Wildlife

Finland's wilderness teems with wildlife and there are some superb opportunities to get up close to the creatures that inhabit the country's remoter reaches.

Bears, Kuusamo Observe these magnificent carnivores through long summer evenings from the comfort of a hide.

Elk, Kuhmo Increased fencing keeps these beasts off the main roads; try a safari to spot them.

Reindeer, Lapland There are numerous places where you can meet and feed them, or take a winter sled safari.

Wolverines, Lieksa With luck you’ll spot this elusive predator on a trip out of Lieksa.

Seals, the Seal Lakes The rare Saimaa ringed seal is an inland variety, best seen by grabbing a canoe and exploring the Seal Lakes.

Offbeat Accommodation

With its dramatic landscapes and coastline and the country's design traditions and appreciation of the offbeat, you can stay in some truly unique properties here.

Lumihotelli On the Lapland coast, this romantic snow castle is Finland's most spectacular frozen hotel.

Lainio Snow Village Down vodkas from icy glasses in the igloo bar, then snuggle up atop your icy mattress here in western Lapland.

Arctic Snow Hotel In easy reach of Lapland’s capital, this friendly place also has an ice restaurant.

Kylmäpihlajan Majakka Have an away-from-it-all experience in this lighthouse hotel on a west-coast island.

Little Tundra Guesthouse Yurt-like cabins furnished with beds, rugs and colourful textiles occupy an old railway workshop.

Wilderness Hotel Nellim Watch the aurora borealis from the warmth of your bed inside a translucent 'aurora bubble'.

Hotel Katajanokka On the Helsinki island of the same name, this former prison has been stunningly converted.

Art

From ancient rock art to cutting-edge contemporary art, Finland has a treasure trove of art in its cities, towns and even its remote wilderness.

Helsinki Outstanding galleries are headed up by the Ateneum and the contemporary Kiasma gallery.

Mänttä This small town has a great gallery, Gösta, with a striking modern annexe for contemporary works.

Tampere Stunning frescoes by Hugo Simberg adorn the interior of the cathedral.

Visavuori Visit the lakeside studio of sculptor Emil Wickström.

Vaasa This west-coast art hub has several excellent galleries, including the Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art.

Turku Modern art and traditional Finnish landscapes are displayed in Turku's turreted art museum.

Oulu Exhibitions at the Oulun Taidemuseo feature an excellent line-up of Finnish and international artists.

Sodankylä View the work of Andreas Alariesto, who depicted traditional Sámi life in naive style.

Paateri See the home, workshop and masterwork wilderness church of Eva Ryynänen, Finland’s most renowned wood sculptor.

Traditional Architecture

Once upon a time, all towns in Finland were picturesque rows of painted wooden houses. Wars and a succession of great fires started by some unwary baker or smoker put paid to most of them, but some classic examples remain.

Porvoo Classic wooden warehouses and a noble old town less than an hour from Helsinki.

Rauma Vanha Rauma, the old town, is the most extensive and intriguing wooden district left in Finland.

Jakobstad An area of unspoiled wooden homes stretches north of the centre.

Turku Luostarinmäki is a historic quarter of the city that has been preserved in situ as a museum.

Naantali The quaint old cobbled streets here make for a very picturesque stroll.

Hanko Opulent wooden villas built for Russian aristocracy line the streets of this coastal town.

Petäjäveden Vanha Kirkko This Unesco-listed church is a magnificent example of 18th-century rustic Finnish architecture.

Kerimäki Enormous wooden church planned by a churchman who overestimated the size of his congregation.

Helsinki Built in 1818, mustard-coloured Ruiskumestarin talo is central Helsinki’s oldest wooden townhouse.

Traditional Dishes

Locally sourced, seasonal, sustainably farmed and foraged ingredients might be red-hot trends in many destinations today, but in Finland they have long been a way of life.

Smoked fish Head to any market in the country, such as Hakaniemi in Helsinki, for a huge array of salmon and other fish.

Lemin särä Majestic mutton roast, cooked on a birch tray, is a gastronomic highlight.

Ålandspannkaka Hit the Åland archipelago for semolina pudding with stewed prunes.

