Arctic Lakeland Finland has been awarded as the best outdoor destination in the Nordic countries

The award ceremony for the “Scandinavian Outdoor Award travel” at ITB 2024. Photo Thomas Rathay.

Best Outdoor Destination 2024

Scandinavian Outdoor Awards annually rewards Nordic nature tourism destinations that have significantly contributed to the development of tourism in their region during previous seasons. The award was announced at the international travel trade fair ITB Berlin in Germany on 5 March 2024.

The Arctic Lakeland area boasts several notable features that enhance its attractiveness and success in international markets throughout the year. Arctic Lakeland is an adventure paradise for nature and culture lovers, a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts, and a favorite, snow-sure destination for winter activities. The region has focused on continuous development of year-round nature tourism, particularly in cycling, hiking, and water activities and trails. In recent years, significant efforts have been made to develop expertise in sustainability and to promote comprehensive accessible nature tourism under the theme “nature belongs to everyone.”

One key to success is a long-term vision demonstrating sustained commitment to developing international tourism. Cooperation among strategic partners, tourism businesses, and stakeholders enhances the competitiveness of the destination and boosts tourism demand and growth, especially in international markets.

“The basis of everything lies in working and seeking growth together and in commitment to collaborative efforts”, summarizes Arctic Lakeland Coordinator Hanna Linjala.

Close collaboration with the local Kajaani University of Applied Sciences in developing nature and outdoor routes and content is also important for the region’s vitality.

The region’s three national parks (Hossa, Hiidenportti, and Tiilikkajärvi), Kuhmo’s Friendship Nature Reserve, and Paljakka Nature Park offer travelers a unique and safe wilderness experience while also being significant maintainers of biodiversity. Connecting with nature is easy, as over 90% of the Arctic Lakeland area is covered by forests. It is also home to one of Europe’s last pristine wilderness areas. Arctic Lakeland is one of the world’s leading wildlife destinations, providing excellent opportunities to see Finland’s “Big Five” – bear, elk, wolverine, lynx, and wolf – in their natural habitat, as well as other species such as white-tailed eagle and wild forest reindeer. The cultural heritage and offerings of the region, together with nature, form a unique combination that attracts international tourists.

Digital route development enabling international visibility

Initiated by Kajaani University of Applied Sciences in 2017, the OutdoorActive development work has been a crucial step as a platform for digital route development. Currently, there are over 250 different route contents related to different activities and 751 publications on Europe’s outdoor platform, available in Finnish, English, and German. Digitalized routes have been integrated into the website, as well as into various websites of the tourism destinations, municipalities, and companies in the Arctic Lakeland area.

“In addition to development work, the platform’s content is constantly utilized marketing campaigns, articles and web publications, especially for the German market,” says Hanna Linjala. This extensive reach benefits both international and domestic tourists as well as other visitors to the region and the local population.

Best Outdoor Destination

The Scandinavian Outdoor Award jury states that Arctic Lakeland impressed them an exciting year-round concept and an interesting mix for both outdoor enthusiasts and tour operators, a strong focus on sustainability and the region is regarded as a trailblazer for an outstanding outdoor destination.

“The award is a great recognition for Arctic Lakeland and shows that even in a short period of time, a lot can be achieved by working together. Through collaboration, we can also demonstrate diversity and create year-round tourism offerings”, says Minna Komulainen, Regional Development Specialist at the Regional Council of Kainuu.

According to Jyrki Oksanen from Visit Finland, Arctic Lakeland’s allure has been strong at the ITB fair: “New connections to the area are bubbling up. Sometimes it takes years to agree on cooperation, but now it feels like there is a great momentum going on. The marketing of the area has succeeded in showing that Arctic Lakeland can combine the best elements of Lakeland Finland and Northern Finland for the winter season.”

Oksanen notes that wildlife tourism has been popular for some time already, and he expects further growth in the market in the future. “Russian tourism has played a significant role in the region, and now there is a search for alternative markets. There is a strong interest in nature in Germany, and Arctic Lakeland has a lot to offer in that regard,” says Oksanen.

The award was given for the fifth time in 5 different categories: Destination, Sustainability, Product, Transportation, and Accommodation. The winners are selected by a jury consisting of tourism industry professionals, developers, representatives from the media, and influencers.

Other competing areas in the Best Outdoor Destination category included Hemsedal from Norway and Lahti Region from Finland.

Members of the jury 2024:

Christian Lackner –, Scandinavia Expert and Representative SE, NO, DK, IS
Geertje Marquart – Nordicfamily blog,, Scandinavia Influencer, Photographer, Travelguide
Victoria Reim – NORR Magazin, Scandinavia Expert and Travel Journalist
Anja Schillinger – Hauser Exkursionen
Thomas Rathay – Outdoor Hochgenuss Blog, Outdoor-Photographer and -Photoguide in Scandinvia
Thomas Marx – Vianova Reiseveranstalter

With this recognition and development work, Arctic Lakeland strengthens its position as a top-tier international destination in the Lakeland Finland area.

Further information:

Scandinavian Outdoor Award TRAVEL

Regional Council of Kainuu / Arctic Lakeland Finland, Regional Development Specialist Minna Komulainen +358 44 410 0726

Arctic Lakeland Finland, Arctic Lakeland Coordinator Hanna Linjala +358 40 583 7362