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Top Outdoor Adventures in Finland

By the time you’re ripping around a frozen lake on an ice-kart, it will be easy to see why Finland is one of the best places to combine thrill-seeking and the stunning natural beauty the Nordic region is known for. More than just a winter wonderland, however, Finland is an adventurer’s paradise all year due to its exhaustive list of exciting activities that tend to create moments that go straight to your long-term memory. So what are some of the country’s highlights you should look for when planning a trip to Finland? Don’t miss these opportunities to take your Finnish adventure to the next level.

From ice-karting and world-class skiing to midnight hikes at year-round wonder Levi.

Finland is well-known for its winter sports, and no place in the country better embodies this than the world-famous Levi resort. Located in the Lapland region of northern Finland, Levi is your proverbial skier’s utopia, offering spectacular downhill skiing and snowboarding to go with a range of great accommodations. If you’re not much of a downhill skier, it’s also the perfect place to learn how to cross-country ski while feasting your eyes on the immaculate hillsides that surround the resort. With miles of skiing trails that showcase the brilliance of Finnish Lapland, it’s a great fit for any active sightseer.
The winter also brings other thrilling options as well, including the increasingly popular ice-karting course. Similar to go-karting, ice-karting puts guests in control of a kart that fits one or two people and takes you around a frozen lake surrounded by towering, snow-covered trees. Ice-karting has taken off as an adrenaline-pumping experience for thrill-seekers of all ages, making it a great option for both couples and families on the adventurous side. If you’re really into winter sports, Levi also hosts the Alpine Ski World Cup, which brings in some of the most talented skiers and snowboarders from around the world every November.
Levi isn’t only for winter-sports enthusiasts, however, as there is no shortage of things to do in the summer either. As the snow gives way to a lush green landscape, visitors canoe, row, and bike for miles and miles around the resort and enjoy the long hours of daylight. Other popular options include horseback riding through the forest and hiking nearby Pallas National Park, which has a host of great features all on its own.
Many also travel to Levi (or Lapland at large) to see the midnight sun, which can provide some truly unforgettable opportunities. Canoeing around lakes Sirkkajärvi and Levijärvi deep in the night can stir the poetry in anyone’s soul, as can a midnight photography session that takes you to the most beautiful spots of Levi and Pallas.

Biking along Route 62 in Saimaa

Tucked into southeastern Finland a few hours from either Helsinki or St. Petersburg, Russia, the Saimaa region is an exquisite piece of land that highlights many of Finland’s greatest natural advantages. This area also has a whole spectrum of great roads for either a slow drive or biking, taking you through winding lakeside pathways and pristine forests that serve as the perfect backdrop for an adventurous escape. On the famous Route 62 between Ruokolahti and Mikkeli, bikers get an unparalleled view of the countryside and small-town Finland, making it an outstanding place to chew on the scenery as you work off a few morsels of Tippaleipä (Finnish funnel cake).
While you could just spend an afternoon or two perusing the landscape, it’s a great spot to bring a tent and camp right out under the stars for a few nights at one of the many campsites in the area. Lake Saimaa also has more than a few great activities as well, from rowing and paddleboarding to an excellent set of hiking trails that ring the minimally developed lakefront. Easy to get to and loaded with outdoors activities, Saimaa is a great place to find a few thrills while letting your eyes wander the tranquil beauty that draws visitors from all over the world.
Also consider: Right along the bike route, in Anttola, the Ollinmäki winery lets you taste traditional Finnish wines made right from the berries and fruits in Saimaa. Although you could definitely still have a great time in the winter in Saimaa, the region is a must-see in the warmer months.

Snowshoe by day and inspect the Northern Lights by night in Finnish Lapland

One of the greatest places in the world to see the Northern Lights is in Finnish Lapland, a sprawling land of enchanting visual splendor as well as the harsh realities of upper Finland. It’s also an ideal place to tap into the oldest Finnish traditions, particularly in the winter months when the Aurora Borealis is really popping. Between September and March, you can catch the famous dancing green flashes of light in Finnish Lapland, where the lack of city lights makes for a stunning, unforgettable experience.
But if you think sitting and staring at the sky is all there is to do in Lapland, those with an adventurous spirit have an assortment of activities to occupy their time during the day. A classic Finnish experience is to strap on snowshoes for a lengthy hike through the wilderness, where you’ll marvel at the breathtaking, snow-coated landscape as you walk atop an endless canvas of the white powdery snow. In the summertime, fellwalking (hill walking) is another age-old Sámi custom that will keep you active while giving you a terrific vantage point.
Another fun and thrilling way to enjoy the local culture is to hop on a dogsled, an ancient tradition that yields a unique and beautiful experience for visitors. Some dogsledding excursions can last only an hour or two while the more ambitious thrill-seekers can book a route that will last closer to a week. The huskies that pull the sled are also beloved members of the Lapland community thanks to generations of co-dependence in the region, and dog lovers will want to book only with companies that are a part of the Mush with P.R.I.D.E. organization that ensures a happy and safe environment for the beloved canines.
Where to consider staying: Huddling in an igloo hut with a glass ceiling is an outstanding way to see the Northern Lights after a long day of snowshoeing or dogsledding. Although there are now a variety of different great accommodations in the region, the renowned Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is a trailblazer that combines a modern touch with a peerless view of the aurorae.

