Car Tour in Eastern Lakeland Finland
The car tour in Eastern Lakeland Finland offers a journey through a labyrinth of islands, encounters with locals, and delicious culinary experiences. Depending on your interests, it can also include active nature experiences, various cultural encounters, and indulgence in multiple ways. The following tour example will hopefully serve as inspiration when planning your trip. The tour is intended to be conducted in spring, summer, or autumn.
Original text in German: “Finnische Seenplatte: Roadtrip mit dem E-Auto”, Finntouch – Finnland hautnah, Rene Schwarz.
Day 1: Helsinki – Lappeenranta, 224 km
Start your tour by driving to Lemi village in South Karelia to have lunch at Säräpirtti. Indulge in the unique delicacy called “särä,” which is slow-cooked lamb in a wood heated oven with vegetable for hours that you can eat to your heart’s content. Make sure to reserve your spot for the meal in advance, as this meal is served only in restaurant Säräpirtti.
In the afternoon, you can explore the Lappeenranta Fortress area on your own or with a guide. During summer there is also a magnificent sandcastle area built annually. Enjoy a cup of coffee at the end of your walking tour at Café Satamatie 6.
If you feel like continuing your evening with a delightful dinner, we suggest the ship restaurant Prinsessa Armaada or the restaurant Sumu, which offers a surprise menu.
For accommodation in Lappeenranta, lovely private Hotel Rakuuna is a suitable option. The hotel also offers a charging station for electric cars.
Day 2: Lappeenranta – Imatra, 60 km
After a delicious breakfast on a beautiful summer day, you can rent a sauna boat and head out onto the lake. If you bring a SUP board, you can also explore the lake using it. On the sauna raft, you can prepare your own lunch or order it from the rental provider.
If a sauna boat cruise does not interest you, there are several stunning outdoor destinations nearby, such as Saimaa UNESCO Global Geopark sites like Lammassaari. You can enjoy a guided e-fatbike tour in the Ukonniemi-Lammassaari area with a guide from Tuplakasi-Action. Departure is from Imatran Kylpylä (Purjekuja 2, 55420 Imatra).
In the summer afternoons at 6 PM, it is worth being present when Imatrankoski Rapids are in full flow. Check the show schedule in advance.
If you wish to relax in a spa and enjoy a satisfying meal at the end of an active day, Holiday Club Saimaa provides excellent facilities for that.
Day 3: Imatra – Punkaharju – Kerimäki – Savonlinna – Oravi, 190 km
As you continue your journey north, you will arrive in Parikkala. The sculpture park there will captivate you for an hour or even more. The destination is suitable and interesting for all ages.
Through the magnificent national landscape of Punkaharju ridge, the road leads to Savonlinna. Explore Olavinlinna Castle, enjoy vendace at Muikkuterassi, or take a steamship cruise. In July, the world-famous opera festival attracts thousands of culture enthusiasts from both Finland and abroad to the beautiful old castle.
If you wish to visit a local brewery, Karvila Brewery requires a small detour. However, it is a rewarding experience for those interested in beer.
In the evening, continue your journey to SaimaaHoliday Oravi, where you can comfortably stay in an apartment by the canal. Charging for electric cars is available through wall sockets with an adapter, yet it is slower as the normal charging.
You can cook for yourself in the apartments, however Restaurant Ruukinranta also offers delicious food. In the evening, you can go on a cruise to spot the local celebrities, the Saimaa ringed seals. There are only some 450 of them left in whole world.
Friendly hint! If you’re a nature enthusiast, add an extra night and hire a canoe, kayak or a SUP-board and make a tour in Kolovesi and Linnansaari National Parks.
Day 4: Oravi – Heinävesi – Koli, 210 km
Cook your own breakfast or enjoy it in restaurant Ruukinranta, choice is yours. From Oravi you drive to Valamo monastery in Heinävesi. Time seems to slow down inside the monastery walls. Charming gardens are best seen on a pre-booked garden tour. There are only about 10 monks living in the monastery nowadays, but several volunteers return to the monastery again and again to find peace and help with everyday tasks. The nearby Lintula Convent can be reached on foot via a hiking trail that is just under 20 km long. If you wish to walk it, we recommend staying at Valamo Hotel or Hostel.
If you do not wish to stay overnight, you can continue your journey to Koli after lunch. The second national landscape of the trip is at its best during the morning and evening sun, however it truly is worth visiting at any time. If you want to hear stories about artists who have visited and felt inspired by Koli, we recommend booking a guided tour of the peaks. It does not require much physical fitness, but it’s a good idea to wear comfortable walking shoes.
The epicure traveler stays at the hotel on top of Koli and admires the views of Lake Pielinen from the hotel’s spa, which is especially in favor with adult travelers. For travelers using an electric car, it is recommended to book a room at the new Kolin Kylä hotel located in Koli village as it offers several charging stations.
