Sunset in Saimaa
Kitka river, Ruka Kuusamo
Water Sports in Finland
Finland – the land of a thousand lakes and islands – is ideal for water sports. Only accompanied by the rushing and splashing of the water you glide through the impressive nature. The calm inland waters are perfect for beginners and adventurous spirits can look forward to wild rapids. Water sports are versatile and popular in Finland – from canoes and kayaks to rowing and rafting boats, steamboats and SUP boards, everything is possible. Also, fishing is counted as a water sport here.
Discover the best water sports in Finland
Land of water
Finland is clearly a country of water. With the largest archipelago area in the world off the south and west coasts, over 185,000 lakes inland and numerous rivers, water is almost everywhere. The waters in the Nordic country are clean throughout, most of them are safe for drinking and are home to countless species of flora and fauna. In the Saimaa Lake District – and only here – lives the rare Saimaa ringed seal since the last ice age for example.
Most of the country's lakes are located in the so-called Lake District in the east of the country. Wild rivers and rapids flow mainly through Lapland in the north and should not be underestimated, especially after the snow has melted. Off the south and west coast lies the world's largest archipelago with thousands of islands, islets and skerries. Some are nothing more than a bare rock, but others have forests or even inhabited houses. The best way to explore Finland is by boat – because many places are only accessible by water.
Photo: Harri Tarvainen, Visit Finland
On the way with canoe and kayak
The most popular way of getting around in Finland's waters is by canoe or kayak. Canoeing is a great way to explore the land of a thousand lakes, see breathtaking nature and discover places that can only be reached by water. In the natural silence, all you can hear is the sound of paddling and the sounds of wildlife – you might even spot a rare Saimaa ringed seal.
Whether you are a beginner on the calm lakes inland or an experienced and adventurous paddler on the rapids in Lapland and on the Baltic Sea in strong winds, Finland offers the perfect water for every level of difficulty. Equipment can easily be rented on-site and guided tours are also available – to learn and discover even more. The small islands should definitely be used for a break or even an overnight stay, there are so many that you can easily find a desert one.
Photo: Krista Keltanen, Visit Finland
Exploring the waters by boat
Getting around in Finland is not only possible with a canoe or kayak. Also, a trip with a rowing boat or a tour with a SUP board is a great experience. You can sail on the Baltic Sea as well as on the inland lakes. Learning the sport is especially good on the protected waters. Here you are not sailing in a straight line for hours like on the sea, but you have to turn all the time to sail around the islands. On some lakes and rivers, there are also excursion boats, which cover a particularly beautiful distance and are also a great experience for children.
Photo: Pepe Korteniemi, Visit Finland
A taste for the fish
One of the most popular hobbies in Finland is fishing or angling. It is allowed and possible in most lakes, rivers and sea areas. Fishing with a line is generally permitted, but a permit is required for fishing with a net. These are issued in consideration of sustainable fishing. In Finland you can fish in the middle of the wilderness or go to the nearest lake or river in an urban area to fish – the water is omnipresent. The main species caught are pikes and perch, but in some areas, you can also find zander, vendace and salmonids. The Langinkoski Rapids in Kotka and the Ruunaa Rapids in Lieksa are particularly beautiful.
Water sports in winter
It would not be Finland if there were not suitable water sports activities for the winter. In the cold season, Finns go fishing on frozen lakes and fish through a hole in the ice. But you can also swim in freezing temperatures. For the so-called "floating" you put on a special suit that keeps you warm and up. Wearing it, you go into the water. Between the blocks of ice in a frozen lake or river, you float on the water surface and have a lot of fun.