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The raw beauty and wild landscapes – Finland is a country full of mystery, wonder, and epic places to kayak, stand up paddle board, and head outdoors. The winters are magical and the summer sultry, both offering unbelievable experiences for anyone that loves adventure. Trust us, Finland will take your breath away.
Finland is called “the land of a thousand lakes”. There are actually 187,888 of them. From national parks to an abundance of lakes, this Nordic country is a dream come true for water sports and paddle fanatics.
Kayaking in Finland is available year-round for the bravest, but most opt for the endless sunny days between May and September. Getting outdoors after the deep snow has melted is part of the Finnish lifestyle, and from a kayak, you get a unique perspective.
Here are the 10 most epic places to visit in Finland with a kayak, or anything other than paddle vessels for that matter!
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Helsinki is Finland’s historical capital city situated on the southern peninsula. From here you have access to the Gulf of Finland, several small islands, harbors, and waterways that surround the city. It is a perfect place for beginners to discover kayaking without having to go into a remote region.
There are several places you can rent kayak equipment from in Helsinki or even join a guided tour. Here are some of the best circular paddling routes for kayaking in Helsinki:
The Nuuksio National Park is easy to reach from Helsinki and is a great escape into Finnish nature. There are several lovely lakes that you can paddle on, all surrounded by green forests with rocky crags to explore.
Lake Haukkalampi and Lake Nuuksion Pitkäjärvi are two of the best places to head to with a kayak. After a paddle, why not enjoy a walk through nature on one of the many hiking trails around the national park?
Sipoonkorpi National Park is another great place to explore Finland from the capital, Helsinki. This national park is surrounded by rolling fields and rural villages, giving you a real insight into life in Finland.
Head here in late summer or early autumn to join the locals enjoying the peaceful setting and gathering wild mushrooms and berries. It is also a popular destination for fishing. Single rod lure fishing is permitted across the park, except in rivers Byabäcken, Ritobäcken, and Hälsängsbäcken as well as Storträsk Lake. If you want to fish from your kayak, be sure to acquire the relevant permits.
Lakeland, or the Finnish Lake District, is one of the largest regions in Finland. It stretches across the middle of Finland to the eastern border and is dominated by a huge network of navigable lakes and waterways.
There are a number of luxury hotels and resorts across Lakeland that are perfect for an unforgettable experience exploring Finland and getting involved in outdoor activities. Or you can opt for a more rugged direction and add camping equipment to your kayaking tours to be completely immersed in the wilderness.
Lake Saimaa is Finland’s largest lake. It is super popular for water sports, wildlife spotting, and taking in spectacular views. Paddling these waters is an escape from reality. There is only you and beautiful nature. There is no city noise, only the small waves lapping against your kayak.
The lake has thousands of inlets, islands, and paddle routes available offering endless amounts of opportunities for expeditions. The quietness of a kayak or canoe is perfect for spotting the endangered Saimaa ringed seal.
At the heart of the Lakeland region, the Linnansaari National Park is the perfect place to catch a sighting of the Saimaa ringed seal and majestic osprey. There is an epic 18 km route from Oravi to Järvisydän, perfect for a 1-2 day kayaking expedition. You can start from Järvisydän or Oravi, and paddle as a one-way trip or round trip.
Finland’s coast is dotted with countless islands with remote and deserted beaches. Experienced paddlers can navigate the Baltic Sea around the archipelago, weaving between the islands on day trips or even expeditions over several days.
Camping out overnight on one of the islands is an unforgettable experience. There are boat trips and regular guided paddling trips organized from Turku, Kasnäs, Hanko, Ekenäs, and Kotka.
Up for something more challenging? Head over to the River Torne for an adventure of river rafting and whitewater rapids to put your kayaking skills to the test. There are also some more gentle sections that are suitable for beginners. This river flows for over 500 km and is the frontier between Finland and Sweden.
One of the most beautiful times of year to kayak the River Torne is during the summer. Days with the midnight sun illuminating the landscape are simply breathtaking.
