Our holiday on Lake Saimaa
We have been dreaming about an active holiday in Finnish nature for quite some time and this summer we decided to cycle around Lake Saimaa’s magnificent landscapes. In addition to cycling, our four days trip included boat rides and kayaking.
We got the maps and instructions from Best Guest, everything was booked for us already and we only had to start cycling and enjoy Saimaa’s summer. The route was designed according to our wishes, focusing on the archipelago and all the stops like recommendations where to have lunch were given to us at the welcome meeting. Everything worked out well and the holiday was perfectly successful!
DAY 1: DEPARTURE FROM LAPPEENRANTA TOWARDS LAKE SAIMAA
We arrived by train from Helsinki to Lappeenranta, where we rented bikes, helmets and bike bags. The equipment was booked to us in advance, so everything went easy and quickly. First, we sat down in Lappeenranta harbor to refuel energy and tasted a local delicacy, pie filled with meat balls and boiled egg.
The first section was cycling on a nice bike path and a small road from Lappeenranta to Sarviniemi (about 35 km). In the beautiful recreation area there was camp lunch waiting for us. Before lunch we sat for a while meditating and listening to the sound of the lake’s waves. We had a ride by boat from Sarviniemi to Nestorinranta, where we stayed in a small cottage for the first night. We warmed up the sauna, had local dinner with rye bread and moose soup and slept sound after our first bicycling day.
DAY 2: CANOEING TO AN ISLAND COTTAGE
After breakfast in the main house we cycled to Niinisaari (16km) to Hanhiniitty’s house, where we had kayaks for the next stage. Hanhiniitty was a delightful place and the home of the world’s most hospitable and heartfelt hosts. They have restored one of the area’s first holiday villas for their residential use and offer accommodation and kayaks for rent. There is also a small smithy in the yard, where the host of the house makes knives for example. We were served afternoon coffee with the host and her daughters before entering the kayaks.
We packed in the kayaks everything we needed for our next night and day. The bags in the kayaks were filled with fresh rolls, homemade chicken eggs and other delicacies. We paddled 3-4 hours to a small island in protection area for the Saimaa ringed seal – which is an endangered species living only in Lake Saimaa. The absolute highlight of the tour was navigating in the archipelago, seeing lake landscapes from the water and trying to spot a seal.
In the tiny island of Jänissaari there was a small cottage and sauna for us. We enjoyed Saimaa’s atmosphere in the middle of the nature and dreamed of staying on the island for the rest of the summer.
DAY 3: FROM THE ISLANDS TO THE VILLAGE OF PUUMALA
In the afternoon we had to leave Jänissaari and paddled another route back to Hanhiniitty beach from where we cycled about 10 km to Puumala. In Puumala we stayed in a small guest house, where we met some other Saimaa cyclists.
DAY 4: FINAL DAY CYCLING TO IMATRA
After breakfast at Puumala market we headed to Imatra. The distance was 60 km almost entirely on the road side with light traffic. It would have been possible to choose smaller roads, but we chose the straightest route. We stopped at a lunch place at Ruokolahti and took a train in Imatra to return the bikes in Lappeenranta.
We all loved this bicycle holiday, which was just the way we had dreamt of it! Our highlights on the tour were Lake Saimaa’s beautiful landscapes, kayaking, the cute little islands and staying on one of these for the night. We met very hospitable people in the local traditional accommodations and just had a great, sunny time cycling!