Finland is a fascinating country, though one that is often sadly overlooked. However, with sprawling rocky forests, quiet seasides, beautiful architecture, and amazing saunas, there are lots of things to do in Finland.
Nature is a huge part of any visit to Finland; visiting in summer and visiting during the winter can often give you completely different experience. You can spend the long summer days exploring the sights, swimming, camping or hiking. At the same time, winter is the perfect time to participate in winter sports.
Go Hiking in a Finnish National Park
Finland has 40 national parks scattered across the country, and all of them are filled with diverse wildlife. Lakes, forests, and mountains make then the ideal spot for outdoor activities. They are the perfect place to go swimming, hiking, camping or fishing during the summer. During the winter, you can also try snowshoeing or skiing. Finland’s national parks have “everyman’s rights,” which mean that anyone can explore the parks, as long as you respect the wildlife and clean up after yourself.
Experience the Northern Lights, or the Midnight Sun
Finland is a land of great contrasts. In this “land of the midnight sun,” any summer visit will be filled with light, as the sun doesn’t set at all in the northernmost parts of the country. However, with the winter comes months darkness, but also snow, which creates a beautiful winter wonderland. The bright snow, shining moon and twinkling stars, along with the breathtaking ‘Northern Lights’ create a magical experience. Much like the midnight sun, the best place to see the Aurora Borealis is in the northernmost parts of the country.
Visit the Turku Archipelago
The Baltic Sea to the south of Turku, the oldest city in Finland, is home to the largest archipelago in the world. Over 20,000 islands and skerries can be found here, forming the Archipelago National Park. Apart from being a favourite of outdoor enthusiasts with their diverse flora and fauna, they also offer a unique mix of Finnish, Russian, and Swedish cultural influences. Take a boat through the incredible islands and visit their majestic lighthouses, or rent one of the many summer cottages in the area.
Sweat it out in a Sauna
There are quite literally millions of saunas in Finland. They are a favourite Finnish pass time. Much like the Japnese onsen, they’re also an opportunity to socialize. An ancient tradition, many saunas can be found on the shores of lakes, especially in the Finnish Lakeland. A sit in the hot sauna is usually followed by a dip in a lake or pool, even in the winter, and this is repeated two to three times.
Explore the Exciting Cities
Finland isn’t just full of vast expanses of wilderness (though they do cover 78% of the country). It is also full of vibrant cities, especially in the south of the country. Helsinki, the capital (pictured), offers lots of unique cultural and historical attractions, along with museums, art galleries, restaurants, and shopping. Tampere and Turku are just as lively, filled with spectacular architecture and quirky bars.
Escape to Lake Saimaa
Located in the east of Finland, Lake Saimaa is one of the most beautiful in the country. Covering 1,300 square kilometres and covered with small islands its name actually means “lake of a thousand lakes”. There are many beautiful spots around the lake, but the major city is Savonlinna. The town is dominated by the Olavinlinna Castle (pictured). This castle has been restored and is filled with beautiful rooms, round towers, and even a small chapel.
See Beautiful Old Wooden Towns
In the olden days, all of Finland’s houses were built of wood. Why, of course, over 70% of our land is covered by forest – that’s more than any other country in Europe. Often painted with vibrant colours, they can be seen in certain neighbourhoods of Helsinki, as well as in Old Porvoo and Loviisa. However, the best place to see beautiful houses is in the western town of Rauma. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has over 600 buildings that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries
Of course, there are lots of other things to do in Finland. From going for a ride in a reindeer sleigh to meeting Santa, or trying some of the delicious locally sourced food, there is something for everyone in this otherworldly country.