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20 Unmissable Attractions in Finland

Finnish lakeside |© Pixabay
Picture of Jessica Wood
Updated: 22 June 2017
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You might not have realized before, but Finland is a treasure trove of historical sites, natural wonders, sports, and a wide range of unique experiences. These are some of the best that you have to try on your next visit.

Helsinki Cathedral

Virtually the national symbol of Finland, the Lutheran Cathedral on the Senate Square is an outstanding piece of architecture. Its white towers and green domes dominate the cityscape and are visible for miles around.

Helsinki Cathedral in winter
© Pixabay

Turku Riverside

The riverside is a perfect place to while away an afternoon, whether in the summer or winter. Along the city’s Aura River you’ll find trendy cafés and restaurants, the cathedral, the central library, the Aboa Vetus Museum, and much more.

The Turku riverfront
© Pixabay

Lake Saimaa

It isn’t difficult to find Lake Saimaa, as it is the largest lake in Finland, covering over 1,700 square miles. This gives you plenty of space for boating, fishing, renting a lake house, and maybe spotting the rare Saimaa ringed seal.

An island on Lake Saimaa
© Pixabay

Winter War Museum

Located near the site of one of Finland’s most significant World War Two battles, the Winter War Museum tells the story of the Battle of Suomussalmi and the area’s military history. Nearby is a memorial statue for the Winter War.

The Winter War memorial at Suomussalmi

Åland Islands

One of the most remote parts of Finland, the Åland Islands far out in the south-west archipelago consist mainly of Swedish-speaking residents. As well as being a quiet spot for relaxation, there is also a maritime museum, archaeological sites, and an annual Viking Market.

Country road on the Aland Islands

Suomenlinna

One of Finland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this island fortress contains numerous battlements and buildings from different eras. In addition, there are multiple different museums, galleries, and cafés scattered around the island.

Cannon at Suomenlinna

Koli National Park

Of all the national parks in Finland, Koli in Northern Karelia is one of the most breathtaking for its panoramic lake views. To make the best of it, you can even rent a private lake cottage nearby the park and take advantage of its ski resort during the winter.

View at Koli National Park

Icebreaker Sampo

A huge icebreaker ship, Sampo takes tourists on short cruises on the Gulf of Bothnia, breaking up the ice in its path. It is one of the most unique and exciting cruises you can take.

Icebreaker Sampo on the Arctic ice

Ylläs

Not only does this region in Lapland have top ski resorts, it also boasts the only sauna gondola in the world. That is, a literal gondola ski lift car transformed into a functioning sauna.

Snow covered building in Ylläs

Pielpajärvi Wilderness Church

It is quite a hike to reach this tiny wooden church in Lapland, but highly worth it. Not only is the Lapland landscape beautiful, but the church dates from 1760 and is one of the oldest surviving churches in Lapland.

The Wilderness Church

Ähtäri Zoo

A place to get in touch with Finnish wildlife, Ahtari Zoo contains many Scandinavian forest animals, including bears, owls, reindeer, and lynx. Most exciting of all, the zoo will soon be receiving two giant pandas from China as a gift for Finland’s 100th anniversary.

Boar and piglets at Ähtäri Zoo

Rauma Old Town

Another World Heritage site, the old town area of Rauma is filled with classic wooden buildings preserved and reconstructed from the pre-industrial era. It is rare to see such buildings in Finland and walking through the town feels like stepping into a fairy tale.

Rauma museum and land train

Mount Halti

For true adventure lovers, the highest peak in Finland right on the Finnish/Norwegian border is a difficult but exhilarating trek of over 50 kilometers. Reaching the summit provides the reward of the best views of Lapland on both the Finnish and Norwegian sides.

Marker at the top of Mount Halti

National Gallery

The 35,000 paintings in this state-owned collection are divided between three buildings in Helsinki, and are regularly lent out to other museums. A visit to any one is a fascinating and inspiring look at Finnish and European art, from classic to modern.

Main building of the National Gallery

The Sámi Museum Siida

This is a fascinating museum exploring the history, arts, and culture of Lapland’s native Sámi people. There is also an open-air museum of traditional Sámi dwellings and a shop selling handmade crafts.

One of the log cabins at Siida

Helsinki South Harbour

A key trade and transport hub of the capital city, the south harbor contains the market hall, presidential palace, and the Uspenski Cathedral. Throughout the year there are multiple markets and events held here.

View of the South Harbour

Mannerheim Statue

Just outside the Kiasma Art Museum, in the city center, you can spot the tall and imposing statue of World War Two military leader Mannerheim. Mounted on a horse and standing on a tall plinth, the statue is a powerful tribute to the key figure in Finnish war history.

The Mannerheim statue

Olavinlinna

This impressive 15th-century castle in Savonlinna is significant not only for its history but also for its intriguing ghost stories. The castle is also home to events such as the Savonlinna Opera Festival.

Herttoniemi Manor

You might not associate Finland with grand manor houses, but there are many beautiful examples, such as Herttoniemi Manor in Helsinki. The 19th-century manor was renovated from an old porcelain factory and combines baroque architecture with an English-style garden.

Herttoniemi Manor

Näsinneula Observation Tower

The second tallest observation tower in the Nordic countries, Näsinneula in Tampere has views of the city center and surrounding lakes up to 20 kilometers away. The structure even has a rotating restaurant.

Näsinneula Observation Tower
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