Helsinki

Design

Museums & Galleries

Food & Drink

Design

Finnish design is a byword for quality, but it’s not just the reliable excellence of the big-name brands that impresses. Wander through Helsinki's backstreets to discover numerous small ateliers and shops displaying the quirky, the innovative, the what-were-they-thinking and the brilliant.

Museums & Galleries

Finns are enthusiastic museum-goers, and Helsinki has an enviable selection. There are so many that you’ll have to rigorously prune most of them, but there are enough must-see galleries and exhibitions to keep you busy for several days.

Food & Drink

Helsinki’s fine-dining restaurants turn heads all over the north. Ally that with traditional places serving heart-warming wintry fare and a wonderful array of offbeat drinking options and you’ve got quite a package.

Turku & the South Coast

Architecture

Islands

Beaches

Architecture

This region holds the lion’s share of Finland’s historic buildings. Turku’s castle and cathedral, old ironworks, Porvoo's wooden warehouses, Hanko’s posh tsarist villas, and various fortresses and churches make this prime territory to explore the past.

Islands

Zoom in on a map and prepare to be astounded by the quantity of small islands speckling Finland’s Baltic coastline. Some you can explore by bike, others will need boat hire.

Beaches

The sea might be a little chilly, but there’s plenty of sand and sun. The area around Hanko has many choices, but you can find decent strands right across the region.

Åland Archipelago

Cycling

Islands

Historic Sights

Cycling

Flat, sunny, light traffic: these islands are a cycling paradise. Campgrounds, farmstays and bike-friendly inter-island ferries make touring here a breeze.

Islands

If you love islands you’ll love Åland. The main ones are already tranquil, but get out to the eastern archipelago and you’ll virtually have a rock in the Baltic to yourself. Grab a kayak and you literally will.

Historic Sights

Åland has an intriguing history. As an important strategic point in the Baltic, it has a couple of major fortresses to explore, plus a grand post office. In the capital, Mariehamn, the museum-ship Pommern speaks of the islands’ maritime heritage.

Tampere & Häme

Galleries

Beer

Boat Trips

Galleries

Finland’s art has traditionally been linked with its nature, so it should be no surprise to find studios and galleries in small towns or by some lake in the middle of nowhere. The three main cities of the region back these up with a fistful of excellent museums.

Beer

Finland downs a lot of the stuff, but most Suomi beer is generic mass-produced lager. Small breweries and bars in this region buck the trend; sampling their ales and ciders is one of the area’s highlights.

Boat Trips

Getting out on the water, whether for a short jaunt or town-to-town lake cruise, is one of the region’s great summer pleasures.

The Finnish Lakeland

Canoeing

Festivals

Cruises

Canoeing

There’s no better way to appreciate the lakes and rivers that form this watery land than by grabbing a canoe or kayak. Explore national parks hoping to spot an inland seal, or canoe the family-friendly Squirrel Route.

Festivals

Finland’s festivals are a diverse bunch, and particularly in the Lakeland, where glorious castle opera takes the stage alongside rowboat regattas, car rallies, wife-carrying runs and more.

Cruises

Why jump on a bus to get to the next town when you can make the journey on the deck of a historic lake boat and appreciate the scenery at a stately pace?

Karelia

Hiking

Festivals

Food

Hiking

Karelia has some excellent long-distance hiking routes that wind their way through some of Finland’s deepest and most remote forests. There are hundreds of kilometres of marked trails to keep you busy.

Festivals

Karelia is the best place to explore Finnish Orthodox customs. Onion-domed churches and traditional festivals give the place a different feel from the predominantly Lutheran rest of the country.

Food

The savoury ‘Karelian pie’ is a rice-filled staple eaten widely across the country, but you’ll find several intriguing variants here. Better yet is Lemi’s speciality: birch-roasted mutton, a Finnish culinary highlight.

West Coast

Festivals

Architecture

Coastline

Festivals

The west coast celebrates summer in style. Normally tranquil Seinäjoki kicks its heels up for contrasting tango and rock festivals, while Kaustinen becomes a folk-music mecca. Add Pori’s jazz do and Rauma’s bustling lace week and it’s a busy season.

Architecture

Rauma, Jakobstad and Kokkola bring Finnish history alive with their rows of charming wooden buildings, some of the few to have survived the years and the fires.

Coastline

The Gulf of Bothnia isn’t the likeliest of sun-and-sand destinations, but there are some great family beaches here. The rising landscapes of the Kvarken archipelago are another highlight.

Central Finland

Activities

Wildlife

Festivals

Activities

Central Finland is a fantastic area for getting active, particularly around Kuusamo and Ruka. In summer great hiking, canoeing and rafting is the draw; winter sees skiing, sled safaris and snowmobiling.

Wildlife

Around Kuhmo and Kuusamo there are all sorts of impressive beasts to see if you creep out into the forest with a guide. Elk, flying squirrels, wolverines and bears are all viewable from the comfort and safety of a hide.

Festivals

Oulu raises the weirdness stakes with its air-guitar championships. A more stately counterpoint is Kuhmo’s chamber-music festival.

Lapland

Hiking

Activities

Sámi Culture

Hiking

The big skies, clear air, splendid landscapes and enormous national parks make Lapland one of Europe’s best hiking destinations. Networks of wilderness huts and campgrounds mean planning a walk is easy.

Activities

Winter doesn’t get much more wintry than Lapland, but that’s no invitation to huddle indoors. There’s a wealth of things to do, including skiing, safaris with huskies or reindeer, ice-fishing and snowmobiling.

Sámi Culture

The northern part of Lapland is the homeland of various indigenous Sámi groups. Learning a little about their culture, art and reindeer herding is a highlight of any visit.