11 Finland sights
Finland always surprises its visitors with countless historical monuments. During a trip to Finland, be sure to pass by an old castle or church, which look even more beautiful because of its charming surroundings. The Scandinavian country is especially popular for its pure nature: it abounds with landscapes for both mental relaxation and recovery from stress, as well as places of active recreation. Big cities like Helsinki captivate with their metropolitan rhythm and modern vistas, while the national parks provide the chance to be in touch with nature (without, however, losing sight of civilization). What are the sights of Finland worth seeing for every tourist?
1. Helsinki Cathedral
1. Helsinki Cathedral
Landmark of the capital of Finland today is the Helsinki Cathedral, which is located in the middle of Senate Square . The cruciform domed church is also popular for its architectural style ( classicism ) which is quite rare in Scandinavian countries. The church was built between 1820 and 1850 by Carl Ludwig Engel to honor the Russian tsar Nicholas I and was named after his patron saint of the same name.
It was not until 1959 that the church was renamed the Helsinki Cathedral. Inside the cathedral has been preserved in white. Only some statues of reformers such as Martin Luther or Mikael Agricola serve as decorative elements. The Caf de la Cripta (Café in the crypt) was opened because of the growing number of visitors, but it is only available in the summer months.
Eureka is a science museum in Vantaa’s Tikkurila district that has been around since 1989 and for a long time was the only science center in Scandinavia. Today it is still considered one of the most important science museums. Even from the outside the building is impressive with its futuristic appearance. The museum administration pays special attention to children – here they can get in touch with science, research and technology in the form of games and entertainment.
In addition to the approximately 200 permanent exhibitions, there are two locations for guest exhibitions on a wide variety of topics. Children and adults can participate in various experiments and even conduct their own research. There is also a movie theater with special effects and a planetarium. Outside there is a “science park” where children can try many experiments outdoors and adults can have a picnic.
3. The Arm
3. The Arm
The ski resort of Ruka has become a real magnet for tourists from all over eastern Europe and western Russia. Here you can find landscapes of incomparable beauty not only in summer, but also in winter. But, of course, the main “influx” of visitors is the ski season (in Europe it is from May to October). You can stay for a night and have dinner in almost all of the nearby villages, and for the fans of the nightlife there are lots of clubs and discos. A lot of tourists come here to enjoy the local views, who are infinitely far from extreme sports. They just want to see with their own eyes the beauty and splendor, which presented the nature of Finland.
4. Santa Claus Village
4. Santa Claus Village
Another highlight, especially for families, is undoubtedly Santa Claus Village. Of course, the village is located in the far north of Finland, above the Arctic Circle . It is even marked with a line, so crossing the border for tourists will be as visualized as possible.
Snow in this area remains on average 180 days per year, which makes this a very special tourist experience. The whole atmosphere is guaranteed to put anyone who takes the time to visit this extraordinary place in the Christmas spirit. Santa Claus himself resides right here in the village and any child who wants to can personally ask the fairy character if he has behaved well in the past year. In the nearby post office young tourists can write a letter to Santa Claus, which would be appropriate to ask for a gift for Christmas. By the way, nearby there is a unique museum dedicated to the traditions of celebrating New Year in different countries.
5. Olavinlinna Castle
5. Olavinlinna Castle
Olavinlinna Castle is located in the town of Savonlinna and has a long history: in the fifteenth century the castle was built to protect the waterways (at that time Finland still belonged to Sweden). However, in the nineteenth century, during the Swedish-Russian War, the castle lost its importance and was neglected until restoration began in 1967.
The Savonlinna Opera Festival has since been held annually in what is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Northern Europe. The castle is also accessible to tourists all year round, but only via bridge, as it is situated on a rocky island.
6. Mount Kohli
6. Mount Koly
The mountain belongs to the national park of the same name and is located in the province of North Karelia, near the border with Russia. Although the mountain is not particularly high (with a height of 347 meters), it is one of the most famous attractions of the country. Especially in winter, the area surrounding the mountain is very visited because it is a popular center of winter sports . It is also home to Finland’s longest illuminated long-distance railroad.
From the top of the mountain you have a unique view of the surrounding countryside and Lake Pielinen . Many artists have been inspired by these places and landscapes. Hiking trails, very well maintained, as if luring tourists for long walks, after which it’s so easy to placate “raw” appetite in one of the local restaurants.
