Wander the largest lake region in Europe

National Parks in Lakeland

Credits: Markus Sirkka

Thousands of reasons to visit Lakeland

You might have heard that Finland is also known as the land of thousands of lakes? Well, there’s a good reason for it! There are almost 188 000 lakes or ponds in the whole country, and Lakeland is home to numerous of them.  

Lakeland’s pristine nature reserves are top destinations year-round offering plenty of things to do in all four seasons. Pick mushrooms and berries in the gorgeous setting of autumn foliage, try snowshoeing in the old-growth forests in the winter months, or visit the birdwatcher’s paradise, the mires, at the height of the season in spring. In the summer you might want to end your hike on the esker islands’ sandy shores and cool off with a little dip in the freshwater. Take your pick!


The landscape in Helvetinjärvi National Park is dominated by geological features created millions of years ago. The park’s majestic cliffs and glimmering lakes have inspired many artists over the centuries. See the breathtaking views yourself and take a tour around the rugged cliffs around Helvetinjärvi (Hell's Lake) and Helvetinkolu (Hell's Hole). Afterward, stop over for a picnic on the beautiful sandy lakeshore at Haukanhieta, and take a fresh dip in the clear waters of Lake Haukkajärvi.


Hiidenportti National Park has many fascinating places and stories to discover in case you are interested in cultural history. The name “Hiidenportti” means “Hiisi’s gate”. Before Christianity's arrival, “hiisi” meant a place of worship, and after the 17th century, it came to mean an evil place or the Devil itself.

Even wilder than the stories is the nature in the area. The park is a mosaic of mires and heaths, but there are also impressive canyons in the area you do not want to miss.

Credits: Sini Salmirinne


The place you don’t want to miss on your visit to Hossa National Park is Julma-Ölkky - the largest canyon lake in Finland. This more than 2-billion-years-old formation tucked inside a rift valley also has rock paintings dating back thousands of years. Other great activities in Hossa are canoeing and fishing in the crystal-clear lakes or cycling along the scenic trails in the pine heaths.

Hossa nature reserve is also suitable if you are travelling in a wheelchair or with kids, as some of the trails are accessible.

Credits: Marjaana Tasala


At Isojärvi National Park you cannot fail but notice the impressive results of beavers’ labours. These diligent animals however are not the only loggers that have left their mark in the area. Stop over for a coffee break by the forester camp at Heretty cabin where you can find out about the old logging culture in the area. In case you’re up for a little challenge, hike all the way up to the highest point in the national park. Vahtervuori rises around 100 metres above the surface of Lake Isojärvi where the rocky shores offer a breathtaking view far into the horizon.

Credits: Sannamari Ratilainen


Koli National Park has one of Finland’s most beloved national landscapes. When you stand at the top of Ukko-Koli hill and look at the breathtaking scenery over Lake Pielinen, it is easy to understand why the spot has attracted so many artists, photographers, and nature-lovers for centuries. Koli’s hills and lakes as well as the surrounding area offer many exceptional nature destinations and experiences year-round. Experience a stunning summer sunset from the Räsävaara view tower, 300 metres above sea level. Alternatively, go below and explore Koli’s geological history in a 33-metre-long boulder cave called the Devil’s Church (Pirunkirkko).

Credits: Harri Tarvainen


Kolovesi National Park is the dream come true destination if you wish to go paddling. Motorboats are not allowed here, so it’s best to discover the sheltered labyrinth of islands on a canoe and surround yourself with tranquillity. If you are lucky, you might encounter one of the world's most endangered and rare seals, the curious and big-eyed Saimaa ringed seal. Also, you do not want to miss the 5,000 years old human figure rock paintings on the steep side of Ukonvuori Hill.

