On a Houseboat among the Lakes

A houseboat is a good choice if you want to enjoy the nature and quiet of the Finnish Lakeland. You can rent a boat in Jyväskylä, sail 200 kilometres north or south and even take a dip in the middle of the lake after sauna.

Houseboat, operating in Jyväskylä, rents houseboats of different sizes. They are like floating suites offering constantly changing lake views. Before embarking, the customer is given skipper training as well as practical teaching in the steering of the boat, navigation and the use of safety devices. Then it’s time to get to know Lake Päijänne and the surrounding water routes. There is no similar boating service elsewhere in Finland.

The renter of the boat receives a tablet with a navigation system indicating routes, depths and underwater rocks. In Finland, any person over 15 years of age can take the helm of a boat of less than 12 metres long.

“There are an immense number of water systems in Finland, so a houseboat is well suited for Finland. It gives an opportunity to escape from everyday routines into the Finnish lakescape and the freedom of movement. Some rent the boat as a floating suite and only admire the lake scenery”,  says Krista Karhunen, development manager of Houseboat.

The smallest houseboat is for four, the largest for 12 persons.


The lake scenery is always present with Houseboat’s houseboats. The boats have large windows. Each boat has a front and an aft deck. Medium-sized and large boats have a roof terrace. All the boats have a sauna from which you can get straight into the water. Some even have a children’s water slide.

It is no accident that Houseboat started operations on Päijänne, the main lake of the Kymi water system.

“I’ve lived on the shores of Päijänne all my life”,  says Karhunen. “I’ve boated here ever since I was a child. When I was little, our family often found our own peaceful marina amidst the numerous islands. We always found our “own” island. Päijänne is still a calming place for me. Here you can be left in peace, but you can also find places where there are other people.”

There are a total of 1,886 peaceful islands on Lake Päijänne. The silence and clean lakes also interest tourists.

“For example, the Germans appreciate the fact that you can move freely in the forests and anchor wherever you like. It is not self-evident everywhere in Europe.”

Houseboat gives the renters a map of recommendations showing unbuilt and uninhabited nature destinations where they can take the boat.

“Customers can park the boat at a beautiful spot and enjoy the nature and silence. They usually only travel a few hours a day. Often they stay anchored for a few days”, Karhunen says.

Quiet on clear waters

On the shores of Keitele on Midsummer morning

Lake Päijänne and the surrounding water routes and lakes offer plenty of varying landscapes. High and steep cliffs dating from the Ice Age are typical to the lake area. In the north, you can get to Lake Keitele through the Keitele canal and from there to the Viitasaari and Rautalampi routes. The lakescape of the north is rugged. The open waters can be dozens of kilometres long. Keitele and Konnevesi, connected via a canal, are clear-water lakes with excellent water quality. Accordingly, the fish populations are plentiful. From Lake Päijänne, you can get to the city of Lahti via the Vääksy canal, and via the Kalkkinen canal to Lake Ruotsalainen and further to Lake Konnevesi. Like Päijänne, the water quality of both the lakes is either excellent or good.

Konnevesi is one of the most important habitats of the wild brown trout in the Finnish Lakeland.

As the water is so pure, the guests’ water on Houseboat’s houseboats is filtered directly from the lake.

“Many foreigners have been surprised at hearing that the boat has no water tanks.”

On the southern Lake Päijänne, the water quality and purity is near its natural state. About three cubic metres per second is taken from a depth of 25 metres along a 120-kilometre-long tunnel to Helsinki from Asikkalanselkä. There is enough good drinking water for a million people in Lake Päijänne, as the volume taken is only one per cent of the average flow rate into the Kymijoki river.

You can do reasonably long voyages on houseboats via the canals connecting to Lake Päijänne. From Jyväskylä, you can go 100 kilometres north, all the way to Lake Pielavesi via nine canals, or 150 kilometres south to Lahti. Along the south-west route, you can sail past Heinola to Konnevesi, and in the east as far as Iisvesi and Suonenjoki. In the north-south direction, you can voyage for 400 kilometres.

“With a full tank, you can easily travel for a week”,  says Karhunen.

In the Finnish Lakeland, i.e. the Kokemäenjoki, Kymijoki and Vuoksi watershed, the lakes form one-third of the area, and in places as much as 70%.

“We are hoping to expand operations to other water areas as well”,  Karhunen explains.


