Did you know that our favourite ingredient, xylitol, is a plant-based sweetener first discovered in Finland? Well that’s not the only mind-boggling natural wonder you can find there. We have put together a list of some of the best places to visit in Finland, from natural landscapes to cultural heritage. Be warned, reading on might result in you hopping on the next flight to Helsinki.
Although us Brits tend to solely associate Lapland with Father Christmas, its vast landscape is also home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery. Catch a flight to Rovaniemi and take a trip to Fell-Lapland. Here you can visit Utsjoki, which is about as north and barren as it gets, but a total paradise for nature lovers. Hop on a snowmobile or a husky sledge and soak up the wildlife. It's also a fantastic spot for experiencing the Northern Lights.
Down in Forest-Lapland you will find Salla, perfect for chilling in sauna’s and skiing, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere. If you fancy splashing the cash, catch some zzz's in the SnowLounge, a hotel in Salla that is made entirely from snow and ice.
Don't miss the showstopping Korouma Canyon near Posio. You can visit the frozen waterfalls along the canyon, with trails that range from 5km to 30km. Got some time to kill? Visit Riisitunturi National Park to admire the fluffy white coated fir trees that sit on top of raised bogs. This calls for an eerie yet unbeatable photo opportunity.
KOLI NATIONAL PARK
If you have time to venture out East, visit Koli National Park and climb up the Ukko-Koli hill which passes views over Lake Pielinen. With skiing spots a plenty too, it's one of the most iconic, all-year-round destinations Finland has to offer.
If you asked us to pronounce Pallas-Yllastunturi, we'd be stumped. But this north most national park of Finland is certainly a breath of fresh air. Here, the air is so clean that researchers come here to find out how to improve global air quality.
If you're on your way to Turku from Helsinki, Teijo is worth a stop for a day. Established only in 2015, and one of the smaller national parks of Finland, it has an incredibly tranquil nature, littered with lakes, marshes and local craftsmanship. Shack up in a quaint hotel, like Hotel Mathidedal, a converted iron works with art exhibitions and roaming alpacas.
Polar opposite from the tranquil and crisp nature of Lapland, Helsinki is a quirky city oozing with industrial charm, contemporary design and neo-classical architecture. Here you can tuck into plenty of natural, locally sourced fresh food.
If you need some respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, Suomenlinna is just down the sea. Connected only by a ferry service, the island is a UNESCO World Heritage site, known as the sea fortress, as it was built in the 18th century when Finland was part of the Swedish kingdom. Known for a great family day out in the summertime for a picnic.
Take a trip to Porvoo, not far east of Helsinki, to experience its 13th century medieval charm, with narrow cobbled streets and brightly coloured houses. Porvoo is the second oldest city in Finland and is widely known for its wooden houses. A great destination for the summertime, where you can also go kayaking on the Porvoo river. Kick back in this adorable B&B, Strandhagen, surrounded by beautiful Finnish birch trees. Our very own source of xylitol.
Closer to the Russian border you will find Lake Saimaa. Imprisoned by two stunning cities, Lappeenranta and Savonlinna. In Lappeenranta you will find an abundance of cross country skiing trails in the winter and cruising kayakers in the summer. Be sure to visit the fortress and the Myllysaari Swimming Beach. For some historical charm, venture over to Savonlinna, an ancient city built for the castle Olavinlinna to protect the (then) Swedish kingdom from Russian invasion. Random fact: Savonlinna hold an annual mobile phone throwing competition, the record holder reaching 136.75 metres - your iPhone won't stand a chance.
The former capital of and oldest city in Finland, Turku is rich with cultural heritage and traditions. This city is your seasonal friend, as it is just as stunning in the winter as it is in the summer. You may even find yourself ice skating across the River Aura when it's cold enough. Be sure to visit the Old Market Hall and book a class in Karelian pastry making - a Finnish tradition. If you fancy a little excursion, visit Moomin World on the island of Kailo, a theme park based on the Moomin books by Tove Jansson - the perfect family adventure.
COMMON FINNISH WORDS AND PHRASES YOU NEED TO KNOW
Hello - Terve
Goodbye - Hyvästi
Thank you (very much) - Kiitos (paljon)
Excuse me, where's the toilet? - Anteeksi, missä on vessa?
Do you speak English? - Puhutko englantia?
Have you ever been to Finland? Let us know your favourite Finnish destination in the comments below.