Finland: detailed travel guide

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Finland: detailed travel guide

Finland… The country of magnificent dense forests, national parks with pristine nature, tens of thousands of islands and hundreds of thousands of lakes with the purest water. An area with a population density of only sixteen people per square kilometer.

A state that has recognized the right to access the Internet as an inalienable right of every person. The country where the Angry Birds series of computer games were developed and Nokia was founded. The birthplace of heavy metal rock bands and fairytale characters called the Moomins. World leader in coffee consumption per capita. A renowned expert on strange sporting events such as the Wife Carrying World Championship, air guitar, and rubber boot throwing.

Porvoo

Porvoo

The official name of the state is the Republic of Finland, and the inhabitants call it Suomi. Every year Finland is included in the list of the most prosperous, developed and safest countries in the world, and its inhabitants are recognized as the happiest nation in the world. And this, by the way, in a country where snow lies for 5 or even 7 months a year, and in the north of Suomi in winter the sun does not rise above the horizon! What is Finland’s secret? What attracts tourists here from all over Europe, if not from all over the world, and also makes locals the happiest? Our guide to Finland will answer all your questions.

And how can you not be happy, being able to observe the brightest and most beautiful natural phenomenon – the northern lights? Finnish Lapland is one of the best places in the world to watch the Aurora Borealis.

Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi

Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi

Imagine how much pleasure children (and certainly adults!) Will get if the traditional sending of a letter to Santa Claus is replaced with a personal visit? Yes, the real Santa lives in Finland, in a fabulous residence near the town of Rovaniemi. And in “Santa Park” you will definitely be taught how to cook Christmas gingerbread, will introduce you to elves and reindeer.

In Lapland, you can see the Snow Castle and also live in a glass igloo.

The stable snow cover makes Finland one of the top skiing destinations.

And in summer you can enjoy the amazing beauty of nature, walk along the cozy streets of Finnish cities or go fishing.

And, of course, at any time the level of happiness will be raised by the world famous Finnish saunas. Their number is simply amazing: with a population of just over 5 million, Finland has 3 million saunas!

How to get to Finland

Tourists can get to Finland by choosing one of the many travel methods. The residents of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region have the largest list of options: plane, train, bus, car, ferry. For travelers from Moscow, a plane, train or car will be preferable. From Stockholm, Riga and Tallinn to get to the capital of Finland – Helsinki – is more convenient by ferry. When planning a trip from other cities and countries, it is better to give preference to the plane.

Aircraft

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Airbus A350 Finnair

Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Airbus A350 Finnair

The main and largest airport in Finland is Helsinki-Vantaa. The lion’s share of flights from Finland to countries around the world are carried out through it.
The airport is located at a distance of 20 km from Helsinki, there is an excellent bus service between them.

Another Finnish airport is Tampere-Pirkkala. One of its terminals serves flights from Finnair, AirBaltic, etc., while the other exclusively serves Ryanair. Tampere Airport accepts flights from Stockholm and Riga.

Lappeenranta airport is located at a distance of just over two hundred kilometers from St. Petersburg. For tourists, it is interesting primarily because flights are carried out from there at low prices. For example, low-cost airline Ryanair.

Direct flights from Russia to Finland operate all year round to Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, and seasonal winter flights to Rovaniemi and Kajaani airports.

A train

There are direct trains from Moscow and St. Petersburg to Helsinki.

The Moscow train “Lev Tolstoy” departs from the Leningradsky railway station and is on the road for about 14 hours. From St. Petersburg, you can take this train to the capital of Finland in 7.5 hours.

However, the Allegro high-speed train runs from the northern capital several times a day, which will take you to Helsinki in about 3.5 hours.

By taking care of your tickets in advance, you can save a lot. The fare also depends on the day of the week.

Ferry

Ferries in the port of Helsinki

Ferries in the port of Helsinki

Traveling from St. Petersburg, Riga, Tallinn and Stockholm to Helsinki or Turku, you can enjoy a comfortable and interesting sea travel by ferry.

Ferry services and cruises between these cities are offered by MOBY SPL (ST.PETER LINE), Tallink & Silja Line and Viking Line.

Bus

Bus trips to Finland are relevant, first of all, for residents of St. Petersburg. Several dozen buses leave for Helsinki, Lappeenranta and Imatra every day. It is especially worth noting regular buses that run according to the established schedule and pass the Russian-Finnish border out of turn. Tickets can be purchased in advance on the bus companies’ website or booked by phone. This way of travel will be the most economical.

Organized bus tours to Finland are no less popular with residents of the northern capital. It can be either one-day shopping tours or multi-day tourist trips.

Car

Section of the E18 road between St. Petersburg and Helsinki

Section of the E18 road between St. Petersburg and Helsinki

Probably the most convenient way to travel to Finland is a private car.

Often Muscovites also choose this method of travel, but such a trip will take much longer (about 15 hours).

The border checkpoints work both around the clock (for example, Svetogorsk-Imatra, Torfyanovka-Vaalimaa, Brusnichnoe-Nuijamaa and Vyartsilya-Niirala), and only during the daytime (Salla-Salla and Lutta-Vartius are open from 7:00 to 21:00).

To travel by car, you must buy a Green Card (“green card”) policy.

History of Finland

Before going on a trip, get acquainted with the history of the country. This will help you better know and understand her. Below are the main stages in the history of Finland.

Early history of Finland

It is believed that the settlement of the territory of modern Finland began about 9 thousand years ago. However, in 1996, in the Wolf Cave, located in the west of the country, researchers discovered unique artifacts, which may be more than 40,000 years old!

