Wind your way around Finland’s largest lake on an e-bike adventure in Saimaa


Saimaa is the most important of Finland’s 188,000 lakes. Here’s tips on how to enjoy its best parts in a day by e-bike.


Once I was first invited to cycle Finland’s Puumala Archipelago Ring Road, I eagerly accepted. Despite being a bit of rusty, I convinced myself that 60 kilometres on an e-bike could be a breeze. 

And it was – until 55 kilometres in. Despite rigorously conserving the battery for the ultimate hills, the bike began to slow and jolt. Then, the horror: my battery suddenly died completely. Left by the roadside, I pushed the bike uphill, accompanied only by a couple of curious cows watching my slow progress. 

Although thoroughly enjoyable, my first cycling adventure in Saimaa Lakeland left a nagging feeling. I wanted to finish the entire 60-kilometre tour, not sit in a van with the bike within the boot for the previous couple of kilometres. 

Fast forward a few years, and I’m back within the Saimaa region with my mum, aunt, dad and uncle – two e-bike pros and two complete novices.

Armed with a bag stuffed with snacks and a thermos of coffee, I’m determined that this time we’ll conquer the Puumala Archipelago Ring Road in full.

How you can plan an e-bike trip in Finland’s Saimaa Lakeland

Of Finland’s 188,000 lakes, Saimaa is the most important – and one of the crucial beautiful. Winding across islands, bridges and eskers, the circular Puumala Archipelago Route offers the most effective method to see it.

We hired our eLite bikes from Saimaa Bikes, which provides rentals in the realm from €70 per day for adults, complete with helmets, first-aid kits and safety vests. 

They’re delivered to our start point at Sahanlahti Resort – known for its stunning location on Saimaa’s shores and its award-winning local cuisine – right on time at 9am. After picking up a route map from the resort, we set off on our cycling adventure.

Along the cycle paths, you will also find route markers and repair stops to repair broken bikes.

Knowing the most effective pit stops from my previous trip, I select a scenic spot for a late breakfast. Norppalaavu, a free lakeside lean-to shelter situated 12 kilometres from Sahanlahti, has designated fire spots and bathroom facilities (a picket hut within the parking zone). 

I had imagined us leisurely sipping coffee and soaking within the views over Saimaa’s glittering waters. But we get distracted by picturesque Puumala en route, with its picket church and harbour marketplace.

Pressed for time to catch the midday bike ferry, our breakfast break at Norppalaavu is cut from thirty minutes to 5.

How you can access the Puumala Archipelago Ring Road

The Puumala Archipelago Route includes two ferry trips. Luckily, only certainly one of them pits you against the clock.

When you cycle the ring road clockwise, the primary ferry is the year-round Hätinvirta automobile ferry, which takes passengers to the island of Niinisaari every 20 minutes. From here, a 16-kilometre road passes farmlands and crosses bridges to a different island, Lintusalo. 

Here, the route’s second ferry departs from Nestorinranta Resort and is exclusively for bike and motorbike passengers. This ferry operates once per day from June to August, so it’s vital to ascertain the timetable so that you don’t miss the connection.

Tickets might be bought online or on the ferry. Since it could actually only accommodate 20 passengers, pre-booking is beneficial, especially on sunny days. A ticket, including your bike, costs €18, and the ferry crossing takes 40 minutes. 

Scenic ferry rides and seal-spotting

Sitting on the ferry and having fun with the serene views of the Puumala Archipelago showcases a few of Finland’s best parts.

The Saimaa area has been the Finns’ favourite location for summer cottages for a long time, but lately international tourists have began to seek out the calm and comparatively cool summer spot, too. In 2024, Saimaa Lakeland was awarded the title of European Region of Gastronomy, which is predicted to spice up visitor numbers further. 


“Most foreign visitors come from Switzerland,” says Pirjo Kapanen, who operates the bike ferry along with her husband. “But really, there are cyclists from throughout Europe coming here during summer.” 

On my previous trip across the ring road, I spotted my first Saimaa ringed seal on this ferry. This time, there aren’t any seals or their pups on the rocks. But, Kapanen, who was born by the shores of Lake Saimaa, points out a smooth rock poking out of the lake because the ferry passes it. Locals call it ‘Härkähylkeenpää’ – the top of a male seal – since it could possibly be mistaken for a large one.

In truth, the endangered seals – named for the small circle patterns that dapple their fur – are an enormous a part of Saimaa’s identity. Once near extinction, the seal population has grown for the reason that Nineties attributable to vigorous conservation campaigns. Today, there are some 400 ringed seals swimming in Saimaa’s lakes. 

My cycling trip ended with Midsummer memories

After the ferry docks on the tiny Hurissalo harbour, it is a 15-kilometre ride, first on gravel after which on asphalt, to the route’s final highlight: Lietvesi Scenic Road, which winds from one little islet to a different. 

Just after this comes the newly opened Pistohiekka Resort. With a lakeside sauna and restaurant, the property’s sandy beach was once a preferred spot for legendary Midsummer parties.


“But that was within the 70s, before punk music ruined all of it,” my father reminisces as we finally have on a regular basis on this planet to enjoy a cup of coffee in a scenic lay-by. The identical spot where we used to stop on our family road trips around Saimaa with a van.


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