Hidden gems in Finnish Lakeland

3 minute read
Tertti Manor house in Mikkeli in the summer.

Plan your visit to Lakeland today, and experience the hidden gems for yourself

Majestic manors. Tantalizing truffles. Curious kalakukko. These are a just a few of the lesser-known treats in store for you during a visit to Lakeland, a glorious area of the country that’s dotted with lush blue lakes and covered in thick forests. While the winters here are freezing, they’re known for outdoor fun like snowshoeing and skating. Summers in this region, on the other hand, are renowned for an array of world-class festivals and cultural events. There’s no need to stick with one season or the other, though – many of the hidden gems on this list are accessible year-round.

Tertti Manor is located just outside of Mikkeli. This lovely manor includes a historic hotel, a small shop, and a great restaurant serving dishes made of local, organic ingredients.
Credits: Tertti Manor

Travel back in time at an elegant manor house

While Lakeland offers an array of adrenaline-spiking activities, roaming around the gardens and interiors of old Finnish manor houses can be equally stimulating. One of the region’s pearls is located in Mikkeli, a 2,5-hour drive from Helsinki. That’s where you’ll find Tertti Manor, a working farm. In the summer, the farm’s gardens bloom with fruit, flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Winter, meanwhile, features the peace and silence of plenty of snow, perfect for a day away from the city.

And Tertti isn’t the only intriguing manor in this area. Another gem is Wehmaa Manor near Lake Saimaa. Take a day trip to this attraction for a taste of Old World elegance, complete with rose textiles, floral wallpaper and traditional afternoon tea served British-style. With over 50 varieties to choose from, guests at this beautiful manor are sure to find their perfect sip.

In their own words, the TeaHouse of Wehmais serves tea and food in a new way.

Make a beeline for a gourmet farm

The Lakeland region is overflowing with local delicacies that are best enjoyed right at the farm door. One example is the aforementioned Wehmais TeaHouse (at Wehmaa Manor), which is one of four Saimaa Gastronomy destinations. Another is Tertti Manor’s high-quality Finnish cuisine, which has charmed guests like composer Oskar Merikanto and President Urho Kekkonen. And a third is historic Hannula farm in Hauho, where the Iloranta family has lived for more than a hundred years. There, guests can enjoy homemade organic food in a gorgeous natural setting that’s earned the Sustainable Travel Finland label.

But a fourth and equally worthy destination is Tervamäki Heritage Farm, located in the village of Sumsa in Sotkamo. The farmhouse has been restored to its original appearance, and visitors are encouraged to acquaint themselves with traditional farm work, tools and animal husbandry. And don’t forget the food! At the very least, any visit to the farmhouse should include a homemade breakfast or lunch (available upon request). Guests can also purchase organic produce from the farm shop.

A wooden house set on a long, winding road and accompanied by a field of wheat, rye or field mustard (‘rypsi’ in Finnish) is the quintessential image of the Finnish countryside.

Follow your stomach to the local market

Nothing screams “local” like a Finnish marketplace! Found in any city, these lively town squares boast delicious produce, traditional music, local folklore and constant conversation. The Lakeland region, for example, features amazing marketplaces in both Mikkeli and Savonlinna. In Mikkeli, the market truly comes to life during the warmer months, featuring table after table of local delicacies. Try the region’s most iconic food, kalakukko, a meat pie-like creation that’s best served hot with a cup of coffee and a little live music from the market’s accordion players. But be prepared to have a chat while you’re there: Mikkeli is part of the South Savo region, which is known for its culture of small-talk – something that’s virtually non-existent in the rest of the country.

Kalakukko is a local delicacy in the Savo region of Finland. A traditional kalakukko includes a crust made of rye and stuffed with fish (usually vendace, or “muikku” in Finnish) and pork.
Credits: Julia Kivelä

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