Finland is a country of rivers and lakes

Finland is a country of rivers and lakes

The main settlements of the ancient Finns were located along rivers and on the shores of lakes, their inhabitants were fishermen, hunters and gatherers. The northern regions were settled much later.

There is no consensus regarding the language used by the ancient inhabitants. Historians put forward a theory according to which the Aborigines used the ancient Finnish language as early as 1000-1500 BC. And only later, as a result of contacts between them and the tribes speaking the Ugro-Finnish dialect, the modern Finnish language was formed. The Sami soon began to use this language.

The first written sources in Finland date back to the XII-XIII centuries.

Swedish rule

Finland was under Swedish rule for a very long time – more than six hundred years!

The settlement of the Aland Islands by Vikings from the territory of modern Sweden began around 500, and by 800 the first Viking sites appeared in continental Finland. By the 12th century, royal power was consolidated in Sweden, after which the colonization of Finnish territory took place in order to oppose the policy of Veliky Novgorod.

Medieval sources mention three Crusades to Finland, which historians date back to 1157, 1249–1250 and 1293–1300.

The nominal purpose of the campaigns was to spread Christianity in its western form. Later the Finns adopted Lutheranism.

In addition to faith, Swedish rule also influenced the language. All this time, as well as at the beginning of Russian rule, it was the Swedish language that was the only officially recognized language of the country.

Grand Duchy of Finland

Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Porvoo

Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Porvoo

In 1809, within the walls of the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Porvoo (at that time Borgo), the Borgo Diet was held, convened by the Russian government after the victory in the Russian-Swedish war of 1808-1809. Emperor Alexander I personally opened it by signing a manifesto on the state structure of Finland the day before. In response to the emperor’s promise to preserve the fundamental laws, the participants in the Diet recognized the Russian Emperor Alexander I as their sovereign and Grand Duke of Finland.

By his decision in 1812, the capital of the Principality of Finland instead of Turku became the city of Helsinki. In this regard, a majestic Empire-style center was erected in the city, and within a few years a vibrant administrative center rose around it.

In 1827, the ancient capital of the country, Turku, was destroyed by fire. The University founded in 1640 in Turku was transferred to Helsinki. After these events, the influence and importance of the new capital increased significantly.

At this time, the Finns, like never before, feel like a single nation. There is a flourishing of culture, patriotic enthusiasm is clearly felt.

Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Cathedral) and the monument to Alexander II century. HelsinkiIn 1835 the Finnish linguist and doctor Elias Lönnrot finished work on Kalevala, a Karelian-Finnish poetic epic consisting of 50 runes (songs). Labor is becoming not only a national but also a world heritage. And Johan Ludwig Runeberg creates poems of national romantic content, one of which will later become the anthem of Finland.

The cultural and economic development of the country continued during the reign of Alexander II. At this time, the Saimaa Canal was built, the first railway between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna, and a little later a line connecting Helsinki with Vyborg and St. Petersburg. At the same time, Finland has its own currency – the Finnish mark.

The reign of Alexander III and Nicholas II became for the Finns a time of constant limitation of independence. And only after Finland joined the All-Russian strike, Nicholas II canceled the decrees restricting Finnish autonomy.

In 1906, the country adopted universal and equal suffrage for both men and women.

Independent Finland

After the seizure of power in Russia by the Bolsheviks, the Finnish parliament, at the suggestion of the Senate on December 6, 1917, declared the country an independent republic, which leads to the outbreak of a civil war. The crisis was overcome through the holding of parliamentary elections, which made it possible to elect representatives from different social classes to government bodies.

In September 1939, World War II broke out, which allowed the Soviet Union to demand that Finland return some border territories. The Winter War began, which lasted more than three months. The war ended in March 1940 with the signing of a peace treaty. Finland lost the Hanko Peninsula and some coastal cities.

In 1941 Germany attacked the Soviet Union and the Finns sided with Germany. After the defeat, Finland paid reparations to the USSR and concluded a Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, but was not under occupation, which allowed the Finns to develop their own national political system of the Scandinavian type.

The collapse of the Soviet Union caused the beginning of a deep economic crisis in Finland: enterprises were closed, industry was extinguished.
In 1992 Finland applied for admission to the European Union. More than half of the country’s residents voted to join it. On January 1, 1995, Finland became a member of the European Union and was one of the first member countries to introduce the euro as a currency.

Climate and weather in Finland

Finland is a northern country with traditionally cold and snowy winters, short springs, moderately warm summers and beautiful, albeit rainy, autumn.

The climate in the country is moderate, transitional from maritime to continental.

Finnish autumn colors

Finnish autumn colors

Summer is a good time of the year to visit Finland. It is ideal for visiting national parks, active excursions, boat trips, cruises, a leisurely vacation in a lakeside cottage and fishing.

The warmest month is July. The average temperature in the south of the country reaches +20°C, in the north +15°C. The peculiarity of summer Finland is the long daylight hours. These are the so-called “white nights”. In the very north of the country in summer, the sun does not set over the horizon for more than two months!

Finnish autumn is a calm and calm season. At this time, tourists will experience variable weather, bright colors, ripe sweet berries and large mushrooms. In September, you can still find sunny weather, but in October it is already rainy and cool. In November, the temperature drops to zero. Winter comes to Finland.

Winter Finland

Winter Finland

Winter in northern Finland lasts more than six months, and snow cover can last until mid-May. The coldest winter months are January and February, when the average daily temperature is in the range of -10°C … -15°C, but can go as low as -30°C.

