As Europe’s eighth largest country, Finland has a lot to offer both urban explorers and lovers of remote places alike. From foodie walks and husky tours to hunting the Northern Lights, here are the best tours to take in Finland!
The train is an easy and relatively cheap way to tour around Finland, especially if you have an Interrail or Eurail card in your pocket. The Finnish railway company’s (called VR) railroad network covers most of Finland from Helsinki to the Arctic Circle – just remember that Finland is not only one of Europe’s largest countries but also the continent’s most sparsely populated country, which means you will see a lot of forest scenery passing by!
Apart from seeing (a lot of) countryside, the rails do reach major cities such as Helsinki, Turku, Tampere, Jyväskylä and Rovaniemi in the north. This eco-friendly way to tour around Finland allows you to sit back, relax and enjoy. Hop on the train from Helsinki and in two hours you are either along the medieval streets of Turku on the west coast, enjoying a day trip to the foodie town of Porvoo, or heading to Lapland on a romantic overnight train.
Wintry Lapland is a land of magic and one of the most memorable ways to experience the vast white scenery is by sitting on a sledge pulled by beautifully blue-eyed husky dogs. There are many husky tours to choose from in Finland, such as Hetta Huskies or Hey Husky. A more traditional way to embrace Lapland is the reindeer sledges. Wrapped up warmly and tucked under blankets, let the snow hit your face and enjoy the magical beauty of Lapland.
But Finland is not all cosy and Christmas rides with furry animals. For a bit of an adrenaline rush, you can also book a snowmobile tour – the magic of Lapland is still there!
Slow boats are one of the most unique and charming ways to explore Finland, especially in the Lakeland area of Lake Saimaa. The Finnish Lakeland is Europe’s largest Lake district and many of Central Finland’s cities are dotted on the shores of the interconnected lakes. You can hop on board a slow boat tour, for example, in the historic city of Savonlinna, or at the charming harbour of Kuopio. Or be your own tour captain and rent a slow boat of your own then sail right into the charming pulsing heart of Finland. Starting from Savonlinna, there are almost 4,000 kilometres of marked waterways to explore, with over a hundred marinas with services and plenty of rural foodie finds, as well as dozens of picturesque coves to enjoy in your own privacy.
If you are lucky, you will spot the Northern Lights even without trying, especially during spring and autumn in Finland. On a clear and starry Lapland sky, the Northern Lights are visible almost every other night. But to enhance your chances of spotting the magical phenomenon, download the Auroras!now app on your phone, or book a tour for a hunt of the Northern Lights. In Lapland, there are also many hotels designed to optimise the chances of spotting the Northern Lights, such as glass igloos and eagle view suites.
To familiarise yourself with Finland’s foodie traditions and modern trends, try a foodie tour in Helsinki or any other bigger city in Finland. The tours will include visits to local market halls, where an abundance of typically Finnish flavours can be found. The local guides will also help you understand the Finns’ fascination with salty sweets, such as ‘salmiakki‘. In the coastal city of Turku, you can also do your own Food Walk with Visit Turku’s special card designed to help travellers to get the most of foodie Finland in Turku. The card costs 44 euros and allows you a visit in five of the 10 restaurants included in the card. Try the Brewery Restaurant Koulu, Finnish fine dining at Smör, or, sit down at the riverside Café Art for the best coffees and cinnamon buns in Turku.
Finland has four seasons, of which winter offers a slew of different, even exotic, experiences for visitors. To impress your friends back home, why not try ice fishing or ice hole swimming, or even better, try booking an ice floating tour. Imagine: a frozen lake with a hole in it where you float on the icy water wearing a bright orange costume that resembles that of the Michelin Man. Finland doesn’t get much cooler than this!