From the sauna to the middle of the lake

Houseboat’s houseboats are meant for relaxation. All of Houseboat’s houseboats have a wood-heated sauna for four persons with direct access to the deck to chill out.

“The experience is unique, as not many houseboats have a sauna. Here you also have the lake around you. You can chill out on the aft deck and view the scenery on the roof terrace. You can jump straight in the lake from the sauna.”

Houseboat rents boats till November. Autumn is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the colours of the Finnish Lakeland. It is also an excellent time for fishing. The cooled water puts the fish, such as zander, on the move.

Ari Turunen (1.9.2017), Uptopoint

Boat routes of lake Päijänne and Kymijoki water system

Päijänne is the largest lake of the Kymijoki water system and known for its purity. Helsinki’s economic region gets its water from this lake via one of the longest tunnels in the world. It is 400 kilometres from the shore of Lake Vesijärvi in Lahti to Laukkala, the northern port of the Kymijoki water system, located at Pielavesi.

To voyage north from Jyväskylä, i.e. from Päijänne to Keitele, you take a 45-kilometre route that includes four lakes and five locks (Keitele is 29 metres higher than Päijänne): Vaajakoski, Kuhankoski, Kuusaa, Kapeekoski and Paatela. The Neituri canal that is almost a kilometre long, is located between Lakes Keitele and Konnevesi, whose height difference is 4.1 metres. Konnevesi is the central lake on the Rautalampi route. There is a connection to North Konnevesi via the Neituri canal and further north to Pielavesi via the Kiesimä, Kerkonkoski, Kolu and Säviä canals. You can also reach Lake Iisvesi and the Suonenjoki river via the Kerkonkoski canal. To the south, there is the Vääksy canal which takes you to Lake Vesijärvi in Lahti. Via the Kalkkinen canal, you can get from Päijänne to Lakes Ruotsalainen and Konnevesi. The opening of the Kimola canal in 2019 will give access from Konnevesi to Kuusankoski.

Houseboat (Bellamer Oy)

Bellamer Ltd is a Jyväskylä enterprise which began operation in 1991. Previously it built sailboats. Now it sells and rents houseboats with the brand name Houseboat. The smaller boats sleep four persons and the larger boats eight. The larger boats are registered for 12 persons, so during daytime there can be more people on board.


There is no similar boating service elsewhere in Finland

Canals of the Finnish Lakeland

Many canals of the Finnish Lakeland operate on a self-service basis. The locks open by pulling on a rope. There are written instructions for using the canals on Houseboat’s boats. The opening times of the canals can be found on the Finnish Transport Agency’s web pages.


Jyväskylä and Lake Päijänne

Lake Päijänne and the surrounding lakes are clear with excellent water quality.



Lake Päijänne National Park

Jääkauden muovaama Pulkkilanharju on osa Päijänteen kansallispuistoa.

The ridges of the Finnish Lakeland form unique landscapes of islands and capes. One such ridge is Pulkkilanharju, shaped by the Ice Age, and Kelvenne, one of Finland’s largest ridge islands, to the north of it. Both are located in the Päijänne National Park, which covers 14 square kilometres at the southern part of Lake Päijänne. There are more than 50 ridge islands and islets in the park. The ridge islands have beaches and sheltered natural harbours for boaters. A nine-kilometre-long ridge crosses Kelvenne. There is a nature trail along the ridge. There are 17 campfire sites in the national park.


Leivonmäki National Park

You can boat to Rutalahti at Lake Päijänne, and hike a few kilometres along the Rutajoki river to the Leivonmäki National Park. There are ponds and marshes along the route. The clear-watered Rutajoki with its rapids is one of the most important breeding rivers of the brown trout on the northern Päijänne. The park covers 30 square kilometres. In the northern part there is a large, continuous, hilly forest area. In the south lies Central Finland’s most significant wild treeless bog. There are 28 kilometres of marked trails in the national park.


Southern Konnevesi National Park

Southern Konnevesi is the central lake of the Rautalampi route. Its water is very pure and clear. There is plenty of open-water birdlife on the lake’s large open waters. Southern Konnevesi National Park was established in its eastern part in 2014. The 15-square-kilometre park has labyrinthine archipelago, broken shoreline, long bays and large open waters. The landscape of vertical rock faces was shaped by the Ice Age. On the eastern shore of Konnevesi, the terrain is steep and rocky. South Konnevesi is one of the most important habitats of the wild brown trout in the Finnish Lakeland.