For the part of Finland beyond the Arctic Circle, winter is accompanied by such a phenomenon as the polar night. At this time, the day lasts only a few hours, and in the very north the sun does not rise above the horizon at all.

The situation is different in the south of the country. For example, in Helsinki the average January temperature is -4.2°C, and in early April the snow cover is already melting.

Most tourists come to Finland in winter. This is a really great time of the year when you can see snowy Lapland, enjoy a dog or reindeer sled ride through the fairy forest, visit the Santa Claus residence in Rovaniemi, get to know a real Finnish sauna and, if you’re lucky, see the northern lights.

Spring comes to Finland quite late. Thanks to this, in March you can enjoy the same wonderful vacation as in winter, but at the same time the daylight hours will be longer, the probability of seeing the northern lights is higher, and the prices are lower.

Almost until the end of spring in the north of the country you can comfortably go skiing, although the first flowers are already blooming in the capital at this time.

Cities and regions for tourism in Finland

For a long time, the country of Suomi was divided into provinces. This administrative division was introduced at a time when Finland was part of the Russian Empire. At first there were 13 provinces, a little later – 12, and since 1997 – 6: Southern, Western and Eastern Finland, Oulu, Lapland and the Aland Islands.

As a result of the administrative reform from January 1, 2011, Finland is divided into 19 regions, each of which includes from 2 to 7 regions. Let’s consider the most interesting areas from a tourist point of view.

Uusimaa

The region is located in the southern part of Finland. The main cities are: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Porvoo.

Helsinki

Assumption Cathedral in Helsinki

Assumption Cathedral in Helsinki

Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. Considering that it is also a major transport hub, it is not surprising that Helsinki is the most popular among all Finnish cities.

It is better to start your acquaintance with the city from Senate Square – the heart of Helsinki. It was from this place that the large-scale development of the city began after the annexation of Finland to the Russian Empire in 1809. Many people pay attention to the similarity of the architectural ensemble of the square with St. Petersburg.

The main attraction of the square is the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, the main cathedral of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. This white, classical-style building looks especially impressive in the sun. Most of the souvenir products bear the image of the Cathedral.

In addition to the cathedral, there are other famous landmarks of Helsinki on Senate Square: the main building of the University, the State Council and the National Library, and in the center of the square there is a monument to Emperor Alexander II.

The Assumption Cathedral, the largest Orthodox church in Northern Europe, is literally a 10-minute walk from Senate Square. The cathedral was built by the architect Alexei Gornostaev in the Russian-Byzantine style, but not of white stone, but of red brick. Climbing the hill of the Assumption Cathedral, you can enjoy the beautiful panorama of the city.

Another interesting building in Helsinki is the Main Railway Station. For those tourists who came to the Finnish capital on the Allegro train from St. Petersburg, the acquaintance with Helsinki begins from the Main Station. This impressive Art Nouveau structure of pink granite slabs with giant Atlanteans at the entrance is definitely one of the city’s most spectacular landmarks.

Farmers market in Helsinki

Farmers market in Helsinki

We suggest continuing your acquaintance with the city by taking a stroll through the Esplanade Park, which is literally surrounded by numerous cafes and souvenir shops. In the center of the pedestrian alley, there is a monument to the national poet of Finland Runeberg.

After relaxing on a park bench, head to the Market Square. Ferries leave from here year round to the Suomenlinna Fortress. It is a cultural and historical site with stunning views and rich heritage. In 1991 the fortress was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. All history lovers here! Moreover, the road takes only 15–20 minutes.

Do not forget to visit the open-air market right on the shore of the bay. In summer, it is open every day until 16:00. Here you can buy fresh berries: raspberries, strawberries, blueberries; try homemade honey, and maybe even taste delicious salmon dishes.

And for real gourmets, a gastronomic tour – a tour of Helsinki and acquaintance with the local cuisine will be a pleasant gift. The guide will take you through the most interesting restaurants, pastry shops, cafes and bars of the Finnish capital and will tell you about the peculiarities of the national cuisine. You can taste herring in various sauces, venison dishes, cheeses, handmade chocolates, coffee, beer and even Finnish vodka!

Have a snack? It’s time to see the sights that are not in the city center. It is very convenient to explore Helsinki during the warmer months by bike: the city has an extensive network of bike paths with excellent coverage. A good alternative is walking and sightseeing on a double-decker, open-roofed hop-on hop-off bus. The list of his stops includes the following two interesting objects.

The first is the Temppeliaukio Rock Church. This is a truly unique attraction, which has no analogues anywhere in the world! The rock church is famous for its unique acoustics. Organ and classical music concerts are often held here.

Monument to Sibelius

Monument to Sibelius

The second site is a monument to Sibelius, author of numerous symphonic poems and plays, winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s gold medal, conductor, musicologist, teacher and violinist. The creative monument evokes mixed reactions from visitors, but remains one of the most visited tourist sites in the city.

There are many different museums in Helsinki: City Museum, National Museum of Finland, Open Air Museum on Seurasaari Island, War Museum, Natural Science Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art (Kiasma) and others.

If you are traveling with children, go to the zoo on the island of Korkeasaari, to the Linnanmäki amusement park or buy a ticket for the huge Ferris wheel on the waterfront – SkyWheel.

In winter, you can visit the skating rink, which is located in the very center, next to museums and the train station.

A fly in the ointment: Helsinki continually makes the list of Europe’s most boring capitals. Yes, this is not Paris, Rome or London, where even two weeks will not be enough. Nevertheless, spending a couple of days in Helsinki is possible and even necessary!

