Also called Suomi by its inhabitants, Finland is known as the land of a thousand lakes. When you think of Finland you inevitably think of forests and winter, the sauna, and Nokia. One of the many official homes of Santa Claus (Rovaniemi) and the Moomins, is also the home to a population whose language has 15 nouns and forms a singular language group with Hungarian.
The land that brought us hand-held phones, and delighted many an Asian with Angry Bird, is certainly not the rural backwater it might once have been. Helsinki is cool and hip, and offers plenty of entertainment and cutting edge architecture.
The Finns are known to be quiet and shy, a night out in Helsinki will prove otherwise. Or join them at one of the many festivals that brighten up the long summer days.
Whether you come in winter to be whisked around in a dog-sled, or in summer to swim in one of its many clear blue lakes, there never is a bad time to visit Finland. Trod around the vast forests in search of berries or bears, sail around the many islands that sprinkle the coast, visit Santa up north, watch the northern lights in Lapland, immerse yourself in Sami culture, sweat in a sauna before heading out onto a frozen lake for a dip in an ice-hole, or try your hand at deciphering Finnish.
Its time to join the Finns in the sauna and discover the Finnish soul.
Highlights from Finland
- Discover Helsinki (aka Helsingfors) with it many museums and classic and modern architecture and enticing nightlife
- Get out into the forests and lakes, go kayaking or swimming, or just hike through the forests
- Visit Åland (aka Ahvenanmaa) an autonomous archipelago between Finland and Sweden
- Go to Rovaniemi and pay a visit to Santa, this is also the place to find out about Sami culture
- Take a reindeer or dogsled ride in the snow and watch the northern lights
- Warm up in a sauna before you go ice-fishing on one of the frozen lakes
- Canoe around lake Saimaa with its many islands and admire Olavinlinna (aka Olofsborg) Castle
- Hike around Lemmenjoki National Park (aka Lemmenjoen kansallispuisto) and try to spot brown bears, golden eagles and a moose or two
- Wander around Turku (aka Åbo), Finland’s oldest town, before heading out to its archipelago and find an island all to yourself
- Trek around Oulanka National Park (aka Oulangan kansallispuisto) in Lapland
Hints and Tips for Finland
- Luckily a lot of Finns speak English, or else we would all be in trouble there.
- Camping is allowed anywhere in Finland, but if you are near a house or a farm, ask for permission first.
- Finland’s forests and parks are vast, stay on the trails.
- There are often huts in the national parks along the main trails, these are free to use for sleeping and camping.