Kalakukko Tasty rye loaf stuffed with muikku (vendace, or whitefish; a small lake fish), a Kuopio speciality.

Game Dine on bear, elk or grouse by the Ruka ski slopes.

Comfort food Finnish staples such as herring, meatballs and liver in the unchanged ’30s atmosphere of Sea Horse in Helsinki.

Mustamakkara This black sausage is a Tampere speciality and best accompanied by lingonberry jam.

Karjalanpiirakka Rice-filled pastry that has its origins in Karelia and is best tried with traditional egg-butter topping.

Reindeer Staple meat of Lapland that’s found right across the region, including Rovaniemi.

Island-Hopping

Finland has tens of thousands of islands, ranging from suburbs of Helsinki to rocky islets in the middle of nowhere.

Ukko A Sámi sacred spot, this Lake Inari island can be visited on a boat trip.

Åland This archipelago between Finland and Sweden is ripe for exploration using local ferries or a sea kayak.

Helsinki Head out to one of the island restaurants in Helsinki harbour for a crayfish feast.

Kvarken This intriguing landscape of islands west of Vaasa is constantly changing.

Hailuoto Grab the ferry out to this island near Oulu for a peaceful northerly beach break.

Bengtskär Finland’s southernmost inhabited island is famous for its staunch Baltic lighthouse.

Turku archipelago Freewheel around this complex of islands south of Turku by bike.

Paalasmaa In Lake Pielinen, this picturesque island rises 225m above sea level.

Ekenäs Archipelago National Park Maritime national parks dotted along Finland’s coast include Ekenäs.

Music Festivals

Finland’s passion for music of all varieties is reflected in its summer program of festivals – a continuous wall of sound right across the nation.

Tangomarkkinat The Pohjanmaa town of Seinäjoki packs out with four days of tango singing and dancing.

Air Guitar World Championships Imaginary instruments are the order of the day during this internationally famed festival in Oulu.

Ruisrock Finland’s oldest and biggest rock festival descends upon Turku's Ruissalo island in July.

Kuhmon Kamarimusiikki Excellent chamber-music festival in the remote northeastern forests.

Savonlinna Opera Festival Finland’s prettiest town hosts excellent opera in the incomparable setting of its majestic island castle.

Sibelius Festival Lahti’s famous orchestra tackles Finland’s most famous composer.

Pori Jazz Festival Finland’s biggest jazz festival livens up the west-coast port of Pori.

Kaustinen Folk Music Festival This famous festival is one of Finland’s summer highlights.

Tampere Jazz Happening International artists join musicians from across Scandinavia at this high-profile event.

Tuska Festival Helsinki's Tuska Festival is a favourite for one of the nation's most popular genres, metal.

Modern Architecture

Architecture and design are hallmarks of Finland, and continue to break new ground.

Jyväskylä University town central to Alvar Aalto’s work; tour his centrepiece Säynätsalon Kunnantalo (town hall).

Seinäjoki Aalto was given licence to experiment as he redesigned the centre of this western Finnish town.

Villa Mairea This fabulous art-filled villa in Pori is an Aalto masterpiece.

Musiikkitalo Built from glass and copper, this music centre has become a Helsinki landmark.

Temppeliaukion Kirkko Helsinki’s most striking church is bored into a hill of solid rock.

Kamppi Chapel Wood is used in the construction of this curvilinear chapel in Helsinki.

Sibeliustalo The spectacular wood-and-glass auditorium is the home of Lahti's symphony orchestra.

Saunas

The sauna is where Finns go to sweat away their troubles, to socialise, or to contemplate the mysteries of life. It’s worth seeking out traditional and/or unusual varieties – or rent a cabin by a lake and light a wood-burning sauna yourself.

Kuopio The sociable Jätkänkämppä smoke sauna is fired up here twice a week – a great chance to try this traditional type with its softer steam.

Tampere Over a century old, the venerable Rajaportin Sauna is a classic of its kind.

Helsinki Kotiharjun Sauna in working-class Kallio is a winner for its traditional atmosphere and optional scrubdown.

Ylläs The world's only sauna in a cable-car gondola takes a 20-minute, 4km circuit at Ylläs.