Picturesque and leisurely Finland

10 places in Finland that will grace your Instagram

10 Finnish places to hit your Instagram

The Land of a Thousand Lakes, Finland, attracts with its incredible scenic beauty: national parks with light pine forests, charming provincial towns with wooden buildings, even scatterings of strawberries growing right on the roadside. Finland is a photographer’s paradise, but where are the best photographs?

1. Ralinginkuia Lane (Porvoo)

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Coordinates of Ralinginkuja Lane: 60.395440, 25.658516

One of the oldest Finnish cities is Porvoo, founded about eight centuries ago. Evidence of its long history can be felt even today, walking its small streets. For example, in the center of the old city from the town hall begins a cobblestone alley that gives many recognizable city views. The most significant in the old part of town is the 15th century cathedral. The historic part of the city looks very authentic, you can still see the mosaic medieval layout, winding narrow streets and alleys. Porvoo has burned several times, but then the inhabitants rebuilt their homes on their former foundations. Here, as elsewhere in Finland, the two official languages are Finnish and Swedish, and the inhabitants use both with equal success, moreover, by stringing words of both together in their sentences. In the old town, all the roads are paved with round cobblestones. On weekends, it is customary here to display items no longer needed in the household for sale right in the courtyard of one’s own home, laying them out on a table. There you can see anything from children’s pots to doors and furniture.

Finland, a country without mountains, has 75 ski resorts. How is that possible? It’s just that instead of full-fledged mountains, there are numerous.

2. Ukko-Koli (Koli National Park)

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Coordinates Ukko-Koli: 63.095452, 29.807789

For most Finns, the phrase “national park” is primarily associated with the view that opens up from the Ukko-Koli hill on Lake Pielinen. This is the highest point in the entire south of the country, which attracts up to 100,000 tourists a year, who want to admire the magnificent panorama of Lake Pielinen. For Finnish artists, this view has become a favorite national landscape, inspiring them to create endless picturesque paintings. The blue lakes here are surrounded by low wooded hills. It’s nice to relax here in any season. The protection and tourist tasks in the national park are carried out in parallel. Not only the incredibly picturesque local nature, but also the cultural heritage of Karelia is protected here. For example, the ancient customs of tending forests and meadows, where cows and goats are driven out in summer to regulate the height of the grass, are interesting. The slash-and-burn method of farming also continues to be used here, and everyone can participate in this traditional annual activity. In the national park is a natural attraction “church of the Devil” (Pirunkirkko Gorge) – the longest cave in Finland. According to local beliefs, it is associated with Koli witches.

3. Oak in Paavola (Lohja Island)

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Coordinates of Paavolan Tammy Oak: 60.226521, 23.890850

On the island of Lochia stands a mighty oak, considered one of the most magnificent trees in the country. It is estimated to be 300-400 years old and grows in a dense forest at Paavola. The girth of the trunk of the oak is more than 6 meters and the height is 12 meters. The island is located in the middle of the lake Lohja, near which stands the town of the same name in the region of western Uuismaa in southern Finland. From Helsinki here can be reached in just one hour by car. The local nature is particularly diverse and rich, even in comparison with other picturesque Finnish corners. The fact that on the island of Lohja there are outcrops of limestone, so here are rooted so rare plants, which have long been in danger of extinction. And the lake Lohja itself, which is the largest in southern Finland, looks beautiful. You can fish on it, swim in the middle of summer or, having rented a boat, admire the surroundings.

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4. the Secret House of Santa Claus (Levi)

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Coordinates of Levitunturi hill: 67.784601, 24.853981

Everyone knows that Santa Claus has his office in Rovaniemi, but his secret house is in the town of Levi. In winter, the snow-covered cottage resembles a gingerbread house. It stands on the slope of Levintunturi Hill, it’s easy to get there by cable car. Santa Claus Cottage is located between the slopes number 11 and 13.

And it all started with a movie called “A Christmas Story”, filmed in 2007. It tells the story of the little boy Nicholas, who later became Santa Claus. As a boy, he lived in a cute little cottage high up on a peak. That cottage in the movie is still there! You can visit it if you can find it. There are no signs, you just have to know where to go.