If you want to learn more about the history of the country and get acquainted with the “real” Finland, you should visit one of its oldest cities. It is located near Turku, on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Here you can see the authentic wooden Finnish houses where you can be transported into the life of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The beautiful old town with its boutiques invites visitors to walk its ancient streets. Even today, the port located there has an important economic importance for the country. The medieval village stone church and the adjacent archipelago are also popular attractions.
8. Linnansaari National Park
8. Linnansaari National Park
Located in the Savo region of Finland, Linnansaari National Park was created in 1956 to preserve the island landscapes of the country’s Lake District. In total the park has an area of 40 kilometers, and most of it belongs to the municipality of Rantasalmi, where the Oskari Nature Center is also located.
In addition, the national park contains about 130 islands, including the main island, Linnansaari. There is a large observation deck on the rock of Linnanvuori and many hiking trails where the adventurous tourist can explore the island. The area is also popular with water sports enthusiasts, and canoeing is a great way to get up close to the animals and plants of the region.
9. Bear Circle
9. Bear Circle
The most famous hiking trail in Finland is called “Bear Circle” (in Finnish “Karhunkerros”). In total, the trail has a total length of about 80 kilometers and allows you to discover the nature of Finland very intensively. Tourists usually start their route in Kuusamo and head for Ruka.
It is best to finish the route in September, as mosquitoes in summer can be unbearable, and in wooden huts can be difficult to find a free place. You should allow about six days for the route and bring enough food in advance, because there are no stores along the way. All the trails are very easy and accessible even to beginners, but the last 10 kilometers will require quite a lot of strength from the participants of the transition. The path begins with a swampy area, which mile by mile leads the group of tourists in the pine forests. The route is named after the numerous brown bears, which can be found here and, if you are lucky, even observed with the naked eye.
The third oldest city in Finland is called Rauma with a population of about 37,000. The old city was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List because it was once built of wood. The city is famous for being the home of Finland’s largest sailing fleet in ancient times. Learn more about Rauma’s history at the local maritime museum and naval school.
11. Northern Lights
11. Northern Lights
With a lot of luck every tourist has an opportunity to experience a very special natural spectacle in Finland – the Northern Lights . The best conditions for spotting the dancing colored lights are a clear night sky and a little patience.
Finland – the most detailed information about the country with photos. Finland sights, cities, climate, geography, population and culture.
Finland – Suomi
Finland is a state in northern Europe in the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It borders Sweden to the west, Norway to the north and Russia to the east. Finland is a modern state with a high standard of living, comfortable small towns and villages, which still has large unspoiled natural landscapes. It is a parliamentary republic in which Finnish and Swedish are recognized as official languages.
Finland – a country of white nights and northern lights, vast forests and hundreds of thousands of blue lakes, many picturesque islands and vast expanses of snow in Lapland, known to many as the home of Santa. It lies far from the popular tourist routes and is not spoiled by the attention of tourists. But in this lies its charm. Finland is very real, from nature to the people on the streets.
Useful information about Finland
- Population – 5.5 million people.
- Area – 338 400 km2 .
- Language: Finnish, Swedish and partly Sámi.
- The currency is euro.
- The country has a Schengen visa.
- Time is UTC +2, in summer it is +3.
- Although the state religion is officially Lutheran and Orthodox Christianity, Finns are not the most religious nation in Europe.
- Finland has 75 ski resorts. Most of them are located in Lapland.
- Finland is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. It is quite difficult to find cheap accommodation (even a bed in a hostel will cost 15 – 20 euros).
- Traffic is right-handed.
- Popular souvenirs: Finnish knives (puukko), woven ryijy carpets, handicrafts (labeled Sámi Duodji). Also frequent purchases are: clothes Marimekko, glass Iittala, jewelry Kalevala Koru and ceramics Arabia.
- In grocery stores and supermarkets you cannot buy anything stronger than beer. From 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. it is prohibited to sell drinks with ethyl alcohol content of more than 2.8% of volume in Finland. Wine and spirits can be bought in specialized stores Alko.
Geography and Nature
Finland is located in Northern Europe in eastern Scandinavia. The southern part of the country is washed by the waters of the Gulf of Finland, and the western part by the waters of the Gulf of Bothnia, which are part of the Baltic Sea. About 1/4 of the territory lies beyond the Arctic Circle. There are more than 180,000 lakes and over 80,000 islands in the expanses of Finland.
