Culinary gems from Saimaa region

5 minute read
A beautiful setting and interior of the Tertti manor.

Credits: Tertti Manor

Nestled in the heart of Finland's picturesque Lakeland region, Lake Saimaa, the country's largest lake boasting over 13,000 islands, is a haven for adventurous foodies this summer. Known for its beloved summer cottages and emerging wooden-glass hideaways, Saimaa is set to dazzle with an array of new culinary experiences. Celebrating its status as the 2024 European Region of Gastronomy, the region offers delights ranging from five-star dinners and a museum restaurant to a unique vendace trawling cruise.

Discover these culinary gems and more in the enchanting Saimaa region this summer.

1. Pop-up Michelin star dinner in the woods

In September, Finnjävel, the Michelin star-awarded restaurant based in Helsinki, offers a pop-up experience in the Saimaa region. For four days, guests can savour Finnjävel's unique interpretation of Finnish gastronomy at the stunning Sahanlahti Resort, just under an hour's drive from Mikkeli. From September 11–14, 2024, the joint menu by Finnjävel and Sahanlahti Resort will be available at the Restaurant Koskivahti, showcasing culinary creations inspired by the region's local delicacies.

Credits : Pasi Kuronen, Finnjävel Salonki
Credits: Sahanlahti Resort

2. Best coffee in Finland by the shores of Lake Saimaa

Finns have a deep affinity for coffee, ranking among the highest consumers worldwide. Nestled in a historic brick house by Lake Saimaa, café Satamatie 6 offers a charming setting where you can enjoy the freshest coffees and a variety of sweet and savoury delicacies. The café also features local brand boutiques and has expanded its offerings to include artisanal beers, wines, mocktails, cocktails, and a weekend brunch. Lehmus Roastery, located in Lappeenranta, has earned acclaim as Finland's top roastery, having been voted best three times and awarded the best café title in 2020.

Credits: Satamatie 6

3. High-quality cuisine in a 160-year-old building

Located in the heart of Lappeenranta town centre, Restaurant Wolkoff offers a blend of high-quality cuisine and atmosphere in its distinctive premises. Established in 1998, Wolkoff is housed in a historic yellow wooden house, one of Lappeenranta's oldest buildings dating back over 160 years. During summer, guests can retreat to the secluded atrium, providing a tranquil escape from the town's lively atmosphere. The restaurant serves delightful lunches and dinners, occasionally featuring special evening menus.

Credits : Satu Touru
Credits: Satu Touru

4. Hop-on hop-off gourmet bus trip from Helsinki

The journey begins in Helsinki and leads you to the scenic shores of Lake Saimaa. In Mikkeli, you'll savour a delicious lunch at Café Restaurant RauhaFrom there, the adventure continues to Puumala and Sahanlahti Resort, offering dinner and accommodation by the shores of charming Lake Saimaa or PihlasResort in Joroinen, nestled in enchanting nature. On the second day, lunch awaits at PihlasResort, followed by visits to the TeaHouse of Wehmais and the acclaimed Tertti Manor. Learn more and book your visit on Visit Mikkeli's site.

Credits : TeaHouse of Wehmais
Credits: Tertti Manor

5. Five-star dinner & rest in an adults-only hideaway

Located amidst the tranquil beauty of Lake Saimaa, Restaurant Solitary has stood out as one of Finland's top dining spots since 2023. Led by head chef Remi Trémouille, the restaurant excels in culinary artistry, crafting inventive flavour combinations that celebrate local ingredients. Solitary offers exclusive dining experiences within the peaceful ambience of Kuru Resort, providing a serene retreat from the busy pace of daily life. Notably, this location was a part of Visit Finland's Masterclass of Happiness course last year.

Credits: Julia Kivelä

6. Vendace trawling cruise & fresh fish dinner

Vendace is Finland's prized catch from its inland waters. Celebrated as a world-class delicacy and a gourmet treat widely enjoyed in restaurants and events throughout the Saimaa region. Witnessing vendace fishing is a rare and exclusive experience. Professional fishermen trawl for vendace in the expansive waters of Saimaa, offering you a unique opportunity to join them aboard their trawling vessel.

Your cruise host, Arto, will entertain you with captivating tales of Saimaa's fishing culture and the intricacies of vendace trawling. As you observe the trawling process, you'll learn about Saimaa's rich natural environment and the beloved vendace, a favourite treat of the endangered Saimaa ringed seal. Arto ensures your comfort throughout the journey, adding entertainment such as playing the accordion, perhaps even treating you to a vendace-themed waltz. Keep an eye out for the rare Saimaa ringed seal, as sightings are possible in this pristine area.

Credits: Julia Kivelä,

7. Karelian cuisine & kantele music

Restaurant Parppeinpirtti is the epitome of Karelian cuisine, perched on a hill near Ilomantsi. It offers an authentic taste of Karelian fare within the enchanting Parppeinvaara Bardic Village. Here, the traditions of poem-singing, Karelian cuisine, and the natural beauty of Ilomantsi come to life through exhibitions and historic buildings. Warmly welcomed, guests are guided by local hosts to indulge in a feast of Karelian delicacies. The ambience of this traditional Karelian setting, filled with the spirit and scents of the region, is enhanced by the melodies of beautiful kantele music, creating an unforgettable dining experience.

8. Gourmet lunch at the Forest Museum’s restaurant Lusto

Museum restaurant Lusto delights food enthusiasts with its exceptional offerings, nestled amid the breathtaking ridge and lake scenery of Eastern Finland along the Punkaharju scenic road. The restaurant serves a variety of delicious options, including lunch, café treats, dinners, and special events. Its wine list is carefully curated to complement the environment, featuring excellent wines with a low carbon footprint. The restaurant proudly supports local producers, fishermen, and young summer workers. After dining, explore the fascinating Finnish Forest Museum Lusto for an enriching experience.

Credits: Jussi Silvennoinen

9. Monastry menu in the Karelian heritage village

The dishes at Restaurant Bomba, located next to a traditional Karelian village on the shore of Lake Pielinen in Nurmes, are inspired by authentic Karelian flavours with a modern twist. The menu highlights local ingredients such as turnips from the village, berries from the yard, pikeperch from Lake Pielinen, and venison from the local forest. The Valamo menu is paired with exquisite berry wines from the nearby monastery, creating irresistible pairings with dishes like Jerusalem artichoke, tournedos, and Finnish cheeses.

10. Fusion of Karelian delicacies and sauna

Embark on an authentic sauna escape into the world of Finnish sauna traditions. This unique adventure offers five distinct sauna experiences, including smoke and riverbank saunas. Feel the soothing steam on your skin while indulging in exceptional sauna menus and workshops. Dive deeper into Finnish cuisine, centred around local delicacies like wild mushrooms and berries. While you have the option to travel between guesthouses by car, a scenic bike ride is recommended for a more immersive journey between locations.

Credits : Äksyt Ämmät
Credits: Äksyt Ämmät & Puukarin pysäkki

Places to stay

Pistohiekka Resort view.

Pistohiekka Resort in Puumala, Lake Saimaa region

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