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Finland is perhaps best known for its lakes, numbering about 188,000, and you don't need to travel far in this region to appreciate their beauty, whether in winter or summer. Almost every lake, big or small, is fringed with tiny cabins. The lake cabin is a Finnish institution, and until the advent of cheap package tours abroad, nearly every Finnish family vacationed in the same way—in
its cabin on a lake.
Savonlinna is the best-placed town in the Lakelands and can make a convenient base from which to begin exploring the region. Savonlinna also stands out among the towns, for both its stunning, water-bound views—it is hugged by gigantic Lake Saimaa—and its cultural life. The monthlong Savonlinna Opera Festival in July is one of Finland's—and Europe's—greatest. Most events, including opera, ballet, drama, and instrumental performance, are staged at the 14th-century Olavinlinna Castle, splendidly positioned just offshore.