Lake in Finland
Geographically the country can be divided into three regions:
- The southern and western coasts are lowlands, along which there are many islands. The largest of these are: Åland Islands, Turku Archipelago and the Archipelago Sea.
- The central part is a land of lakes, swamps and forests. Here are the largest lakes in Finland – Saima, Päijänne, Inarijärvi and Oulujärvi.
- North – the low rocky mountains and highlands of Lapland, occupied by the taiga and tundra. Here is the highest point of Finland – the slope of Mount Halti (1324 meters). Also in the north flow the largest rivers – Kemijoki, Ouluijoki and Tornionjoki.
On the territory of Finland there are several natural zones: tundra, taiga, mixed and Scandinavian forests. Many forests have remained almost in pristine condition, rich in mushrooms and berries. Typical representatives of fauna: bears, lynxes, wolves, foxes, wolverines, ermines, owls, white-tailed eagles. On Lake Saimaa live rare ringed seals.
The climate is temperate over most of Finland’s territory, transitional from maritime in the south to continental in the north. Winters are quite cold and snowy. Summers are cool.
Winter in Lapland
Best time to visit
The best time to come to Finland is summer, early autumn and winter. In summer and early autumn, you can enjoy the beauty and colors of Finnish nature, long walks and white nights. In winter you have the chance to see the Northern Lights.
The territory of modern Finland was inhabited in the 8th-9th millennium BC. The oldest settlements were found between the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland. The first mention of Finland dates back to the 1st century AD. By 1000 its territory was inhabited by Suomi, Tavasti and Karelians. They differed culturally and often feuded. Modern Finns emerged from a mixture of Germanic, Baltic and Siberian peoples. The Finnish language is based on the Ugro-Finnic dialect.
In the 8th century the Vikings came to the Finnish coast and founded trading settlements there. In the mid 12th century, during the reign of King Eric IX of Sweden, the Finnish tribes were subjugated and their Christianization began. From this time begins more than six centuries of Swedish domination. In the 13th century western and southern Finland became culturally and politically closer to Sweden. At the end of the 13th century the Swedes undertook another campaign to the Finnish lands, which resulted in the foundation of Vyborg. In 1362 Finland became a Swedish province.
The Finnish expanses. Kangasniemi
In 1550 the Swedish King Gustav Vasa founded Helsinki. In 1556 Johan III grants Finland the status of a duchy. In the first half of the 17th century Swedish King Gustav II Adolf conquers Karelia. In 1640 the University of Turku is founded.
Between 1700 and 1809, as a result of three Russian-Swedish armies, Finland became part of the Russian Empire as a Grand Duchy, with Helsinki as its capital. In 1917, Finland declared its independence, which was confirmed in several wars with the Soviet Union. Until the beginning of World War II, the country has adhered to neutrality. In 1940, it began to cooperate with Germany to return its historical lands and expand its territories. In 1944, Finland withdrew from the war and broke off relations with the Nazis. In 1995 the state became part of the European Union.
Finland is divided into 19 provinces (regions), which in turn are divided into cities and communities. The Finnish regions are Lappi, North Ostrobothnia, Kainuu, North Karelia, North Savo, South Savo, South Ostrobothnia, Ostrobothnia, Pirkanmaa, Satakunta, Central Ostrobothnia, Central Finland, Varsinais-Suomi, South Karelia, Päijät-Häme, Kanta-Häme, Uusimaa, Kymenlaakso and the Åland Islands.
Administrative division of Finland
Geographically, the territory of Finland can be divided into the following regions:
- Southern Finland – the coast of the Gulf of Finland, which includes the capital Helsinki.
- Western Finland – the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, with the old capital, Turku, and the central province, led by Tampere.
- Eastern Finland – the region of forests and lakes, including Savonia and western Karelia.
- Northern Finland is the region between Lapland and the south of the country.
- Finnish Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland, with tundra and the largest ski resorts.
- Åland Islands – a group of islands off the southwestern coast of Finland with a Swedish mentality.
Most of the population of Finland are ethnic Finns. The Swedish diaspora is quite large. The official languages are Finnish (which is spoken by 90% of the population), Swedish and partly Sámi. Finnish is not related to the other Scandinavian languages (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese), Russian or English. In fact, it doesn’t even belong to the Indo-European language group, but is part of the Uralic language group, which also includes Hungarian and Estonian. Therefore, its understanding and reading is quite difficult. But it won’t be much of a problem, since more than 70% of the population speaks English.