Espoo

The second largest in the country, it is a satellite city of Helsinki and a center for technical research in Finland.

The sights of Espoo include the medieval stone Cathedral, the Glims manor house with an 18th century farm, the Gallen-Kallela Museum, the EMMA-Espoo Museum of Contemporary Art, the Automobile Museum, the Geological Museum of Finland and the Serena Water Park.

Porvoo

A small town 50 kilometers from the capital. It is the oldest city in Finland after Turku.

Porvoo Old Town Hall

Porvoo Old Town Hall

During Swedish rule, it was called Borgo (Borgå, where borg means “castle” and -å “river”), and Porvoo is the Finnish version of the Swedish name. It was here that the Russian Emperor Alexander I convened the Borgo Seim, which approved the broad autonomy of the Finnish people.

One of the main buildings in Porvoo is the Old Town Hall. The building once housed the city administration, the registration department, the city council and the guardians of the law. And since 1896, a museum began to operate in the town hall. The heart of the old city is the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

And just walking around the city is a real pleasure! The narrow streets of Porvoo literally breathe history. Colorful wooden houses one or two stories high, steep cobblestone streets and tiny bakery cafes.

Porvoo's trademark - red barns

Porvoo’s trademark – red barns

The visiting card of the city is red barns. They were painted in a bright color at the end of the 18th century before the visit to Borgo of the Swedish king Gustav III. In Sweden at this time, almost all houses were built from wood – the cheapest material. To look a little more solid, the peasants began to paint their houses in this color. From a distance, the houses could be mistaken for brick. A brick house is already a sign of wealth and well-being. This typical Swedish red has a special name – falu rodfeg.

While walking around Porvoo, take time to visit the Brunberg sweets shop. The Brunberg confectionery in Porvoo has been producing chocolate, toffee, licorice and marmalade for over a century. And in the company store all products can be tasted. Sounds tempting, right?

Kymenlaakso

In the south it is washed by the Gulf of Finland, in the southeast – the state border with the Russian Federation (Leningrad region).

Kotka

Sapokka Park

Sapokka Park

A port city on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. The name of the city means “eagle” in translation.

The history of the city is closely intertwined with the history of Russia. Alexander III chose Kotka to enjoy the tranquil beauty of northern nature. His house became the museum “Tsarskaya (Imperial) hut”.

And even earlier, Russian forts “Ekaterina”, “Elizaveta” and “Glory” were erected on the territory of the city, partially preserved to this day.

You can explore the surroundings from a height of 72 meters from the Haukkavuori Tower, and then take a walk, for example, in the Sapokka Park. Not far from the park is the city’s pride – the giant Maretarium aquarium.

It will also be interesting to visit the Aeronautics Museum and the Vellamo Maritime Center.

South Karelia

The region is part of the historical province of Karelia and borders on the Russian Federation, which makes it very popular with Russian tourists. For shopping tours and relaxation in spa hotels, tourists most often choose Lappeenranta and Imatra.

Imatra

Imatra became a tourist destination three centuries ago, when the Russian Empress Catherine II visited the town and was fascinated by the beauty of the Imatrankoski waterfall.

Castle in Imatra

Castle in Imatra

In 1892, a railway line was opened, which connected St. Petersburg and Imatra, after which travelers from Russia flocked to the town.

Unfortunately, today you can see the beauty of the waterfall only in the painting by Matveyev in the Russian Museum, since a hydroelectric power station was built on the site of the waterfall. Now the descent of the water can be seen only on holidays. For example, on New Year’s, when a real show with illumination and fireworks awaits tourists.

Another attraction of Imatra is the castle. It was built in 1903 on the site of its two burned down predecessors. At first it was called the Grand Hotel Cascade (Grand Hotel Waterfall), it changed its name several times. Now it is Scandic Imatran Valtionhotelli. The building has been repeatedly recognized as the most beautiful in all of Finland.

Also in Imatra there are three churches that attract tourists to this city. These are the Three Crosses Church, the Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, and the oldest church in Imatra – Tainionkoskenkirko.

Lappeenranta

It is a lively tourist town on the shores of Lake Saimaa. Among the sights of the city are the Lappeenranta Fortress, the South Karelian Museum, the Art Museum, the Cavalry Museum and the Karelian Aeronautics Museum.

However, most tourists do not come for the sake of museums, but for shopping: there are really a huge number of shopping centers, hypermarkets and shops! They are also located next to each other, which greatly facilitates the shopping process.

Varsinais-Suomi

The region is located in the southwest of modern Finland. The southern coast is washed by the Gulf of Finland, the western – by the Bothnian. The administrative center is Turku.

Turku

The first capital, the oldest city in the country, cultural and scientific center. Even Finland’s first university was opened in Turku.

Abo Castle in Turku

Abo Castle in Turku

The most important architectural monument in Turku is the Cathedral, the country’s main Lutheran temple. It was built back in the 13th century! Near the cathedral is the Old Square – the center of the historic part of the city. The contemporaries of the Cathedral is the Swedish medieval Abo Castle, which is worth visiting to learn more about the history of Turku.

If you have time, check out the Jan Sibelius Music Museum. You can see about two thousand instruments from all over the world, learn about the life and work of the Finnish composer Sibelius. And concerts are still held in the museum.

If you come to Turku with children, visit the Land of the Moomins. It is located near Turku, near the town of Naantali. The fairytale world is based on the funny stories of Tove Jansson. It includes a 5-storey Moomin house, a free train, a forest labyrinth, a fairy witch’s swamp, a beach, a cafe, a dock with a ship, a theater and other entertainment. Everywhere children are accompanied by fairy tale characters.