Explore Högberet Cave (if you can find it)

You’ll need an adventurous spirit to experience Högberet Cave, a hidden gem in Kirkonummi about a half-hour drive due west from Helsinki. The adventure starts with a wonderful hike around the countryside and ends at the side of a granite cliff, which hosts the secretive entrance to the cave nicknamed the “Womb of Mother Earth.” Although not for the overly claustrophobic, squeezing through the moss-covered granite cliff will take you back to the Ice Age, when ancient settlers were believed to use it as a shelter from the elements (and possibly for fertility rituals). Finding the cave is also part of the fun, as it’s unmarked and might require a little bit of patience from trekkers hiking around Kirkonummi.
But even if you are a bit on the claustrophobic side and don’t feel like going in, the area itself is still well worth the trip due to the collection of great hikes in the area. It’s also an ideal day trip from Helsinki by car and very doable by bike as well, as it’s about 19 miles away from the heart of the Finnish capital. Although you probably don’t want to check out Högberet Cave during the peak of the winter, it’s a fantastic spring, summer or early fall outing steeped in mystery and wonder.

Final thoughts to consider before booking

Finland, particularly in Lapland, offers one of the most stunning seasonal reversals in the world. For this reason, you absolutely need to heed the weather and understand the differences in climate/sunset times. Near the first of January in Finnish Lapland, for example, you can expect nearly day-long darkness, as the sun emerges afternoon and barely begins to rise before falling again with about a half-hour of daylight. By the end of January, however, you’ll have close to six hours of total daylight and a sun that sets around 3:30. You can also expect average lows of about 10 degrees Fahrenheit during January or February, which is actually ideal for all the wintery adventures of Lapland,
In the summer, you’ll have an abundance of daylight, but the temperatures still remain cool for much of the day. In Levi, the average high is typically about 55 degrees Fahrenheit in June and 66 for much of July, with dips to the mid or low-40s at night. The average low can also be dramatically different from July (the warmest month) to either June or August, which is why you’ll likely want to bring some warm clothes even if you’re planning an excursion in the summertime. The same principle holds true in Helsinki, where it’s typically at least a few degrees warmer than Lapland at any point of the year. July also typically gets by far the most rain of the year, although that should only add to the excitement for anyone ready for a true Finnish adventure.
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How to Live Like the Locals in Finland

Finland Snow

Now consider option two. Those who are pursuing option two will ditch the travel guides, book an Airbnb, and leave the laptop at home. They will immerse themselves in the local activities, find the hole in the wall restaurant that serves the most amazing food, and get lost (possibly literally) in the city.
If option two is what you’re looking for, read on. Though option two requires more spontaneity and less planning, a little background on the country and tips about its local specialties can help you truly maximize the local experience.

Pack smart

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Finland Forest

It’s important that you pack appropriately when traveling to Finland. The country can have some rather extreme weather. In Helsinki, the winters are long, running from November to March. Temperatures are cold, typically staying below freezing the entire winter. Heavy jackets are a must and warm gloves and long underwear are highly advised. If you are traveling during the summer, you can leave the parka (and long underwear) behind, but be sure to bring layers. The days are mild, typically hovering around the mid-sixties, but the nights can still get quite chilly.

Live locally

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Helsinki

One of the best ways to experience the life of a local is to live where they live. Look into renting an apartment while in the country. Not only will you surround yourself with local residents and immerse yourself in a neighborhood you may not have otherwise seen, but you will also save — A LOT. Finland is more expensive than many destinations, so avoiding the hotels and checking out Airbnb can free up funds to go explore.
Nature lovers can enjoy an escape from the city life and opt for a cottage. Staying in a cottage is a great way to experience the beauty of Finland. Take in the breathtaking views of the star-filled skies, catch a fish, or take a plunge in the frozen lake (more on that below).
While in Finland, it may be helpful to be able to talk to the locals. It’s unrealistic to expect to learn a new language before visiting a country but it can be very helpful to learn a few key phrases. Phrases like “hello”, “thank you” or certain directional words can make your stay a lot easier. Here are a few to get you started:
Hello: Hei
Thank you: Kiitos
Yes: Kylla
No: Ei
I’m sorry, I don’t speak Finnish: Anteeksi, en puhu suomea
Where is__?: missä on__?
Bus Station: Bussiasema
Subway: Metro

