Holiday in typical Finnish fashion by renting a beautiful cottage on the edge of a lake. Here are the best lakeside retreats in Finland, all bookable on Culture Trip.
Finland’s Land of a Thousand Lakes moniker is an understatement. Nearly 200,000 sparkle among the pristine forests and sparsely populated landscapes of the country, and the Nordic nation is also home to the largest lake district in Europe. It’s an idyllic backdrop for Finns yearning to escape into unvarnished nature. Indeed, many own a mökki – a simple hut or holiday cottage – out in the wilds, often off-grid, always scenic and invariably a place to spend long summer evenings. You, too, can experience mökki culture with these ever-so-slightly more comfortable lakeside cottages, where nature, fresh air and freedom are the ultimate luxuries.
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In tiny Porras village, a pretty 19th-century riverside tannery has been converted into a bucolic retreat and museum. The accommodation cottage, which once housed the tannery workers, now has two simply furnished suites plus a traditional Finnish sauna; in summer you might brave a swim in the pristine river, too. The not-quite-adjoining museum occupies the original factory premises and is unique in Finland for retaining almost all the original equipment and tools including a machinery-driving steam engine.
On the edge of Koli National Park, Janisvaara Farm has an array of cabins and cottages ranging from off-grid farmer’s abodes with outside toilets and wells to virtually all-mod-cons three-bedroom houses with beachside saunas. Some have fireplaces with ovens, others have barbecue huts. All stand close to, or overlook, Lake Pielinen, part of a vast and convoluted watery landscape where one named lake merges invisibly into another. The region has long inspired artists and touched composers such as Jean Sibelius, and it might inspire you, too.
If you’ve come to Finland to ski, then a rental cabin may be a more cost-effective option than a hotel or resort. Lomarengas has cottages at dozens of ski resorts, as well as other locations throughout Finland which, in the summer, also serve as ideal spots for fishing and boating. They range from large luxury cabins to small, rustic wilderness lodges.
The chance to see the Northern Lights draws many to Lapland, but specialist hotels can charge a premium for the privilege. A more affordable (and authentic) alternative is to rent a cabin in Lapland, such as the beautiful cabin Aamunkoi. Gather around the fire pit at night to keep an eye out for the aurora, enjoy the comfortable interior of the cabin and have a base for all the other Lapland activities.
Some particularly fine examples of modern ski cabins are those offered by Ruka in the Rukatunturi ski resort. They are practically on the doorstep of the resort with a ski-in/ski-out operation and connections to the local resort and services. The interiors and furnishings are modern without ditching that classic Finnish vibe.
If you only want a brief experience of the summer cottage life, or wish to be close enough to Helsinki to take in the city sights as well, the Lakeside Cottage Experience in Nuuksio National Park available through Feel the Nature is ideal. There are options for day trips or to spend a single night in one of their lovely log cabins in the national park. If you haven’t visited Finland before, or are new to lakeside cottages, it makes for an ideal first taste.
Not all summer homes are located lakeside: on the Turku Archipelago, the largest archipelago in the world, there are also cottages located on private islands, providing fishing and boating in the Baltic Sea. An island cottage from Archipelago Booking allows you to explore the archipelago, visit the shops and cultural sites in the city of Turku, and even take the ferry for a short break to Sweden, which is an overnight journey across the Baltic Sea.
Lake Saimaa is the only place where you will find Finland’s most endangered species, the Saimaa ringed seal, which is the rarest seal in the world. While it is best not to disturb the seal homes, there is still a lot to see and experience here throughout the year, from fruit picking to ice fishing. Loikansaari rents out lakeside cottages and villas across the area, and there’s also the well-placed Manor Boutique, a shop where you can pick up hand-crafted souvenirs and local travel information.
Amar Grover contributed additional reporting to this article.
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