Slow down – allow yourself to be empowered

Spending time in nature is invigorating and restores your energy. Even a short period and light activity in nature improves your mood, increases your self-esteem and power of concentration, and reduces stress. Your best nature trip may only involve admiring the views, light exercise and learning about the small wonders of Finland. To give your brain a boost, you don’t have to travel far. Finland is full of pearls that can offer you plenty. Slow down, give yourself a treat in a quiet, natural setting and enjoy the fine cultural destinations.

The sound of water – waves lapping, a brook babbling or rapids roaring – are pleasant and soothing. You can feel the proximity of water already as a scent in the air, or a taste in your mouth. Forests have plenty of health and wellness effects, reducing your level of stress hormones and improving your mood. Admiring the landscape gives your eyes and your entire body a rest. This article takes a look at Finland from the viewpoint of various landscapes.

The forested hills and ridges of Lieksa – enjoy peaceful nature and roaring rapids

Lake Pielinen lies in its blue splendour right in the centre of Lieksa, and on the opposite shore is one of our national treasures, Koli National Park. The summit at the top of Koli National Park has inspired artists for over a century. East of Lieksa, you will find the awesome forested hills and ridges, which embrace crystal-clear lakes and enchanting natural spots. The Änäkäinen recreational forest reverberates with the sound of the cuckoo, while light is filtered through the branches, colouring their trunks red. The small Lake Ritojärvi is a pearl that lies between Kylkisuo Swamp and the beautiful Ritosärkkä Ridge. Walk the whole length of the ridge, and enjoy the healing benefits of nature. Continue to the Ruunaa camping site, frequented by whitewater rafters since the 1960s. The sounds of rich bird life can be heard in the over century-old forests and in the small swamps of Ruunaa; during the nesting period birds bustle around the ponds.

Lieksa is also known for its unique cultural destinations. Jean Sibelius’s honeymoon cottage, Finland’s second-largest outdoor museum, the Pielisen museo – The Museum of Lieksa, and Paateri, the artist home of artist Eva Ryynänen, are located on the eastern shore of Lake Pielinen.

The charming Heinola national urban park and Pirunkirkko (“Devil’s Church”), an impressive rock formation

“Breathe slowly in and out. Listen to the sounds of nature, birdsong, and flowing water. Smell the forest. Allow yourself to be enchanted by nature, its sounds and scents”

The roots of the Heinola national urban park extend to a grid pattern plan made in the late 18th century, which was improved by adding Perspektiivi (“Perspective”), a wide boulevard, as an architectural element. Enjoy the national urban park and its environs, the commons and urban culture. Also enjoy buildings from different eras that describe the town’s history. The most impressive natural wonder is Pirunkirkko, a massive rock formation in the shape of a giant lean-to. Even if you have seen pictures of Pirunkirkko before, it’s still a breathtaking experience. How can it stay up, defying gravity? It’s been said that people fled from Russian troops to Pirunkirkko and there are rumours that healers have performed their magic there. Paistjärvi in Heinola provides the natural tranquility of a large forest area: there are few buildings on the shores of the lakes and ponds. Paistjärvi is ideal for canoeing, swimming at a fine beach or picking berries on the beautiful isthmus.

Experience Kokemäki and be enchanted by the birdsong and cultural landscape

Towards the end of the Ice Age, the land began to rise, the shoreline moved west, and a high rock ridge emerged from the sea. Little by little, the islands joined the mainland, which was protected from sea swells by ridges. As Lake Vehmaa dried up, the area that is now Lake Puurijärvi and the Isosuo National Park was created. People moved into the area created by the natural forces, and a lively trading post, Teljä, sprung up. According to folklore, St. Henry preached and spent the last night of his life here. You can still find St. Henry’s Chapel, a national cultural destination, on the Kokemäenjoki River.

Here, amid the Satakunta cultural landscape, lies the Puurijärvi and Isonsuo natural oasis. Let the national park’s rich bird life surprise you: every time you visit, you will be treated to a fascinating drama of a new kind. Meadow pipits and yellow wagtails sing in the swamps, which are also home to a number of waders. Ali-Ketola Farm is located on a beautiful spot along the Kokemäenjoki River, an ideal place to start off on a canoeing trip. Let the current carry you, take it easy on the calm stretches, and take in the smells and sounds of the stream.

Become enchanted by the nature in Somero, and slow your pace in a retreat

“Pause for a moment to enjoy a quiet moment, because quietness and nature help the brain to recharge. Your brain also needs a rest, and sometimes you have to step off the world in order to keep going afterwards. In a poetry retreat, the gentle words of poems will provide a framework for tranquility, and you will leave energised.”

Somero lies between three national parks, and the landscape is dotted with lakes and a cultural landscape, rich fields and the countryside. The nearest national parks are Liesjärvi, the swampy Torronsuo and the seaside national park of Teijo. But Somero, too, has plenty of beautiful nature and landscapes. The Häntälä landscape resembles the famous Scottish moors, and the flowers are spectacular in the spring, with myriad colours and scents. Metsäkoivula nature trail meanders through lush mossy terrain, large areas of lichen-covered ground, and ever upwards on bare rock faces. The view from the top of the rock extends beyond the trees, with small pine trees as the distinguishing feature.

