Top choice in The Finnish Lakeland

Built directly on rock in the middle of the lake (now accessed via bridges), this heavily restored 15th-century fortification was constructed as a military base on the Swedes' restless eastern border. The currents in the surrounding water ensure that it remains unfrozen in winter, which prevented enemy attacks over ice. To visit the castle's upper levels, including the towers and chapel, you must join an hour-long guided tour. Guides bring the castle to life with vivid accounts of its history.

The stories you'll hear on the tour are fascinating. The soldiers, for instance, were partly paid in beer – 5L a day and 7L on Sundays, which makes the castle’s frequent changes of hands more understandable. English-language tours leave hourly June to September; check the website for language options at other times. You'll need to be reasonably fit, as the tour involves climbing up and down steep and narrow winding staircases. A joint ticket to visit the castle and nearby Riihisaari costs adult/child €12.50/5.50.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Finnish Lakeland attractions

1. Riihisaari

0.18 MILES

On an island that was once a naval port, this museum housed in a handsome 16th-century granary recounts local history and the importance of water…

2. Kerimäen Iso Kirkko

13.01 MILES

Kerimäki may be small (pop 5000), but its Lutheran church certainly isn't. Built in 1847, the building was designed to accommodate 5000 and is commonly…

3. Lusto Suomen Metsämuseo

14.51 MILES

'Lusto' is the Finnish word for a tree’s annual growth ring, and this well-curated and cleverly presented museum is all about forests and the growth of…

4. Punkaharju

19.35 MILES

During the ice age, formations similar to this 7km-long sand ridge were created all over Finland. Because it crosses a large lake, it’s always been an…

5. Linnansaari National Park

21.3 MILES

This scenic national park consists of Haukivesi Lake and hundreds of uninhabited islands; the most activity takes place on the largest island, Linnansaari…

6. Kolovesi National Park

22.45 MILES

Northeast of Linnansaari National Park, Kolovesi is less-trafficked in summer. Park information is available at the nature information hut in Enonkoski.