Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Navigating the Lakes of Finland

The country of Finland has 187,888 lakes that are over 500 square meters (1,640 square feet) in size, plus countless other smaller lakes.

About 300 Finnish lakes or reservoirs are over 10 square kilometers in size, and these are some of the biggest.



Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland, taking up about 4,400 square kilometers (1,700 square miles). This is also the fourth largest lake in Europe, and is situated in the southeastern region of the country. There are a few large towns along this lake, such as Lappeenranta and Imatra, and there are also lots of islands throughout the water. Much of its water has been set up to flow through canals, which stream to some smaller lakes and also act as waterways used to transport commodities.


Lake Päijänne

Lake Päijänne is Finland’s second largest lake, at 1,080 square kilometers (671 square miles). It is also the deepest lake in the country at 95 meters (311 feet). There are also a number of islands in its waters, the biggest one being Virmailansaari. Its waters drain into the Gulf of Finland through the Kymi River. Underneath this lake is a water tunnel that supplies the metropolitan region of Helsinki.


Inari Lake

Inari Lake is the third largest Finnish lake, with a surface area of  about 1,040 square kilometers (646 square miles). It is located in northern Lapland, which is north of the Arctic Circle. The lake is typically frozen from November through early June. As it is very cold here, the land around Inari Lake is scarcely populated. There are over 3,000 islands in this lake, and the most famous ones are the Hautuumaasaari, which is an ancient sacrifice place and graveyard.



Situated in the North Karelia region of eastern Finland, Pielinen is the fourth largest lake in the country, with a surface area of about 895 square kilometers (556 square miles). At the western shore of this lake is Koli National Park, and the town of Nurmes is also located at the northern tip of the water.



Oulujarvi is the fifth largest lake in Finland, and its nickname is the “Kainuu Sea.” It is located in the Oulu province, and its waters are drained by the Oulu River, where it eventually empties out into the Gulf of Bothnia.


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