Hit the Spa

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Finland Sauna

Finns love to sweat — in saunas that is. To live like a local in Finland, visiting a sauna is a must. Don’t worry, you won’t be scouring the country to find one; Finland has a staggering 3.3 million saunas. That’s a lot considering its population is only slightly greater at 5 million. And while Finns like to enjoy the sauna in the buff, it’s understandable to be a little shy on your first trip. If you are looking for a sauna that provides more of a spa experience, try Löyly where swimsuits are required.
If you are looking to really get the local experience, you can’t pass up the chance to take a plunge in the frigid local waters. That’s right, the Finns often pair a trip to the sauna with a dip in ice cold water. It may seem crazy to voluntarily submerge yourself in the unbearable cold, but the people of Finland have been doing it for centuries. Avanto, as the locals call it is said to be invigorating and may even be good for your health. There are many locations throughout Finland that provide accommodations to try out this Finnish tradition.

Eat like the locals

Anthony Bourdain said of traveling abroad, “You want to go to a place where there are locals only. No photos of the food, the menu is not in English and there are people eating there that look like they go there a lot.” And it’s true. The best way to experience the local cuisine is to follow the locals, ask for recommendations, and go where the regulars go. And please, please, please, stay away from the chain burger joints and coffee shops.
With this in mind, you’ll want to try to find a few local specialties. Fried Vendace is a popular street food. A small white fish that is lightly battered and pan-fried, the crispy salty taste is balanced with a side of mayonnaise and lemon. Also be on the lookout for reindeer. Try a reindeer kabob or steak and experience a gamey flavor, similar to venison.
Local markets are always a great way to meet residents of the country you are visiting as well as get a taste for some of the freshest produce and seafood of the region. Grab a cup of coffee and a pulla (a sweet cinnamon bun) while you peruse the Old Market Hall in Helsinki. This landmark has been open for over a century. It’s a great place to meet local farmers and is open seven days a week.

Experience the country

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Auroras in Southern Finland

Did you know that Finland is a great place to view the Northern Lights? While many people think of Iceland or Norway when they think of the Northern Lights, Finland has a pretty good view itself. A trek to Lapland in northern Finland will give you the opportunity to view the lights up to 200 days a year. Visit from August to April if the Northern Lights are on your bucket list.
If you are a music lover there are many options for you. Check out Flow Festival in August for a weekend full of local indie music. Make a trip to Tuska in Helsinki or Sauna Open Air in Lakeland if heavy metal is more your style. Whatever your taste there is sure to be a festival to meet your needs.
Finland is a country filled with beautiful scenery, eclectic people, great food, and an abundance of activities. Whether you choose to see the reindeer in Lapland or go hiking in Kuusamo, Finland will provide an experience that will bring you that much closer to living like a local and wanting to become a local yourself.

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Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting Finland

Finland is every free-spirited explorer and nature enthusiast’s dream come true. Known for its stunning boreal forests, historic monuments, and the world famous northern lights, Finland is one of Europe’s hidden gems.

Top Highlights of Finland

The first stop in Finland for most visitors is the capital, Helsinki. From Stone Age hunter-gatherers and the Vikings to the Swedish Christian crusades and Russian Tsars, Finland has had a long, complex and rich history. This is best reflected in the Fortress of Sveaborg. A 20-minute ferry ride from Helsinki harbor, the fortress is located on the fortified islands of Suomenlinna. Originally built by the Swedes, the fortress fell into the hands of the Russians during the Swedish-Russian war. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.
Another historic structure is the Uspenski Cathedral, the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe. With its characteristic deep-red brick walls and multiple spires, the cathedral has 13 green and gold colored onion domes. Representing Christ and the twelve apostles, the cupolas dominate the skyline above Helsinki harbor. The interior is even more impressive, with its vaulted ceilings, marble arches, chandeliers, and gold-embellished iconography.
The Kauppatori Market Square represents the bustling heart of Helsinki. It is home to one of northern Europe’s best outdoor markets, a place filled with traditional Finnish foods, bakeries, chocolatiers, crafted cheese, souvenirs, flowers, and fresh fish from the Baltic Sea.
Compared to other parts of Finland, Lapland is remote and sparsely populated. But the region is home to Finland’s best outdoor activities and nature’s most spectacular phenomena, the northern lights. After a morning of skiing, visitors can relax and unwind in the world’s only sauna gondola at the Ylläs Ski Resort. The resort is also home to Kivinavetta, one of Finland’s most high-quality restaurant that serves up traditional eats including reindeer stew and fresh cloudberries. For a romantic night, visitors can watch the northern lights from igloo styled Aurora Domes, snuggled in sheepskin blankets and sipping on champagne.

