Scenes of great beauty will unfold before your eyes when you step into the unspoilt wonderland of the Finns. Bordering Sweden to the west, Russia to east and Norway to the north, Finland is a Nordic country jampacked with interesting contrasts and awe-inspiring attractions. Its language may be one of the most complex and difficult, but it’s all too easy to fall head over heels with the country. Save for holding the record of the cleanest air and water, it is also considered as the safest place in the world. Yes, you can walk alone in city parks or use public transport regardless of the hour!
Finland’s capital, Helsinki, may be the country’s largest city but life here is like that of a small seaside town—cosy and unclenched. While it’s an urban centre rich in culture and architectural marvels, it is surrounded by beaches, parks and gardens, and forests accessible from every part of the city. Top sights include the UNESCO-listed 18th century fortress of Suomenlinna, the Helsinki Cathedral rising above all other buildings, the Market Square, and the bizarre Sibelius Monument.
Famous for its everlasting subarctic wilderness and fabulous ski resorts, Lapland is definitely above the ordinary. It’s no surprise Santa Claus chose it as his home! It is an unparalleled wonderland with many faces. Dancing Northern Lights are spotted almost every winter night and then during the spectacular phenomenon called the Midnight Sun, the whole region bathes in the 24-hour never-setting sun for nearly three months. At times, the sun no longer rises above the horizon, swallowing the whole place in shades of blue and violet, which is called the Polar Night. Lapland is also one of the best ski destinations as the skiing season here can last over six months. Throughout the frozen season, there are plenty of winter activities to choose from, including husky and reindeer sleigh rides, snowshoeing, toboggan runs, and polar bear encounters.
Water creates a soothing and peaceful atmosphere and there’s no other place in the world as waterborne as the Finnish Lakeland. Enclosed by hundreds of lakes, islands, rivers and canals, this region is the perfect destination for people seeking mental tranquillity and laid-back escapades. Admire a beautiful blend of forest and lake landscapes as you journey through Himos-Jämsä, go hiking, cycling or fishing in the breathtaking town of Ruovesi, and visit Savonlinna to see its impressive medieval castle. Many towns and cities have developed in the lake district, you’ll never run out of places to discover!
Coast and archipelago
Off the south and west coast of Finland lies the archipelago with the greatest number of islands in the world. Set sail across the sea to experience the unhurried way of life on one of the more than 180,000 scattered islands. Stay in a lighthouse hotel, visit an ironwork village, taste the most delicious crayfish dishes, and enjoy birdwatching in spring. During winter, you can walk on the frozen Baltic Sea or take an icy plunge into the freezing water—if you dare.
Pure and relaxing nature
Blessed with an extraordinary geography, Finland is nicknamed as the Land of a Thousand Lakes but that’s not the end of it. It’s also the land of a thousand forests—70% of the country is taken over by forest. Here, you are granted freedom to roam in nature, taking in the fresh and calming air whilst revelling in an enchanting setting.
Finns are obsessed with saunas. In fact, there are over 3 million saunas around Finland. You can always find one near you!
It is said that Finnish people consume the most coffee in the world. This more than likely originated due to Finland’s extreme temperature. If you’re a certified coffee lover, then this country is a paradise for you. You’ll find plenty of coffee shops and cafes in any city you visit.
Finnish cuisine always starts with clean and naturally nutrient-rich ingredients, although each region has its own delicious character. Market stalls overflow with fresh produce and festivals are held to celebrate the arrival of favourite foods.
Some of Finland’s most iconic specialties you should try:
- Karjalanpiirakka or Karelian pies - filled with potatoes, rice or carrots
- Kalakukko pies - filled with muikku, a small herring-like fish
- Grillimakkara - big, fat sausages
- Ruisleipä - rye bread
- Korvapuusti – cinnamon buns
- Crayfish or freshwater lobsters
- Reindeer meat
- Salmiakki (salty liquorice)
When to visit
High Season (July)
- Attractions and lodgings are open.
- Hotels outside Helsinki are often substantially cheaper.
- Summer budget accommodation is open.
- Boat cruises are running.
- Numerous festivals held across the country.
Shoulder (June & August)
- Long days with decent temperatures.
- Most attractions are open.
- Not as crowded as July.
- Fewer insects up north.
- Country shuts down over midsummer weekend.
Low Season (September – May)
- Outside cities, many attractions are closed.
- For autumn leaf colour, visit around September to October.
- Hotels charge top rates, except on weekends.
- Aurora-spotting chances are highest in October, November and March.
- Experience plenty of snow from December to March. Also, the best time for winter activities.
- April to May is the period for springtime sun and the revival of nature.
- Short, cool or cold days.