Finland is a pride of the Nordic countries. It has more islands than other countries of the world and more trees than persons. It is a natural wonderland that makes the Finns exceptionally in tune with nature.
Finland protects vast areas of land with their 35 national parks where you can have fantastic opportunities to view exotic birds, bears, elks, and reindeer.
About 69% of the Finnish country comprises of forests and about 10% consists of bodies of water. It is a natural adventure-land for mountain-bikers, trekkers, skiers, dog-sledders, water sports enthusiasts, and fishers. No wonder among the Finnish people’s integral characters is “sisu” – it means “hardiness.”
For most people, the capital Helsinki is their gateway to the amazing Finland. It is a small, friendly city where tidy public squares house historic churches, and ferryboats and market traders crowd the stone wharfs. It’s definitely one of the best places to experience the country’s most famous lively spirit, specially during light midsummer nights.
Things to see and do in Finland
Explore the aesthetic architecture of Helsinki
The capital’s architecture echoes Finland’s Swedish and Russian past combined with its more recent Scandi-styled modernist designs. You can admire the 20th century architecture of Alvar Aalto as well as the Lakeland university town of Jyväskylä (it holds many of the most famous buildings of Finland). Try visiting Jyväskylä in August as during this time it is host to the Finnish World Rally Championship.
Experience the colorful, sometimes bizarre festivals of Finland
Rock mimes are the main event in the Air Guitar World Festival of Oulu, while weird events include the Wife-Carrying World Championship of Sonkajärvi (wives are hauled by husbands like sacks of potatoes) and the Sleepyhead Day of Naantali (lazy residents get tossed out into the sea).
Enjoy the waters and the sunsets of Lakeland – relax, boat, fish, try watersports
Finland is a lake country with some 188,000+ of lakes. Lakeland, which is found in eastern Finland, is the heart of the lake country, holding more than 1,000 lakes. It provides a fantastic opportunity to try exhilarating watersports such as jet-skiing, sailing, canoeing, and water-skiing. It is also a natural playground for adventure swimmers as well as fishing and boating enthusiasts. It is a great spot to watch sunsets on still waters.
Celebrate midsummer – party, camp out in Savonlinna
The sun never fully sets in Finland during summer so the Finns take advantage of this 24 hours daylight, partying throughout the night. Locals retreat in the countryside to their mökkits (or summer cottages) and enjoy the great outdoors. You can camp out in Savonlinna, which is known for its summer opera festivals and medieval castle. Its surrounding forests and lakes are packed with camping grounds wherein to try bird-watching or water activities.
Immerse yourself in Sámi culture – trek, see reindeer
The rugged Lapland, on the other hand, is center of the Sámi people culture. Its little village of Inari is home to traditional reindeer herding since year 1646. It also homes the ‘wilderness church’ and the beautiful Siida museum. Also, it holds three of Finland’s national parks, including the Lemmonjoki National Park which is the largest in Finland – a most favorite destination of gold-panners and trekkers. The mystical snow-covered wilderness of Lapland is also home to over 300,000 reindeer and, of course, the famous Santa Claus.
Visit Santa-themed parks – meet Santa Claus
Rovaniemi has several nearby Santa-themed parks where you can meet Father Christmas himself. Rovaniemi nudges into the Arctic circle making it the Finnish gateway to Lapland. It is a setting of multiple child-friendly attractions featuring Santa Claus. Finnish Christmas indeed is fun throughout the season.
Harness up the huskies at Harriniva and Saiji
Lapland hosts several dog-sled centers in winter most especially at Saiji and Harriniva. You can mush huskies across the snow on a traditional Arctic dog sled – a great, unique invigorating experience.
Snowboard or ski the hills of Lapland
Come winter time and the most efficient and, a lot of times, the only way to get about is through cross-country skiing. Don your skis and go downhill, skiing or snowboarding. Marked tracks are everywhere in the country including national parks.
Watch the beautiful Northern Lights
See the spectacular night skies with the Aurora Borealis transforming the Finnish night skies into a show of psychedelic lights during “kaamos” (the Polar Night). It happens in the months of November through May.
Try ice fishing, drinking kossu with the locals
With a bottle of “kossu” (or Finnish vodka) to keep you warm, join the thousands of Finns in drilling holes in the ice at winter-time to try the challenging, freezing-cold sport of ice fishing.
Relax in a Sauna Bath
Most holiday cottages and hotels in Finland have saunas, but for extra magic, go to the all-time favorite Kotiharjun wood-fired public sauna in the Kallio district of Helsinki. Also, a good try just outside Kuopio is the Jätkänkämppä smoke sauna.
Climb from Kilpisjärvi to the top of Finland
Climb from the Kilpisjärvi village to the picturesque views of the Haltia Fell or Saana Fell, Finland’s highest peak. From one spot you can overlook three countries – Finland, Sweden, and Norway.
Probably the most famous contribution of Finland to the world culture is the use of sauna – the country has an astonishing 1.6 million of saunas.
Key Info About Finland:
- Country: Finland
- Capital: Helsinki
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Languages: Finnish (official) 93.4%, Swedish (official) 5.9%, some Sami and Russian (spoken by small communities)
- Government: Republic
Other places to visit in Finland:
- Karelia, Orthodox Christian villages
- Oulu City and Hailuoto Island
- Turku, oldest town in Finland
- Pohjanmaa beaches and Jakobstad and Kristinestad wooden villages