Although Finland is not considered a mountainous country, skiing enthusiasts from all over the world know it well. The long winter allows you to keep going.

In addition to the secret house in Levi is Santa’s Taiga cabin, which is located 15 minutes drive from Levi, on the banks of the taiga river Ounasjoki (accessible only with a tour), and Santa’s workshop and a zoo (coordinates: 67.789993, 24.799552).

5. Kiikunlahde Pond (Hollola)

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Coordinates of Kiikunlähde Lake: 61.028923, 25.418166

Near the city of Lahti you can find the beautiful Hollola Pond with the clean turquoise coloured water of Kiikunlähde. The road to Kiikunlähde, where you can park your car, runs just 300 meters from the pond. Kiikunlähde Spring shines turquoise in the middle of the forest and there are 14 springs in the pond that feed it with pure water, so it belongs to one of the largest springs in Finland. Mineral salts are dissolved in the water, and when the sunlight falls on it, its thickness is colored in different shades of green and blue. Kiikunlähde is one of the famous attractions in southern Finland, but this popularity comes at a price. In a day he comes to an average of 200 people who gradually trampled surrounding a spring of forests and lawns.

6. The Old Mill in Oulanka National Park

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Old Mill (Myllykoski) coordinates: 66.260343, 29.417028

Oulanka National Park is home to the famous Bear Trail, which is known as Finland’s most popular hiking trail. Hiking enthusiasts can enjoy magnificent scenery that begs to be photographed: roaring mountain rivers, roaring waterfalls, the stark beauty of majestic gorges, and suspension bridges along the trail. There is also a very nice old watermill here. The charms of the north, south, and east are uniquely combined in Oulank. The steep, pine-forested hills near the Oulanka River and the calypso orchid, which was chosen as the national park’s symbol, are in the undergrowth. There are also river valleys with rapids and sandy beaches, and in the north there are enormous swamps. Rare species of animals and plants that have almost disappeared elsewhere are still preserved here. Rare butterflies and more than a hundred species of birds live in alluvial meadows and along river beds. As a rule, local meadows are used for reindeer herding.

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7. Suomenlinna Fortress (Helsinki)

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Suomenlinna Fortress coordinates: 60.145443, 24.987775

Although “Lord of the Rings” was filmed in faraway New Zealand, you can feel the hobbit spirit no less clearly on the Finnish island of Suomenlinna (Sveaborg in Sweden). A local ferry sails to the island every 20 minutes throughout the year. On the island of Susisaari near the gunpowder cellar, you can see buildings that suspiciously resemble the cozy dens of hobbits. The name of the island translates as “Finnish fortress. Nowadays, it has become a district of Helsinki, and about 800 people live there. In the past, local bastions and fortifications, scattered over the islands, defended the sea of Helsingfors (the former name of Helsinki). Suomenlinna Fortress is a system of chaotically arranged bastions, nestled on tiny rocky islands. Defensive objects of the fortress since the founding served not only for direct purposes, but also for utilitarian purposes. This fortress has perfectly preserved its original appearance, which makes it an even more valuable historical monument. Nearby, dozens of other historical sites have been found underwater.

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8. Hotel Torni (Helsinki)

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Coordinates of Ateljee Bar: 60.167851, 24.938817

If you want to enjoy the best view of Helsinki, you should come to Hotel Torni in the city center and take the elevator to the Ateljee Bar – there you can sip a nice drink and admire the city panorama at the same time. The bar itself is also quite remarkable and has its own special atmosphere, not least because of the works of young Finnish artists decorating its interior. It is located at a height of 70 meters, from which you can see the city as if in the palm of your hand.

