Kayaking and canoeing in Finland – tips to get started

4 minute read
Two people in yellow kayak in Lake Saimaa, Finland.

Discover the wonders of Finland’s nature on the water

There is perhaps no better way to immerse yourself in the stunning Finnish nature than by slowly paddling your way through the waterways. Lingering in the silence and inhaling the world's cleanest air will certainly also bring peace to your mind. As you get carried away by the act of paddling itself, you will come to realize that you’ve uncovered some of the most astonishing wonders of the wilderness – all without causing any emissions. Canoeing and kayaking are some of the most sustainable ways to get to know a destination.

Finland is known as the land of a thousand lakes, meandering rivers, and the world’s largest archipelago. Jump in a kayak or a canoe to discover Finland’s hidden gems: paddle across Lakeland’s endless water passages, discover untouched coves on the coast, or shoot down a rapid under the Midnight Sun.

Here are our recommendations on how to get started with kayaking and canoeing in Finland.

Credits: Kota Collective

Lakeland – great for both beginners and pros

Calm inland lakes are great for beginners – the Lakeland region in Central and Eastern Finland has countless of them. Lakes come in all shapes and sizes in this region.

Finland’s largest lake, Lake Saimaa, is a paddler’s paradise. The charming town of Puumala serves as an excellent starting point for kayaking and canoeing trips. You can book a practice session or embark on a guided canoeing excursion through the labyrinthine lake channels of Saimaa.

Another great option in Southern Lakeland is Lake Päijänne. As the second-largest lake in the country, Päijänne provides ample opportunities for water-based activities and exploration. The famous esker ridge in Päijänne National Park dates back to the Ice Age. We recommend exploring the area's many islands, sandy coves, and rocky shores.

Lake Oulujärvi, known for its long sandy beaches and pine forests, is a spot in Northern Lakeland that is great for honing your paddling skills. Explore the ancient forest of Niskaselkä island or marvel at the variety of bird species that nest in the area.

Bonus tip: If you're an adrenaline junkie, try a rafting experience at Ruunaa Rapids in Eastern Finland. On this guided tour, you'll get to raft down the rapids in a traditional wooden boat and enjoy a Karelian lunch afterwards.

Lake Saimaa is a versatile summer destination for outdoor enthusiasts from kayakers to cyclists.
Lake Päijänne has many small islands and sandy beaches that can be easily reached by canoe or kayak.

Coast and Archipelago – routes for intermediate and advanced paddlers

The Coast and Archipelago region of Finland provides a wide range of kayaking routes suitable for different skill levels and preferences – especially if you are seeking more challenging routes.

For instance, the inner archipelago of Rauma on the west coast of Finland is an excellent location to take your paddling skills to the next level. Book a guided kayaking tour to explore the Bothnian Sea National Park and its breathtaking scenery. Always check the weather forecast before heading out, as conditions might suddenly change along the coast. If your muscles get sore, you can always hop on a ferry to visit the Kylmäpihlaja lighthouse.

Another unique destination to paddle to is near Hanko in the South Coast: the Bengtskär lighthouse. To get to this lighthouse island, you'll have to paddle through open seas, so it is recommended only for highly experienced kayakers. On Bengtskär, you'll find a café and even a small hotel (a room needs to be booked in advance).

Credits : Sara Terho
Paddling to a lighthouse island, like Bengtskär, is truly a unique experience in the Coast and Archipelago region (recommended only for experienced kayakers).

Northern Finland and Lapland – calm rivers, rushing rapids, and lakes in the wilderness

The wilderness in northern Finland and Lapland stretches as far as the eye can see. The region is abundant with rivers and rapids that offer both calm gliding and adrenaline-filled adventures. Consider booking a guide to show the best locations.

Some of the most popular rivers in the area are Oulankajoki and Kitkajoki, which flow through scenic Oulanka National Park. Other excellent options to explore are the water stretches of Finland's most popular hiking trail, the legendary Karhunkierros Trail. You'll spot amazing waterfalls along the way! 

Lapland also has some of Finland's most unique wilderness lakes, like Lake Inari, to explore. 

For more tips on kayaking and canoeing in Lapland, go to lapland.fi.

In Lapland, you'll find some of the most majestic – and calm! – river and lake views in Finland.
Credits: Markus Kiili

Sustainable canoeing and kayaking tours in Finland

Here's a selection of canoeing and kayaking tours in different parts of the Finland that have received the Visit Finland Sustainable Travel Finland label.

Raft & Hike Expedition

Raft & Hike Expedition

3 hours

See also

Tips for hiking and walking in Finland

Would you like to go on a hiking holiday in Finlan...