Credits: Mari Laukkanen


Leivonmäki National Park is like Central Finland in a miniature size. The best way to get to know the area is by hiking on the park’s family-friendly nature paths, including the duckboard trails. Discover fascinating facts about landforms such as kettles, glacial erratics, and the park’s signature animals on the signposts along the route. Find nature’s own snacks, the wild berries, by the Haapasuo wetlands, or stop over for a scenic picnic by the lakeside or up on an esker ridge.

Credits: Jari Ilmonen


Liesjärvi National Park is a small gem of the Häme Lake Uplands.

This versatile recreation destination, with its maze-like lake landscape and pristine shores, is perfect for refreshing day trips. The picturesque Kyynäränharju Ridge is the best-known natural attraction in the area, and you will understand why once you get there. Make sure you have time to visit the Korteniemi Heritage Farm, where you have the chance to help with traditional farm work and experience how people lived in rural Finland over a century ago. This estate belonged to a real park ranger from the 1910s onwards, and now it’s a home for cows, sheep, chickens, and a rooster in the summer.

Credits: Simo Tolvanen


Linnansaari National Park is in the heart of Lakeland. The maze-like archipelago with its lush green islands and rocky islets is also home to the endangered Saimaa ringed seal as well as the majestic osprey. You can access the Linnansaari island by a regular ferry service and charter boats. If you bring your own tent, Linnansaari park is great for longer canoeing trips. In the winter season, the frozen waterway has ice tracks for tour skating.

Credits: Mari Laukkanen


The landscape in Patvinsuo National Park is a mixture of vast mires and grand, deep forests – a wilderness area where all of Finland's large predators can be found. Bear is Finland’s national animal, and Patvinsuo has a flourishing population of these wild beasts. It is very unlikely you get to see a sight of a bear, as they typically do their best to avoid people, but you may still want to scan the open marshes from the viewing towers. If you are in the area in the summertime, another fun activity in the area is to pick the sought-after and delicious cloudberries. You will find most of the trails easy to walk along, as there are duckboards laid across mires and wetlands.

Credits: Timo Halme


The 15 kilometres long Petkeljärvi-Putkelanharju is one of Finland's most valuable natural ridge areas. Explore Petkeljärvi National Park and its forested esker ridges on a day trip on marked trails. On route, you may come across the fruits of labour of the most prominent mammal in the area, the North American beaver. The rugged lake scenery is also fantastic for canoeing. Once you recognize the call of the official animal of the park – the black-throated diver – you will secure an unforgettable memory of the Finnish wilderness.


Pyhä-Häkki National Park is famous for its preserved old-growth pine forests in Mastomäki. Some of the pines are more than 400-year-old. The biggest tree in the park is 26 meters tall silver-grey Kelo pine that lived from 1518 to 2004.

Explore the area and enjoy the wild nature by hiking. Pay a visit to the historical Poika-Aho Crown Tenant Farm, which was established by settlers in 1854. If the quiet and serene nature speaks to you too, keep in mind that the farm hires sheep herders every summer. Applications are taken in early in the year.


One of Finland’s largest and most beautiful esker islands, Kelvenne, is in the Päijänne National Park. The history of this 8-kilometre-long chain’s formation and its flora makes Kelvenne one of the most fascinating sites in the area, but it is also unparalleled as a hiking destination. Alternatively, you can discover the sandy shores and coves in Lake Päijänne by taking a boat or canoe out onto the waters. For sunbathing and swimming opt for the 700-metre-long natural sandy beach at Isohieta.

Credits: Tea Karvinen


Repovesi National Park is just a few hours away from Helsinki, so it is easy to reach even within a short stay. It is an excellent destination if you are a beginner-level hiker or travelling with kids. The highlights of Repovesi include the Lapinsalmi bridge, the hand-operated Fox's Ferry, homelike rental campfire huts, and the scenic views over the treetops from the park's highest vistas. The park also boasts the best rock-climbing site in Finland, the 50 metres tall Olhavanvuori. If you travel to Repovesi in the summer and autumn months, remember to exercise your Everyman’s right by picking mushrooms and wild berries.