9. Riisitunturi National Park

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Coordinates of Riisitunturi Starting Point: 66.217875, 28.586991

In Riisintunturi National Park, the forest looks especially attractive and even magical in winter when it is covered by snow. In the moonlight you can see bizarre snow shapes. It is a great place for talented photographers, as well as for fans of active winter holidays. The hills in the national park are covered with pine trees, which are covered by frosty snow fluff in winter – you can make a lot of spectacular shots here, which are perfect for New Year cards. But connoisseurs of beauty can find many striking beauties in this national park not only in winter. In summer, the hanging bogs and other beautiful landscapes attract more attention, making this place one of the most beautiful national parks in Europe. One of the largest spring lakes on the continent, Kitkajärvi, deserves special attention and is a must-see when in Finland. The seasons in this part of the Land of a Thousand Lakes are particularly diverse and colorful. In winter, the sun barely rises above the horizon, and dawn immediately turns into dusk. At the height of spring, the days begin to add up quickly, but snow continues to lie all around. In midsummer, however, the sun does not set below the horizon, so the northern flowers are bathed in daylight around the clock. With the first autumn frosts, the plants covering the hills burst out in amazing colors. In August-September, you are allowed to pick berries and mushrooms in the national park.

10. Saana peak (Kilpisjärvi)

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Coordinates of the top of the Saana Summit: 69.043631, 20.856840

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The Arctic village of Kilpisjärvi is located in northwest Finland, near the borders with Sweden and Norway. To the east of the lake is Sahana Sopka, sacred to the Lapps, which can be seen from afar. Its distinctive shape has made it Finland’s most famous peak, and it is often photographed. It is one of the highest points in Lapland (just over a kilometer), but it is easy to climb – only 4 km on a rocky and gentle mountain path.

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Finland

Finnish National Anthem

Finland – a fantastic northern region, which captures the soul of its ultramarine lakes, polar region and charming cities with discreet Scandinavian architecture and unusual to Russian ears names. Washed by the cool waters of the Baltic Sea, this picturesque corner of Northern Europe is especially loved by our compatriots for its accessibility, which is not surprising: the entire eastern part of the country is practically one big border with Russia. Well, for residents of the capital of culture Finnish landscapes and even as native: find a St. Petersburger, who at least once a year, does not wind up on a weekend in the Land of a Thousand Lakes, almost impossible.

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Save on a trip to Finland!

Video: Finland

Highlights

Finland, or Suomi as the locals call it, is a treasure trove of tourist delights. You’ll find Christmas in the company of Lapland’s Santa, all-season fishing, and forest wilds with piles of cloudberries and other northern delicacies. In winter the homeland of reindeer and fire-breathing saunas turns into a ski resort, where everyone who can hold a ski pole comes off, and in summer the whole population of the country slowly retreats to the lake and river beaches to get burnt by the gentle Finnish sun.

Devotees of this “sport” like shopping in Finland are waiting for seasonal sales, which have recently become a real test of luck and endurance. Historians and lovers of cultural values will definitely be “addicted” to the capital’s museums and majestic sea fortresses, and supporters of more down-to-earth entertainment will get their charge of positive from the local festivals, following each other endless series throughout the Finnish year.

Lake Pielinen in Finland Helsinki Finnish bogs Sunset in Haukilahti

Cities of Finland

History

Aside from prehistoric times, up to the 20th century Finland functioned as a bargaining chip in the political games of the major European powers. In the eleventh century these areas were annexed by the Swedes who hoped to defend themselves against the claims of Novgorod. In 1809 Finland was “snatched” from the descendants of the Vikings by the Russian Empire, which subsequently granted the country the status of autonomy. The early twentieth century brought independence and with it wars: civil and as many as three Soviet-Finnish (1918, 1921 and 1939).

Finland has met the Second World War on the side of Germany, although shortly before the outbreak of hostilities in Europe, has openly declared its neutrality. The reason for such unexpected decision was hidden in the recent past: the local government could not forgive the Soviet Union its defeat in the Winter Finnish campaign and secretly hoped to return Karelia, which it had lost earlier. However, this was far from a hope: after the defeat of fascism, territorial ambitions were forgotten forever.

By 1948 relations between the Soviet Union and Finland had warmed up. Moreover, the countries signed a mutually beneficial “Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation”, under which Russia supplied Suomi with cheap raw materials and the latter, in turn, supplied it with finished products. This prosperity lasted until the collapse of the Soviet Union, to which the Finnish economy has reacted with a serious industrial crisis.

Petroglyphs of Astuvansalmi near lake Saima, dating back to 3000-2500 years BC.

