From artisanal villages and skiing resorts, to city breaks and beaches, here are the top 10 destinations where Finns travel to in Finland.
Being the eighth biggest country in Europe, Finland offers limitless possibilities for explorers. The southern and western coasts are dotted with picturesque harbour towns and artisanal villages, whereas north Finland boasts reindeer, while huskies can be found inside the Arctic Circle.
Porvoo is an easy choice for anyone wanting to step outside of the beaten tracks of Helsinki. Located only a 30-minute bus ride from the capital, Porvoo is a cute Finnish city of 50,000 inhabitants. Porvoo is famous for its old, wooden-house district lining the river Porvoonjoki. Inhabited since the Stone Age, Porvoo used to be a prosperous trading site largely because of its river. Nowadays, Porvoo is a popular city to visit because of its breathtaking aesthetic, convenient location near Helsinki, and the fact that it’s one of Finland’s best foodie destinations! With its boutique shops, artisanal chocolatiers, cafés and restaurants, Porvoo is great for a weekend visit.
Hanko is a historic seaside holiday destination for Finns. It is located 130 kilometres west of Helsinki, and almost half of its 8,500 inhabitants belong to Finland’s Swedish-speaking minority. In the late 19th century, Hanko was a famous spa town among the Russian nobility – Finland being under Russian rule at the time. Nowadays, Hanko is a relaxing seaside town with cute hotels, shops and cafés, as well as activities such as yoga, kayaking, and golf.
Fiskars is a unique artisanal village in Southern Finland. You might recognise the word ‘Fiskars’ from the orange-handle scissors that were originally manufactured in the area, and have now spread worldwide. The craft-making heritage is still celebrated in Fiskars Village, making it a perfect spot for anyone wanting to explore Finnish artisanal produce, including gin, art, homeware, and clothes.
Kuopio is the capital of the Savonia region and its inhabitants are renowned for their easy-going (or “lupsakka”) lifestyle. Kuopio’s heart is its Market Square: in the summertime, the square is occupied by tents selling local produce such as berries, vegetables, and fish, as well as wooden cutlery. Around the square, there are a few shopping malls, cafés and restaurants. Kuopio also has a little harbour where you can jump on-board of an old-fashioned boat and sail the waters of Lake Kallavesi.
Naantali is a little harbour town on the West Coast of Finland. Naantali is famous for being the home of Moomins, as well as the summer residence of the President of Finland. Naantali’s old wooden-house area is beautiful in any season, but it is during the summer months that the town really bursts into life. In the summer, Naantali’s harbour is filled with small yachts and boats, and people enjoying the sunniest place in Finland by sipping coffee or wine at one of the harbour’s many restaurants.
The Archipelago Trail, starting from Turku, is one of if not the most famous road trip destinations in Finland. Circulating for 250 kilometres along the Western Archipelago, the trail is popular among cyclists too. During Finnish holiday season, in June and July, the queues for the ferries connecting the islands can be long.
Surrounded by the magnificent Lake Saimaa and featuring the medieval castle Olavinlinna (Olaf’s Castle), Savonlinna is a popular spot to visit for Finns. Known as a summer destination, Finns often flock to the area to relax in Savonlinna City, visit the Opera Festival at Olavinlinna, or explore the beautiful nature around. Rent a car and head to Punkaharju, which is a spectacular ridge winding through lakes and lined by tall pine trees. The scenery doesn’t get much more Finnish than this!
Lapland, or “Lappi” for Finns, is a dream destination for many, including foreigners. Often when Finns visit a specific place in Lapland, they simply report to their neighbours that they “went to Lapland” – forgetting that Lapland is bigger than, say, Ireland! Bearing in mind Lapland’s vastness, there are plenty of activities to enjoy – from snow-ledge expeditions with huskies to fishing, skiing, hiking, spotting the Northern Lights, or just relaxing and taking in the magnificent views.
Let’s start with the basics: Yyterin Hiekkasärkät means The Sand Dunes of Yyteri. Although Finland may not be a famous beach destination, there are a few great beaches Finns like to visit regularly. One of them is Yyteri, located on the west coast of Finland, near Pori. The sand dunes of Yyteri stretch out for over six kilometres and lure thousands of Finns each summer. Apart from sunbathing, people also come here for golf and spa.
Helsinki is an easy access point to Finland for many foreigners, but it is a popular travel destination in itself too. As a capital city, Helsinki has a vast variety of museums, galleries, theatres, restaurants and shops that attract Finns as well. The architecture is a beautiful mixture of European and Slavic, and there is even an old, wooden-house district in the city centre. Main attractions in Helsinki include Ateneum Art Museum, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, and Helsinki Cathedral, but visitors can also visit designer boutiques and chic wine bars, on top of multiple Instagrammable spots.