Each region in Finland offers plenty of things to do, in the capital city of Helsinki, the beauty of the surrounding nature blends seamlessly together with high-tech achievements, while old traditions mix with the latest contemporary trends.
The city center has many beautiful parks, outdoor cafes and a Design District for great shopping and wonderful dining experiences in Nordic Cuisine. Coastal areas and Archipelago region offers biking routes, island-hopping and hiking trails, lighthouses and boating opportunities.
Lapland presents itself with unmatched natural beauty as the vastness of fells and forests is breath-taking.Summers are graced with the Midnight Sun, while winters provide unique displays by the Northern Lights. Lapland is well known for its most famous inhabitant: the one and only Santa Claus. You can also get acquainted with the rich and unique heritage of the Nordic countries’ only indigenous group –the Sami. This is yet another reason to experience the untouched allure of Finnish Lapland. Visitors to Inari have the rare opportunity to see a real Sami home farm and feed the semi-domesticated beasts, listen to the reindeer herders’ stories, or even try their hand at lasso throwing. Snow fun is guaranteed in Lapland with husky and reindeer safaris, snowmobiling, ice fishing, all types of skiing and a range of winter sports.
Summer months offer fabulous choices of outdoor activities and sights, perfect for the whole family from biking, fishing to white water rafting and canoeing – even gold prospecting. Lakeland is ideal for a quiet retreat at a waterside cottage, enjoying inland cruises, beautiful scenery and taking in some culture for example in the annual Savonlinna Opera festival in an medieval castle.
There are hundreds of cultural events around the country, fascinating dance, theater, literature, visual art, film and children’s cultural events to the silly ones. Summertime revolves around festivals.
It’s no surprise that Finland is often called the Promised Land of Festivals. This country of only five million people has hundreds of festival events, and the Finland Festivals organization represents the pick of the bunch.
Festivals provide an ideal opportunity to enjoy the cultural tourist experience, with high standard artistic productions, top class performers from Finland and abroad, reliable infrastructure, excellent transport connections, and festival venues in splendidly scenic rural or urban surroundings.
But leaving aside considerations of artistic production, festival conditions, surroundings, accommodation, transport, food, drink or fine ambience, it always comes back to passion. Festivals always begin with the passion of individual artists. For example, the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, which began more than 40 years ago from the vision of cellist Seppo Kimanen of a calm and peaceful venue that would combine a scenic setting with top class chamber music. Or the Midnight Sun Film Festival, created by the world-renowned Kaurisma¨ki brothers in a place where the sun never sets. The festivals of Finland include dozens of similar stories of powerful personalities; of passionate people whose art leaves a lasting impression on the public mind. It is indeed ultimately all about passion – and this is easy to find in Finland.
Yyteri – A Versatile Beach Destination
The Yyteri cape in Pori may well be the best beach holiday destination in Finland.
The sandy beaches are several kilometers long, with a soft, shallow bottom. A host of activities is available, such as surfing, beach volleyball and various other water sports. Towards the end of the summer, the water temperature is a comfortable 20 degrees Celcius or more.
In the summer, the beach life at the Yyteri cape, at 250 km from Helsinki, is very active, with holiday makers arriving from all over Finland as well as abroad. There are many different accommodation options: tent, caravan, hotel and many types of holiday homes; from modest cottages to brand new, luxurious villas.
Escape to the Helsinki Islands
The archipelago of Helsinki consists of around 330 islands, providing a great getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Jump on a ferry and a life of Riley is guaranteed.
Pihlajasaari is the most popular island among Helsinkians to spend a sunny summer’s day. The island is famous for its picturesque sandy beaches, as well as its rocks on the other side of the island, both of which offer great spots for sunbathers and swimmers. The island is perfect for day-long picnics but, if you want a day off from the kitchen, then you can enjoy the delicacies of the restaurant Pihlajasaari.
Kaunissaari is situated on the crest of the high seas and provides amazing views. In fact, the island is one of the farthest islands from the city, with the ferry trip lasting around 40 minutes. The island is known for its long beaches and rich fishing grounds. The diversity of flora and fauna is also impressive and many campers head to the island to enjoy them.
Vartiosaari’s history is very intriguing. It is believed that the island was used as a guard ground to warn locals of imminent attacks during the Viking Age. A warning fire was lit on a rocky hill that soars to 32 meters above sea level. A thousand years later, the island has become a popular site among Helsinki’s bourgeoisie, who built villas there. Nowadays, the opulent berry and mushroom crops attract visitors during the summer and autumn months. The winter creates a superb setting for skiers and skaters.
Seurasaari is one of the few islands you can reach by foot. One of its exceptional features is its open-air museum in which the traditional Finnish way of life is celebrated. The houses, manors and outbuildings have all been relocated from around Finland. There are currently 87 separate buildings that offer a glimpse into Finnish countryside life from the 18th to the 20th century.