Finland. Modernity

Today Finland is a parliamentary-presidential republic, an active member of the European Union, and a self-sufficient state that lives off exports of industrial and agricultural products and tourism. Of course, Finland is still far behind Norway (the state still has debts to foreign creditors), but, nevertheless, the quality of life in the country is on a decent level.

As for Russian-Finnish relations, they began to cool noticeably after the Crimean crisis. Since 2014, the countries have periodically exchanged sanctions and diplomatic “spikes,” which does not affect the economies of both countries in the best way. However, for Russians, especially those living in the Capital of Culture, Finland continues to be one of the most trendy tourist destinations.

Helsinki’s main street at Christmas Roads in Finland Cruise liner in Helsinki Harbour

Best time to travel

Finland has a temperate climate, with distinctly maritime and continental types (south and east of the country). Winters in this part of Europe are snowy and rather cold, but thanks to the softening effect of Atlantic air masses, frosts of over -20°C are rare here, rather than the norm. With the onset of winter, the polar night descends on the north of Finland, which in some regions lasts up to 2 months. In the southern part of the country the situation is more positive, but with its own peculiarities. For example, December and the first half of January in this region are dank and little snow, so those who goes to the home of Moomin-trolls for a winter fairy tale, it is better to postpone the trip to the second half of winter, when the days are clearer, and under the feet nice crunching fresh snow.

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In spring in Finland is very beautiful, but go here in March and April is worth it just to ski resorts, because in other places the weather often demonstrates capricious nature. Speaking of resorts: ski fever peaks in late February and early March. It was during this period, most Finns go on vacation to rush the whole family to conquer the snowy tracks. So if you pulled in the Land of a Thousand Lakes just the ski season, book hotels and ski passes four months in advance.

Ski elevators in Juellas Ski Resort Ruka

The summer months in Finland are usually associated with hot sunny days, swimming and the scent of strawberries. In June the water in the rivers and lakes is not yet warm enough, so all you can count on this month is a barbecue on the shores of some picturesque pond and taking air baths, but in July you can already fully enjoy a splash. In August and September fans of beach rest and excursions are replaced by inveterate fishermen, berrymen and simply contemplators of colorful autumn landscapes, who stay here until mid-October at most.

Fishing in Finland Beach holidays in Hanko

Population and mentality

Just over 5.5 million people live in Finland. More than 90% of the inhabitants are ethnic Finns. The remaining 10% are divided among Swedes, Russians, Estonians, Gypsies and Saami. A typical Finn in the eyes of the Russian tourist is, as a rule, a charming underdog with slow reaction and certainly under the influence of alcohol. In reality, the inhabitants of Finland are really slow, but not stupid, rather, few words.

Finns can be called a good-natured and honest nation without exaggeration. If you lost something on the streets of local cities, in 99% of cases you will get it back. The jokes about locals’ passion for alcohol are not far from the truth: Finns respect drinking and often, embroiled in an alcoholic marathon, do not have time to get off in time.

The inhabitants of the Land of a Thousand Lakes treat the Russians with a slight lukewarmness: no matter how hard you try to play tolerance, but the wounded pride of your ancestors every now and then comes to mind. The tourist in Finland is unlikely to meet with open aggression, but it is difficult for a foreigner to gain the unlimited trust of the local residents, not to mention the true friendship. Finns let only trusted people into their lives.

Finns in traditional costume Rally in support of LGBT minorities

Major tourist destinations

The main tourist magnet of Finland, attracting all shopaholics, hunters for cultural experiences and those who are not yet ready to leave the comfort zone, is the capital region, which, in addition to Helsinki, also includes such cities as Vantaa and Espoo. The Finnish Gulf, the good old North European architecture, open-air museums, cathedrals in the Russian style – this is not a complete list of the main treasures of this historic area.

Helsinki Espoo Panorama St. Lawrence Church in Vantaa

Ecotourists, fishermen and hunters tend to settle in the surroundings of Kupio, Savonlinna, Varkaus, Juvaskyla and Mikkeli. This blessed lake region is known as a quiet backwater, where it is so pleasant to hide from the turmoil of life. It’s no capital city when it comes to culture, but if you drop in during the summer season, you can almost certainly look forward to a few fun local festivals.