Things To Know Before Visiting Finland

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Finland is between September and March when the autumn leaf foliage is at its peak, and the Northern Lights shine brightly on clear nights.

Weather 

Finland has a relatively mild climate courtesy the Gulf Stream and the country’s many lakes. February is the coldest month, with most of the country snowbound between November and April. Finland also comes under the Land of the Midnight Sun, which means that parts of the country experience continuous daylight during the summer.

Languages 

The two official languages of Finland are Swedish and Finnish. Many residents are also fluent in English and Russian.

Currency 

Finland’s official currency is the Euro. All major credit and debit cards are accepted.

Electricity 

The electrical sockets in Finland are type F, also known as “Schuko”. The standard voltage is 230V, while the standard frequency is 50 Hz. If you are traveling from the US, you will need a combined power plug adapter and a voltage converter.

Social Conventions

  • Finnish customs are predominantly European. Some of them are:
  • Finns are reserved on public transportation like buses, trams and even elevators.
  • Cell phone etiquette is important. Using cell phones in places like hospitals, pubs, and restaurants is considered rude.
  • Tipping is not the norm in Finland. It is acceptable to pay to the next rounded figure or leave the matter entirely to the discretion of the establishment.
  • Finland has banned smoking completely in most public spaces.

Saunas

Visiting a sauna is part of Finland’s national culture. There are only two million saunas in Finland catering to a population of 5.3 million. While there are no mixed public saunas, visitors should try not to be shy about taking off their clothes.
Don’t be shy.
Finns have a very healthy body image, and swimming naked is fairly common. The oldest swimming hall in Finland, Yrjönkatu, offers separate swimming sessions for men and women. Since 2001, visitors can choose to wear a swimming costume, but shouldn’t be surprised if others don’t.

Traveling around Finland

Finland is the 8th largest country in Europe, which means there are large distances to cover when traveling the country. However, Finland’s extensive transportation system comprising of railway lines, canal boats, ferries and the national bus company Matkahuolto, easily connect to different parts of the country. Visitors can always find local bus services in every town in Finland.

Food

Finnish cuisine primarily consists of wholemeal bread, berries, dairy, meat, and seafood. It is becoming increasingly popular to blend traditional rustic recipes with modern contemporary cooking techniques. Some iconic Finnish foods include:
Karjalanpiirakka: Also known as Karelian pies, the pastries are made from rye flour and stuffed with potatoes, rice or carrots.
Kalakukko: Pies filled with muikku, a small herring-like fish.
Grillimakkara: Most popular during the summer, these grilled sausages are eaten with mustard and a mug of beer.
Näkkileipä: Sold internationally, this rye bread cracker is eaten with spreads like cheese and butter, or usually accompanies lunch soups.
Korvapuusti: The Finns love eating their cinnamon buns with coffee.
Mustikkapiirakka: Fresh berries like bilberries and lingonberry are often eaten with milk, or used to make homemade pies, jams and juices.
Poronkäristys: Reindeer meat is a staple from Lapland, and is usually served with mashed potatoes.
Juustoleipä: Made from cow, goat or reindeer milk, this cheese bread is best enjoyed with cloudberry jam.

Geographical Landscape

The topography of Finland is largely flat, with more than 70 percent of the country covered by forestland. Moving north toward the Arctic Circle and the Norwegian border, the landscape changes to form hills and low mountains. This region is Lapland, home to the indigenous Sami people and Finland’s highest point, Haltiatunturi.
Finland has a large archipelago in the Gulf of Bothnia known as the Aland Islands. Situated between Sweden and Finland, this archipelago is made up of three hundred islands (eighty of whom are inhabited) and over 6,000 smaller rock islands.
The south of Finland has more than 188,000 clearwater lakes. During the last Ice Age, most of the country was covered by ice. When the ice retreated, it left behind countless rivers, lakes, and streams. While most of them are on the smaller side, some of them like Nasijarv and Oulujarvi measure more than 200 meters wide. Many canals connect to these water bodies. The largest of them, the Saimaa Canal, connects the Gulf of Finland with Lake Saimaa.
From its jaw-dropping snow-capped landscapes and the mesmerizing northern lights, to its medieval stone buildings and maritime culture, Finland is undoubtedly the rising phoenix amongst the Nordic countries. The laid-back Nordic lifestyle combined with artistic quirkiness makes the country both unique and inviting for travelers to Europe. So, what are you waiting for? Are you ready to discover your “inner Finn”?

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Finland for Foodies

When it comes to culinary expeditions, Finland isn’t usually the first place on a foodie’s radar. In fact, some high-profile chefs have called the cuisine tasteless and bland. But did you know that Finnish cuisine is packed with superfoods? By using all-natural ingredients like cured salmon and cranberries (and staying away from that processed junk), Finland offers travelers some of the healthiest food in the world!
If you’re looking for some local places to try, here are a few ideas to get you started.