Lapland is one of Europe’s last remaining great wilderness. Head out into the remote solitude to experience unspoiled landscapes and spectacular scenery. Winter night skies offer views of the Aurora Borealis while summer night skies are lit up by the midnight sun.
The Urho Kekkonen National Park is the place to head to for an incredible kayaking experience. Check out the rivers, Luirojoki and Kopsusjoki. It is important to note there are no marked canoeing or kayaking routes in the national park, so be sure to do your research and plan your paddles in detail.
The Oulanka National Park is one of the most impressive displays of the power water has on a landscape. There are many hiking trails with hanging bridges offering up-close views of waterfalls cascading down rocking faces. The Kiutaköngäs waterfall, Oulanka Canyon, and the rapids on the River Kitkajoki are just a few of the must-see viewpoints in the national park.
Here you can experience the beautiful River Oulankajoki. There are two route options available that make this river suitable for both beginners and experienced kayakers:
Along the riverbanks are places to set up camp and enjoy a fire to warm up and reservable huts. You can also try a bit of kayak fishing along the trip.
The Koli National Park is one of the most picturesque places in Finland covering 30 square km of forested hills on the western shore of Lake Pielinen. The rolling hills offer insane views across the region that can be enjoyed any time of the year.
Kayaking in the Koli National Park is best done from Lake Pielinen and the long and narrow Lake Herajärvi. Kayaks, canoes, and row boats can be hired at the nature center. You can follow marked trails for an easy kayaking experience. Or you can choose to explore further and make your trip last a few days and enjoy wild camping on the shoreline.
Just a few hours north of Helsinki, Repovesi National Park offers rich blue lakes and accessible outdoor activities for everyone. Kayaking on the waters of this park offers one of the best vantage points.
There are several jetties around the park where you can moor up and enjoy a campfire or even set up camp for the night. One of the most popular paddling routes is from Mäntyharju to Repovesi which covers 50 km.
Finland’s kayaking season runs between May and September. The summer months, mid-June to mid-August, offer the warmer temperatures and best conditions for beginners to take to the waters.
Kayaking in Spring and Fall are the best times to kayak in Finland as river levels are higher. It is important to note more experience is required to navigate rivers during this period. Kayakers should also prepare themselves for colder water temperatures at this time and wear appropriate kayaking clothing.
As with paddling anywhere, kayakers should have safety as a top priority when exploring Finland. Here are some tips to help you out:
Paddling with the correct etiquette is always recommended. Regardless of where in Finland you are kayaking, keep in mind these simple rules to be respectful.
First and foremost, never paddle like you have right of way. Many of the waterways in Finland are also used by cruise ships and other large boats. A kayak is not always visible, so keep yourself safe by staying clear.
The best way to maintain good etiquette is to be respectful of others. Do not land your kayak on private property or private beaches; if there are residential houses near the shore, this is a clear sign it is private. Use designated picnic and camping zones where possible.
And finally, always be considerate of the wildlife. There are several native bird species that nest near shorelines and cliffs. Never approach wildlife, always appreciate them from afar.
From astonishing lakes to rapids on rivers, Finland has some incredible places to discover by kayak. We have shared with you our wishlist. Where is your favorite place to kayak in Finland?
Sea kayaking from the Helsinki archipelago is super accessible and provides versatile paddling opportunities. From here you can paddle around a chain of islands that reach into the Baltic Sea. Either make it a single-day trip or a multi-day kayaking expedition in the ocean.
River Torne is the best place to go river rafting in Finland. There are several sections of the river that offer decent rapids for kayakers to perfect their technique and challenge their skills.
Kayaking season in Finland begins around May and ends in September. Winter months are often frozen and other outdoor activities are available instead of kayaking, like dog sledding or ice hole fishing. Sea kayak experiences are possible year-round, however, you need to be well-prepared for sub-zero conditions.
To kayak in Finland you need to make sure you have got the appropriate clothing. Spring and Fall seasons will have cold water, so use a dry suit and many layers. Some summer days may be warm enough to enjoy swimwear for a refreshing splash. Always wear sunscreen when kayaking in Finland during the summer.
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