Finland's Stunning Lakeside Cottages You Can Actually Stay In

Whether it is the Land of the Midnight Sun or a Thousand Lakes, words struggle to express the beauty of Finland
Whether it is the Land of the Midnight Sun or a Thousand Lakes, words struggle to express the beauty of Finland | © Scott Wilson / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Jessica Wood
12 April 2021

Finland’s “Land of a Thousand Lakes” moniker is rather an understatement; nearly 200,000 sparkle among the country’s pristine forests and sparsely populated landscapes, 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, most locals 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, bathed by the midnight sun. And you, too, can experience mökki culture with these ever-so-slightly more comfortable cottage and lakeside retreats, where nature, fresh air and freedom are the ultimate luxuries. All are bookable through Culture Trip.

Portaan Nahkurinverstas

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Portaan Nahkurinverstas
Courtesy of Portaan Nahkurinverstas / Booking.com

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’s 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.

Karjalan Helmi

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Karjalan Helmi
Courtesy of Karjalan Helmi / Booking.com

Backed by birch groves, Karjalan has a clutch of cottages beside Lake Orivesi near Kitee featuring seemingly endless island-studded lakeland stretching beyond their own bay. Accommodation ranges from simple single-storey cottages to a snazzy two-storey log cabin with a veranda. All have private gardens, saunas and beach fronts while basic fishing gear, bikes and even rowing boats are free. It’s the perfect place to disappear for forest hikes and forage for berries and mushrooms, or paddle away into sunset in a kayak.

Maatilamatkailu Janisvaara

Cabin, Cottages
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Maatilamatkailu Janisvaara
Courtesy of Maatilamatkailu Janisvaara / Booking.com

On the edge of Koli National Park, Janisvaara Farm offers an array of cabins and cottages ranging from off-grid farmer’s abodes with outside toilets and wells to virtually all-mod-cons three-bedroomed houses with beach-side 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.

Lomarengas Ski Cabins

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Lomarengas Ski Cabins
Courtesy of Lomarengas Ski Cabins

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.

Aamunkoi

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Northern lights Aamunkoi by Georg Keller
Courtesy of Aamunkoi / | © Georg Keller

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 of the other Lapland activities.

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  • Ruka Ski Cabins

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    Ruka Ski Cabins
    Courtesy of Ruka Ski Cabins / Booking.com

    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.

    Nature cabin, Nuuksio National Park

    Cottages
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    Nature cabin, Nuuksio National Park
    Courtesy of naturaviva.fi

    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 summer cottage life, it makes for an ideal first taste.

    Baltic Sea Island Cottage, Turku Archipelago

    Natural Feature
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    Not all summer homes are located on lakesides: 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 Cottage

    Cottages
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    loikansaari.fi
    Courtesy of loikansaari.fi

    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 seals’ homes, there is still a lot to see and experience at Lake Saimaa throughout the year, from fruit picking to ice fishing. Loikansaari rents out cottages and villas across the lake and there is 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.

    These recommendations were updated on April 12, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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