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Lake Saimaa 8-day Self-guided Cycling Tour Level Moderate
Finland is often called the land of thousand lakes and with a good reason: there are actually near 188 000 lakes in Finland. Finland’s Lakeland is a beautiful mosaic of vast clear waters and islands, spits and isthmuses covered with green boreal forests and birch groves. There are kilometers of shoreline cycling routes and many scenic spots along the way!
On this cycling tour you will cycle along the shores of Finland’s largest lake, Saimaa, and visit some of its best places; historical towns of Lappeenranta and Savonlinna, nature reserves and the famous Punkaharju esker ridge, one of the nominated national landscapes of Finland.
This tour offers a lot for nature lovers and outdoor people! Besides cycling there are many trails for walking and hiking, many waterways for paddling and rowing and of course many occasions for sauna, swimming and fishing.
The tour is most suitable for adults and youngsters, but probably not suitable for children under age of 12 years. Terrain is undulating. The route is mostly on secondary roads and cycle paths. Daily distances from 23 km to 43 km / 49 km. Cycling paths 19 % Side roads 78 % Main roads 3 %
Waters, islands and isthmuses of Lake Saimaa
Boreal forests and birch groves
Lappeenranta and its fortress and Sandcastle
Punkaharju esker ridge - National Landscape and Nature Reserve
Savonlinna and its Olavinlinna castle
Kerimäki church - world’s biggest wooden church
Hytermä Nature Reserve and Museum Islands
Linnansaari National Park
Nightless night (midsummer)
Delicious fish speciality Puruvesi vendace (registered as PDO and PGI by EU)
Accommodation (Lappeenranta (2 nights): middle class hotel / toilet and shower in the room
Punkaharju (3 nights): apartment hotel or cottage / toilet, shower, sauna and a small kitchen in the room
Savonlinna (1 night): middle class hotel / toilet and shower in the room: Oravi (1 night): apartment hotel or cottage / toilet, shower and a small kitchen in the room
Luggage transfer (from Punkaharju to Savonlinna and from Savonlinna to Oravi)
Service-hotline (Finnish / English / Italian)
Route description-maps (one per each room, available in English / German / Italian / French / Finnish)
Outward and return journey
Train ticket Lappeenranta – Punkaharju (ca. 14 € - 20 € adults)
Steamship from Punkaharju to Savonlinna (ca. 35 € adults, 17 € 7 – 17 year-olds)
Saunas by lakeshore that have to be booked and paid separately on spot (in Punkaharju and Oravi)
Rowing boat rent to visit the Hytermä Islands (ca. 15 € / boat)
Any rental equipment for paddling, rowing, fishing, etc. (prices vary)
Everything not specified on Included in the price
Flight to Helsinki, train to Lappeenranta (Helsinki-Vantaa airport – Lappeenranta: 2 h – 2 h 15 min, one change), from Lappeenranta railway station local bus, walk or taxi to hotel
We recommend to book a transfer from Oravi to Savonlinna, ca. 40 min, price 15 € / person.
Otherwise there is public transport (bus), but with restricted timetable in summer. From Savonlinna take a train to Helsinki. There is also an airport in Savonlinna (flights via Helsinki). At the moment there is no public transport to / from Savonlinna airport.
Transfer booking recommended when booking the tour.
If you would like to rent a bike (90 Euros) please contact our office when booking: [email protected]
Included in the bicycle rental in Lappeenranta:
Per each room: 1 x repair kit
Per each person: 1 x waterproof pannier or pannier with rain cover
Included in the bicycle rental from Punkaharju:
Per each room: 1 x repair kit, 1 x pump, 1 x map holder
Per each person: 1 x waterproof pannier, 1 x bottle holder, 1 x odometer, 1 x spare inner tube
Separate bicycles in Lappeenranta and from Punkaharju onwards.
Departure Sundays - minimum 10 people (max 22). Solo travellers by request (with 100 Euro surcharge)
3rd person in room 680 Euros | child (under 14) 595 Euros
Slow Tours offers a number of other Cycling Tours in Europe
Arrival in Lappeenranta
Independent arrival to Lappeenranta. Lappeenranta is the capital of South Karelia, a small town by Lake Saimaa near the Russian border. Lappeenranta is known as the friendliest town in Finland and for its green technology development. It has a historical old town and fortress with a great view to Lake Saimaa and also Finland’s oldest wooden Town Hall. Worth visiting is the Sandcastle exhibition with sand sculptures with annually changing theme. Lappeenranta has a lively harbour with a square and steamships that come and go from their cruises on Lake Saimaa. If you have enough time you may want to take one around Lake Saimaa or to the famous Saimaa Canal.
