Flavors of Lake Saimaa
European Region of Gastronomy 2024
The Lake Saimaa Region, located in eastern Finland, has been named the European Region of Gastronomy for 2024. This prestigious title recognizes the region's exceptional culinary offerings, including traditional dishes that have been passed down through generations. The Lake Saimaa Region is home to a diverse array of local ingredients, including wild berries, mushrooms, fish, and game. The region's restaurants and cafes specialize in using these ingredients to create dishes that are both delicious and uniquely Finnish.
One of the region's most famous dishes is Karelian pastries, which are made from rye flour and filled with a mixture of rice and butter. These pastries have been a staple of Finnish cuisine for centuries and are a must-try for anyone visiting the region.
Another popular dish in the Saimaa Region is muikku, which is a type of small whitefish found only in Lake Saimaa. Muikku is often served fried or smoked and is a delicious example of the region's local seafood.
In addition to its culinary offerings, the Saimaa Region is also known for its stunning natural beauty. The region is home to the largest lake in Finland, Lake Saimaa, which is surrounded by lush forests and scenic hiking trails.
Overall, the Saimaa Region is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in experiencing the best of Finnish cuisine and nature. Whether you're a foodie looking to sample traditional dishes or an outdoor enthusiast looking to explore the region's natural wonders, the Lake Saimaa Region has something for everyone.
Day 1: Mikkeli (Arrival Day)
Upon arrival at Helsinki Vantaa airport, pick up your rental car and embark on a scenic self-drive journey to Mikkeli. Your first night is spent at Tertti Manor, a family-owned traditional Finnish manor with only six rooms, each uniquely decorated. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the warm and hospitable staff who will make you feel right at home. The manor’s picturesque surroundings are perfect for relaxing and unwinding, with beautiful gardens, a peaceful pond, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.
In the evening, you’ll be treated to a delectable dinner featuring locally sourced ingredients that showcase the flavors and traditions of the region. The manor’s dining room is an intimate and cozy space, providing the perfect setting for a romantic dinner or a memorable meal with friends or family.
Day 2: Ristiina and Sahanlahti Resort
Drive via Ristiina to Sahanlahti Resort, where you’ll stay for two nights. En route, stop at Astuvansalmi to see ancient rock paintings. Upon arrival, take an included electric ecological boat cruise to Lake Saimaa, and if you’re lucky, you may spot the endangered Saimaa Ringed Seal. Enjoy a delicious dinner in the evening.
Day 3: Relaxation at Sahanlahti Resort
Spend your day marveling at the breathtaking views of Lake Saimaa and allow yourself to fully relax and unwind in the picturesque surroundings of Sahanlahti. Take a leisurely stroll along the local forest trails, or rent electric bicycles to explore the area at your own pace. And no trip to Finland is complete without experiencing the traditional Finnish wood-burning sauna, which is available for your enjoyment. In the evening, savor a delectable dinner that’s included with your stay. You’ll leave feeling rejuvenated and refreshed after this unforgettable Finnish adventure.
Day 4: Punkaharju and Mushroom Picking
Drive to Punkaharju and check into the famous Hotel Punkaharju. Go on a mushroom-picking tour with the hotel’s owner and mushroom expert, Ms. Saimi Hoyer. After the tour, enjoy a three-course dinner featuring the mushrooms that you collected in the forest.
Day 5: Savonlinna and PihlasResort
Drive to Savonlinna and explore the old castle, Olavinlinna, and the Savonlinna market, where you can taste traditional Finnish fish, ”muikku.” After the market, drive to Pihlas Resort, a stunning eco-resort in the heart of the Saimaa region. At Pihlas Resort, you’ll be treated to an unforgettable dining experience featuring the freshest local ingredients. Indulge in a mouthwatering dinner that highlights the region’s flavors and culinary traditions, expertly prepared by our talented chefs. Your taste buds will thank you for this exquisite culinary journey.
Day 6: Departure
After breakfast, drive back to Helsinki and depart for home. If you have extra time in Helsinki, we can include food places to visit in the city as an optional extra.
Private minibus transfer from Helsinki to Sahanlahti Resort.
Visit Niinisaari Island and bake traditional Finnish ”Karelian” pies.
Visit local village Puumala with beautiful views on Lake Saimaa.
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