Finland’s wealth of forested areas, islands and historic cities means you will not run out of things to do. While most famous for its lakes and the Northern Lights, the country has its fair share of beautiful fortresses, castles, churches, and historic districts, not to mention sprawling national parks packed with rich flora and fauna. Every region has its own unique offerings that will leave you wanting more. Aside from the Lapland’s snow-covered ski trails and the steamy saunas, here are some other attractions the country has to offer.
This historic fortress was built in the mid-18th century. Situated on a group of islands near the entrance to Helsinki’s harbor, it is one of Finland's best examples of European military architecture. It is also one of the world’s largest and strongest sea fortresses, with a history closely tied with that of the Baltic region.
Address: Helsinki, Finland
Petajavesi Old Church
A classic example of old northern architecture, the Petajavesi Church features a unique wooden construction, recognizable thanks to its steeply pitched roof (reminiscent of Gothic architecture). Built between 1763 and 1764 by a peasant, it features well-preserved doorways and choir windows complete with their handmade arches. Admire its stunning interiors, from the balustrade galleries to the pulpit, chandeliers and carved intricacies. This World Heritage site can be found minutes from the center of town in Petajavesi.
Address: Petajavesi, Finland
St. Olafs Castle
This castle sits on an island that connects to the mainland in Savonlinna, making it the country’s northernmost medieval fortress. It was built in 1475, way before the surrounding city was founded. Originally constructed to repel attacks in the Savona area and control the border between Russia and Finland, this magnificent castle is the main venue for the famed Savonlinna Opera Festival, an annual event that celebrates music and the arts.
Address: 57150 Savonlinna, Finland
This well-preserved ancient Nordic port town is in the Gulf of Bothnia. It is the largest wooden town in the country, with more than 600 buildings that are typical fishermen’s houses called kirsti. It boasts architectural marvels such as the mid-15th century Franciscan monastery, locally known as the Holy Cross.
Address: Gulf of Bothnia, Finland
This well-preserved domed church is among the most visited attractions in the capital, receiving no less than 350,000 tourists annually. The marvelous white design is actually a Lutheran cathedral with a Greek cross base. Iconic for its beautiful colonnad, towering roof statues made out of zinc and altar, the pulpit and exterior were designed by Engel.
Address: Unioninkatu 29 00170 Helsinki, Finland
One of the most important landmarks in Helsinki, the Market Square is close to the city’s South Harbor. It is the best place to experience the town’s spirit, as hundreds of travelers flock the colorful markets in search of beautifully made handicrafts and souvenirs, rare spices and fresh produce. The market café, though often crowded, is a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee, observe the hustle and bustle or watch cruise ships as they dock at the harbor. The Market Square is also the site of the annual Baltic Herring Festival, where fishermen sell all kinds of fresh fish and black islander bread along with handicrafts from the boats.
Address: Helsinki Harbor, Finland
Surasaari Island is a unique open-air museum only a few miles from downtown Helsinki. It features old mansions and estates from the last four centuries, relocated from different parts of Finland. It is an ideal place for sightseeing and day-trips, especially for those wishing to discover the old traditional way of life.
Address: Seurasaari Island, Helsinki, Finland
Built underground, the Temppeliaukio Church is one of the best examples of modern architecture in the capital. The only part visible portion above ground is its domed roof. Considered one of the most important attractions in Helsinki, it was completed in 1969 overseen by the Suomalainen brothers. Also referred to as the Church in the Rock, this popular tourist draw is a regular venue for all kinds of musical events thanks to its superb acoustics.
Address: Luthergatan 3, Helsinki
Koli National Park
One of the best areas of nature in Finland, the sprawling Koli National Park features lush hilly areas formed by the remains of prehistoric mountain ranges from two billion years ago. It is inhabited by rare geological features, plant and animal species and is considered a sacred place filled with mystery and magic.
Address: Lake Pielinen, Finland
Situated in one of the oldest cities in Finland, Turku Castle is said to be the largest example of medieval architecture in Scandinavia. It is now a museum, containing a banquet hall and church, along with an extraordinary exhibit of china, cutlery, glassware, jewelry, and ancient artifacts. The castle tells a story of the city’s 770-year history.
Address: Linnankatu 80, 20100 Turku, Finland
If you think that Finland is too cold for swimming, think again as the beaches attract as many visitors as the ski resorts. Hietaniemi is a popular beach, but if you are looking for a peaceful spot to enjoy the warm summer sun, head to Seurasaari and the more secluded lake islands.
Address: Helsinki, Finland
Linnanmaki Amusement Park
This year-round attraction is one of the most visited places in Helsinki, featuring more rides than any other amusement park in Northern Europe. It has a museum, aquarium, ice-skating rink, and various winter sport facilities. The park also hosts the famed Light Carnival in the fall.
Address: Tivolikuja 1, Fl-00510 Helsinki, Finland
Santa Claus Village
One of the most popular amusement parks in Finland, this Lapland attraction is a true winter wonderland for all things Christmassy. It features the Santa Claus office and post office, along with a number of shops, cafés and stores selling different kinds of handicrafts and souvenirs.
Address: Joulumaantie 1, 96930 Rovaniemi, Arctic Circle, Finland
Kemi Snow Castle
The largest of its kind in the world, the Kemi Snow Castle has been built yearly in the town of Kemi since 1996. It features a snow restaurant and snow chapel, along with a ice hotel, ideal for families looking for a truly unique vacation. Just dress warm!
Address: Kemi, Finland
One of the best winter sports centers in Lapland, Saariselka can be found to the north of the Arctic Circle, surrounded by ski trails and slopes, snowshoe treks and incredible arctic scenery, made even more beautiful bathed in color from the Northern Lights.
Address: Saariselka, Finland