Lappeenranta – Taipalsaari – Lappeenranta | 43 km
Your first cycling trip is a circular route from Lappeenranta. You cycle along the shores of Lake Saimaa and past calm forests and countryside. In the small village of Taipalsaari you can visit the church and a Horse-Drawn Vehicle Museum. You may not be lucky enough to see a real Saimaa Ringed Seal during your tour as in summertime they tend to stay under water for most of the time, but at the municipal hall of Taipalsaari you have a chance to see a mounted Saimaa Ringed Seal puppy. On a sunny day you may want to take a swim in the lake before heading back to Lappeenranta.
Lappeenranta – Punkaharju | train + optional cycling
Today you take a train to Punkaharju. You can admire the beautiful lakescapes even from the train. The train stop is near to your accommodation, in the middle of nature! Punkaharju is known internationally for the beautiful esker ridge formed by Ice Age, and has therefore been a popular tourist destination for the past two hundred years. Punkaharju esker ridge is one of Finland's nominated national landscapes. Punkaharju esker ridge Nature Reserve, is one of the world's oldest reserves, as the area was named a crown-owned park in 1843. There are also cultural and historical sites to explore in the esker ridge area. Depending on your arrival time in Punkaharju, you may want to discover the esker ridge area and some of the surrounding attractions by bike today. There are many trails also for walking or nordic walking. You can also go paddling, rowing or horse riding. In other words, it’s an outdoor paradise! Worth visiting are the Finnish Forest Museum Lusto and art exhibition Johanna Oras. For families there’s a water and fun park. And, not to forget are relaxing, sauna and swimming of course!
Punkaharju esker ridge route | 23 km
Today you cycle along the beautiful and unique Punkaharju esker ridge route. You cycle almost all the time along the ridges with old pines and lake on both sides. You pass also Punkaharju church and on a sunny day you can take a swim at the turning point before heading back to the esker ridge area again. Reserve time for many scenic stops and photographing!
Punkaharju – Kerimäki – (Hytermä Islands) – Punkaharju | 34 km / 49 km
Today you cycle to the small village of Kerimäki where you can visit the world’s biggest wooden church. As you arrive at the village, a line of red wooden boat shelters by the lakeshore appear in the view. Worth visiting are the Hytermä Nature Reserve and Museum Islands, reachable by a rowing boat a short distance from land. A trip to this hidden pearl in Lake Saimaa is a unique experience. Then you cycle back to Punkaharju.
Punkaharju – Savonlinna | 38 km + 11 km or steamship + 11 km
Today you travel to the lively town of Savonlinna, known for its medieval Olavinlinna castle and for the annual international Opera Festival. If you prefer to have more time in Punkaharju or have a break with cycling, it is possible to travel to Savonlinna in the afternoon with your bike on board a traditional steamship (possible from 27.6. on).
Savonlinna is built on islands, so water is always present. There are some wonderful cycling routes in Savonlinna along the lakeshore you don’t want to miss! Experience the laid-back atmosphere at the Market square by the harbour with nostalgic steamships. If you haven’t tasted the famous Puruvesi vendace fish yet, now it’s high time! Get your portion directly from the Savonlinna Market square or from almost any restaurant. If you wish to have an opera evening in Olavinlinna castle we suggest you get your tickets well in advance as the Opera Festival is very popular.
Savonlinna – Oravi | 42 km
Today you cycle to a small canal village Oravi situated between two national parks on a narrow isthmus. Worth experiencing is a boat trip to the biodiverse Linnansaari Island in Linnansaari National Park. The landscape in the national park alternates between a labyrinth of sheltered islands and clear open waters. Linnansaari is one of the best habitats for the adorable Saimaa Ringed Seal, one of the world's most endangered and rare seals, endemic to Lake Saimaa. If you are lucky, you can see one or also an Osprey flying above the lake. On the Linnansaari Island you can do a short hike and get acquainted with the traditional slash-and-burn agriculture method. Oravi is a perfect spot for paddling trips, sauna and swimming! How does a good meal, perhaps elk meat, chanterelles and cranberries sound after an active day?
Departure or extension of your holiday
You may want to spend another day in Oravi for paddling, Savonlinna for opera or Punkaharju for any outdoor activity. Extra nights are available also in Lappeenranta and Helsinki before or after the tour. Transfer to Savonlinna (if booked).
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