Finland is recognized around the world for its playful and practical designs and talented designers. In addition to established names such as Marimekko, iittala, and Artek, new Finnish designers and wonderful products emerge frequently. Design is central to life and society. The underlying characteristics of Finnish design are its intimate relationship with nature.
Finland’s achievements in the world of architectural excellence also rank on the very top with architects such as Alvar Aalto, Elier and Eero Saarinen. The Design District in Helsin¬ki is an area full of design and antique shops, fashion stores, museums, art gal¬leries. Modernism, functionalism and the largest concentration of Art Nouveau buildings in Northern Europe make Helsinki a major city of architecture.
Finnish sauna culture is well known. Finns enjoy their hot sauna moments and dipping or skinny dipping for a swim afterwards.
Finns have also plenty of national holidays which each have specialty foods, drinks and traditions.
Finland has many music festivals especially in summertime. There is for example jazz festival Pori Jazz in Pori in July, Opera Festival in Savonlinna which is organized in amazing medieval castle St Olof’s Castle, pop/rock festival Ruisrock in lovely archipelago surrounding in Turku. Sodankyla has its Midnight Sun Film Festival on June where movies are shown all through the day.
EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS
Go hiking in National Parks, bike some of the lovely trails, go paddling with canoe in Lakeland Finland in Saimaa, do some island hopping in lovely archipelago or just enjoy outside and have a picnic in one of the parks.
Finland’s unspoilt forests and thousands of islands and lakes offer plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy beautiful natural surroundings. Hikers and cross-country skiers can roam the endless forests and wide-open northern fells, while the lakes and rivers of central and eastern Finland are ideal for canoeists, and the labyrinthine archipelagos of the Baltic are a sailor’s paradise.
In the wildest parts of northern Finland hikers can wander for hours - or even days - without seeing another soul, but even near towns and cities there are places where walkers or boaters can easily get close to nature for a few hours.
Many extensive areas of forest and open fell are owned by the State and managed by Metsähallitus, especially in Finnish Lapland.
In the south, more forests are owned by local people and managed to produce timber, but they still resemble natural forests. Finland’s liberal laws of public access give everyone the right to roam the forests and countryside freely, no matter who owns the land.
There are plenty activities for families as well. There are few amusement parks as Linnanmaki in Helsinki, Sarkanniemi in Tampere or Angry Bird Land in different cities. For families especially with younger children there is for example Moominworld in Naantali with famous Moomin characters. There are also water parks, activity parks and zoos to visit.
Finnish eats lots of bread, potato and milk products beside meats and fish products. Typical and traditional local dishes are for example Karelian stew, liver casserole, Finnish sausage “Makkara”, Baltic herring, vendace fish fried in butter and salt, sauseed reindeer meat with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam.
Finland holds seven Unesco World Heritage sites:
Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki
This Bronze Age burial site features more than 30 granite burial cairns, providing a unique insight into the funerary practicesand social and religious structures of northern Europe more than three millennia ago.
Fortress of Suomenlinna
Built in the second half of the 18th century by Sweden on a group of islands located at the entrance of Helsinki’s harbour, this fortress is an especially interesting example of European military architecture of the time.
The Kvarken Archipelago
The Kvarken Archipelago (Finland)and the High Coast (Sweden) are situated in the Gulf of Bothnia, a northern extension of the Baltic Sea. The 5,600 islands of the Kvarken Archipelago feature unusual ridged washboard moraines, ‘De Geer moraines’, formed by the melting of the continental ice sheet, 10,000 to 24,000 years ago.
Situated on the Gulf of Botnia, Rauma is one of the oldest harbours in Finland. Built around a Franciscan monastery, where the mid-15th-century Holy Cross Church still stands, it is an outstanding example of an old Nordic city constructed in wood. Although ravaged by fire in the late 17th century, it has preserved its ancient vernacular architectural heritage.
Petäjävesi Old Church
Petäjävesi Old Church in central Finland, was built of logs between 1763 and 1765. This Lutheran country church is a typical example of an architectural tradition that is unique to eastern Scandinavia. It combines the Renaissance conception of a centrally planned church with older forms deriving from Gothic groin vaults.
Verla Groundwood and Board Mill
Verla Groundwood and Board Mill (1996) and its associated residential area is an outstanding, remarkably well-preserved example of the small-scale rural industrial settlements associated with pulp, paper and board production that flourished in northern Europe and North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Only a handful of such settlements survive to the present day.
Struve Geodetic Arc
Struve Geodetic Arc (2005) is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through 10 countries and over 2,820 km. These are points of a survey, carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian.