Somero can offer tranquility retreats. Tranquillity provides a welcome break from the rush, while silence calms you down and helps you rediscover your inner strength. An empowerment retreat will help you discover your strengths and open up doors to your dreams. In a writing retreat, let words transport your thoughts, open doors and find answers.

Enjoy the beautiful nature of Saimaa, and Imatra’s high-quality services

When the Vuoksi River broke through its natural dam thousands of years ago, the flowing water wore the Imatra Rapid into the rock. The eastern side of the river is home to Finland’s oldest natural park, Kruununpuisto (“Crown Park”), which is full of historical and geological treasures. Finland’s most beautiful building, Imatran Valtionhotelli (“Imatra State Hotel”), stands on the shores of the Rapids. This is an art nouveau castle where you can enjoy exquisite food in a luxurious setting. In her time, the Russian Empress Catherine the Great travelled with her entourage to admire Imatra and the rapids, which crash downwards majestically, offering viewers a meditative moment. The power of the water is immense and you cannot help being transfixed by its eternal flow.

On Lake Saimaa in Lammassaari, the waves have formed layers and created distinctive, ancient shores for centuries. Places definitely worth seeing include the Rautjärvi lookout point and camping area in Haukkavuori, and in Ruokolahti you simply must see Kummakivi (“Strange Stone”), a huge boulder that’s been sitting precariously on a rock for centuries.

Kaskinen, an enchanting small island town, caressed by the sea

“Your senses never weary in nature. The sound of water, crashing waves and the gentle lapping of water have a soothing effect. Viewing a harmonious seascape in all its colours revives your vision. Your mind and soul are given a rest, and your batteries are recharged.”

Walking in the marketplaces and parks in Kaskinen, you can feel the atmosphere of days gone by. The city plan of this verdant town of wooden houses dates back to 1765. Enjoy the town’s maritime history and head towards the old smokery, Kalaranta, which the fishermen used as their base, selling smoked fish and running a cafeteria. On summer weekends, you can buy light fish meals, which you can enjoy in the old salting room or outdoors on the pier. Next to the old smokery lies a fishing museum full of stories about fishermen of yesteryear and their equipment. The idyllic wooden house town with a grid pattern plan is surrounded by the sea, creating a special atmosphere.

A short boat trip away lies the Sälgrund pilot station and lighthouse island. The Sälgrund red-and-white striped lighthouse stands at the southern tip of the island. Worn smooth by the waves, the rocky shore offers a stunning view of the open sea. Yoga weeks and painting courses are organised on the island in the summer, and there is also accommodation.

The cultural landscape of Valkeakoski will take you back in time

The idyllic Sääksmäki is the pearl of Valkeakoski. Rapolanharju Ridge offers some pretty commanding views. Rapolanharju is Finland’s largest archaeological site and one of the country’s most important prehistoric hillforts, which was used in at least AD 800–1250. Centuries of human habitation have left their mark on nature, particularly the vegetation. The route round Rapolanharju offers a good view of the ridge itself and the surroundings, which consist of broadleaf woodland, areas dominated by firs, and archaeological sites. Visit the Voipaala Arts Centre for an art exhibition or perhaps a concert.

The studio home of sculptor Emil Wikström in Visavuori, built in the romantic nationalism style, was the country’s first “wilderness” studio. Almost all Finnish artists of the time who had studied abroad settled in the Finnish countryside: Axel Gallén, Pekka Halonen, Jean Sibelius and Eero Järnefelt. Visavuori has remained almost unchanged from the days when Wikström lived and worked there. Visavuori will take you back a century, and the beautiful garden has an excellent view of Lake Vanajavesi.

Forest bath in Teijo National Park

“Nature is experienced through the senses. The scents of nature, the movement of air, and heat create sensory stimuli. Birdsong caresses your ears. You can feel the surface of the tree bark and the softness of moss in your hand. Walk slowly, hug a tree and sit down on a mossy patch..”

Teijo National Park lies between Turku and Helsinki, just a short drive from either. Teijo National Park has some of the finest coastal areas in Finland, and its natural versatility is like Finland’s on a smaller scale. Even a short trip covers beautiful lakes, a mosaic of swamps and forest, gently singing brooks and the salty taste of the Archipelago Sea. This is a place where you can wind down, listen to the wind humming and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere. This is exactly the kind of therapy people need. It’s been shown that it boosts concentration and life management, while bringing people closer to nature and their loved ones.

Next to Teijo National Park, there are three idyllic early industrial villages – Mathildedal, Teijo and Kirjakkala – where you can still sense the bygone industrial age and enjoy the downshifting atmosphere. Mathildedal Village has been dubbed Finland’s most hipster place, and the bakery, brewery and chocolate shop will add local flavours to your visit. Pack your bag for a day or weekend visit, and head towards Teijo to strengthen your ties with your loved ones.



Die Kapelle vom Heinrich im Kokemäki.


Nationallandschaften von Valkeakoski

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