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Western Lakeland - Winner 2019

What makes Western Lakeland special

Wellbeing in Western Lakeland is a combination of nature, sustainability, Finnish sauna experiences, handicrafts, art, slow activities, local food and unique accommodation. In the summertime, nature experiences consist of guided walking tours in national parks, foraging combined with a cooking class, cycling and kayaking and in wintertime, skiing and ice-fishing. Western Lakeland offers year-round traditional Finnish sauna experiences and treatments in different types of saunas, depending on your wishes, combined with dips in the lake. Enjoy outings at the Serlachius Museums that blend art and nature by dramatising history, contemporary art and art of the Golden Age in a magnificent lake landscape.

Western Lakeland stands out because even though it has everything that the urban city life has to offer, nature is always close by, no matter where you go. Even in the centre of town, it’s easy to find peace and quiet: the forest areas and the lakeside are always near.

Health and wellbeing tourism

The quickest way to slow down.

Do you prefer rural lakeside cottages, villas, glass igloos or manor hotels? Take your pick, and then, get ready to experience traditional Finnish sauna treatments, wellbeing programs, breath-taking nature, as well as cultural experiences.

After some slow nature activities, you can enjoy the impressive artwork at the many museums, make your own cosmetics or visit a local sheep farm. Afterwards, you can relax while enjoying the glittering blue lake views surrounded by peaceful silence at your lakeside cabin. Smell the fresh herbs from your footbath while waiting for the sauna to relax your muscles. At the sauna you will receive some gentle treatments accompanied by traditional folk songs. Later in the evening, partake of a delicious meal made from local ingredients.

Sightseeing tips

  • The Finlayson area in Tampere, including the world's first spy museum, the renowned Himmelblau Printmaking Studio, the Finlayson Palace, and the Tallipiha Stable Yards.
  • The Jyväskylä harbour on Lake Päijänne is a sight to behold with lake cruises, floating saunas and many health and wellbeing activities.
  • Salpausselkä Geopark, this landscape created by water and the Salpausselkä ridges in the last ice age gives way to long chains of eskers, magnificent rock formations and hundreds of lakes dotted with islands.

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Fiskars Village - Winner 2017

What makes the Fiskars village special?

Founded in 1649, the historic Fiskars village has proud roots in the iron industry, craftsmanship, cutlery making and agriculture. The past and the present work in beautiful harmony with the surrounding nature and exceptional landscape.

Visitors are warmly welcomed to get to know the past yet also experience the Fiskars unique surroundings today. It has a vibrant history, world-class art & design, and there are endless opportunities to enjoy the pure lakes and lush forests as well.

Cultural tourism

Are you the active type? Go canoeing, SUP boarding or mountain biking around the lakes. Do you like arts and crafts? You can visit numerous workshops and try craft making yourself. Forge a spoon with a master blacksmith or blow glass at the glass studio. One of the most vibrant artist cooperatives in Europe forms the platform for over 100 artists, craftsmen and designers.

Visitors can shop local art & design items in the ONOMA shop and take home high-quality design and craft products that cannot be bought anywhere else.

During the summer exhibitions, kids and grown-ups can join in workshops for drawing and crafts. Work on your talents and become part of the vibrant artistic community!

The region is also famous for its artisan food and beverage products, which you can enjoy by taking tours at the local brewery, distillery and cider house.

Sightseeing tips

Several events and projects create an opportunity for experiences outside the normal range, giving more reason for celebration:

  • the biggest annual event, the ONOMA Cooperative summer exhibition is open from May to September with a Ceramic theme in 2018
  • ceramic artist Karin Widnäs is building a Ceramic museum (KWUM), first of its kind in Finland, opening by 2019.
  • Kuura Cider House, Fiskars Brewery and Ägräs Distillery offer the 'Three Artisan Producers’ Tour’ which was awarded the Tourism Award in 2017.
  • the Museum of Fiskars is currently renovating 'Pikku Pässi' (Little-Ram) - an original steam locomotive dating back to 1890, used until 1951.

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Saimaa Holiday - Winner 2010

What make Saimaa Holiday special?

The beauty and purity of the lake system is a clear asset to this destination, but the strong local tradition and cuisine are also an important part of what makes the area so special.

The local cuisine is praised for its freshness and exquisite taste, based on regional delicacies and tradition. Among the most popular specialties is sweet water fish and vendace (local fish) baked in rye bread.

Sightseeing tips

  • Take part in the seal-watching tour at the National Park Linnansaari.
  • Take a fishing safari trip.
  • Relax at one of the Finnish saunas. Jumping in to the lake to refresh afterwards is a crucial part of this unforgettable experience.

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Wild Taiga - Winner 2008

What makes the Wild Taiga special?

The vast nature reserves in the region, together with the protected areas of neighbouring Russia, form a part of Europe’s Green Belt.

This wilderness offers possibilities for wildlife watching and photographing, and makes it one of the best areas in Europe for spotting wild brown bear, lynx and wolf.

Two information centres are there to guide people through this wildlife – Petola and Hossa. Midnight sun even makes wildlife watching possible throughout the night in the summertime.

There is an endless string of outdoor activities on offer, from horseback riding and fishing, to hiking and kayaking.

Crisp autumn days are the season for mushroom and berry picking. And, for more challenging activities, the Hossa hiking area offers 100km of marked trails along the Russian border.

This border region between Finland and Russia is a crossroads and a place of significant battlefields such as the Finnish Winter War in 1939-40. The war history is presented in large exhibitions at the Gateway to Raate, and with pictures of restored trenches, fortifications and memorials at the Winter War Museum.

The Kalevala Spirit Experience Park is a new attraction where visitors can acquaint themselves with Kalevala and its culture in many ways.

A rich cultural background accompanied with a special relationship with nature are key characteristics of the area. The Juminkeko Foundation, as well as several interesting events, demonstrate these characteristics and show how the Kalevala spirit and history has been kept alive.

The traditional food of Kainuu is a result of influences from centuries of eastern and western food culture. The wild mushrooms, berries, fish and game meat are served by local restaurants and add a unique flavour to the dishes.

The orthodox buffet is an example of the cuisine from the border region of Karelia which is characterised by braised and oven-roasted dishes. Local cuisine follows the seasons and uses seasonal produce. It respects traditions in an innovative fashion. Local fish from lakes, meat dishes, a variety of pies and pastries and mushroom dishes are served at the buffet. Desserts include oven baked cheese with forest berries and curd pastries. Tourists can learn to make traditional Karelian pies.

Events and festivals

The biggest event of the year in Kuhmo is the International Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival. Held since 1970, the festival is today one of the biggest in Finland. Concerts, music and dance courses, guided nature treks, boat trips, and athletics specially designed for children animate the month of July (which is dubbed 'Jolly July').

The region also hosts other festive events such as Sommelo, the International Ethnic Music Festival and the World Championship of Berry Picking.

At Christmas time, visitors can enjoy the atmosphere of Finnish Christmas with scents, candles, music and snow. The fortress-like Pohjola house compound with its idyllic yard and traditional log buildings creates an ambiance reminiscent of a Christmas fairytale.

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