Stretching into the distance of Europe’s far north, Finland is a nation with unforgettable culture complemented by jaw-dropping scenery.
Start with fabulous museums and inspiring architecture in the capital, Helsinki, before discovering the beauty of Finland’s sprawling national parks. Unearth an Arctic way of life in Lapland and search for the remarkable northern lights.
Far removed from the more frigid regions, Helsinki is a bustling haven of art and design. See the museums of the Kamppi dDistrict, along with superb structures, such as Temppeliaukio Church and the graceful Kamppi Chapel. Take a boat cruise around the bay to explore some of the more than 1050 islands.
From that modern metropolis, take a 5-hour drive northeast to the outer wilderness of Linnansaari National Park. Rent a kayak and spend days exploring serene Haukivesi Lake and its many islands. Camp in complete isolation with only seals and ospreys for company.
More adventures are waiting in the northern regions, particularly Lapland. Kemi at the far end of the Gulf of Bothnia features the world’s largest snow castle. Drop by to admire the frozen walls, doors and floors or stay a night in the icy hotel. The town itself is charming, with a deep-water harbor and a traditional icebreaker taking visitors out for rides.
As you continue north, enjoy enthralling insights into Arctic history at the Arkitkum in Rovaniemi and check in with the elves at Santa Claus Village.
The winter sports center of Saariselka, 155 miles (250 kilometers) north of the Arctic Circle, is a scenic place to end your trip. Get into the festive spirit with a reindeer ride and conclude your journey in style beneath the mesmerizing aurora borealis (northern lights).
Finland lies between Sweden to the west, Norway to the north and Russia to the east. Fly to the main international airport in Helsinki or Tampaere farther north and Turku to the west. Food generally involves steaming pasties and fried meats, with anything involving reindeer also popular.
Finland captures the imagination with mystical icy wonderlands and exciting modern cities.