Lapland

It is the northernmost and largest region in Finland. In the south it borders on the region of Northern Ostrobothnia, in the west – with Sweden, in the north – with Norway, in the east – with Russia. Most of the area is located north of the Arctic Circle.

Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi is the largest city in Lapland and the 15th most populous city in Finland. Rovaniemi is shaped like antlers. The absolute minimum temperature is striking – minus 45.3 degrees!

At the residence of Santa Claus in Rovaniemi

At the residence of Santa Claus in Rovaniemi

It is by far the most visited Finnish city during winter, especially before Christmas and New Years. Still would! It is here that the birthplace of Santa Claus is located. And also the stunning and alluring nature of the north, the mysterious Sami culture and, if you’re lucky, the aurora borealis. By the way, Rovaniemi is also famous for being right on the line of the Arctic Circle.

The city’s attractions include the Arktikum Museum and the Yatkyankyunttila Bridge.

At a distance of 7 km from the city center there is Santa Park – a thematic complex with elf animators, numerous master classes and entertainment shows. However, visiting the park will be interesting not only for children, but also for adults.

Not far from Santa Park is the Village of Santa Claus, which is called Joulupukki in Finland. On the territory of the village is located the residence of the fairytale hero, a tourist complex of cozy houses, several restaurants, a New Year’s post office and two farms: reindeer and husky.

What to see in Finland

Finland has many amazing places that every tourist should visit. When planning your route, set aside at least a week or two to see the most interesting ones.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Perhaps the most important, unique, unforgettable and exciting thing to see in Finland is the Northern Lights. Tourists from all over the world come to the country to enjoy this magical phenomenon of nature!

The best place to meet Aurora Borealis is Lapland.

In the northern part of this area, the aurora can be observed every other night in the absence of clouds. The ideal time to travel is from September to March.

Go outside the cities in search of the northern lights, away from the lights and illuminated trails. The appearance of bright flashes is a very unpredictable event, sometimes you have to watch for a long time, so be sure to dress warmly and take drinks in a thermos. Install mobile apps that let you know about the likelihood of the appearance of the northern lights on a particular night.

Don’t want to wait and freeze? Book your stay in one of the glass igloos and enjoy the magic in the comfort of your warm bed.

Snow castle

If you decide to hunt for the polar lights in Lapland, we recommend visiting the Snow Castle in Kemi. This is one of the most popular places to visit during the winter. Every year, a palace of ice and snow is built on the shores of the bay, and each time it looks new. Construction time depends on weather conditions. Typically, the castle is ready in January and closes in early April.

Part of the snow structure is reserved for the hotel. In the Snow Hotel, you can spend the night at freezing temperatures on a bed of ice, albeit in a sleeping bag. In total, about twenty double and several single rooms are being built. There is also a restaurant and a snow chapel in the Snow Castle.

In summer, there is only a small exhibition of ice inside the building – SnowExperience365.

Ranua Arctic Zoo

Lynx in the zoo

Lynx in the zoo

Another gem of Lapland is the Ranua Arctic Zoo, one of the northernmost in the world. The zoo is home to 50 species of animals, including deer, elk, wolves, foxes, lynxes and even bears. The territory of the park is very beautiful, with a tall coniferous forest and a convenient path for movement. There are several souvenir shops and a restaurant.

At the Arctic Zoo, you can ride a reindeer or dog sled at a lower price than Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi.

The zoo is open all year round, but it is worth considering that in winter you need to arrive early: the daylight hours in Lapland are very short.

National parks

The real treasure of Finland is the national parks. There are about 40 of them on the territory of the country. Protected zones have been created not only for the purpose of preserving the natural environment, but also so that people can relax and enjoy nature.

All Finnish national parks have marked hiking trails and trails, information stands, and picnic areas. In some, it is allowed to set up tents, and you can also rent houses for the night.

The most picturesque national parks in Finland are: Urho Kekkonen with the mystical mountain Korvatunturi, where according to legend lives Joulupukki – Finnish Santa Claus, Nuuksio with beautiful lakes, green forests and rocky cliffs, Saaristomeri – an archipelago of islets and skerries, which kayakers will especially like with the famous landscapes of Finland, which inspired more than one artist, Hossa with ancient rock paintings and Pyhä-Luosto with deep gorges.

Lakes

Another asset of Suomi is lakes. The largest lake in Finland is Saimaa, located in South Karelia. It is formed by bodies of water connected to each other and stretches for almost 200 kilometers. About 13,000 islands of various sizes create real labyrinths throughout the lake.

Saimaa Canal

Saimaa Canal

The depth of the lake is impressive: average – 10 meters, maximum – 84 meters!

On the shores of the lake are the cities of Lappeenranta, Mikkeli, Joensuu and Varkaus, and in the very center there is a powerful and brutal fortress Olavinlinna.

The Vuoksa River flows out of the lake and flows into Lake Ladoga. And with the Gulf of Finland, Saimaa is connected by a 60 km long water channel with locks both in Finland and in Russia. The channel is named after the Saimaa Lake.

One of the most recognizable and beloved by tourists symbols of the lake system is the Saimaa seal, a freshwater subspecies of the seal. Unfortunately, now this incredibly cute and adorable animal is under the threat of extinction. However, the Finns actively support the population and do everything possible to increase it.

Savonlinna

The ancient town of Savonlinna is located on the islands of Lake Saimaa, which are connected by many ferries and bridges. Because of this, the city is sometimes called the “Finnish Venice”.

