If you’re planning a trip to Finland, there’s a good chance seeing the Northern Lights is at the top of your list. During the winter, Lapland, the northernmost region of the country, is known as one of the best places in the world to see its famous natural light show. As amazing as the experience may be, seeing the Northern Lights is just one of the many reasons to visit this Nordic country.
Adventurous travelers and those who prefer fresh air to indoor activities will find Finland right at home. Also known as the “Land of a Thousand Lakes,” the country has approximately 188,000 lakes that offer activities such as ice fishing, swimming, paddleboarding, and cruising. Finland is also covered in lush forests and vast natural areas. In fact, there are 41 national parks, all of which showcase the diversity of Finland’s landscape, flora and fauna. Spending time in nature is very important to understanding Finland and its charm. Therefore, be sure to reserve time in your itinerary for a trip to Lake Payanne or Nuuksio National Park. “Daily life is similar in all the Nordic countries, but I think Finns value silence and nature more,” says Ritta Kiukas, his CEO of Active He Holidays Finland by His Skafer His Tours. Masu. “His hour in the forest every day makes us happy.” To find the secret of Finland’s happiness, visit Helsinki (Finland’s capital), Rovaniemi (home of Santa Claus) and Finnish traditional We also recommend the sauna.
Consider setting aside at least 5-7 days to explore Finland. “Geographically Finland is large and the distances are long. Therefore, I recommend that he book at least a week,” says Kiukas. If you get lost or need help during your trip, don’t hesitate to ask a Finn for help. “I think one of the biggest misconceptions about Finland is that people are very reserved and cold. Some people may think so, but most people are really kind and warm and will go out of their way to help someone. I’m willing to go far just for that,” says Eero Vottonen, chef at Helsinki’s Michelin-starred restaurant Palace.
meet an expert
Riitta Kiukas is the CEO of Active Holiday Finland by Skafur-Tour, a Finnish travel agency offering numerous tours and experiences.
Eero Vottonen is the award-winning Finnish chef of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Palace in Helsinki.
Want to know more about what this Nordic country has to offer? Here are the 15 best places to visit in Finland, according to locals.
Related: Best time to visit Finland for outdoor adventures, Northern Lights viewing, and more
Helsinki is not only the capital of Finland, but also the gateway to discovering other parts of Finland, especially for international travelers. Like many European cities, Helsinki combines history dating back to 1550 with modern art, architecture, and an abundance of great restaurants and cafes. For a culturally rich experience, visit Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Design Museum, and Gallery Forsblom.
The Åland archipelago is made up of approximately 6,700 islands. Chef Vottonen says there are “many beautiful landscapes to explore”, especially during the summer months. This borough is perfect for island hopping. The islands with permanent residents are connected by ferries. Don’t know where to start? Kiukas suggests Cokal as “a small island with a unique archipelago nature”. “Our customers love everything there, and many people cycle around the Åland Islands,” she says.
Saunas are at the heart of Finnish culture, and Tampere has the most public saunas in Finland (over 55) and holds the title of ‘Sauna Capital of the World’. Chef Vottonen describes his former hometown as “the easiest, [most] Cold atmosphere. ” If you are interested in a traditional sauna experience, book a session at Rajaporti, the country’s oldest continuously operating public sauna.
Nuuksio National Park
“We Finns usually have a relationship with the wild and the forest,” says Chef Vottonen. “If you hike or walk any of the following; [our] Our stunning national parks show why. [They’re] They are usually very well maintained and it is also possible to book indoor sleeping. ” Nuuksio National Park is easily accessible from Helsinki, and those traveling overnight can spend the day hiking, swimming, and cycling in the park, then book a cozy cabin to sleep in. .
Finland’s oldest city and former capital, Turku is sure to be a highlight for travelers especially interested in Nordic cuisine. travel + leisure Journalist Tom Vanderbilt features Small and Michelin-starred Kaskis in his guide to Turku, but this riverside town has plenty of other restaurants and activities to fill your day with. It can be enriched. Most notable are the 13th-century Turku Castle, Turku Cathedral, and the outdoor market square.
Kiukas includes Posio, “Finland’s most sustainable village”, on his list of the best places to visit in Finland. Located in Lapland, Posio is perfect for “individuals and small groups looking for an authentic experience,” she says. The village is also the center of Finland’s ceramic culture. Pentic, the world’s northernmost ceramic factory, and the Arctic Ceramic Center are both based in Posio.
The islands near Helsinki include Suomenlinna, an 18th-century maritime fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chef Vottonen calls it “a must-visit place in the summer” and encourages travelers to “have a picnic, swim in the sea, and enjoy the restaurants.” Those interested in the history of the sea fortress can learn more at six different museums on site.
Finnish Lake District
Finland’s Lake District is Europe’s largest lake district, and the region has a variety of towns, villages, and bodies of water to explore. Kiukas recommends starting in Hameenlinna or Lahti, “a town in southern Finland that many travelers pass through because they are so close to Helsinki.” “This is the beginning of the Lake District and gives you a taste of country life. Slow down and enjoy the tranquility, the lake and the nature around you,” she says.
Ranua Wildlife Park
If you want to see polar bears, lynx, arctic foxes, and a variety of other arctic species, head to Ranua Wildlife Park, about an hour’s drive south of Rovaniemi. The animals live in enclosures in the middle of the northern coniferous forest, and the park is open all year round.
To learn a little about Finland’s history, Chef Vottonen recommends visiting Porvoo, Finland’s second oldest city. “[It’s] It’s just a short drive from Helsinki,” he says. Travelers can “take a boat ride… and admire the beautiful coastline.” The Old Porvoo district is known for its traditional red-painted wooden houses along the Porvojoki River, and its cobblestone streets and quaint cafes make it a tourist destination. It creates a picturesque landscape for visitors and locals alike.
Winter sports enthusiasts will be interested in visiting Levi, Finland’s largest ski resort. Skiing, snowboarding, dog sledding, winter hiking and snowshoeing are all available in Levi, and it’s also a great place to see the Northern Lights. The light show can be seen on clear nights, but you can also take a guided tour to ensure you get the best views.
Kiukas calls Valkaus a “hidden gem on the shores of Lake Saimaa” and says there is a “contrast between the pure nature of the lake and its industrial heritage”. It is a popular destination for water travelers due to its easy access to the surrounding lakes and canals. When you’re not exploring the waterways, you can stop by the Mechanical Music “Museum” (the quotation marks are intentional around “museum”), the Taipare Canal Museum, or the Vajnola Arts Center.
Lemmenjoki National Park
Finland’s largest national park, Lemmenjoki, is known for its natural beauty and gold mining history. You can explore the area by hiking, canoeing, or boating on the Lemmenjoki River. Travelers will also get a glimpse into the culture of the indigenous Sami people. The park has old houses and hunting grounds.
Kiukas recommends anyone traveling to Finland to stop by Fiskars. Fiskars is “an example of an old industrial village now providing working space for artisans and artists.” Billed as the “Home of Creativity”, this village is the birthplace of Fiskars Corporation, a well-known Finnish company that manufactures culinary, gardening and craft products, including the world’s first plastic-handled scissors.