Places to Visit

If you’re traveling through the Finnish capital, consider taking a tour with Heather’s Helsinki. Though the tour guide is a native of Australia, she’s a longtime resident of the city and knows her way around Helsinki’s culinary scene. With her guidance, visitors can experience the best food the city has to offer. She’ll even show you some hidden gems you wouldn’t otherwise hear about.
Not far from the capital, visitors can take tours of Finland’s oldest chocolate manufacturer at their headquarters in Vantaa. Guides detail the company’s history and how Fazer Chocolate revolutionized chocolate making. Most tours include a chocolate tasting, and all guests are given a freebie bag. Throughout the country, Fazer cafés also provide quality cakes and drinks.
Dubbed one of the finest restaurants in Lahti, Ravintola Roux won the Restaurant of the Year award from the Finnish Gastronomy Society in 2016. They’ve been serving seasonal cuisine for more than twenty years, with chocolate fondant and chocolate marquise being some of its most popular dishes. In addition to their desserts, the place is well known for its fried lamb and buckwheat blinis.
Also in Lahti, with humble beginnings as one of the country’s first microbreweries in the 1990s, Teerenpeli has become a favorite distillery and brewery that also owns a chain of restaurants across southern Finland. Visitors can stop at the nearby Taivaanranta Restaurant to see the original distillery and visitor center, where they can also try some Finnish whisky. The owners are more than willing to arrange tastings and guided tours for larger groups.
In the town of Hollola is a place called Kinnarin Tila. It’s a family owned farm that started in 1667 and has been going strong for over 350 years, most recently having been turned into an interior design boutique and café. Besides selling local produce, they also make traditional homemade rye bread, which is extremely popular in Finland. The farm is only open from May until Christmas, but if you’re in the area during that time of the year, it’s definitely a place worth visiting.
Further to the north, anyone exploring Finland’s culinary scene has to make a stop at The Snow Restaurant in Kemi. The place is constructed entirely of ice, even the glasses, and the bar, and is rebuilt each winter with new designs. Besides its unique appearance, The Snow Restaurant offers top-notch traditional Finnish dishes made only with local ingredients. The idea of having to stay wrapped up in winter gear during dinner may put some visitors off, but it’s worth it.

Foods to Try

Breakfast

Rice porridge (riispuuro) is a typical breakfast dish in Finland, and for a good reason. It may sound like very basic food, but it can be garnished however you want. Try it with butter, sugar, cinnamon, or anything else that’s available. People are generally too busy to make it from scratch anymore, but it gives a boost of energy that all travelers can use before embarking on their adventures. Though it may be tough to find homemade porridge, it’s available ready-made in most grocery shops and hotels.
Another popular breakfast food is koyhat ritarit. Think basic French toast, but with a twist. Rather than use white bread, Finns make it with pulla, a sweet bun with hints of cinnamon and cardamom that’s made to look like bread. Like typical French toast, it can be served in a variety of ways. Try it with fruit or berries, and top it with ice cream or whipped cream.

Local Specialties

Finnish folk are well known for having seafood and fish as the main staple of their diets. So it’s no surprise that they found a way to create a salmon-based soup (lohikeitto). It’s a favorite dish year round that’s made with fish, carrots, potatoes, onions, and full-fat milk or cream with dill and allspice to season it. Most restaurants in the country will have it on their menus, and it’s pretty easy to make on your own.
Reindeer are common in Lapland, Finland’s northernmost province, so their meat (poronkaristys) can be found throughout the country regardless of the season. While this may not be appealing to vegetarians, those who can eat it will enjoy one of the healthiest foods a person can consume. Besides being delicious, reindeer meat is lean and high in omega-3, omega-6, and vitamin B-12.
Finland is also well known for a mild cheese (leipajuusto) that’s usually made with cow’s milk, but makers can also use goat’s or reindeer milk. After being curdled, the cheese is either baked in a pie tin or fried and then cut into wedges. It tastes great with cloudberry jam and is easily found in restaurants and markets across the country.

Popular Treats

Finns have a real sweet tooth for korvapuusti, a popular pastry made with a butter, sugar, and cinnamon filling. It looks and tastes similar to American cinnamon rolls but is notably easier to make and goes great with a cup of coffee. Finland loves this treat so much that it can be found at virtually all restaurants and cafés.
Stuffed cabbage (kaalikaaryleet) may look a little strange, and the idea is not necessarily unique to the country. But the way it’s prepared in Finland is! It’s made by blanching a cabbage leaf, which is then filled with cooked rice and minced meat, rolled, and cooked in the oven. Depending on where you eat it, it may be served with mashed potatoes or lingonberry jam. While it’s easily found in most markets, it’s recommended to try it at a restaurant if possible or make it yourself.
These are just some of the many amazing dishes of Finland. You can find dozens of other specialties by exploring and talking to the locals. Remember to taste even the foods you’re not familiar with. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Thrillseeker’s Guide to Finland

Adventure Travel Finland

Whether you’re into scenic wintery escapades or want to explore the immense green expanses Finland is known for, there are plenty of options when it comes to tackling the northern Europe standout. Look for these highlights, must-sees, and lesser-known gems as you put together a plan for a trip to Finland.

