A visit to a real Finnish sauna is a must when visiting Finland. Although many hotels and holiday homes have their own saunas, the true sauna experience can be found in the public saunas such as the Kotiharjun sauna in Helsinki’s Kallio district or the Jätkänkämppä steam sauna near Kuopio.
For a true arctic adventure, stay a night at the Lumi Linna Snow Hotel (website: www.snowcastle.net ) in Kemi. The hotel is only open during the winter months and has to be rebuilt every year as it melts in the summer months. The guests sleep in cozy warm sleeping bags at temperatures around 5°C.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Finland, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
Finnish designers are world famous. Their creations can be admired in Helsinki on specialized tours. Architecture tours focus on buildings and public spaces designed by internationally acclaimed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. There are other tours focusing on jewellery, ceramics, glassware and traditional wooden architecture.
Inarijärvi Lake and Inari
The third largest lake in Finland, Lake Inarijärvi is located about 1,000 km north of Helsinki in northern Lapland. On one of the 3000 islands of the lake stands an old Sami sacrificial site. The village of Inari on the western shore of the lake is the center of Sami culture. Here you will also find the Siida Museum, where you can learn all sorts of interesting facts about Sami history and culture (website: www.siida.fi ). In the nearby Lemmenjoki National Park there are marked trails for hiking through the rugged beauty of Lapland.
The city of Jyväskylä on the shore of Lake Päijänne is known for its modern architecture (website: www.jkl.fi ). Many of the buildings were designed by the well-known Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Every year in August, the Finnish round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Neste Rally Finland, takes place on the gravel roads around Jyväskylä (Internet: www.nesteoilrallyfinland.fi ).
Karelia is divided by the border with Russia, the regions of North and South Karelia are on the Finnish side. A large part of Finland’s Greek Orthodox population lives in this region. The area is known for its unique cuisine, language, traditional villages and centuries-old religious festivals and customs. This is also the spiritual home of Finland’s national epic, the Kalevala.
In much of Finland, the sun never quite sets in the summer, and Finns like to take advantage of the plentiful sunlight to party the night away. Around midsummer, many Finns head to their mökkit (summer cottages) in the countryside to enjoy the great Finnish outdoors.
The town of Kilpisjärvi (website: www.kilpisjarvi.fi ) in the extreme north-west of Finland is situated on a small piece of land between the Swedish and Norwegian borders. From the village you can climb the picturesque Fjell Saana, from where you can enjoy the view of three countries at the same time. A 50 km long wilderness trail leads to Halfitunturi, the highest mountain in Finland.
Kuopio in the Savo region is the largest city in eastern Finland. The surrounding lakes and forests offer all kinds of opportunities for outdoor activities all year round. In town, Puijo Hill offers year-round training opportunities for ski jumpers and leisurely trails for cross-country skiers in the winter. In the city itself there are several museums, including an Orthodox Church Museum. The region is known for the specialty Kalakukko, fish baked in bread.
When charged particles from the solar wind hit the earth’s atmosphere, spectacular luminous phenomena occur. These amazing Northern Lights appear in northern Finland from November to May. In Kakslauttanen, in the far north of the country, you can stay in a heated glass igloo and watch the Northern Lights overhead (website: www.kakslauttanen.fi ).
Savonlinna is ideally located for exploring the Saimaa Lake District with its many water sports and countless bird species. The city is famous for its well-preserved Olavinlinna Castle from the Middle Ages, in whose courtyard the Savonlinna Opera Festival, which is well known beyond Finland’s borders, takes place every July (Internet: www.operafestival.fi ).
Oulu (website: www.oulu.fi ) is the largest commercial and university city in Northern Finland and a center of the Finnish IT industry. In addition to a cityscape worth seeing, the city also offers a diverse cultural program. The Air Guitar World Championships take place here every year. Nearby is the Turkansaari Open Air Museum with its traditional farm buildings. Hailuoto Island, popular with ornithologists, can be reached by ferry from Oulu.
In the agricultural region of Pohjanmaa (Ostrobothnia) on the largely Swedish-speaking west coast, Finland shows a different side: During the warm and sunny summer months, white sandy beaches and beautiful dunes attract visitors, especially in the Kalajoki area. There are numerous old fishing villages on the islands between Vaasa and Kokkola. In Jakobstad and Kristinestad you can admire colorful wooden houses and learn all sorts of interesting facts about life on the fringes of the Arctic in the Nanoq open-air arctic museum (website: nanoq.fi ).
Rovaniemi – visiting Santa Claus
Located on the edge of the Arctic Circle, the Lapland capital of Rovaniemi (website: www.rovaniemi.fi ) is the gateway to Lapland. The area has all sorts of child-friendly Santa themed attractions, and he even has his own post office here in Santa Claus Village. A visit to Arktikum, which houses the Provincial Museum of Lapland and the Arctic Center, is also worthwhile (Internet: www.arktikum.fi ).