Finnish Lakes & Forests

7 nights / 8 days

Helsinki / Lappeenranta / Joensuu / Jyväskylä / Turku

On this trip you will experience the Land of the Thousand Lakes. The seemingly endless lakes in Finland`s lake district are punctuated by several communities that come to magical life in the summer, from Imatra and Lappeenranta in the south to the town of Savonlinna with its medieval island castle. The Karelia region gives you a taste of the distinctive culture, flavored by the historical influence of the Orthodox faith and the hospitable character of the Karelian people.

Day 1: Arrival in Helsinki

Arrival in Helsinki according to your own itinerary. Helsinki is a modern cultural city which, throughout 450 years of history, has existed in the crosscurrents of the East and West. The colorful layers of history can be seen everywhere; a walking tour of the city centre or of the magnificent Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress will open your eyes to a fascinating past. Sights of interest are the historical centre, Senate Square, the Parliament building, Finlandia Hall, the Sibelius Monument and Temppeliaukio Church (Rock Church).
Accommodation in Helsinki city center – 3*

Day 2: Helsinki – Lappeenranta (250 km)

Breakfast at the hotel. Leave Helsinki in eastern direction. We recommend a stop in Porvoo, a small, idyllic town which is the second oldest in Finland. The town has a unique waterfront and a medieval old town with cobblestone streets and many restaurants, cafés, museums and galleries. Continue driving east, past the boarder town of Vaatimaa to Lappeenranta which is the center of the South Karelia region. It is a city renowned for its natural beauty and its happy Karelian character. The bay area with its historical fortress and linden trees is the summer paradise for local residents, welcoming guests and travelers from all over the world.
Accommodation in Lappeenranta – 3* (2 nights)

Day 3: Lappeenranta – Lake Saimaa

Breakfast at the hotel. Day at your own disposal. We recommend a two hour cruise on Lake Saimaa. Also you should not miss one of Lappenranta`s most famous attractions: the sand castle. A huge sand sculpture located close to the harbor area, which can be visited from June to August. In the evening we recommend an excursion to the Imatrankoski Rapids close to Imatra, which have been attracting visitors for over 200 years. As early as 1772, the Russian Empress Catherine the Great and her retinue visited the rapids, Finland’s first ever tourist attraction. Today however, tourists can admire the daily rapids shows which are organized every evening during summer (mid-June to mid-August) when the swirling waters are released for a stunning display.

Day 4: Lappeenranta – Savonlinna – Joensuu (340 km)

Breakfast at the hotel. Today’s drive will give you the opportunity to experience the famous lake lands. Drive along Lake Saimaa towards Imatra. Saimaa, Finland’s largest lake is a labyrinthine watercourse covering most of the southern part of eastern Finland, a region about the size of Belgium. From Imatra, continue in Northern direction past Lohikoski and Sulkava to Savonlinna, host of the famous Opera Festival. We recommend a stop to visit the Olavinlinna Castle, which helped the Swedish to secure Savonlinna from the Russians in 1475 and is now used as a stage for the Opera festival. From Savonlinna continue your drive north past Kerimäki (worth a stop to visit the world’s largest wooden church!) and Vihtari to Joensuu, located next to the Russian border. It is a university town and the lively capital of the North Karelia Region. We recommend a visit to the Carelicum Cultural Center, a great way to get to know the city of Joensuu and the entire Carelia area, its culture and its characteristics.
Accommodation Joensuu – 3*

Day 5: Joensuu – Jyväskylä (250 km)

Breakfast at the hotel. From Joensuu head into western direction, passing Varkaus on your way to Jyväskylä. Jyväskylä is especially known for its rich variety of culture, museums, art exhibitions, concerts, events and theatre performances. Jyväskylä is the hometown of the world-famous architect Alvar Aalto and houses several buildings designed by him. The Alvar Aalto Museum, located in a building designed by Aalto himself, familiarizes the visitor with the life and work of this great talent.
Accommodation in Jyväskylä – 3*

Day 6: Jyväskylä – Tampere – Turku (315 km)

Breakfast at the hotel. From Jyväskylä drive towards Tampere, located between two lakes, Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi. Since the two lakes differ in level by 18 meters, the Tammerkoski rapids linking them have been an important power source throughout history. Tampere is also the second most important urban centre in Finland after the Helsinki region. From Tampere continue to Turku, Finland’s oldest city and previous capital. Sights of interest are Turku Castle, the Forum Marinum Maritime Centre, the Aboa Vetus and Ars Nova museums and the Cathedral. The famous Mumin theme park, perfect for a day visit with the whole family, is located close to Turku in the coastal town of Naantali.
Accommodation in Turku city center – 3* 

Day 7: Turku – Helsinki (165 km)

Breakfast at the hotel. Drive in western direction past Salo, often considered the original hometown of Nokia telephones, towards Helsinki. On your way you pass along the King’s Road, a route comprising some of the oldest roads in northern Europe, starting in Bergen by the Atlantic Ocean and ending in St Petersburg by the Gulf of Finland. Since the 14th century Kings and Merchants, artists and pilgrims, have travelled the King’s Road. The Meeting of East and West has created a unique cultural treasury. Signs along the road mark sights of interest.
Accommodation in Helsinki city center – 3*

Day 8: Departure from Helsinki

Breakfast at the hotel.