Finland — Overview
With the snow-covered Lapland, the colorful Lakeland, the vibrant Helsinki metropolis, and lovely coastal region, Finland really is a country of contrast. Despite the fact that its cities are huge technological and industrial precincts, the rest of Finland remains relatively untouched. With more than 37 national parks, 180,000 islands, 188,000 lakes, hundreds of Art Nouveau buildings, a million saunas, 203,000 reindeer, Santa Claus, and 200 Northern Lights shows per year, it’s no wonder Finland is appealing to travelers of all walks of life.
10 percent of the country is covered in lakes which allows Finland to offer adventures left and right, blessed with many natural wonders to discover. Bordered by Russia, Norway and Sweden, this Nordic paradise is alive with tourists year-round, whether in the urban cities or the vast countryside and the unspoiled islands. Admire the midnight sun during summers and wait patiently for the Northern Lights in the winter. The Korvantunturi Mountain comes alive during the Christmas season as Santa Claus supports flock to join in the festivities.
The vibrant cities of Finland give visitors their fill of cosmopolitan living and electric nightlife, while the smaller towns have much history and culture to offer. It is unlikely that you will ever tire of ogling at the delightful architecture, which ranges from wooden churches and vintage buildings to quirky museums packed with fascinating artifacts. The café tradition is very much alive in all the country’s chic towns, and festivals are held throughout the year. When you've had your fill of the hustle and bustle, Finland is also home to vast lands, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
The country boasts lush forests and natural parks, offering a nice balance to the highly urbanized towns. Oulanka and Lemmenjoki are your windows to wilderness. A cruise around the country’s 188,000 lakes lets you discover hidden islands that only a privileged few ever stumble upon. Winter may bring chilly subzero temperatures, but it is also the best time to explore the snow-covered scenery, catch the breathtaking Northern Lights and experience a traditional Finnish sauna.
Hotels are a bit expensive in Finland, especially in the cities, where large chains can be found, mostly catering to international business travelers looking for function rather than luxury. Less expensive accommodations are available in the form of city guesthouses or matkakoti. Bed and breakfasts are abundant, as are summer cottages that owners rent to travelers when not in use. There are nearly 200 campsites throughout the country for those who prefer the outdoors. For backpackers, there are many youth hostels, mainly open between June and August.
Finland has a highly developed transportation system. There is a very good network of domestic and international flights, the waterways are well serviced by ferries and waterbuses and rail links are also very reliable. Buses and coaches run between cities, while car rental firms serve larger towns. Large cities, like the capital Helsinki, have integrated bus systems, as well as metro and tramlines for easy travel between zones. A special tram (3T) passes through many of the prime tourist spots in Helsinki.
- Watch the Northern Lights on clear winter nights across the Lapland
- Ski, snowmobile, dog sled, take a reindeer ride, and snow shoe on the well maintained slopes
- Enjoy the midnight sun and white nights during summer
- Fly fish, white-water raft and pan for gold in the stunning lakes
- Trek, hike and mountain bike after the snow has melted
- Visit Santa Claus at home and join in the Christmas festivities
- Holiday at the lakeside, complete with cozy cottages, saunas and outdoor activities
- Enjoy cultural tours, late night gigs, park-sweeping and art appreciation in the capital of Helsinki
- Island hop around the Aland archipelago