Top 10 Culinary Gems in Saimaa, Finland

Finland coined the land of the 100,000 lakes, is ruled by Lake Saimaa, the largest of them all. The enchanting Lake Saimaa, surrounded by pure nature, is a haven for adventurous foodies, with many surprises for travellers to explore this summer.

This year, the region of Saimaa, Finland, celebrates its win at the 2024 European Region of Gastronomy Awards. The tasty region will mark its success this summer with various new experiences, from a pop-up Michelin star dinner to a museum restaurant and a vendace trawling cruise.


The ambassador of the 2024 Gastronomy Awards, former international model and Saimaa’s local “Mushroom Queen” Saimi Hoyer, shares that “Eating locally is an everyday luxury, as our forests and lakes are here to provide the purest food in the world. Summer and Autumn are the best times of the year, as we can roam in the forest and forage wild berries and mushrooms. So many great restaurants serve delicious food based on local products, forest’ treasures, and fresh fish caught by local fishermen”.

A Michelin-Starred Dinner in the Woods

In September, Finnjävel, the Michelin-starred restaurant from Helsinki, offers a pop-up experience within the Saimaa region. For four days, travellers can experience the restaurant’s interpretation of the unique gastronomy of Finland at the Sahanlahti Resort – the stunning lakeside location just under a drive from Saimaa’s capital of Mikkeli. The joint menu with Finnjävel and Sahanlahti Resort will be offered from 11-14 September, drawing culinary inspiration from the region’s local delicacies.

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A Gourmet Lunch at Forest Museum’s Restaurant: Lusto

The Lusto Museum restaurant offers delicious meals in a beautiful setting along the Punkaharju scenic road in Eastern Finland. Lusto restaurant only opened in May, providing a wide range of dining options, from lunch and café treats to dinners and events. The restaurant features carefully selected wine lists that complement the environment and prioritise sustainability. Additionally, it supports the local community by sourcing ingredients from nearby producers, fishermen, and employing young summer workers. Visitors can also finish their lunch off with a visit to the carefully curated Finnish Forest Museum Lusto after dining at the restaurant.

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Hop-on, Hop-off Gourmet Bus from Helsinki

Beginning in Helsinki, this foodie tour takes travellers through to Lake Saimaa’s shores. In Mikkeli, guests will enjoy a delicious lunch at Cafe Restaurant Rauha. From Mikkeli, the journey continues to Puumala and Sahanlahti Resort to enjoy dinner and stay at either the atmospheric Sahanlahti Resort by Lake Saimaa or Pihlas Resort in Joroinen, surrounded by enchanting nature. The tour also includes lunch at the Pihlas Resort, a visit to the Tea House of Wehmais and other top culinary offerings of Saimaa, before venturing on the scenic and stunning journey back to Helsinki.

HOW: Find out more information here,

A Monastery Menu in The Karelian Heritage Village

The à la carte dishes at Bistro Buolu at Break Sokos Hotel Bomba are masterfully crafted, drawing inspiration from traditional Karelian flavours with a modern twist. Local ingredients like turnips from the village, back garden berries, pike perch from Lake Pielinen, and venison from the local forest take centre stage on the menu. The Valamo menu, expertly paired with berry wines from a nearby monastery, offers delightful combinations with dishes ranging from Jerusalem artichoke and tournedos to domestic cheeses—the venture, which only kicked off in May, also presents the tantalising Taste Saimaa Menu. Guests can expect a rejuvenated experience as a new 92-room hotel wing with lake-view rooms and a new restaurant opened in mid-June, reinvigorating Break Sokos Hotel Bomba.

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Vendance Trawling Cruise and Fresh Fish Dinner

In Finland’s inland waters, vendace is the ultimate catch and a world-class delicacy. It is widely available in restaurants and events around the Saimaa region. Witnessing vendace fishing is an exclusive experience. Professional fishermen trawl for vendace in the vast open waters of Saimaa, and now, there is a unique opportunity to join them on their trawling vessel. Arto, a professional in vendace trawling, will be the cruise host, entertaining guests with intriguing stories about the Saimaa fishing culture and the complexities of vendace trawling. While observing the trawling process, guests will learn about Saimaa’s nature and the Saimaa ringed seal, which also savours vendace. The area is also home to the rare Saimaa ringed seal, which, with some luck, travellers may spot.

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Five-star Dinner and Rest in an Adults-only Hideaway

Restaurant Solitary, nestled amidst the breathtaking nature and pristine waters of Lake Saimaa, has been recognised as one of the finest dining establishments in Finland in 2024. Helmed by renowned head chef Remi Trémouille, the restaurant showcases culinary excellence by skillfully blending flavours, prioritising sustainability, and celebrating the richness of local ingredients. Solitary offers exclusive dining experiences against the backdrop of Lake Saimaa, providing an escape from the frenetic pace of the outside world. Every aspect of their operation reflects an unwavering dedication to exceptional food and artisanal craftsmanship. Situated in the main building of Kuru Private Resort, this was also the venue for the successful Masterclass of Happiness course organised by Visit Finland last year.

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A Game Meat Menu within a 160-Year-Old Building

Wolkoff Restaurant and Wine & Beer Cellar stand at the heart of Lappeenranta town centre, proudly offering high-quality food and drinks in a distinctive and captivating atmosphere. Wolkoff Restaurant first opened its doors in 1998 in an original yellow wooden house, one of the oldest buildings in Lappeenranta, built over 160 years ago. During the summer, their secluded atrium provides a serene escape from the town’s commotion. The restaurant serves delicious lunches and dinners, occasionally featuring a special evening menu, such as a game meat-inspired selection.

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À La Carte Sauna and Food Tour By Bikes

As the sauna capital of the world, with over three million saunas throughout the nation, there are five unique sauna experiences during the sauna adventure. In addition to the feeling of gentle steam on the skin, guests can experience the outstanding sauna menus and workshops that come with it. During the tour, travellers will learn about Finnish cuisine based on local products, such as wild mushrooms and berries.

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Best Coffee in Finland by the Shores of Lake Saimaa

As one of the biggest coffee-drinking nations in the world, travellers can find some fantastic cups around the nation. In the historical setting of an old brick house by the shores of Lake Saimaa, guests to the region can discover the freshest coffees and sweet and savoury delicacies showcased in vitrines and local brand boutiques.


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Karelian buffet and Live Kantele Music

The Restaurant Parppeinpirtti stands proudly as the crown jewel of Karelian cuisine, offering an authentic experience of genuine Karelian fare. Perched on a hill near Ilomantsi, this restaurant is an integral part of the Parppeinvaara Bardic Village, where the traditions of poem-singing, Karelian cuisine, and the beauty of nature in Ilomantsi come to life through exhibitions and buildings. While feasting at the buffet, guests can immerse in the harmonious melodies of beautiful kantele music.


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