Olavinlinna Fortress (Olafsborg)

Olavinlinna Fortress (Olafsborg)

On the rocky shore, the landmark for which thousands of tourists come to Savonlinna majestically rises – the Olavinlinna fortress or, in the Swedish style, Olafsborg.

The fortress was built by the Swedes at the end of the 15th century and is surprisingly durable. With her ability to withstand attacks and weapons, no other fortress could match. And only at the beginning of the 18th century Olafsborg was taken by Russian troops, then the Turku fortress was besieged. Since then, the fortress remained in the possession of the Russian Empire until Finland gained independence.

Of all the military fortifications in Northern Europe, Olavinlinna is the best preserved of its architectural appearance. The fortress building houses the Fortress History Museum and the Orthodox Museum. Opera festivals are held annually within the walls of the fortress.

In addition to the fortress, there is an interesting museum and the Dome Cathedral in Savonlinna, where they give wonderful concerts.

Parikkala Sculpture Park

Parikkala Sculpture Park

Parikkala Sculpture Park

This object was included in the must-see list not at all because of its beauty or historical value. Parikkala Sculpture Park is famous, first of all, for its ambiguity: it admires someone, and terrifies someone.

The park is located in a thicket. All the sculptures, and there are more than five hundred, were created by the self-taught master Veijo Rönkkönen. The sculptor spent about 50 years creating the works. Vejo did not have any art education, but in 2007 he received the Finnish State Prize in the amount of 30,000 euros and was recognized by world critics.

The sculptures depict people, animals and fabulous creatures in various poses. The “highlight” of some figures are natural human teeth! The park looks especially impressive at dusk, when a sculpture with an ominous smile appears behind the next turn of a narrow path. And some visitors even think that the sculptures are watching them. If you are a fan of contemporary art or just like to tickle your nerves, pack up and drive to the Finnish park. You will definitely not remain indifferent!

Aland Islands

An interesting and at the same time unusual idea for a vacation in Finland is a trip to the Åland Islands. The archipelago is located at the entrance from the Baltic Sea to the Gulf of Bothnia. Despite the fact that the islands belong to Finland, they are inhabited mainly by Swedes.

Old sailing ship "Pommern"

Old sailing ship “Pommern”

You can get there by ferry from Helsinki or Turku to Mariehamn, the capital of the Aland Islands. Be sure to take a stroll through this atmospheric coastal town, take your time to see the small wooden houses and sit with a cup of coffee in the cozy cafe. Don’t forget to see the old four-masted sailboat Pommern, which is anchored next to the Åland Maritime Museum.

It takes half an hour by car to get from Mariehamn to the Bomarsund fortress. The fortress was founded by the Russian Empire in 1832, but during the Crimean War it was almost completely destroyed by the Anglo-French fleet. Nevertheless, the ruins of the fortress are a very worthy visit.

We recommend continuing your acquaintance with the history at Kastelholm Castle. It has been the seat of many Swedish kings since the 14th century, and now contains a collection of paintings and is open to the public during the summer.

A local ferry also takes two and a half hours to get to the island on Chokar, where the ruins of a medieval monastery of the Franciscan order remain.

In addition to cultural recreation, active sports are popular on the Åland Islands. Spend a day at sea by kayak or canoe, go for a bike ride and play golf on one of the three courses located on the islands – it’s up to you!

What to do for a tourist in Finland

No matter what time of year you are going to Finland, you will definitely find something to your liking.

In spring and autumn

Spring and autumn are the best times to get in touch with Finnish nature, to fully immerse yourself in peace and quiet.

Contemplation of the spring awakening of nature or enjoying the bright colors of Finnish autumn will remain in your memory for a long time.

Rent one of the cozy lakeside cottages or pitch a tent, walk in the woods, pick berries and mushrooms, or go fishing.

Don’t forget to check out the famous Finnish saunas or relax in one of the spa hotels.

In summer

Summer in Finland, although not hot, is quite warm and sunny, especially in the south of the country. This is a great time for both outdoor recreation and an excursion program. And in summer, many interesting festivals are held throughout the country.

Rest at nature

In summer, the Finns prefer to relax on the lakes: they fish, barbecue, sunbathe and even swim.

The beach season opens in June, but the water temperature at this time does not exceed +18°С. In July it warms up to +19°С… + 21°С.

As an active recreation, Finnish residents choose hiking trails in national parks. These can be short walks or multi-day hiking trails. Join the locals and discover the natural wealth of Suomi!

Cruises

For Finns, cruises are as much a part of culture as ecology, sauna and the northern lights.

The country has 52 of the most modern seaports, where you can meet even the largest cruise liners in the world.

From Helsinki and Turku, you can take a ferry to Swedish Stockholm or Estonian Tallinn. Or, if you only have one day at your disposal, choose a boat trip from Helsinki Market Square to the medieval town of Porvoo.

Also popular are boat trips along the sea, rivers and lakes, as well as café-restaurants on board ships.

Festivals

Temppeleaukio Church. Rock concerts are held here too!

Temppeleaukio Church. Rock concerts are held here too!

Numerous festivals of various musical genres take place in Finland every summer. The largest of them have been held for more than a decade.

The three main Finnish music festivals are Ruisrock in Turku, Ilosaarirock in Joensuu and Provinssirock in Seinäjoki.

Finland is known as the land of hard rock and heavy metal. This music is played at a wide variety of festivals and locations across the country. The most famous of these is a festival in Helsinki called Tuska, which means pain in Finnish.

