The scenic country of Finland has about 60,000 lakes; most of them can be found in the central part of the country which is known as the Lake District. The lakes were gouged out of the landscape by glaciers during the Ice Age more than 10,000 years ago. Almost two thirds of the land remains forested and in some areas it has become home to bears, wolves and Arctic foxes. In the northernmost part of Finland, beyond the Arctic Circle, the country takes in part of Lapland. The Sami (Lapps) in this area are descendants of the earliest known people to settle in Finland.
These are the top ten not to be missed places when in Finland.
Fortress of Suomenlinna
There are many beautiful things to see in Helsinki the capital city of Finland, but the
Fortress of Suomenlinna
deserves a whole day to learn and understand the rich history of the country. It is easily accessible from the port of Helsinki (20 minute ride from the Kauppatori Terminal) in an affordable boat ride that leaves every half an hour. In a few minutes by ferry you get to the island that is full of activities and beautiful scenery. The atmosphere takes you back to the time when Finland was defended from invasion by sea by its early conquerors and protected by this fortress that is surrounded by mighty ramparts and big guns.
The stone buildings, the houses, the docks were surrounded by a dark gray color of the sea. It is a place full of silence and nature with preserved fortifications, and rusty military batteries, hull repair docks, and a beautiful church that is located in the center of the island. The first submarine U-boat called the Filandese 1933 is raised in the ground and serves as a WW2 reminder and a point of interest for tourists and locals. Draped by its lush greenery all around, you can safely visit in a couple of hours. You only pay the ferry ticket and you also have access to museums within the fortress that are truly worth seeing. It has a well-marked trail and visitor center that assists inquiries and directions about the fortress.
Rock Church (Temppeliaukio Kirkko)
Church in the Rock
that was built since 1969 represents one of the major tourist attractions in Helsinki. It is definitely a destination to mark on your notebook when in Finland.
It is a church of the Lutheran worship entirely carved into a hillside near Frederikinkatu, one of the streets in the center of Helsinki. It is an admirable work of architecture where the interior looked bright because natural light penetrates through the windows. The domed ceiling is completely covered with spiral copper wire. The acoustics are great and is also used for many concerts. The church is worth a visit for its peculiarity. The overall ambience is cozy even if the interior design is minimal. It is permanently carved into a large rock and designed to have great acoustics.
The one thing that calls attention to many tourists is the roof which from the inside seems to have much more height than it actually is, giving the church an even greater extent. It is necessary to check the schedule of concerts, worships, and special events before a visit. Admission is free and taking pictures is allowed inside and outside its premises.
Ruka Ski Area (Kuusamo)
Ruka Ski Resort
is located on the road that connects the Kuusamo City to Kemijarvi. It is famous for being a ski area from which there are many paths and connections to the Park of Dell Oulanka. The summer capital city is equipped with an information center, restaurants, numerous shops of souvenirs and shops that specialize in winter clothing and snow equipments. It is well organized with fun excursions, ideal ski chalet lodges, and to fully enjoy a good winter sports adventure that involves skiing, snow mobile rides, sleigh riding, and ski schools designed for amateurs and professionals.
The snowmobile adventure is great with excellent scooters roaming around in a beautiful and spacious area. In addition, the husky safari is perfect for the whole family to enjoy. The Reindeer Farm is the least crowded attraction but still worth a visit. You can relax and have fun in the summer and ride on the lift or drive a special apparatus that resembles a sleigh to explore the whole area.
There are separate slides for children who prefer sledding in the woods. There is a free choice of equipment for hire. Ruka City also has lots of dining places where you can partake in their national cuisine. It is an ideal attraction in Kuusamo for skiers and families with children.
Karhunkierros – Oulanka National Park
For a great hiking trail experience with the chance of seeing the wildlife resources of Finland a trek to the
Oulanka / Karhunkierros
trail paths is a must for lovers of nature and adventure. The tour starts with a 4X4 ride in the village of Juuma dubbed as the entrance gate to the trail. The hike up to 80m above the Kitkajoki (Kitkafluss) is impressive and it is best to reach its peak with the view to Kaaliosaari (Kallio Island).
With an impressive descent and the transition at Harrissuvanto you can reach the road that is most commonly used by hikers (the small bear trail).
A wild valley towards Kallioporti is wonderful to wander. The 256 steps of stairs are worth all the trouble in reaching the top that runs up in about 3 stages – and to enjoy the stunning views down below. Upon descent, the trail leads back towards Myllykoski.
The way back leads to a further imposing bridge that takes about four hours to reach towards the starting trail. You can enjoy the hiking points and special picnic grounds in the park. The overall structure of this nature park is exciting and there are shops where one can buy expensive sausages and the best ground coffee which the Karhunkierros is famous for.
