Travel to Finland, holidays & Best places to visit in Finland
Travel to Finland and meet a beautiful Nordic country that is known as the birthplace of sauna culture and the home of Santa Claus. Also greet a magnificent nature and perhaps the world´s best gin and vodka. Not to mention an inspiring cuisine and reindeer en masse. And finally world-class design from architects like the Finish top architect Alvar Aalto. Although geographically not a part of Scandinavia, Finland shares many similar traits with Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. It is frequently named one of the happiest nations in the world and once you’ve been there you’ll understand why.
Travel guide to Finland
Travel guide to Finland Holidays: Despite Finland’s stunning unspoiled nature, pristine lakes, quirky towns, and gorgeous archipelagos, it has remained a relatively unknown corner of Europe and on the positive side still maintains its authentic charm. Although most people visiting Finland head to the vibrant capital city Helsinki, there is so much more to discover in the Country of a Thousand Lakes.
Here’s our selection of the best places to visit on your Finland Holidays. There is bound to be more than one.
1) Helsinki, top location on the list of Finland Holidays
Finland’s capital city Helsinki is located on a peninsula in the Baltic Sea on the country’s southern coast. It’s the main point of entry for the majority of tourists coming to Finland and the most popular place to visit in the country. Helsinki is a modern bustling city where you can expect to find sleek architecture, world-class museums, excellent galleries as well as some historical attractions.
Some of the most notable sights in Helsinki are its churches, such as the stunning Uspenski Cathedral with its 13 towers and a lavish interior, and the giant white Helsinki Cathedral overlooking the Senate Square. Make sure to also visit the unique Temppeliaukio Church. Carved into solid rock, this church looks like no other and is a true architectural masterpiece. Those interested in museums should visit the Kiasma Museum to see the best Finnish contemporary art and the National Museum of Finland to learn about the country’s history.
Just a short ferry ride from Helsinki is the 18th-century Suomenlinna Fortress. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the largest sea fortresses in the world and an ideal place to spend a sunny summer day.
To taste some traditional food, shop for souvenirs and local handicrafts, visit the Market Square, known as Kauppatori. From Nordic berries and fresh Finnish pastries to various salmon dishes and reindeer products, the market offers a wide variety of foods and is a great place to get to know the local cuisine.
The town of Rovaniemi is situated right on the Arctic Circle in northern Finland and is the capital of Lapland. Known as the gateway town to the Arctic region and the ‘official’ home of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi and its surroundings are home to a variety of wonderful attractions.
One of the most popular places to visit here is the Santa Claus Village. Open all year round, the picturesque village offers you the opportunity to meet Santa, his elves, and reindeer, enjoy the festive atmosphere and even send a letter from Santa’s Post Office.
Besides visiting the Christmas-focused attractions, you can also go snowshoeing, dog sledding, skiing or take a reindeer sleigh ride through the beautiful untouched wilderness of Lapland. To learn about the Arctic region and the history of Finnish Lapland, visit the Arktikum museum and science center.
Rovaniemi is also a great place for spotting Aurora Borealis aka the northern lights. This phenomenon is only visible in the darker months of the year and you’ll have the best chances of seeing it from December to March. In early summer, however, you’ll be able to witness another fascinating phenomenon known as the Midnight Sun with 24 consecutive hours of sunlight.
For a once-in-a-lifetime hotel experience, stay at an igloo with a glass roof. Equipped with all the modern amenities, these igloos allow you to marvel at the northern lights and starry sky from the comfort of your bed.
3) Finnish Lakeland, must-see on Finland holidays, choose between 55.000 lakes!
Finnish Lakeland extends across the eastern and central parts of Finland. As its name suggests, the region is characterized by an abundance of lakes, more precisely about 55,000 of them! In addition to the lakes, the area is home to marshes, rivers and hilly forest-covered landscapes full of hiking trails. It’s the perfect destination to visit if you’re looking to get away from the crowds and connect with nature.
The largest lake in the region is Lake Saimaa, also known as the “lake of a thousand islands”, which covers an area of 4400 square meters. Here you can rent a cottage by the giant shimmering lake and experience what it’s like to relax like a Finn. In the summer, you can take a boat cruise, go fishing, swim, kayaking, paddleboarding, or hiking whereas in the winter you can go ice skating or ice swimming.
The largest town in Finnish Lakeland is Savonlinna. Some of the most famous attractions in this lovely historical town are the 15th-century Olavinlinna Castle, the world’s biggest wooden church in Kerimäki, and Lusto Forest Museum. Savonlinna is also known for its excellent spa and wellness hotels perfect for a relaxing holiday.
4) The Åland 6700 Islands, a country in Finland so to speak
Located halfway between Finland and Sweden, the Åland Islands is an archipelago of 6700 islands in the Baltic Sea. The islands are an autonomous region of Finland but the majority of their population is actually Swedish-speaking.
The archipelago’s capital is Mariehamn with a population of 11,000. This port town is known for its green parks, sandy beaches and a vibrant town center full of restaurants, shops and 19th-century townhouses. Mariehamn also has a long maritime history, which you can learn about at Pommern, a large sailing ship turned into a museum.
However, the main reason why tourists visit the Finnish Åland Islands is the beautiful unspoiled nature. There are various boat excursions to choose from, which take you through the maze of small islands and scenic landscapes. You might even spot some wildlife like seals or eagles. If you prefer to do something more active, you can rent a kayak or join a kayaking tour to explore the waters around the archipelago.
