Finland: Cities and sights

Finland

Finland – the most detailed information about the country with photos. Attractions, cities of Finland, climate, geography, population and culture.

Finland – Suomi

Finland is a state in northern Europe in the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It borders with 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.

Finnish flag

Finnish flag

Useful information about Finland

  1. Population – 5.5 million people.
  2. Area – 338 400 km2 .
  3. Language: Finnish, Swedish and partly Sámi.
  4. The currency is euro.
  5. The country has a Schengen visa.
  6. Time is UTC +2, in summer it is +3.
  7. Although the state religion is officially Lutheran and Orthodox Christianity, Finns are not the most religious nation in Europe.
  8. Finland has 75 ski resorts. Most of them are located in Lapland.
  9. 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).
  10. Traffic is right-handed.
  11. 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.
  12. In grocery stores and supermarkets you cannot buy anything stronger than beer. From 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. in Finland it is forbidden to sell drinks with ethyl alcohol content of more than 2.8% of volume. Wine and spirits can be bought in specialized stores Alko.
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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

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.

Finland has several natural zones: tundra, taiga, mixed and Scandinavian forests. Many forests are preserved 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.

Climate

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

Winter in Lapland

Best time to visit

The best times to visit Finland are summer, early autumn and winter. In summer and early autumn you can enjoy the beauty and colours of Finnish nature, long walks and white nights. In winter you have the chance to see the Northern Lights.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

History

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.

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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.

Wide open spaces of Finland. Kangasniemi

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.

Administrative division

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

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 is a 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.
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Population

Most of Finland’s population are ethnic Finns. Quite a large Swedish diaspora. Official languages are Finnish (which is spoken by 90% of the population), Swedish and some 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

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).

Transport

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.

Helsinki

Helsinki

Cities and popular destinations in Finland

The city of Porvoo

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 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.
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Northern Lights in Lapland

Northern Lights in Lapland

Attractions in Finland

Olafsborg

Olafsborg

Olafsborg (Olavinlinna) is a Swedish fortress of the 15th century with three mighty towers. It is considered the northernmost medieval stone citadel.

Sveaborg

Sveaborg

Sveaborg (Suomenlinna) is one of the world’s largest naval fortresses built by the Swedes in the 18th century. Located near Helsinki and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki’s sacred architecture – three major religious buildings: the neoclassical Lutheran Cathedral, the largest Orthodox Church in Europe, and the original Temppeliaukio Church built into the rock.

Turku Castle

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.

Hameenlinna

Hämeenlinna

Hämeenlinna is a beautiful medieval brick castle from the 13th century located near the Aulanko Nature Park.

Accommodation

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

Hotel in Lapland

Cuisine

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) – small, fat 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 complex offers, buy fast food or food in supermarkets.

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Interesting excursions

Helsinki for Kids!

€100 per excursion

Helsinki for Kids!

Have fun at the zoo, museum, aquarium or amusement park

Turku - Getting to Know You for the First Time

€117 per excursion

Turku – getting to know Turku for the first time

Get to know the history of the city and visit a medieval castle on a sightseeing tour

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