Helsinki: Cathedrals, Fortresses, and Nordic Voyages

Whether you’re coming or going to Finland, chances are you’ll end up spending a bit of time in Helsinki at the very least. The capital and most populous city in Finland, by far, Helsinki has most of the architectural landmarks in the country to go with an assortment of popular museums and markets. Helsinki’s unique collection of different cathedrals and chapels make them natural gathering points for visitors, particularly the red-bricked Uspenskin and the neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral. Uspenskin also yields impeccable aerial views of downtown Helsinki – perfect for profile photos as well as getting oriented with the city at the beginning of a trip.
With its spot on the Gulf of Finland, which connects to the Baltic Sea, Helsinki has also been a strategically important location for centuries. Unsurprisingly, one of the top attractions within the city is a fortress, the Suomenlinna. Spread out of over six small islands in the gulf, Suomenlinna is definitely a hot spot for tourists but it’s also so scenic that it regularly draws locals for picnics and afternoon hangouts as well. For museum enthusiasts, the Ateneum Art Museum shows off mostly Finnish masterpieces and takes you deep through the country’s history via some of the best artists in Finland.
But Helsinki is also known for being the perfect jumping off point for other adventures, from day trips to longer excursions. While cruises that connect through Helsinki are good options for getting around, you can also take a two-hour ferry across the Gulf of Finland to the picturesque town of Tallinn, Estonia, a UNESCO World Heritage site that barely looks like it’s aged since the 14th century. Day trips out of Helsinki let you peruse an ageless town filled with cobblestoned streets and rows of restored medieval architecture. For those who can’t get enough medieval scenery, the famous old town area of Porvoo, Finland is only an hour by car or bus from Helsinki and is another photographer’s daydream.
Others to consider: Kamppi Chapel of Silence, Natural History Museum, Rock Church, Esplinadi Park.

Get Outside Early and Often in Finland

Even with quite a few architectural wonders throughout the country, chances are you’re not heading to Finland for the buildings. That’s because Finland has some of the most pristine land in the world and can be enjoyed at any time of the year, depending on your tolerance for cold weather. From August through April, the Lapland region in northern Finland is where you can find a full spectrum of outdoor activities during the day and have a great chance at catching Aurora Borealis at night. Although there are plenty of places to do activities like night snowmobiling under the Northern Lights, the central hub of Lapland is Rovaniemi, the regional capital and a thriving city about 10 hours by car north of Helsinki.
From Rovaniemi, you’re positioned to enjoy a variety of Finnish classics in the small villages spread out around Finnish Lapland. During the winter, snowshoeing and dogsledding are great ways to soak up the clean, crisp air the Arctic Circle and surrounding areas are known for. By summer, the icy paradise melts into a sensational blend of green hills, gently rolling streams, and tranquil lakeside hangouts perfect for disconnecting from the world for a few days (or weeks). You can also maximize your daylight in the northern region of Finland, as some areas get up to 24 hours of sunlight during the peak of summer and there are plenty of activities to do under the Midnight Sun. For those with families, Santa Claus’ Office in Rovaniemi can also be a great stop and operates year-round.
You also don’t have to make it all the way to Rovaniemi to experience the Finnish outdoors, as there is fantastic skiing and hiking all over the country. Nuuksio National Park is only 45 minutes down the road from Helsinki and is complete with blue lakes, thick forests, and friendly reindeer. You can even find a terrific little beach in Pori (Yyteri Beach) in western Finland, about two hours north of Turku.
For more daring adventurers: Sitting near the Russian-Finnish border, Hossa National Park is another gorgeously sprawling space that opened in 2017 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of independence from Russia. For those not afraid of a long car or bus trip, the town of Saariselka in the north has world-class winter sports and neighbors a couple of worthwhile national parks (Urho Kekkosen and Lemmenjoki).