If you want to taste local beers in a relaxed atmosphere with tasty food, the right choice in Koli village is Gastropub Kolin Ryynänen or Kolin Satamaravintola located on the shores of Lake Pielinen. Remember to make a reservation in advance! Kolin Ryynänen also offers accommodation in cozy cabins and rents out cottages at Kolin Aamuranta, located a few kilometers away on the shores of Lake Pielinen.
Day 5: Koli
Koli National Park and its surrounding areas offer a variety of short and long hiking trails with varying difficulty levels. We recommend packing snacks and embarking on a journey to explore destinations such as Pirunkirkko (Devil’s Church), waterfalls, or Ryläys. Guided bike tours, canoeing trips to nearby islands, and equipment rental are available through Adventure Company Vaara.
The restaurant at the top of Sokos Hotel Koli not only serves delicious food and drinks but also provides unique views. They will leave you in awe time after time.
Day 6: Koli – Vuonislahti – Nurmes, 285 km
The tour of Pielinen takes you to interesting cultural experience. Taking a route through the south you will arrive to Vuonislahti, where Paateri church and atelje by Eva Ryynänen are located. Vuonislahti can be reached via ferry from Koli. Optionally, you can rive around the whole lake and explore multiple destinations. The museum of Pielinen, north from Lieksa, is an interesting outdoor museum. It is good to allocate some time for a visit there.
Break Sokos Hotel Bomba, located in Nurmes, offers relaxing spa and pools as well as a possibility to dip into the lake Pielinen. In the hotel restaurant you can experience the Valamo Monastry menu with selected berry wines, or during the summer season, indulge in the traditional Karelian feast at Bomba House. In addition to the refreshing rooms, accommodation is also available in the wooden row houses in the Karelian Village. Each house in the Karelian Village is named after old Karelian villages.
Day 7: Nurmes – Kuhmo – Lentiira – Vartius, 160 km
After a relaxed breakfast – or even before breakfast – you can take a short walk to the Path of Silence, which leads to a small Orthodox prayer house located by the shore of Lake Pielinen. Continuing the journey towards Kuhmo, you dive deep into wilderness landscapes. Kuhmo’s Juminkeko is the center of Karelian culture. You can comfortably stay at Hotel Kalevala in Kuhmo, yet if you want to see bears and other wildlife, it is worth continuing the drive to Vartius. The Bear Center offers the best opportunities to see the king of the forest in its natural habitat on a special bear-watching excursion. An electric car can be charged overnight from a wall.
Day 8: Vartius – Suomussalmi – Hepoköngäs – Jättiläisenmaa, 230km
Continuing journey to Suomussalmi, it is worth to visit the Raatteen portti and Finnish war history. The Musical Forest (Soiva Metsä) is also recommended to include in your travels, and it suits travelers all age, as well as The Silent People (Hiljainen kansa). As a hint, the cafe by The Silent people offers perhaps the best thin pancakes of Finland! The waterall in Hepoköngas might take your breath away.
Different accommodation experience can be offeres by Jättiläisenmaa „Land of the giants “.
Day 9: Jättiläisenmaa – Vuokatti, 67 km
While driving to Vuokatti, you can visit a husky farm. From the Vuokatinvaara Scenic Lift, there is a stunning view, but it may not be suitable for those with a fear of heights. Haapala offers delicious food, local beer, and cozy accommodation.
If you need programme for the afternoon, you can go active on Hiukka beach or Huovinen loop.
Day 10: Vuokatti – Kajaani – Kuopio, 205 km
If you want to make a stop in Kajaani, you can explore Kajaani Castle and the church individually. In Kuopio, you will face a tough choice; should you visit the Lignell & Piispanen Visitor Centre, take a tour of Iso-Kalla Brewery and taste their beers, go on a cruise on Lake Kallavesi, or relax and enjoy a sauna and a meal at Saunaravintola Saana or Luoto? And let’s not forget about the smoke sauna and logger evenings at Rauhalahti’s Jätkänkämppä. So much to choose from!
For accommodation, the city offers several nice options, such as the Scandic hotel located by the harbor.
Day 11: Kuopio – Mikkeli, 170 km
Make sure you don’t leave the town without visiting „The center of the Universe“- Market of Kuopio and beautiful old market hall. Bakery shop of Hanna Partanen offers traditional Savonian fish pastry. Teehouse of Wehmais near Mikkeli offers quality selection of delicious teas. Fun fact: the only tea sommelier if FInland works there! Afternoon tea offers both sweet and savory snacks. It is recommended to make a reservation beforehand.
In Mikkeli, the War and Peace Center Muisti is much more than a museum and is suitable from school-age children to grandparents. For cozy accommodation in a countryside setting by the lake, Kekkola Manor offers a delightful experience only 7 km from the city center. The friendly hosts live in the manor themselves, creating a warm and homely atmosphere.
Day 12: Mikkeli – Helsinki, 230 km
After breakfast you can take an excursion to Astuvansalmi rock painting by Aino-ship that departs in the harbor of Ristiina. Three-story Aino-ship provides facilities for about 90 people and has a cafe. Return trip to Southern Finland may contain other charming destinations as well, such as Salmela Art Centre and coffee pause in Miekankoski cafe.