How to Spend Two Weeks in Finland

Hiking a forest trail in Finland / Visit Lakeland / Flickr
Hiking a forest trail in Finland / Visit Lakeland / Flickr
Photo of Jessica Wood
29 August 2017

Finland may appear to be a sparse country consisting only of forests and lakes, but in actuality, there is so much to see and do in the country that it would take months to experience it all. If you have only two weeks to spend in Finland, it is still possible to take in much of its countryside, sites, culture, and arts. Use this itinerary as a guide to spend two weeks exploring Finland from top to bottom.

Day 1: Arrive in Helsinki

Your point of arrival in Finland will most likely be Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Travel to the city centre is easy, with buses running every 20 minutes and costing around 7€. The central bus station is located right in the middle of the city so it won’t be too difficult for you to find your hotel and get something to eat. For a nightcap, there are also plenty of bars open late, particularly along Helsingkatu. You might also want to use this time to experience a real Finnish sauna, as it is more than likely that the place you are staying will have one.

Day 2: Explore Helsinki

Helsinki is full of cultural and historical sites and quality restaurants. The Suomenlinna island fortress is a definite must-see, as are The Church of the Rock, Senate Square, and Sibelius Park. On the cultural side there is the National Gallery, Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, and the Seurasaari Open Air Museum. These can all be reached easily with a day travel pass which costs 9€.

Kiasma Museum, Helsinki / Discovering Finland / Flickr

Day 3: Day trip to Porvoo

Finland is highly spread out, so the best way to explore the rest of the country is to rent a car. If this isn’t possible, there are still regular buses and trains between most major destinations. The historic city of Porvoo is less than an hour away from Helsinki and buses leave from the city centre regularly. In the city, you can take in more of Finland’s history by touring the old buildings and museums.

Porvoo Old Town / Discovering Finland / Flickr

Day 4: Travel to Savonlinna

Now you will begin to experience the vastness of Finland’s countryside by taking the four to five-hour drive or train ride between Porvoo and Savonlinna. Along the way you will experience the breathtaking forests that Finland is known for. Regular rest stops will provide you with places to refuel, eat, and pick up local souvenirs.

Day 5: Visit Olavinlinna

Olavinlinna Castle is one of the largest and best-preserved castles in Finland, with fascinating stories where you can learn more about Finland’s history. After spending several hours looking around the castle, you can spend the rest of the day relaxing in the town of Savonlinna, particularly the market square and the lakeside beaches.

View of Olavinlinna / Vitaly Repin / Flickr

Day 6: Cruise across Lake Saimaa

The best way to experience Finland’s lakes is to take a boat tour across them, particularly Lake Saimaa, one of Finland’s largest lake systems. There are several tour operators running day cruises across Lake Saimaa leaving from Savonlinna.

Boats on Lake Saimaa / Olga Khomitsevich / Flickr

Day 7: Hike across Koli National Park

After taking the two to three-hour drive from Savonlinna to Koli National Park, spend the day exploring one of Finland’s most stunning national parks on foot and experience the breathtaking views before spending the night camping or in a log cabin.

Koli National Park / Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho / Flickr

Day 8: Travel to Oulu

The journey across central Finland to Oulu takes around five hours, but offers even more chances for indulging in nature. If you can’t drive, you can take a bus from Joensuu for around 35€.

Day 9: Explore Oulu

Oulu is the gateway to the North on the Gulf of Bothnia. There you can see the old buildings, view the public artworks, or relax on the beach.

River in Oulu / Juho Holmi / Flickr

Day 10: Travel into Lapland

No trip to Finland is complete without seeing Lapland, but it is so widespread that it will take several days to see it all. Driving or taking the train between Oulu and the Lappish capitol of Rovaniemi takes several hours, but will allow you to see the amazing Lappish wilderness. After arriving at Rovaniemi, be sure to have dinner in one of the restaurants to try local Lappish dishes such as reindeer.

Day 11: Explore Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi is the hometown of Santa Claus and there is plenty to see and do in the city at any time of year. You can visit the Santa Claus village, ride on the reindeer sleigh, or if you’re a little more adventurous, try some sporting activities around the town such as husky sledging, hiking, or cycling.

Santa Park in Rovaniemi / Timo Newton-Syms / Flickr

Day 12: Day trip to Inari

Inari is further north from Rovaniemi, but the trip of a few hours will allow you to see even more of Lapland. Inari is the central hub of the native Sami community, where you can visit the Siida museum to learn more about Sami culture then spend the night in the village.

Reindeer shelter at Siida Museum / Richard Mortel / Flickr

Day 13: Hike to Inari Wilderness Church

As a final excursion, take the 9km roundtrip from Inari to the Wilderness Church, an ancient Sami meeting place and location of one of Lapland’s oldest surviving churches. The total trip takes around three hours and afterwards you can head back to Rovaniemi and perhaps enjoy another sauna for your final night in Finland.

Inari Wilderness Church / WikiCommons

Day 14: Say goodbye to Finland

After taking in all of Finland that you can, connecting flights back to Helsinki leave from Rovaniemi Airport several times each day. If you wish instead to extend your travel in the Nordics further, you could also travel from Rovaniemi into Sweden or Norway.

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