Winter in Finland
Finns are quite open and sincere, civilized and sociable. They are genuine and think what they say. At the same time Finns are modest, quiet and responsible. They honor their traditions, love the outdoors and the sauna.
The main Finnish holidays: New Year’s Eve (December 31), Epiphany (January 6), Easter or Pääsiäinen, Walpurgis Night or Vappu (May 1), Midsummer Day or Juhannus (late June), Independence Day or Itsenäisyyspäivä (December 6), Christmas (December 24-26).
The country’s largest international airport is located near Helsinki. Other major air ports are Tampere and Turku. Rail and bus connections are quite strong with St. Petersburg, but it’s not the fastest and cheapest way to get to Finland. The best is the ferry. Ferries connect the country with St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn and Riga.
Cities and popular destinations in Finland
City of Porvoo
Popular cities in Finland:
– Finland’s capital and its only “real” city that still retains its provincial character. Helsinki is called the “daughter of the Baltic States,” and the city itself is modeled on St. Petersburg. – A small town with a beautiful medieval castle.
- Jyväskylä is a university town in central Finland.
- Kuopio – another university town, located also in the center of the country, the capital of the lakeside region.
- Lappeenranta – University city in southeastern Finland on Lake Saimaa.
- Oulu is a technological city on the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia.
- Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland and the “gateway” to this harsh northern region.
- Savonlinna is a small coastal town with a beautiful castle.
- Seinäjoki – one of the fastest growing Finnish cities, located in the province of South Ostrobothnia. – The industrial capital of the country and one of its major cultural centers. – Old capital of Finland with a medieval castle.
- Vaasa is a city on the Gulf of Bothnia with a Swedish character. – one of the oldest cities in Finland with a small charming historical center. – one of the oldest cities in the country with colorful old wooden houses and cobblestone streets.
- Åland Islands – an archipelago between Finland and Sweden, with a predominantly Swedish population. The islands are famous for their unspoiled nature and beautiful landscapes.
- Lapland is a harsh northern region, home to Santa and the aurora borealis.
- Kauhava is Finland’s largest amusement park.
- Levi is one of the largest ski resorts in Finland.
- Saima is one of the largest lakes in the country with picturesque nature.
- Lemmenjoki is a national park with wild coniferous forests.
Northern Lights in Lapland
Attractions in Finland
Olafsborg (Olavinlinna) is a Swedish fortress of the 15th century with three mighty towers. It is considered the northernmost medieval stone citadel.
Sveaborg (Suomenlinna) is one of the largest naval fortresses in the world, built by the Swedes in the 18th century. It is located near Helsinki and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Helsinki’s sacred architecture – three major religious buildings: the neoclassical Lutheran Cathedral, the largest Orthodox Church in Europe, and the original Temppeliaukio Church built in the rock.
Castle in Turku
The Castle in Turku is a magnificent medieval building from the end of the 13th century, originally built as a military fortress. Today it houses one of Finland’s most visited museums.
Hämeenlinna is a beautiful medieval brick castle from the 13th century located near the Aulanko Nature Park.
Accommodation in Finland is expensive. Interestingly, during the summer, the cost of hotels in the cities can be a little lower, as most Finns go out into nature. One way to save money on accommodation is to settle in youth hostels (retkeilymaja). Also a great option is to book a cottage with a sauna (Mökki).
Hotel in Lapland
Finnish cuisine is heavily influenced by its neighbors (Sweden, Russia). The main foods are potatoes and bread with a variety of fish and meat dishes. Dairy products also play large role in Finnish diet.
- Salaka (Baltic herring) is a small, fatty and tasty fish, which is fried, salted and smoked.
- Raw salted salmon (graavilohi).
- Smoked salmon (savulohi).
- Karelian stew (karjalanpaisti) – hearty dish of beef and pork with potatoes and carrots.
- Casserole made of liver (maksalaatikko).
- Meatballs (lihapullat , lihapyörykät).
- Swedish hash (pyttipannu) – a hearty dish of potatoes, onions and meat.
- Venison (poro).
- Pea soup with ham (hernekeitto).
- Karelian pies (karjalanpiirakka).
Prices in cafes and restaurants in Finland are quite high. To save on food you can take advantage of package deals, buy fast food or food in supermarkets.
€100 per excursion
Helsinki for Kids!
Have fun at the zoo, museum, aquarium or amusement park
€117 per excursion
Turku – getting to know Turku for the first time
Learn about the history of the city and visit a medieval castle on a sightseeing tour