What to do and see in Finland: activities and places not to be missed

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Valery Aloyants
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wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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From the vibrant art-filled cities of Helsinki and Turku to the depths of the boreal forests and the sparsely inhabited outer archipelago, Finland remains one of Europe's relatively lesser-known corners. While the cities offer many cultural and historical attractions, the surrounding nature serves as a playground for both winter and summer activities. But what to do and see in Finland?

Certainly the most important areas to visit in Finland are Helsinki, Tampere and all the Lapland. But there are other destinations, a little less beaten by mass tourism, which are certainly worth a visit, and these are what we are going to describe.



What to see in Finland

With its wide open spaces, forests and lakes as far as the eye can see, Finland is a paradise for nature lovers in any season. Spring, summer, fall and winter, the country offers exceptional landscapes and a wide range of outdoor activities.

Lapland

Of course, Lapland is one of the main places to see in Finland. This immense territory in the north of the country is a magical destination and must be discovered in every season.

In winter, you can go hunting for the Northern Lights, ride a dog sled, learn cross-country skiing or use snowshoes. In summer, you can enjoy the midnight sun. In autumn, Ruska as it is called by the locals, marvel at the leaves of the trees, adorned with red, yellow and orange.

Among the highlights of Lapland are there Rovaniemi, the village of Santa Claus, Inari the capital of Sami culture, Levi, Ranua e Ivalo.

Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi, Finland - Foto da Istock

We go to the northern half of Finland to talk about a very special city, Rovaniemi, particularly famous for being the home of Santa Claus. Santa Claus Village is one of the most visited places in Finland, in addition to Santa Park, a small theme park that children love.



Rovaniemi also has other attractions that are worth a visit, such as the Museum of the Arctic, which collects all kinds of Arctic-related objects, documents and materials; or theArtic Snow Hotel, a magical hotel, entirely made of ice, perfect for fully enjoying the spectacle of the Northern Lights. If you travel in winter Rovaniemi has some ski slopes which are among the most popular in Finland.

Tours and excursions to visit Rovaniemi

The Turku Archipelago

Port of Turku - Image from Pixabay

Turku is the oldest city in the country, founded in the late 13th century. Its main attractions are: the Aurajoki river running through the city, the Turku castle, built in 1280, the market Square (Kauppatori), il Swedish theater, Hansa commercial center with glass roof e Cathedral overlooking the river.

The liveliest part of the city is the banks of the river along which old ships have been converted into restaurants, and where families flock to stroll, eat and listen to music.

The Finnish islands that make up the archipelago are a paradise for lovers of outdoor activity. The most interesting to visit in the park are Jurmo, Noto, Tue, At least e Wood cutting.

Find a Turku hotel

Helsinki

Helsinki, Finlandia – Foto da Piqsels

The Finnish capital never goes unnoticed on a Baltic tour. Helsinki is dynamic, pleasant and captivating. Its position in the southern part, near the sea, makes the visit much easier.



The Helsinki Cathedral, with its famous neoclassical entrance, the Uspenki Orthodox Cathedral, the port area, the Sibelius monument, the town hall or Esplanadi boulevard are some of the places you shouldn't miss.

The port market is also not to be missed. From its pier you can take a ferry to reach the island and the Suomenlinna fortress (incredible walled fortress).

Find a hotel in Helsinki

Suomenlinna fortress

This 18th century fortress is one of the largest sea fortresses in the world and is built on Suomenlinna, a vast complex of 8 islands surrounded by 6 kilometers of walls.

Built in 1748, the fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the top things to see in Finland. It was originally erected by the Swedes before being taken by the Russians and then reconquered by the Finns when they declared independence.

It takes a 15-minute ferry ride from the Helsinki Market Square. Explore its ramparts, tunnels and museums and hike the trails around the beautiful island. Or book a guided tour to learn more about the fort and its various attractions.

Riisitunturi National Park

This Finnish national park, located in the south-east of Lapland, very close to the town of Posio, is an invitation to walk, with its majestic coniferous forests crisscrossed by trails on which the lucky ones can come across moose!