Turku and Tampere

While it could be difficult to carve out time in Finland’s other most prominent cities, they’re certainly worth seeing if you have an opportunity. The oldest city in the country, Turku dates to the 13th century and was the Finnish capital for hundreds of years. Today, Turku is only the sixth most populous city in Finland, but remains a great place to dig into Finnish culture thanks to its peerless history and string of impressive landmarks. The Turku Castle is generally considered a must-see with its panoramic views of the Aura River and is one of the oldest buildings in Finland that still functions. Another popular hot spot is Turku Cathedral and history lovers tend to gravitate to the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova, which showcases medieval ruins to go with renowned art displays.
Down the road in Tampere, it’s all about getting well above street level to see a vibrant, modern city sitting between the Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi lakes. Pyynikki Park and Observation Tower provide an unbelievable view of the Tampere cityscape, as does the Nasinneula Tower on the other side of town. At the Vapriikin Museokeskus, you can find a couple different museums in one place, covering everything from archeology and architecture to the importance of ice hockey in the region. More than just the standout sites, however, Tampere is simply a great city to get a feel for modern-day Finland.

Food and Culture

While Finland is certainly known for its outdoor activities, the Nordic country is also known for its fresh seafood, interesting cultural trends, and for being one of the best places in the world to grab a sauna. To dig into the food preferences of the country, places like the Hakaniemi Market and Old Town Hall in Helsinki will let you sample delicacies like salmon soup and are known for being particularly great during the weeks before Christmas. Though you can find plenty of terrific restaurants in the major cities and towns of Finland, perusing a thriving marketplace filled with locally caught fish and produce is the easiest way to find the pulse of the country as far as food goes.
After a long day of Finnish adventures or sightseeing, the perfect way to relax is, of course, to find a sauna and have a good steam. Saunas were originally used as a way to clean during the bleak winter months and today remain wildly popular, which is why you find them in many hotels and the president even has an official sauna. To get the full understanding of the sauna phenomenon, there isn’t a more Finnish experience than finishing a steam by literally rolling around in the snow – an old custom that cuts right to the roots of the region. Thankfully for less adventurous visitors, there isn’t a stigma on taking a shower instead.

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Wonderful Romantic Getaways in Finland

Romantic Finland Getaways

Whether you want to sit back and take in the breathtaking views or stay at a place where you get pampered all day long, Finland has the perfect spot for you. Now, you can immerse yourself in the culture and beauty of Finland while indulging in the perfect escape with someone special.

Finnish Wineries

One of the first things you will want to do on your romantic trip to Finland is to visit a winery. At Pihamaa Estate & Winery, you and your loved one can enjoy the quaint atmosphere of this small wine shop. Located in the village of Kalkkinen, 28 km from Vääksy, Asikkala, the estate has been operated by the same family for a number of years. In addition to an amazing selection of wines, you won’t want to miss the range of vegetables, berries, cheeses, and flowers. Hold hands as you take in the tastes and scents of the wonderful and locally produced goods. Open daily from June through August, this is the perfect way to enjoy a summer day in Finland. Don’t forget dessert at this unique winery! Pihamaa Estate & Winery is known for some of the best cheesecake that you will ever taste. On your way out, browse the downstairs shop for home goods that you can cherish well after your trip is over. It is undeniable that this is truly a hidden gem in Finland.
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Don’t Leave Finland Without Seeing These 3 Amazing Places

Finland, a country that’s at the top of the world and borders Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, has a unique culture that every traveler should experience at least once. From the attractions of Helsinki to the remote regions of Lapland, this country offers a great deal to people who value an unspoiled landscape and a friendly, welcoming population. If you’re fortunate enough to plan a trip to Finland, make sure you don’t miss these three incredible destinations.

Helsinki

Most visitors to Finland fly into the capital city, Helsinki. It’s also a port that’s a popular stop for many Scandinavian cruises. For a city that was founded in the 16th century by a Swedish king, Helsinki is quite modern with lots of restaurants, museums, cafes, and art galleries. It’s easy to get around by tram if you don’t want to rent your own car. Many of the favorite attractions are within walking distance of the harbor. If you want to save money and enjoy greater convenience while exploring the city, consider getting a Helsinki City Card, which includes public transportation, admission to many museums, and discounts on restaurants and shopping. Here are some of the spots in Helsinki to check out:

  • National Museum of Finland: If you want to learn as much as possible about Finland’s culture and history, this is the best place to come. There are both permanent and temporary exhibits showcasing Finnish art and history in the Medieval, Swedish, and Russian eras up until modern times when Finland became an independent nation in 1917.
  • Old Market Hall: Vanhakauppahalli or Old Market Hall is the city’s oldest market, and has been operating continuously since the late 1800s. This is a great place to sample some of Helsinki’s delicacies such as fresh fish, mushrooms, berries, and all kinds of produce. There are also cafes, bakeries, and a store selling wine and spirits.
  • Temppeliaukio Church: This church is unique in a number of ways. It has a distinctive dome with a skylight, letting in plenty of natural light during the day. It’s also known as Church of the Rock because it’s partly underground and some of the walls consist of natural rock. In addition to being an active Lutheran church, concerts and other events are held here.
  • Public Saunas: While in Helsinki, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the many public saunas. One of the most popular of these is Allas Sea Pool, which is right in the heart of the city near Market Square. It has three saunas, two warm water, and one saltwater. In addition to the saunas, there are wellness activities such as yoga, a fitness center, and restaurants.
  • Linnanmäki: The country’s most popular amusement park, this place has a quaint and traditional atmosphere. It opened in 1950 and many of the original rides, including the famous roller coaster, are still operating. With lots of rides, arcade games, an aquarium, and theater, this is a favorite family attraction.
    In addition to these attractions, Helsinki has many scenic areas that are ideal for long walks or bike rides. A ride on one of the quaint trams is another enjoyable way to soak in the city’s atmosphere.

Lemmenjoki National Park

If you want to experience the wild and untamed parts of Finland, you must visit Lemmenjoki National Park. This is the country’s largest park, covering more than 1,000 square miles in Northern Lapland. You can hike, take a riverboat cruise, pan for gold, and explore the ancient Sámi culture. One of the more challenging aspects of visiting this amazing spot is actually getting there. Many visitors arrive from Helsinki, renting a car or taking a bus. You can also take a flight directly to one of the Lapland airports.
Lemmenjoki National Park is beautiful throughout the year. Most people, however, visit between spring and early fall. If you want to challenge yourself and experience a Lapland winter, that’s also possible if you make arrangements with local guides. Keep in mind, however, that you may find it difficult to reach the park during harsh weather. Here are some of the activities you can find at Lemmenjoki National Park:

  • Hiking: The park contains hundreds of miles of trails for hiking and trekking. The breathtaking scenery includes primeval forests and waterfalls.
  • Boating: There are daily cruises along the Lemmenjoki River, where you can appreciate the scenery and make a stop for a hike. Some guided river tours include panning for gold, a traditional part of the local economy.
  • Cross-country Skiing: Another way to appreciate the landscape is on skis.
  • Fishing: You can catch some of the region’s fresh fish, including trout, whitefish, and grayling. Ice fishing, as well as hook-and-line fishing, are available in certain areas. Make sure you get a permit first, which can be obtained online.
  • Observe and Photograph Wildlife: Lemmenjoki National Park is one of the best places to appreciate the region’s wildlife, including reindeer, wolves, bears, golden eagles, and moose.
  • Nature Center and Museum: To learn more about the fascinating area and the people who live here, visit the Sámi Museum and Northern Lapland Nature Centre.
  • Northern Lights: Lapland is one of the best areas to see the spectacular Northern Lights. The best time of year to see this unforgettable sight is between September and March.

Turku

Turku is Finland’s second largest city and was actually the largest for a long time until it was surpassed by Helsinki. It’s also Finland’s oldest city, having been settled in the 13th century. Turku, located in the Southwestern part of the country, has been the center of many historical events and has long been an important port city. Many passenger and commercial ships continue to pass through here. If you visit Turku and have a little extra time, you might want to visit nearby Archipelago National Park as well. Here are a few of the top attractions in or near Turku.

  • Turku Castle: Turun Linna or Turku Castle is a huge medieval castle that was built in the 13th century. Over the centuries, this impressive structure has served many functions, including a prison. You can still tour the dungeons today. There’s also a museum and daily tours.
  • Turku Art Museum: This museum has one of the best collections of Finnish art in the world.
  • Aboa Vetus and Ars Nova: These are two connected museums that combine history and modern art. Aboa Vetus features artifacts from streets and buildings dating back to medieval times. Ars Nova brings you back to the present with contemporary art exhibits.
  • Turku City Library: This library is known for its architectural grandeur and combining old and new styles. The original structure is from the early 19th century while the new section, recently completed, has a very modern design with glass and open spaces. The library, which has an English language section, also has great views of the city and Aura River.
  • Archipelago National Park: This is a vast archipelago of islands that combine Finnish, Swedish, and Russian influences. It actually has more islands than any other archipelago in the world. These islands are great destinations if you enjoy nature and water sports. They also give you a chance to explore traditional cultures. You can hike on magnificent nature trails on many islands. Since this amazing national park consists solely of islands, you have to make arrangements to visit ahead of time with a tour or renting your own boat.

Worth the Trip to the Far North

There’s no place quite like Finland. Even the language is unique, distinct from the Scandinavian and Slavic languages of its neighbors. In Finland, you can see the Northern Lights, visit the Arctic Circle in Lapland, camp in the wild and live on fish and reindeer meat, or experience the modern conveniences and culture of Helsinki. Whether you’re stopping here as part of a multi-country trip or making Finland your solo destination, you can spend days, weeks, or even months exploring this amazing Northern land.