Finnish Lakeland

Finnish Lakeland (Järvi-Suomi) comprises the eastern and central parts of the country.

Regions

The Finnish Lakeland is divided into four provinces.

Regions of Finnish Lakeland
North Savonia
North Savonia is the home of many events from a strawberry festival to the wife carrying world championship. Other points of fame are the signature dish kalakukko (a loaf of bread stuffed with fried fish) and its recognisable dialect.
North Karelia
The culture of Finland's easternmost region carries influences of the Eastern Orthodox faith. If you want to see a bear or a wolf in its natural habitat, this is probably the destination to go.
Central Finland
Central Finland is remarkably hilly and you can experience some quite scenic drives on the smaller roads.
South Savonia
South Savonia is really the heart of the Lakeland - you are never far from a body of water. The most important sights here are the medieval castle Olavinlinna in the city of Savonlinna and the Punkaharju ridge that almost cuts through Lake Saimaa.
Pirkanmaa
Pirkanmaa is usually seen as the heartland of Finnish heavy industry, and the city of Tampere has been called the "Finnish Manchester". However there are plenty to see and do in the city for the traveler — from museums and theatres to the amusement park Särkänniemi.

Cities

Other destinations

Understand

As the name reveals it is a land of lakes: seen from above, the region consists of an endless patchwork of lakes and low rolling hills, originally gouged out by sheets of ice during the Ice Age. This also makes it Finland's top destination for summer cottages, and there are countless spots to indulge in the Finnish national obsession for sauna, sausages and a dip in the lake.

Talk

Savo dialect on a sign in Savonlinna

Culturally, Eastern Finland is the home of the Savo people and their close cousins the Karelians, although much of historical Karelia was absorbed into the USSR after Finland's defeat in World War II (and much of Karelia never belonged to Finland).

The Savo dialect is wordy and stretched out, with consonants doubling and diphthongs mutating in various ways. According to the stereotype, Savonians talk much more than the average taciturn Finn, yet despite this (whisper it quietly) almost Russian habit for speeches and gesticulation, they're also masters of the vague non-reply. Indeed, the canonical Savo response to any question is suattaapi olla, vuan suattaapi olla olemattannii, or "it might be, but it might also be that it's not".

Get in

By plane

Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kuopio and Savonlinna have small airports with limited service to Helsinki only. Tampere is the Finnish hub for Ryanair and serves a handful of European destinations.

By train

All main cities in the region are served by train. Trains are usually faster and slightly cheaper than the bus, but on some routes bus schedules may be more convenient.

By bus

Buses fill in the gaps where trains don't go.

Get around

Distances are long and public transport outside the main cities varies between limited and non-existent. If you're planning on staying at a cottage, having your own car is pretty much obligatory, unless in biking distance from services (whatever that means to you).

See

View to the north from Puijo observation tower in Kuopio

Do

Lakeside smoke sauna in Kannonkoski, Central Finland

Nature

As the lakeside area and one of the most rural areas in Finland after Lapland, Eastern Finland has a lot to explore. There are five national parks in the region, of which scenery of Koli National Park is one of Finland's national landscapes.

Eat

Fried vendace (muikku) fresh from the market, Pieksämäki

There are a couple of eastern Finnish specialities worth sampling:

The best place for eating any of these is at the market, found in the center of any larger town.

Sleep

There are nice spa hotels in Imatra, Kuopio and Savonlinna. The room price isn't much more expensive than in normal hotels but it includes a free use of large swimming pool departments with jacuzzis, saunas etc.

In summer, an excellent option is to stay at a cottage (mökki), thousands of which dot the lake shores. See the main Finland article for tips and the city articles for listings.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 15, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.