Credits: Tea Karvinen


Rokua National Park is a part of Finland's first UNESCO Geopark. The clear traces of the Ice Age seen in the esker ridges, sandhills, and kettle hole lakes make this rather small park one of a kind.

Explore the area on foot or on a mountain bike on marked routes. A wonderful day-trip destination is The Pooki Trail (5.3 km), which circles the picturesque Lake Pitkäjärvi and takes you to the fascinating old-growth pine forest and finally onto the summit of Pookivaara Hill.

Credits: Harri Tarvainen


One of the best places for you to encounter wild forest reindeer in Finland is the Peuran polku trail in Salamajärvi National Park. The scenery in the Salamajärvi natural reserve is varied, including rocky pinewoods and open bogs. A convenient place to start your hike is the Koiransalmi Nature Information Hut. From July onwards berry picking is a top activity, as the bogs then offer a tasty treasure trove of cranberry and cloudberry.

The scenic Iso-Koirajärvi Lake is also ideal for fishing as brown trout, whitefish and grayling have been planted there. Just make sure you have a local permit for the Koirajärvi fishing zone.

Credits: Jyri Lehtonen


Seitseminen National Park is a fascinating part of Finland’s backwoods. The park offers unforgettable experiences and a range of activities in an impressive setting. Start your day trip at the Seitseminen Nature Centre, where you can learn about the park's versatile flora and fauna at two exhibitions. Continue your day exploring the old forests, lakes, and marshes on one of the many marked trails in the area. If you are visiting the park during the summer months, opt for the 6,3 km long Tenant farmer’s circle trail that takes you to Kovero Crown Tenant Farm. A guide is on duty in the summer and will happily enlighten you on life on the farm in the 1930s.

Credits: Julia Kivelä

Southern Konnevesi

Southern Konnevesi National Park is characterized by breathtaking contrasts. It is home to herb-rich forests, lakes with sheltered mazes of islands, and large altitude differences. The waterways of the area have been important since prehistoric times. If you are interested in cultural history, there are many sights to see including rock paintings in Toussunlinna, Stone Age residential sites, and a burial mound from the early Metal Age found on the shores of Lake Konnevesi. Enjoy the wide-open waters of the lake canoeing or choose one of the three hiking routes ranging from the accessible 300 metres Vuori-Kalaja route to the demanding 14 km Kolmen Vuoren Vaellus trail.

Credits: Julia Kivelä


Syöte National Park is an excellent destination if you are travelling with children or wish to go on an active holiday.

There are around 122 km of marked trails suitable for day trips or even for longer wanderings, but four nature trails are also just 0,5 - 3 km long.

In the wintertime, the wooded hills of Syöte National Park are covered with magical crown snow. You will need snowshoes or skis to move around in the area at that time. Fortunately, if you don’t have your own equipment, rental services are available. During the other seasons, you might also want to experience the scenery pedalling along the park’s mountain bike routes.

Credits: Tiina Törmänen


Tiilikkajärvi National Park is particularly a great destination if you are into bird watching. Two-thirds of Tiilikkajärvi is mire, which provides a habitat for diverse bird species, including the tame Siberian jays that often accept food handouts from humans. If you want to go trekking, try a pleasant 7km circle trail called 'Uiton kierto' that goes around two small lakes. Halfway along the route, there’s a campfire site where you can have a snack and a rest. Alternatively, you can leave the trail on the north side of the circle and walk 400 m to Venäjänhiekka Beach, which has a camping area, and a composting dry toilet. 


Torronsuo National Park is home to the deepest mire in Finland. The thickest peat layers are more than 12 metres deep! The mire is also home to the emblem plant of the park - cranberry. You can discover the groves and boreal swamps safely on your wheelchair or with prams on accessible duckboard trails. Torronsuo is visited by many migrating cranes and geese in spring and autumn. Climb up to the birdwatching tower to observe the feathered creatures and have the best views over the vast open bog.

Credits: Eeva Mäkinen