Lemmenjoki National Park

Anyone looking for an arctic desert experience will love Lemmenjoki National Park. AND the largest park in Finland and one of the largest chunks of wasteland in all of Europe, covering more than 1000 square miles.



For hikers, there are hundreds of miles of marked trails and free huts to rest or more sophisticated huts for rent with saunas and bonfires.

Made up of vast expanses of conifers and rivers where it is possible to fish, this splendid natural area, perfectly preserved, is the right place to meet the brown bear, the wolf and the golden eagle as well as the elk and reindeer.

Parco Nazionale Pyhä-Luosto

 

If you're looking for a perfect photo of Finland, head to Pyhä-Luosto National Park, where you'll find miles of pine forests, gorges and spectacular peaks.

The park is home to the Lampivaara amethyst mine but also has 90 miles of trails, so if you like hiking, this is truly an attraction to visit.

Some of the main points of interest in the park are there Pyhä waterfall e Isokuru, the deepest gorge in the country. There are also 75 miles of ski slopes and you can go snowmobiling or enjoy a reindeer sleigh ride.

Lumilinna - the ice castle

 

Lumilinna is actually better known as Lumilinna Snow Castle in Kemi and if you are in the area, you should definitely visit it. The castle has everything you would expect, towers, walls and a drawbridge, but the twist is that everything is made of compacted snow and ice.

It is rebuilt every year after it melts during the spring months and the inside is as beautiful as the outside. Here you will find thrones, canopied beds and ice sculptures and you can even spend the night or eat in his restaurant.

Tour from Rovaniemi to Kemi Ice Castle

Aland Islands

The Aland Islands are located between Sweden and Finland and are technically an autonomous region despite being a province of Finland.

The Aland archipelago is made up of over 10.000 small islands and has a population of around 27.500 people. The main city is called Mariehamn and has been an important trading port.

There are many possible activities to do in winter and in summer… You can camp, cycle, kayak, hike, fish, discover small remote islands, enjoy nature, go horseback riding and eat fantastic fish dishes.

The easiest way to get to Mariehamn is to take a ferry from Turku in Finland or Stockholm in neighboring Sweden.

The ski resorts

Luosto - This winter sports resort, in Lapland near Sodankylä, represents everything a tourist visiting Finland can expect from this beautiful country: you can have fun skiing or snowboarding, you can see reindeer during a photo safari or you can contemplate the beauty of the Northern Lights whose season runs from October to March.

Hand - This popular winter sports resort in the northern part of Ostrobothnia is very close to the country's third largest city, Kuusamo. It goes without saying that it is stormed during the holidays or weekends! In addition to skiing, you can also go fishing, mountain biking or rafting during the summer season.

Iso-Syöte - It is in the region of Northern Ostrobothnia, more precisely near the municipality of Pudasjärvi, that we find this small winter sports resort, perfect for families.

Grotto in Högberget

Near Helsinki is the Högberget cave, also known as the "Womb of Mother Earth". The cave is said to date back to the Ice Age and you can venture inside and admire all the majesty of this extraordinary relic from a bygone era.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort –

Tucked away in the wilderness for which Finland is so famous, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is an impressive location as it looks straight out of a science fiction movie. It is one of the main attractions to see in Finland.

The resort is famous for having glass igloos that allow tourists to stay overnight under a starry sky and gaze directly at the Northern Lights from its transparent walls.

Book an igloo at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

What to do in Finland

Snowy landscapes of Finland - Image from Pixabay

Finland is the place ideal for winter sports and not only that, during the freezing Finnish winters, cross-country skiing is often the only way to get around. There are marked trails all over the country, including in many national parks.

Finland's wild lakes and rivers provide some excellent opportunities for canoeing, rafting and water skiing.

Also here it is possible to whiz on the snow on a traditional dog sled or wear your hiking shoes and follow the many trails of Lapland especially in early autumn, when the trees and vegetation wear the colors of the rainbow.

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