Helsinki is not only an interesting city in itself but also a perfect base for road-tripping in Finland. From seaside towns to an epic hunt for Northern Lights, here are the 10 best road trips to experience in Finland.
Porvoo is a historic coastal city only about 50 kilometres away from Helsinki. The easy access and Porvoo’s cute and homey atmosphere make the city a perfect little getaway. It is known for its pretty Old-Town area with colourful wooden houses but also for its thriving foodie scene, with amazing chocolate shops, cafés and restaurants. You can spend a day or two exploring Porvoo or pop into the city just for a day and be back to Helsinki for the evening.
Perhaps one of the most scenic road trips in Finland is the Puumala Ridge, also known as the Lietvesi Scenic Road. You can drive to Puumala either via Porvoo and through Eastern Finland, or head first to Mikkeli and then Puumala. Both drives take more than three hours but the scenery makes up for the time, especially when you get to Puumala, where the road winds through and between little islands covered with forests – have the camera ready!
Another classic road trip for locals and foreigners alike is a drive from Helsinki to Hanko, a cute seaside town with hotels, cafés and restaurants. Hanko’s sandy beaches with white bathing huts offer some amazing Instagram opportunities – and, after the two-hour car ride from Helsinki, there are also some yoga options to stretch the muscles.
Not a road trip by wheels, but a road trip on waves, Tallinn is only a two-hour ferry trip away from Helsinki. Whereas Helsinki is famous for its Art Nouveau design, Tallinn throws the visitor into medieval times with its UNESCO-protected, walled Old Town. A thriving city for food and local design, you can go to Tallinn on a morning ferry and be back to Helsinki by dinner time.
A drive from Helsinki to Mikkeli showcases the rural Finnish landscape with forests, lakes and farmland. The drive from Helsinki is just under three hours, and in Mikkeli, countryside charm dressed up as a city awaits! Spend a night in the authentic countryside Tertti Manor, and pop into the old vicarage of Kenkävero for some Finnish design shopping. In the city centre, there is a traditional Finnish market square surrounded by shops and restaurants.
Nuuksio National Park is located in Espoo, under an hour’s drive away from Helsinki. Nuuksio is a picture-perfect hiking spot – so pack your camera! This road trip is also easy to make on a bus as there’s a regular bus service to get to the national park.
Turku Archipelago Trail may be the most famous trail in Finland. Starting from Helsinki, you should allow a couple of days for this road trip. First, head to Turku, just under two hours’ drive away from Helsinki. The archipelago trail starts from Turku, and in 200 kilometres the road (helped with bridges and multiple ferries) takes you around the amazingly beautiful archipelago. There are various accommodation options on the islands, from B&Bs to hotels.
Although Finland may not be renowned as a beach destination, there are a few magnificent beaches Finns like to visit regularly. One of them is Yyteri, located on the west coast of Finland. 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 to play golf and visit a spa.
Fiskars is a unique artisanal village in southern Finland. You might recognise the word ‘Fiskars’ from the orange-handled scissors that were originally produced in the area, and have now spread all over the world. The craft-making heritage is still celebrated in Fiskars Village, making it a perfect spot for anyone wanting to explore Finnish artisanal produce from gin to homewares and clothes.
A road trip from Helsinki to Lapland is the ultimate test for any road-tripper! The drive to the Arctic Circle takes 10 hours, but then again, it allows you to really, really see Finland along the way. Rovaniemi is Santa Claus’ home by the Arctic Circle, but after a brief chat, continue farther north, because here’s where the magic begins. You can visit glass igloos and try to spot the Northern Lights, or head all the way to Kilpisjärvi to climb the majestic yet easily accessible Saana mountain.