Summer escapes in Arctic Lakeland Finland – expert tips

Read the best travel tips and recommendations for a summer break in Arctic Lakeland from tour operator experts.

Our experts have experienced the summer in Arctic Lakeland, have visited the hotels, seen the bears, swam in our lakes under the Midnight Sun and eaten local food and now they are sharing their best recommendations for a summer holiday in Finland.

Jo from Discover the World on bear watching

An evening spent watching for brown bears in the wild was an absolute highlight of my trip to Finland’s Arctic Lakeland. Following a safety briefing and presentation on the ‘Big Four’ – brown bears, lynx, wolves and wolverine, which can all be spotted in the area, a short walk leads to the Bear House. This large, two-storey hide on a hillside offers comfortable seating and large windows for good viewing over the forest, marsh and two small lakes. 

We settled down with eager anticipation, and started scanning the area for any sign of wildlife. We waited patiently as the minutes turned into hours until we finally caught a glimpse of a bear in the distance! Two hours after starting my vigil, my patience was rewarded by the approach of a yearling cub followed by two much larger bears foraging in front of the hide. We watched in silent awe for half an hour soaking up the moment.

“This was certainly a bucket list experience for me and one I would heartily recommend.”

My top tips for making the most of the experience would be:

  • to be prepared for the wait.
  • Make sure you have one pair of binoculars per person for the best viewing opportunities.
  • Remember your phone charger so you can stay connected to the Whatsapp group setup by the hosts, this enables guests in the bear house and hides to share sightings.
  • Snacks and a hot drink are provided but you may wish to take some of your own snacks too, though make sure they are in quiet packaging.

Pippa from Best Served Scandinavia on hotels & activities

For the first part of my trip, I stayed at the beautifully tranquil Hotel Kalevala, with its idyllic lakeside location. I would recommend booking a Superior Room with lake view for making the most of those glorious summer landscapes. The hotel itself is wonderful, with professional and attentive staff, and the excellent restaurant Kanteletar, which serves seasonal, locally sourced food. My favourite was the creamy wild mushroom soup. Delicious!

On the hotel’s doorstep, it’s possible to enjoy a range of activities for all seasons which, in spring and summer, include hiking, boat trips, canoeing, lake swimming and bear watching. For pure relaxation, there’s a wellness area with the obligatory Finnish Sauna, a range of massages and an outdoor jacuzzi – the perfect way to unwind in the beautiful, natural surroundings.

“I was privileged to experience it all, even late at night under the Midnight Sun.”

Bear watching aside, summer in Arctic Lakeland is a great time of year to participate in a full range of activities, and the second part of my trip – at the holiday town of Vuokatti, just an hour away from Kuhmo – allowed me to experience some of these first-hand.  The ideal base if the excellent Hotelli Aateli Lake, situated on the beautiful Lake Nuas and complete with its own private beach and swimming pool. Throughout summer, the hotel offers hiking, canoeing and lake swimming, and has a lovely log sauna. My highlights in the Vuokatti area included a hike through the surrounding hills and forests, a visit and delicious lunch at Haapala Farm with its locally sourced organic food and micro brewery, and an afternoon spent relaxing in the Katinkulta Spa with its variety of pools, Jacuzzis and saunas.

My favourite experience was the smoke sauna – a wood-fired sauna, without the usual chimney.

Sofia from Nature Travels on the great outdoors & activities

When visiting the Arctic Lakeland region, nature always feels close and easily accessible. In my opinion, there is no better way to escape into the outdoors than in a canoe.

One of our canoe experiences in the region is Canoeing on the Tar Route in Kainuu, which passes through the lovely Lentua lake system. Spend your nights wild camping or utilising some of the free-to-use wilderness cabins along the route. This is a particular feature of this tour, as in general for our canoe tours you will spend all nights under canvas. The cabins are open to the public, so you might find you have them to yourself or it might be a wonderful opportunity to make new friends.

Another unusual feature of the Tar Route tour is the infrastructure of ‘tracks’ you can use for land transports, where you simply lift your canoe onto the rails, making moving the canoe much easier!

Whether you’re canoeing or on another adventure, one thing that can’t be missed during your visit to Arctic Lakes is wild swimming (or just wild dipping) in the lakes, especially after a sauna. Sauna is central to Finnish culture, and I really recommend ending your sauna with a jump into the lake, whatever the time of year.

Arctic Lakeland is a fantastic region, filled with beautiful landscapes, warm hospitality and spectacular wildlife. Whenever you visit, and whatever you choose to do there, it will forever occupy a special place in your heart. I can’t wait for my chance to return!

Discover more things to do in the area and check out our wide range of accommodation options in Arctic Lakeland region.