To see the islands from land, rent a bike and discover the amazing nature along the various flat and cycle-friendly roads. Åland also has several hiking trails ranging from short nature walks to long-distance paths up to 60 kilometers in length. Passing untouched forests, prehistoric monuments, rocky hills and coastal scenery, the trails offer a varied landscape and spectacular views.
Lying on the southwest coast of Finland, Turku is the former capital city of the Finnish country. It is the oldest town in Finland and is home to a variety of historical and cultural attractions. Although Turku is rather small it is certainly worth a visit.
The focal point of Turku is the Aurajoki River which cuts right through the center of the city. Its lively riverbanks are lined with historic boats, numerous shops and restaurants, and are a popular place for the locals to hang out. Make sure to stroll through the town’s historic center, where you’ll find charming cobblestone alleys, colorful buildings and a medieval ambiance. The most notable sights here are the 102-meter tall Turku Cathedral and the Old Market Square.
The most famous attraction in the city is Turku Castle. Situated at the mouth of the Aurajoki River, it is the largest medieval castle in Finland and dates back to 1280. Throughout history, it has been used as a defensive fortress, a prison and a luxurious residential palace. Nowadays, the castle is home to a fascinating museum about the history and culture of Finland.
Finland’s second-oldest city Porvoo is situated on the country’s south coast, at the mouth of the Porvoonjoki River. It is just an hour’s drive from Helsinki but it can also be reached by a relaxing boat cruise through Helsinki’s archipelago.
Undoubtedly the most picturesque part of the Finnish city is the idyllic Old Porvoo with its red waterfront boat sheds, colorful wooden houses and cobblestone streets. As you wander around this charming medieval quarter, you’ll see 13th-century landmarks, museums, interesting boutiques and cafes. Make sure to also visit the beautiful Porvoo Cathedral overlooking the old town.
Besides its historic charm, Porvoo is also known for its unique and high-quality handicrafts, which you can buy in many shops in Old Porvoo. From antique toys and jewelry to interior decoration items, there’s a variety of local products available which make for a perfect souvenir. The town is also home to several artisanal confectionaries selling mouth-watering chocolate truffles, macaroons, fudge and licorice, all hand-crafted using the highest quality ingredients.
On Finland’s west coast, you’ll find the seaside town of Vaasa, a Finnish destination that combines vibrant city life with beautiful natural surroundings. In the past, Vaasa used to belong to Sweden and even nowadays you can still sense a strong Swedish influence here.
The best way to get to know Vaasa is to simply walk around because the city is quite small. Around its central market square (Kauppatori) you’ll find a wide range of cafes, restaurants, shops, and a mix of old and new architecture. Stroll along Vaasa waterfront, which stretches for kilometers along the coast, and enjoy lovely views of the sea and the surrounding nature. If you’re visiting the city in the summer, spend some time in one of Vaasa’s sandy beaches like Sandö Beach and Kustaanlinna Beach.
Just a short drive from the city center, you’ll find the ruins of Old Vaasa. The city was originally located 6 kilometers from its current location. However, in 1852 it burned down completely and was then rebuilt by the coast. This historical site has now been turned into a park where you can see the few remaining ruins and learn about the history of Vaasa.
The city of Tampere is situated in southern Finland and is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the country. Although it’s the third-largest city in Finland, it still maintains a relaxed small-town feel. Surrounded by lakes and forests, the natural scenery around Tampere is spectacular and attracts many outdoor enthusiasts.
The city is known as the sauna capital of the world and is home to more than 50 public saunas. If you want to get a taste of the authentic Finnish sauna culture, there’s no better place for that than Tampere. From rustic smoke saunas to modern luxury saunas and cute barrel saunas with lake access, there’s a wide variety of options to choose from.
In addition to saunas, Tampere is also known for its industrial and cultural heritage. Wander around the Finlayson area to see the typical industrial architecture of Tampere and explore a former cotton factory. Nowadays, the area is a vibrant hub of quirky shops, cafes, restaurants, and museums.
Visit also the beautiful Stallipiha Stable Yards, which is where factory owner Wilhelm von Nottbeck built stable houses for his horses. Today, this idyllic historic site is home to craft shops, beautiful gardens and 19th-century cottages.
9) Levi should be included in the Finland holidays
Located in the beautiful Lapland region, Levi is the center of all kinds of winter activities in Finland and is the largest ski resort in the country. With miles of well-maintained trails for cross-country skiing as well as countless slopes for snowboarding and downhill skiing, Levi is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts.
On top of skiing and snowboarding, the region also offers a wide range of other outdoor activities. Take a snowmobile tour to explore the wilderness of Lapland, go on a snowshoe hike to see the majestic northern lights, or visit the Snow Village to marvel at incredible ice sculptures. There’s also a variety of reindeer sleigh tours and husky safaris to choose from in the Levi area. You can even visit the Elves Village to participate in different games and workshops, and bake gingerbread with the elves.
After a long day outside in the cold, pamper yourself with a hot sauna session or a relaxing spa treatment. The best place to do this is Levi Spa Hotel where you’ll find outdoor jacuzzis, water slides, swimming pools, and various types of saunas.
Levi also has plenty of lively clubs and bars where you can dance the night away after a day of skiing. Whether you prefer live music performances, karaoke singing, cabaret shows or laid-back pubs, there’s something for everyone in Levi.
More travel news from the Nordic countries
Lapland, shared by Norway, Sweden and Finland