Western Lakeland - Winner 2019
Winner in the ‘Health and wellbeing tourism’ category
The Western Lakeland area is comprised of Lahti, Jyväskylä and Tampere. It’s known for its beautiful lakes, vibrant cities with versatile cultural background and the healing powers of the nature and lakes. This destination’s tourism offers are strongly linked to Finnish nature, well-being services (especially Finnish sauna treatments) and slow activities (nature walks combined with berry-, mushroom- and herb picking). Western Lakeland offers accommodations in a rural setting by the lakeside in well-equipped traditional cottages, villas, glass igloos and local manor hotels still owned by local families.
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.
- 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.
Fiskars Village - Winner 2017
Winner in the Cultural Tourism category
Fiskars is located 100 kilometres west of Helsinki and is a registered trademark. Together, local stakeholders are coordinating efforts to improve the visitor experience and interaction between visitors and locals.
Visitors can have experiences exclusive to an ironworks village that combines centuries of craftsmanship with modern design. Enjoy the setting with local foods, extraordinary natural beauty, versatile outdoor activities, world-class exhibitions and performing art events.
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.
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.
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.
Saimaa Holiday - Winner 2010
Winner in the Aquatic Tourism category
Finland is often referred to as 'The Land of a Thousand Lakes' because of its infinite number of lakes and rivers.
Saimaa Holiday is located in the middle of the Saimaa Lake system, which is close to the municipalities of Savonlinna and Rantasalmi.
With a size of approximately 4,400 sq km,Saimaa Lake is the largest lake in Finland and the 4th largest in Europe.
It offers a vast range of possibilities for active holidays, such as rowing, canoeing, ice-skating, ice-fishing, and horseback riding, while at the same time offering a relaxing and peaceful break with the still waters of the lakes.
The locals take pride in their region and its natural beauty. Therefore, they are active in contributing to developing a long-term plan to sustain the habitat and ensuring its health and beauty.
Experienced tour-guides who accompany visitors on the exploration tours or during fishing safaris are always eager to share and pass on the values of the community to the visitors.
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.
- 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.
Wild Taiga - Winner 2008
Winner in the Tourism and Local Intangible Heritage category
Kuhmo-Suomussalmi, or Wild Taiga, lies at Finland’s easternmost border with Russia, in the Kainuu region.
Its location in the westernmost part of the Eurasian Taiga forest area makes it an enchanting place featuring green coniferous forests, esker valleys formed in the ice age, clear waters and rich wild animal stock.
This local landscape has been captured in many famous Finnish paintings.
Its location has also made the area a place of historically significant battle fields. The Finnish national epic Kalevala, compiled by Elias Lonnrot from ancient oral poetry, is the brightest gem of the unique cultural background. It owes its existence to the folklore collected from the region, in particular from the Viena-Karelian oral tradition.
Building on small family-owned enterprises, Wild Taiga is a marketing association promoting the local way of life of its inhabitants, its traditions and products as well as bringing nature closer to the people.
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.