In winter

Finland is exactly the country where there are even more exciting activities available in winter than in summer! We offer you a list of entertainment and active leisure activities that are popular in Suomi during the cold season. And it can last in some regions of the country for six months.

Skating

Winter fun - snowmobiles

Winter fun – snowmobiles

Finns are very fond of skating. You can share this hobby and choose open city skating rinks, the mirror-like surface of lakes and even special areas on the frozen parts of the Baltic Sea for skiing.

Helsinki and Tampere are famous for the best city skating rinks. For skiing on a frozen lake, choose Linnansaari National Park, home to the most beautiful speed skating track in Finland, Lahti, whose residents and guests skate on the frozen surface of Lake Vesijärvi, and Mikkeli and Savonlinna, which serve as the gateway to many kilometers of trails on Lake Saimaa. …

If you are a professional skater, take part in the Finnish Ice Marathon, which is held annually in January or February on Lake Kallavesi.

Cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is also very popular in Finland. The best months for skiing are February and March. At this time, there are often clear days and snow shines in the sun. Thousands of kilometers of ski slopes have been laid and maintained throughout the country. And in Finland you can easily find equipment rental points.

Downhill skiing and snowboarding

There are 75 ski resorts built in Finland. The trails are mostly simple, wide and not very long. The difference in elevation is small, because Suomi is more likely not mountains, but hills. But the snow cover is guaranteed for the entire season, which in some resorts begins in October and lasts right through to May.

The best Finnish ski resorts are: Levi, Ylläs, Vuokatti, Ruka, Tahko, Himos, etc.

Harsh skiing in Finland

Harsh skiing in Finland

The largest ski resort in Finland – Levi – is located in Western Lapland, almost 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. The resort can offer vacationers 43 slopes with a total length of 43.6 km, half of them are illuminated in the evening. The difference in height is 325 meters. There are opportunities for off-piste skiing. The area is famous for its entertainment and cuisine: restaurants, bars, clubs, rock cafes are at your service. Levi is the only resort in Finland with slopes suitable for World Cup Alpine skiing competitions. The international World Cup Series competitions are held in Levi every November. It has also been voted Finland’s Best Ski Resort of the Year several times.

Vuokatti is one of the most popular ski resorts due to its location, excellent selection of hotels and cottages near the ski slopes and a wide range of tourist services. The resort has 13 ski slopes, the longest of which is about a kilometer. Vuokkatti also offers the world’s only snowboarding tunnel that can be used all year round. There is also an Olympic training center there.

The resort has three restaurants and the Katinkulta entertainment center with hydromassage pools, water attractions and water cafes.

At the Ruka resort you can find skiing for every taste. The ski season here begins in October and lasts until May, and the presence of good snow cover during these months is almost guaranteed. The difference in altitude in the resort is 201–492 m, a total of 35 slopes are equipped. Every year at the end of November, the next series of the World Cup in ski jumping, skiing and Nordic combined events starts in Ruka. In addition, Ruka has excellent conditions for training and hosting world-class competitions in alpine skiing, freestyle and snowboarding.

Fans of skiing in Tahko are waiting for 15 lifts and 24 slopes, the longest of which has a length of 1200 meters, and the maximum height difference is up to 200 meters. It is the fourth largest ski center. Tahko’s varied restaurants will pamper visitors with culinary masterpieces: here you can taste French cuisine, Spanish and traditional Finnish dishes.

Closer to the south is Himos, the largest ski resort in central Finland. The resort has 23 slopes, 15 lifts and flat ski slopes that stretch for many kilometers amidst picturesque snowy landscapes. For snowboarders there are 2 half pipes, a snowboard street track (a lane with sharp turns and tricky obstacles), a cross course and a mogul slope equipped in accordance with international standards.

Snowmobile safari

If you love speed, then this activity is for you! Snowmobiling tours can be booked in both the Lakes Region and Lapland. Experienced guides will lead you through the snowy forests and make stops at the most photogenic places. The service is available to tourists over 18 years old and with a driver’s license.

Snowshoeing

Who said that walking in the national natural parks is possible only in the warm season? Buy or rent snowshoes and go on an adventure!

Fat biking

Cycling on a frozen lake? Why not if you have a fat bike? Fat bike tires are literally made for Finland’s lakes! You can rent equipment and go skiing both in the town of Lahti and in Oulu.

Itinerary through the Christmas towns and fairs

Christmas is truly a magical time, especially in a beautiful country like Finland. During this time, many cities host holiday fairs with traditional treats, souvenirs and performances.

We recommend starting your journey from the main fair of the country, which is held on Senate Square in Helsinki. Over a hundred ornate tents at the Christmas Market offer all guests a fine selection of gifts, Christmas decorations and traditional delicacies like fish, meat and sweets.

An old carousel adds atmosphere to the fair. Santa Claus visits the fair every day.

From the capital in just half an hour you can reach Porvoo, which becomes even more charming during the Christmas season. At the Christmas Market in Old Town Hall Square, merchants dressed in antique costumes offer local artisan works and delicacies. And the cozy streets of the old town and neat houses are beautifully decorated with garlands.

And in Turku, two fairs are held at once: on the Old Square and on the Market Square. Near the Turku Cathedral, lights are lit annually on a huge spruce, and festive illumination of numerous garlands decorates the official Christmas street of Turku, Juliopistonkatu.

You can also get into the Christmas fairy tale at the fairs in Tampere and Oulu.

Lapland route

Reindeer sledding

Reindeer sledding

The traditional Lapland route includes hunting for the northern lights, visiting the Santa Claus Village and Santa Park in Rovaniemi, dog and reindeer sledding.