Kupio Savonlinna Varkausa Jyvaskylä Mikkeli

Petersburg fishermen and yachtsmen prefer not to go far: and why, if almost next door to a beautiful provincial town Imatra with the country’s largest lake Saima. Mostly residents of the cultural capital attack the settlements of the so-called Finnish Karelia, which, firstly, are close to the Russian-Finnish border, and secondly, are known for their affordable, compared to the rest of Finland, prices. So, if you want to meet compatriots, go to Nurmes or Lappenranta: certainly you will come across the company of St. Petersburgers.

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Seekers of offbeat routes and fans of water sports go to the Åland Islands. With the entertainment industry is still dull, so visit this “promised land” in order to get a little wild and restore mental balance after the noisy tourist spots.

The edge of the polar night and home of ancient Joelupukki, Lapland is also still trendy. In autumn, you can see the fantastic riot of colors, and in winter, you can ride on the reindeer and dog sled and take mind-blowing selfies against the northern lights. And those who get tired of winding kilometers on the Finnish tundra can always take a time-out and rest in the main city of this region, Rovaniemi with its Santa Park and the dazzling lights of the bridge Jätkänkuntilä.

Rovaniemi Santa Claus Village

If you really want to visit Sweden but have enough money to spend on Finland, take a trip to the west coast: the descendants of the Vikings had a lot of cultural and architectural heritage in this region. Finland’s former capital, Turku, and with it the cities of Kristiinankaupunki, Vaasa and Rauma, are among the “most Swedish” places in Finland.

Turku Kristiinankaupunki Vaasa Rauma

Attractions in Finland

Finland’s main attraction is its delightful nature, and the national parks are the best place to enjoy it. Travellers with children and all those in search of colorful Nordic backgrounds for photo shoots usually head to Urho Kekkonen, which is dominated by the Korvatunturi hill, where the Finnish brother of Russian Santa Claus is rumored to live. You can take part in a husky safari, go skiing and snowboarding, descend into a real mine and have a social competition for picking cranberries at Pyhä-Luosto. At Linnansaari you can go canoeing in the narrow straits and do open-ended runs on the ice-covered lakes. Oulanka Park, which is situated almost on the border with Russia, is worth visiting if you are interested in the nature of Northern Karelia, and the fairytale hills and inspiring landscapes of Lake Pielinen are to be found in the Koli Park.

Korvatunturi Sopka in winter Husky safari

Helsinki is ahead of the rest in terms of the cultural program. The Finnish capital is quiet and nice, unlike other European cities, which disposes even more to leisurely excursions. Of the iconic places “the daughter of the Baltic Sea” are Senaatintori Square, citadel Sveaborg, the mountain church Temppeliaukio and the cathedral of Tuomiokirkko. The island of Seurasaari makes a lasting impression, attracting travelers with its open-air ethnographic museum and winding forest trails.

Senaatintori Square Temppeliaukio Church Seurasaari Island

The area around the port city of Kotka is well advertised with its numerous parks and old forts. Be sure to look for the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, whose exteriors in the style of Russian classicism copied the architecture of St. Petersburg churches to the smallest detail. The oldest city in the country, Turku, also has something to catch your eye. Abo Castle, which was built as a military fort, but later became famous not for its heroic defense, but for chivalrous revelry, tops the list of attractions of the ancient port. By the way, if you have in your pocket a few hundred euros, the palace halls can be rented for a joyous banquet or pompous wedding ceremony.

Abo Cove Castle in Kotka

A tour around the local museums will also bring a lot of impressions. For connoisseurs of avant-garde trends and those who are fond of criticizing the works of contemporary artists, the Kiasma Museum is the place to go. To see paintings by Shishkin, Repin and Van Gogh, buy a ticket to the Ateneum. A visit to the open-air exhibition “Karelian House” is usually recommended to anyone interested in ancient life. The Czar’s House museum, built especially for Alexander III, has a funny story: it was here that the Russian tsar went fishing while European ambassadors waited for an audience.

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