There are more than 1,000 museums in Finland that cater to every conceivable interest. In Helsinki, the over 80 museums include the Ateneum, Finland’s National Gallery; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma, designed by American architect Steven Holl and the Design Museum just to mention a few.
There are 37 National Parks in Finland. Near Helsinki there is Nuuksio National Park and up in the north there is Lemmenjoki and Urho Kekkonen Kansallispuisto National Parks.
In Nuuksio it is possible to escape the busy capital city and experience nature. With its marked trails, cooking shelters and camping sites Nuuksio is ideal for short hiking trips lasting one or two days.
Nuuksio National Park forms the western part of the so called Nuuksio lake uplands, the most extensive and ecologically important continuous backwoods area in the Uusimaa Region. Because it is located in southern Finland and affected by broken bedrock, the park consists of an intricate mosaic of habitats, where dozens of threatened and near threatened species live.
Lemmenjoki National Park is a dream destination for someone who enjoys trekking. It is the largest National Park in Finland, and also one of the whole Europe’s most extensive uninhabited and roadless backwoods. In the basic zone of the National Park and in the gold area, there are marked trails, open wilderness huts and rental huts, and campfire places, to make hiking easier. A boat trip in the wilderness-like valley of Lemmenjoki River is an experience in itself.
Urho Kekkonen National Park is an inviting place for visitors to hike during all seasons. The sun-lit nights of spring and summer, bright changing colours of autumn and calming darkness of the Polar Nights (kaamos) help visitors gather their strength, while hiking and experiencing this forest wilderness, which is unique in Europe. The western side of the park has marked trails, which make it easy for even the inexperienced backpacker to move around. Alternatively it is possible to go on long and demanding hikes in the park’s wilderness zones. Sompio Strict Nature Reserve and Urho Kekkonen National Park have a mutual border. An old trail called Ruija Trail leads across the strict nature reserve. Urho Kekkonen National Park is one of Finland’s largest protected areas. The huge expanse of the park covers magnificent fells, broad mires and backwoods. Reindeer husbandry, hunting and fishing have long traditions in the region. They have left their mark in the form of hole traps, reindeer fences, herders’ huts and restored Koltta Sámi settlements. Reindeer husbandry is to this day the main source of livelihood in the region.
Destinations include Lapland above the Arctic Circle, the Lakeland, Helsinki and the Southern Finland, and the Coastal Areas and Archipelago.
With the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun, rich wildlife and vast wildernesses, Finnish Lapland is all about soothing natural beauty and wild adventures.
The cities and villages on the shores of Lakeland offer a variety of lovely accommodation and activities in breath-taking scenery. Try renting a summer cottage.
A modern and compact European capital by the Baltic Sea, Helsinki is a haven for design and architecture buffs. The small towns and green areas around the city are great for day trips.
Coastal Areas and Archipelago
Historical cities, harbor towns, lighthouses, and maritime culture in general characterize Finland’s 1,100 kilometers of coastline and the rocky archipelago off it.
Finland has very traditional food culture but Finnish chefs are always looking more innovative and modern food. New Nordic Cuisine has overtaken the food scene. Restaurants are using the highest quality of fresh local produce. The chefs working in Helsinki are creating dishes that highlight the unique flavors of each radically different season in Finland. Market Halls, Farmers Market and open-air markets offer fresh local produce all around Finland.
Helsinki has a total of 6 Michelin-starred restaurants, and they’re all quite different from one another. Demo combines French and Finnish influences. Olo is situated in a 19th-century townhouse. Luomo has tables overlooking the harbor. Ask is hidden away as is Chef & Sommelier, which is situated within residential apartment blocks. Noted for its desserts in particular, Postres offers classical Scandinavian cooking in a stylish setting.
In addition Helsinki offers sheer diversity of popup restaurants that appear in the streets, parks and homes of Helsinki during Restaurant Day, now held four times a year. Helsinki also has a dynamic new Centre for food culture, the Abattoir, which hosts a variety of innovative food-related events.
Great design can be found throughout the city, reaffirming just why Helsinki reigned as the World Design Capital in 2012-2013. Finland is recognized around the world for its playful and practical designs and talented designers. In addition to established names such as Marimekko, iittala, and Artek, new Finnish designers and wonderful products emerge frequently. Design is central to life and society. The underlying characteristics of Finnish design are its intimate relationship with nature. The Design District in Helsinki is an area full of design and antique shops, fashion stores, museums, art galleries.
Shopping hours in Finland are from 10am to 9pm on weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturdays and 12pm to 6pm on Sundays.
There are plenty of sports activities to do while in Finland. Skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding (mostly in the north), skating, fishing, tennis, swimming, biking etc. Finnish people are especially into watching ice hockey and other winter sports, but also soccer and other summer sports are popular.