Summer cycling tour with friends!
Five of us had our own bicycles and three of us rented bikes through BGF, which was straightforward, and there were no problems with the rentals.
Planning the trip with Hanna from BGF was a breeze, she was very friendly and thoughtful in asking our preferences and wishes for the trip. We received comprehensive written instructions before the trip, including advice on what items are recommended to take along for the trip and a pre-planned route in Google Maps. As we had a local friend with a car, we didn’t need help with moving luggage from accommodation to accommodation, but I’d strongly recommend getting luggage transportation as an option if you don’t have someone to drive your stuff around like we did.
Day 1 highlights: Cycling through the lake archipelago was so lovely! Mostly we saw three islands, and in the end got a pre-arranged rowboat ride to our first accommodation, which was a family-run bed & breakfast -style place. In the evening we enjoyed cooking our own barbeque dinner and going to a lakeside sauna, and in the morning had a plentiful breakfast.
On the second day we did one ferry crossing and later had a beautiful one-hour boat ride! The boat service was owned by two really nice fishermen brothers, who were very knowledgeable about Saimaa and offered us local snacks on the boat. In the evening we had a lovely dinner in a local restaurant and stayed overnight in two luxurious cottages.
We spent the first part of the third day cycling through numerous small islands, which was wonderful, and the scenery was simply stunning! In the afternoon we visited a local blacksmith, had a wine tasting at a local vineyard and enjoyed a great lunch in a restaurant situated in a converted shed. Later we continued on to Puumala, a local town, where we stayed overnight in a spacious and well-equipped apartment.
On the final day we had our longest cycling leg, about 60 km to Ruokolahti town, where local cultural activities and a hearty welcome meal was waiting for us. In the evening we headed back to Imatra where we dined and went to sauna (again). We spent our last night at Hanna’s remodeled shed rooms, which were very cozy and atmospheric.
On the practical side of things: Some of the meals were included in the price, and sometimes we ate at local restaurants which were easy to find and select with the recommendations in the instructions BGF supplied us. We didn’t find the food expensive. Cycling was easygoing since we didn’t have to carry luggage and only a very small portion of the roads was gravel. We covered from 25 to 60 kilometres per day, most of the days it was between 25-35km. Weather conditions varied, on some days we had some light summer rain which was mostly refreshing, and the temperatures peaked around 20C during the days which was also pretty optimal.
We felt that the service provided to us by BGF made the whole trip easy and enjoyable. I highly recommend doing a bicycle tour in the Saimaa area with BGF! Thank you BGF for an awesome 4-day tour!
Eliisa & Andreas