Closing date: 30 Apr 2019
When you study a map of Finnish Lakeland, it looks like there’s more water than land. It’s no surprise when Finland has more than 188,000 lakes, the majority clustered in this central region of the country. It’s the largest lake district in Europe – a labyrinth of forest-covered islands stretching for hundreds of kilometres. This makes it perfect for a restful short break – the calming water relaxing you faster than any spa.
Now, the Nordic experts at Magnetic North Travel are offering the chance to win a three-night stay on a luxury houseboat here. With a lakeside spa, as well as relaxing boat safaris and paddleboarding trips included too, you can discover for yourself why Finland is known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’.
The best way to explore Finnish Lakeland, unsurprisingly, is on the water. In parts, you can’t tell where the lakes end and the sky begins. Hop on a boat and sail across Saimaa, Finland’s largest lake, where ‘lake’ takes on a whole new meaning. Saimaa is an intricate maze of channels and basins, dotted with thousands of islands. At 4,400 sq km, it is the fourth largest natural freshwater lake in Europe.
At the heart of this wilderness is Linnansaari National Park – an archipelago of 130 islands, snaked with hiking trails through the sun-dappled woodlands. This is the best place to spot the Saimaa ringed seal, one of the rarest seals in the world, with less than 400 of them thought to exist in the wild. In early summer, you can spot these creatures sunbathing on the rocks with their pups splashing at the water’s edge.
For active travellers, these waterways are also a great place for kayaking and paddleboarding. In the shelter of the archipelago, there are few waves, which means you can glide smoothly across the surface.
Finnish Lakeland is cottage country. There are more than 200,000 scattered over the islands, where Finns retreat to escape the pace of modern life. Staying in a cottage is about appreciating the art of doing nothing – sitting on a jetty, feet in the water, the sun on your face.
Many of them feature traditional saunas: a must during any stay in Finland, where they are a big part of the way of life, found everywhere from hotels to boats to buses. They are a place to relax and unwind, where the hot stones sizzle and the smell of fresh birch fills the air. When the heat gets too much, nothing beats taking a dip in the cooling lake.
As well as cottages, Finnish Lakeland is home to a number of spa retreats. Järvisydän, on Lake Saimaa, is a popular choice, with its own Lake Spa carved into natural rock. It also has outdoor pools that meander down to the lake’s edge.
Staying in Järvisydän’s houseboat – part of Magnetic North Travel’s prize – is one of the best ways to appreciate the natural setting. You can fall asleep to the sounds of nature, take breakfast on the terrace, and laze beside the water in the warm sun – the ultimate Finnish experience, far from the bustle of the rest of the world.
Magnetic North Travel are the experts when it comes to exploring Scandinavia, creating tailor-made trips in a part of the world that is known for its hard-to-navigate wildernesses. With thrilling trips that span across the Nordic countries as well as Canada, Magnetic North Travel search for the best experiences, accommodation and adventures to create a holiday that puts you at the heart of the destination, whether that’s dog-sledding in Greenland or navigating a boat in the Land of a Thousand Lakes.
Magnetic North Travel and Visit Finland are oering the chance to win a three-night stay for two on Järvisydän Hotel and Spa’s houseboat, including return lights from London to Helsinki. For a chance to win, just answer the following question:
What does Finland’s ‘Everyman’s Right’ give people the right to do?
a) Roam freely in nature
b) Build a cottage anywhere
c) Leave rubbish behind
To enter and for full terms, conditions and data policies, go to wanderlust.co.uk/competitions or send your answer to the Wanderlust office; state ‘more info’ if you want to be contacted by Wanderlust and Magnetic North Travel. The closing date is 30 April 2019.
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