The sun stays up all night during the summer in Finland, which means swimming, camping, hiking and enjoying the outdoors until the early hours of dawn. During the dark months of the year, the trees fill with snow and create a wonderland for winter sports. Nature plays a big part in the Finnish lifestyle and beautiful landscapes are scattered across the country from picturesque lakes to enchanted forests. Here are the top ten spots.
During the summer, Finns love to escape busy cities as much as possible and surround themselves with nature. Many own secluded cottages by peaceful lakes and spend the days picking berries, canoeing, fishing, swimming and purely enjoying being outdoors. Saimaa, located in the Finnish Lake District, is the country’s largest lake and the fourth largest in the whole of Europe. It’s also a popular place for both Finns and tourists to get a feel of the ’cottage life’. Some of the most beautiful spots on the shorelines of Saimaa include Linnansaari National Park, the idyllic town of Puumala, and Savonlinna, home to the Olavinlinna castle.
If you’re into architecture, Old Rauma should be on your list of places to visit. Located on the Gulf of Bothnia and in the heart of western town Rauma, it’s a Unesco World Heritage Site and the largest unified wooden town in the Nordic countries. The colorful homes, restaurants, boutiques and cafés date back to the 18th and 19th centuries and a walk around will truly make you feel like you’ve been taken back in time. In the winter, after snow has fallen, the 600 wooden buildings turn into a magical fairytale-like town, making it a beautiful destination no matter what time of year.
Yyteri is home to Finland’s longest beach, which stretches to six kilometers on the western Baltic shore. It’s known for beautiful sand dunes and is one of the country’s most popular leisure destinations in the summertime. There are many events and public gatherings hosted on the beach throughout the season and other attractions of the area include a spa and golf course. It’s just outside the urban city of Pori, known internationally for hosting an annual premier jazz festival.
Nuuksio National Park
At Nuuksio you can swim, ski, hike, camp, fish, and experience a little bit of wilderness within the city. It’s located within Helsinki’s metropolitan area and can be easily accessed using public transportation. The park has nature trails and camping sites, offering a haven for those in need of a breath of fresh air. Animal life among the birch forests, lakes, swamps, cliffs and valleys includes moose, fox and flying squirrels. Nuuksio hosts events such as marathons and wilderness hikes throughout the year and is also home to Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, an ecologically designed exhibition and event center that specializes in outdoor activities and wildlife.
Koli National Park
This image overlooks Lake Pielinen and is known to be one of Finland’s most magnificent sceneries. The view was discovered by painters in the 19th century and has since been referenced in numerous culturally significant pieces of art. The lake itself is situated in Northern Karelia, which borders Russia in the east of Finland. You can experience the view on the top of Koli National Park’s highest hill called Ukko-Koli. It’s an ideal spot for outdoor activities and hiking in the summer, and there are also lifts operating to the top year-round. In the winter, Ukko-Koli turns into a ski resort for advanced downhill skiing, with ski slopes 800 to 1,500 meters long.
Suomenlinna is a sea fortress in Helsinki, located on a group of islands connected to each other by bridges. The fortress dates back to the 1700s and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. A 15-minute public ferry goes back and forth between Helsinki’s Market Square and Suomenlinna multiple times an hour. Being such an historic piece of military architecture, the fortress is fascinating and hours could be spent exploring its ins and outs. The islands also have beautiful views of the sea, and many locals often visit just to stroll around the cobblestoned roads and to enjoy picnics on the grass and rocky shores.
You can discover Finland’s highest peak at Halti. It’s a mountain with beautiful rocky scenery, located in Lapland on the border of Norway and Finland. Native Laplanders consider the 1,323 meter high peak a holy place. You can easily hike up the mountain during the warmer months, but the extreme conditions during the winter make it a little more difficult. Getting there can also be difficult, as the mountain is in the middle of wilderness and there aren’t hotels on the way, but many solve the problem by bringing their own tents.
Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park
This spot is located in Lapland and it’s Finland’s third largest national park, where you can hike, ski and come in contact with arctic animals in the wild. There is a chain of mountains that stretch to almost 100 kilometers, worthy of exploring no matter what time of the year. Attractions within the area include the landscapes of Pallastunturi fells, Ylläs ski resort and the traditional Lapland village called Hetta. One of the world’s most magical and beautiful sights can occur on dark nights when the northern lights color the sky.
Despite being small, Kilpisjärvi is one of the largest villages in the Enontekiö municipality of Lapland. The most fascinating attraction is a beige monument called the Three Country Cairn. It marks a geographical tripoint and is where the borders of Finland, Sweden and Norway meet. Saana Mountain, which is part of the Scandinavian mountain range, and Lake Kilpisjärvi below it are the more picturesque spots of the village, attracting hikers and backpackers during all four seasons.
There are over 20,000 islands and skerries on the Baltic Sea outside of the southwestern city of Turku, which make up the Turku Archipelago. Some can be reached by car or bicycle, while others only by boat or ferries. There are many rentable as well as privately owned cottages situated on the islands and it’s a popular area for sailors and boat enthusiasts. Outdoor activities in the archipelago include a variety of water sports, kayaking, cycling, fishing, tennis and golf. Turku is actually the former capital of Finland and the country’s oldest city. In addition to the beautiful islands, many cultural events and attractions can be experienced around the city.
By Uniqua Hardy