Reasons Why Tourists Are Flocking to Finland

Staying in a lakeside cabin is a popular summer getaway in Finland
Staying in a lakeside cabin is a popular summer getaway in Finland | © RJH_IMAGES / Alamy Stock Photo
Jessica Wood

In recent years, foreign tourism to Finland has been booming, despite (or perhaps because of) its rather unconventional attractions. These are some of the top reasons why Finland is a blossoming travel destination, and why you should join the growing number of tourists heading there.

Want to see the beauty of the country for yourself? Go husky sledding, hike past ice waterfalls and look out for the Northern Lights on Culture Trip’s five-day adventure in Finnish Lapland.

A visit to Santa

This is probably the largest draw to Finland, especially for families with young children. A chance to visit the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi to see Santa in his home, deliver a Christmas letter to the elves at the post office, and ride on a real reindeer sleigh is truly magical. This is why the Santa Claus Village receives nearly half a million visitors each year, with around half of them from abroad.

Spotting amazing wildlife

Another increasingly popular trend in Finland is wildlife tourism. The country is home to the rarest and most elusive wildlife in Europe, including bears, moose, elk, wolverines, and wolves. Some are impossible to spot in the wild anywhere else. Some trips allow you to sit up in a specially converted shelter and wait for the animals to appear so that you can observe and take pictures safely. It has the added advantage of raising conservation awareness for wildlife that could soon be in danger of extinction.

A real-life winter wonderland

If you’re constantly finding yourself disappointed by the lack of a white Christmas, you can always head to Finland to see what a real Nordic winter looks like. It’s amazing to see just how high the snowdrifts can get, how deep your snow boots can sink in, and how beautiful the landscape becomes when it’s covered in a layer of white.

Extreme winter sports

The high snowfall also makes Finland excellent for winter sports. While the country isn’t as mountainous as some neighbours, there are still a number of great ski resorts, especially north of the Arctic Circle. Other popular choices are cross country skiing, ice hockey, dog sledging, and Nordic skating. If you’re truly daring, you could even try ice swimming.

Clean and clear lakes

While Finland may be most popular with tourists during the winter, there is just as much to see and do in the summer as well. When the ice melts, a huge network of lakes becomes accessible for cruises, fishing, and swimming. Staying at one of the thousands of lakeside cabins is a popular option for a summer break.

The home of the Moomins

If you’re a fan of the Moomin franchise, you’ll feel right at home in their native Finland, where the fuzzy white creatures are massively popular and you can find their merchandise even in corner shops. The main destination for you Moomin fans is Moomin World, a theme park where you can visit replicas of the main locations in the series and meet costumed characters. The Moomin museum in Tampere isn’t to be missed either, and there are specialist Moomin shops and cafes in central Helsinki.

Beautiful art

Not many realise that Finland is a paradise for art and culture lovers. The country has inspired many artists in all fields, and draws international acts and exhibits as well. The capital city of Helsinki and Turku on the southwest coast are the main cultural hubs, home to many museums, galleries and artistic communities. But, wherever you go in Finland, you can always find some cultural activities and local artists; the streets are packed with public art and sculptures.

Seeing the Northern Lights

The majesty of the Northern Lights is still difficult to spot in-person, since they generally only appear in extremely remote locations during the coldest part of the winter. However, it’s becoming easier to make the trip for the rare chance to see the spectacle which has been inspiring people since the dawn of time. Many resorts even offer cabins or rooms with clear rooves for watching the lights while lying in bed.

Amazing cities

The countryside may be the main draw, and what Finns are most proud of about their country, but Finnish cities are equally beautiful and worth a visit. Helsinki is full of Art Nouveau architecture, the old towns of Rauma and Porvoo contain rare wooden buildings, and even the smaller towns have something interesting to see. You history lovers can find plenty of castles, fortresses and historic buildings throughout Finland.

The best Christmas markets

You don’t need to head all the way to Fifth Avenue or Oxford Street to find the best Christmas gifts; you can find them at the Christmas markets in Finland instead. Practically every town and city holds at least one market around the holidays, selling a huge number of items made by local artisans or chefs. Best of all, you can get all your Christmas shopping done in beautiful winter surroundings and warm up with a cup of gloggi (Finnish mulled wine) afterwards.

Excellent shopping

It isn’t just at Christmastime that you can find great shopping in Finland. Many are coming from abroad at other times of the year for the shopping. Electronics are particularly inexpensive in Finland, and the design brands there are popular for their unique aesthetics. The best deals can typically be found just after Midsummer and after Christmas. Helsinki is definitely the best place in the country for a large shopping spree, as it has the widest range of shops and many high-end boutiques, particularly in the Design District. However, anywhere you go in Finland will turn up some unique and interesting souvenirs to take home.

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