Pyynikki Park and Observation Tower – Tampere City
A few kilometers from the center of Tampere stands this green hill topped with an observation tower from which to admire the typical Finnish landscape of lakes and forests. To reach the top you can climb on foot on its concrete stairs or choose to take the lift. Downstairs there is a great guide about Tampere that is available in different languages. One should definitely take one because they contain the most important activities held in the tower and the best restaurants in the city.
The park itself is also very nice. You can go to a “scenery route” and watch the sunset. Going down you can enjoy one of the best donuts in Tampere. The flavor is very different from the classical ones and the reason is the presence of a spice grain (cardamom and others) which changes the flavor and aftertaste. Like all Scandinavian cities, even Tampere is characterized by a very good and harmonious relationship with nature. The scenic park or rather the real urban forest of conifers extends along the crest of a hill and is a real oasis of peace and tranquility which, thanks to its elevated position offers panoramic views of the city lakes. It can be reached by taking a designated bus that runs every 30 minutes from the town of Keskutori.
is a quaint and peaceful place that stands a walking distance of 3 kilometers from the city center surrounded by greenery and close to the nearby Forum Marinum Maritime Center which is also worth a visit. The castle looks small from the outside, but the interior is a succession of rooms, stairs (many) more concrete walls and large towers. There is one room in the castle that is specifically designed for children where they can dress up as ladies, knights, kings, etc. The path is well marked inside and there are rooms with reconstructions with many explanations so that you can understand the time, court life, importance etc.
Outside there is a beautiful park in which visitors can unwind and enjoy the pleasant summer temperatures and sunshine. The castle is impressive and the courtyard interior is charming. The five floors and 800 year old mighty castle is filled with a maze of rooms, corridors and intricate ceremonial halls where you can walk for hours. Explore the museum of historical costumes, weapons, jewelry, porcelain and ceramics. It was built by the Swedes in 1280 and enlarged in the 16th century. The castle is located in the western part of the city near the mouth of the Aura River near the port.
Santa Claus Village – Lapland
Santa Claus Village
of Rovaniemi, Lapland is where the magic of Christmas comes to life at any time of the year. It has a big shopping mall that sells everything and anything about Christmas and Santa Claus. The attraction is a magical structure where children can come in close contact with the famous man in the red suit, his hard working elves, have an excursion with the reindeers, visit his office, write wishes on his special Christmas postcards, handicraft shops and see all kinds of brightly colored trees basking in the magical spectacle of the Northern lights. Do not miss the post office where you will see the elves at work while reading the thousands of letters addressed to Santa Claus and his reindeer.
The elves are always ready to satisfy the needs of all and they are very polite and smiling. It is highly recommended to arrange for a rented car in Rovaniemi which is 8 kilometers away from the village for it is not easy to take the bus and the rates costs about 20 Euros each way. With a car you would be much free to explore the surrounding attractions of the whole village. There are a lot of attractions and surprises like; the reindeer waiting for a ride in the forest, the amusement park on the ice, the Christmas themed shops and restaurants.
Lapland Safaris – Rovaniemi City
tour can be arranged and booked with a local tour agency. The agency is located in the center of Rovaniemi and well organized with efficient staff, polite guides and snowmobile equipment along with the assigned huskies. They will also provide the complete apparel in order not to suffer the low temperature in Lapland during the winter months like; thermal suit, boots, gloves, scarves, socks and cap. The reindeer safari is very characteristic especially at night in the middle of the snowy forest.
The reindeer will lead the tobogganing (2 people per sled) for snow-covered roads to experience the true atmosphere of Christmas. The path is interrupted by a break of half an hour during which around a fire, the guides will tell stories of the animals and the people of Lapland and offer you hot drinks and treats. It will commence with the lively and fun safari which will lead to high speed adventure through snow-covered roads during which under the instructions of the guides you’ll be lead to the sled pulled by huskies. The agency deals with the movements carried out by bus, to and from the farms of reindeer and the husky. The prices of the tours are not cheap, but they fall in the standard of all the other agencies and the general cost of living in Lapland.
This major attraction is the acknowledged symbol of Imatra City, one of 2 Finnish border cities that travelers must visit from St. Petersburg. The
runs only in the summer and in winter you will be able to see only the rocks near the lake from which it falls.
The awesome part of it is that the water level in the lake is much higher than the surrounding areas from flooding and it saves only the surrounding earthen rampart.
Ice Karting Levi
attraction in the city of Levi is a unique experience for those who like a thrilling and adventurous sensation. It is specially designed for all those who want to discover the joys of skiing safely. The team is very friendly and all the necessary equipment for skiing on thick snows is provided.
A break occurs between the two 15 minute thrilling rides with a hot drink around a fire to warm up and share tips and tricks. It is an amazing experience and you can rave while driving calmly in the cold weather.