Finland is a large country, the fifth-largest in the European Union in fact, which means that it is much more than a snow-covered land of Santa Claus and reindeer, as some people seem to believe. There is a huge range of places to visit, culture, and activities to suit practically all tastes. Here are some of the essential stops to make in Finland, based on your personality and preferences.
For foodies: Pyhä Häkki National Park
The food culture in Finland is highly underrated, and there are a lot of unique traditional dishes and cooking techniques to try. A place to experience it all in one place is Pyhä Häkki National Park in central Finland. On wild-food holidays such as the one offered by Responsible Travel, you can enjoy Finnish pastries in the café, find and prepare wild food including berries, mushrooms, and fish, and have a quality meal at the restaurant.
For lovers of the outdoors: North Karelia
If you long for rustic, nostalgic country living, you can’t get much better than North Karelia in eastern Finland. It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful natural areas of Finland, and the region offers all kinds of outdoor activities throughout the year, including hiking in Koli National Park, boating on Lake Saimaa, and cycling through the farming villages. There are thousands of log cabins with their own smoke saunas on the stunning lakes that are available for rent, for full immersion into the Finnish countryside and a traditional way of life.
For high-class tastes: Central Helsinki
Finland may be a country that appreciates simple living, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t appeal to high-class tastes as well, and central Helsinki contains a lot of these luxury spots. You can stay at the Hotel Kämp, have coffee at the classy Strindberg Café, make a trip to a local art gallery or theatre, buy designer clothes in the Design District, have dinner at Savotta, and spend an evening relaxing at the Löyly Sauna Complex.
For adventure lovers: Ruka
The ski resort at Ruka in Lapland offers almost everything a thrill seeker could ever want, all within a strikingly beautiful landscape. As well as some of the best ski slopes in Europe, there is snowboarding, snowmobiling, husky and reindeer sleighing, hiking, rafting, pony trekking, and ice climbing. There is enough to do in Ruka at any time of the year to satisfy anyone’s urge for adventure.
For creatives: Fiskars
Whether you are looking for a place to set up a studio, or are just seeking some inspiration, the quaint village of Fiskars in southern Finland is perfect for anyone who is creatively minded. The entire village is centred around the creative community, so you can find inspiration in the country surroundings, relax in the cafés, and meet local artisans at the shops and fairs. All of this is within easy reach of the cultural centres of Helsinki and Turku.