvola-Mikkeli-Savonlinna-Jyväskylä-Tampere-Helsinki, approx. 1,200 km long)
A trip to Finland is not complete without an authentic Finnish sauna, and this tour will ensure that visitors really understand why the sauna is such an essential part of the Finns’ everyday life and wellbeing. It is designed for those that are genuinely interested in the Finnish sauna culture and tradition, exploring both public and private saunas, some traditional and others representing the very latest in Finnish sauna design. Highlights include the legendary wood-heated Kotiharjun Sauna in Helsinki, the innovative Sammal moss sauna in Kouvola, beach and smoke saunas in Mikkeli and Rajaportti sauna in Tampere, Finland’s oldest public sauna. Most of the accommodation suggestions include private cottages and beach houses that come complete with their own sauna. Stay at the Purola Holiday Farm in Jyväskylä region to try a peat sauna that burns Lehto Peat, dug by hand from the marsh to avoid breaking the consistency. Download the Sauna Lovers Route here: http://visitmikkeli.fi/sites/default/files/u14/sauna_englanti_final.pdf
Helsinki and Finnish Lakeland routes: For Culture Lovers
(Helsinki-Mikkeli-Savonlinna-Jyväskylä-Tampere-Helsinki, approx. 1,300 km)
Created for those interested in local people, lifestyles, food and history, this trip encompasses the region’s best and most authentic cultural attractions and landscapes. The route is a particularly good option for travellers that like to get under the skin of a destination, as it suggests places that are off-the-beaten track and lesser known to tourists. From Helsinki, drive via Porvoo, the second oldest town in Finland, to the Mikkeli region, which has a fascinating history thanks to its location on the Russian border. The town of Savonlinna is home to the must-see medieval Olavinlinna Castle, while the route also suggests a 20 minute drive out to Kerimäki, where the world’s largest wooden church sits. The Jyväskylä region is home to many buildings designed by the legendary modernist architect Alvar Aalto, while the city of Tampere, once Finland’s industrial hub, offers a fascinating insight into the country’s economic development. The route also suggests significant cultural events that take place across the year to help culture-lovers plan their trip accordingly, such as Helsinki Design Week in September, Gergiev Festival in Mikkeli in July and music festivals around Jyväskylä. Download the Culture Lover Route here: http://visitmikkeli.fi/sites/default/files/u14/kulttuuri_englanti_final.pdf
How to do it:
For all the Helsinki and Lakeland routes, visit http://visitmikkeli.fi/en/lakelandroutes
Finnair flies direct to Helsinki from London Heathrow and Manchester, with return fares in July from £110 and £149 respectively. Fares include all taxes and fees. www.finnair.com
All major car hire companies are available at Helsinki Airport, including Europcar, where car hire for seven days is from £435. www.europcar.com
Visit Finland, i.e. the Finnish Tourist Board, is a state agency actively promoting Finland as a destination for foreign travelers. Visit Finland works closely with Finnish travel regions, travel businesses, transport companies and ministries, marketing tourism to Finland from abroad.