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Hiking in the snow with walking poles | Bjaglin/ Flickr
Hiking in the snow with walking poles | Bjaglin/ Flickr
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A Hiker’s Guide to Exploring Finland

Picture of Jessica Wood
Updated: 23 March 2017
With its wide range of terrain, including unspoiled forests and snow-covered tundra, you could spend months at a time hiking around Finland. Many of the local hiking trails are difficult, especially during the winter, but all of them offer amazing views, chances to spot wildlife, and complete immersion in a natural landscape. These are just a few of the best and most popular regions for hiking in the country.

Turku Archipelago

The largest in the world, Turku Archipelago consists of over twenty thousand islands and can be explored by car, bicycle, or on foot. Most of the journey involves crossing islands by bridge or ferry, so the terrain isn’t too difficult. The entire trail is 250 kilometers (155 miles), so you may want to take a shorter trail, or only explore part of the archipelago. There are many sights to see along the way, including the ruins of Kuusisto castle, the island of Seili, which has a fascinating yet tragic history, and the birthplace of Finland’s famous war General Mannerheim. There are numerous rest stops and hotels along the routes and the ferries tend to have snack bars too. Taking your own tent is a popular option as well. The archipelago is open all year round but it is recommended you visit in the summer, as it can be cold and treacherous during the winter, and many of the tourist sites will be closed.

A typical archipelago island home/ Don Wright/ Flickr
A typical archipelago island home | © Don Wright/Flickr

Finnish Karelia

This stunning region of eastern Finland is ideal for hikers, particularly the Koli National Park which has spectacular views. As one of the more mountainous regions of Finland, trails can be hazardous and the weather can be unpredictable even in the summer. It is recommended to wear hiking boots with a particularly strong grip and be prepared for any weather extremes. The large amount of lakes also means a lot of mosquitoes, so stock up on insect repellent and wear clothing that covers your skin. You can find accommodation in historic buildings, such as the 100-year-old B&B Kuuksenkaari, or rent a holiday cabin.

The terrain of Koli National Park/ Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho/ Flickr
The terrain of Koli National Park | © Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho/Flickr

Lapland

Lapland is a popular holiday destination during the winter, but in the summer when the snow melts it offers multiple trails for hikers too, and sights such as the Inari Wilderness Church, wild reindeer, and of course Santa’s village. The Pieni Karhunkierros trail in Oulanka National Park, for example, takes 4 to 6 hours when there is no snow on the ground and offers views of rapids and mountain cliffs, and the opportunity to pick wild strawberries. The north of Finland is colder, even during the summer, and the terrain more difficult in many places, requiring specialist equipment. It is possible to hike at any time of the year, but keep an eye on the weather warnings, particularly during spring when the ice is thin.

Hiking in the snow with walking poles/ Bjaglin/ Flickr
Hiking in the snow with walking poles | Bjaglin/ Flickr

Uusimaa

Loosely translating to ‘new earth,’ this region of southern Finland close to Helsinki tends to be much flatter, which actually makes it most ideal for hiking at any time of year. Nuuksio National Park has trails ranging from 2 to 8 kilometers (1.2 to 5 miles) of different terrains and difficulty that are all clearly marked. Camping sites and hotels are available, but renting a villa is probably the best option if you intend to stay for more than one day. Standard hiking equipment is fine during the summer but in the winter you will need special equipment, including snow boots, ice spikes, an insulated coat, and snacks for extra energy.

A forest trail in Nuuksio National Park/ Lostesso/ Flickr
A forest trail in Nuuksio National Park | © Lostesso/Flickr