Do you want to make your trip original? Add a trip on the huge Arctic icebreaker Sampo, which departs from Kemi.

The cruise usually lasts 4 hours. On board, tourists will be offered delicious food, an icebreaker tour and unforgettable views. And, most interestingly, if you wish, you can dive into the icy sea waters! Special equipment is provided to ensure complete safety.

Getting around the country

When going to Finland, every tourist thinks about how it is more convenient, faster, more comfortable and cheaper to travel around the country. We hasten to please you. Despite the fact that Finland is not a very densely populated country, there are plenty of options for moving between different regions and cities.

This is a well-developed network of water transport, and domestic flights between the main cities, and an established bus service, and a wide railway map. You can rent a car, motorhome or bike, or try the traditional ways of getting around in the north – reindeer and dog sleds.

In any city you can call a taxi, and in Helsinki you can also use the metro.

A train

Trains in Finland are modern, comfortable and clean. It is convenient that in some of them you can also transport a personal car. An interesting feature of Finnish trains is the presence of special “children’s carriages”.

Aircraft

Suomi has 27 airports serving domestic flights. Main airlines on domestic flights: Finnair, Norwegian, Flybe, SAS.

In addition to regular flights, there are also seasonal flights at major airports, which are introduced due to the influx of passengers.

Water transport

An interesting and sometimes irreplaceable way of traveling in Finland is by water.

In almost all cities in Finland, located on the seaside or on the shores of lakes, one of the types of urban transport are river and sea trams. Moreover, it can be both retro steamers and modern high-speed boats. Choose according to your taste!

There are many tourist routes along the coastline and inland waters. One of them is a cruise to the Aland Islands.

The ferry can also be reached to other countries: Sweden, Estonia, Germany, Russia.

Bus

In Finland you can get by bus even where there are no railways. Express buses are especially popular. It should be noted that the transport is moving strictly according to the schedule.

This method of travel is fast and comfortable, and a pleasant bonus will be the opportunity to admire the picturesque Finnish landscapes along the way.

Major bus companies: Matkahuolto, Onnibus, ExpressBus.

Car

Traveling by car is a very convenient way to see even remote corners of the country.

Lapland roads

Lapland roads

Car rental in Finland is provided by the following companies: Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Scandia Rent, Sixt. However, it should be noted that the cost of car rental in Finland is quite high. If possible, bring your own car. Often, even transporting it by ferry will be cheaper than renting a car.

Finland is a country with right-hand traffic, overtaking is done on the left lane.

In summer, motorists will not have problems on the highways: the quality of the roads is high, the congestion is usually low. The only thing to look out for are the numerous speed limits. Penalties for violations are high, so it’s worth following the rules.

In winter, driving is more difficult. Firstly, difficult weather conditions, poor visibility, drifts are possible. Secondly, in winter, the length of daylight hours is minimal, most of the time you will have to move in the dark. Keep in mind that in Finland, moose and reindeer often come out on the road.

Also, while driving at any time of the day, the headlights must be on.

A bike

Cycling is very popular in Finland. It can be both bike tours around the city and long tours. Many kilometers of tracks have been laid throughout the country, and it is a pleasure to move along them. And on the way, you can visit all the planned attractions.

Renting a bike in Finland is also not difficult.

Extreme modes of transportation

This includes movement on snowmobiles, as well as reindeer and dog sleds. Such services are available in almost every ski resort in Finland, as well as in the northernmost region – Lapland. Be sure to take the opportunity to ride with the breeze!

Chatting with Finns

Before you go to this or that country, it does not hurt to learn a little more about its inhabitants.

Most Finns are down-to-earth, reserved and not overly talkative. Loud laughter, excessive gesticulation and talkativeness can be perceived negatively by the residents of Suomi.

There are two official languages ​​in Finland: Finnish and Swedish. However, for communication you will need to know English.

The national minority living in Lapland speaks its own language, which, according to the 1992 Law on the Sami Language, has become quite official in the Sami areas.

In the eastern part of the country, you can also meet a Russian-speaking resident.

Picnic in the city park

Picnic in the city park

For Finns, the topic of equality is very important: between men and women (do you remember that Finland was the first to adopt universal and equal suffrage for both men and women?), Between leaders and subordinates.

Personal life and work are clearly separated. This means that during working hours personal phone calls are not allowed, and in your free time you will not be disturbed by working hours. An interesting “working” moment in Finland is doing some negotiations and deals … in a sauna!

In terms of topics of conversation, there is little talk in Finland about politics, wages and matters of faith. But sports, weather, shopping, plans for the weekend and vacations are usually discussed freely.

Do you want the cold-looking Finns to treat you warmly and friendly? Don’t be late for meetings, always keep your word, and don’t break personal boundaries. Then you can make friends with the locals and count on their help and support at any time.

During dinner parties, parties and parties, there are also some rules to follow. First, warn your neighbors in advance. Secondly, after 23:00 do not break the silence, if your plans do not include communication with the Finnish police. And thirdly, invite guests in advance. Finns do not even allow sudden visits to relatives.

And one more national feature that should be taken into account when communicating with the inhabitants of Finland is the love for sports and active pastime. Finns look after their health and prefer to spend a lot of time in nature, regardless of the season. His favorite sport is skiing.

Finnish culture

The culture of Finland was influenced by Sweden for a long time, and a little later and to a much lesser extent by the Russian Empire. And only after gaining independence, the Finns realize how important cultural heritage, national values ​​and traditions play for them.

Finnish culture gave birth to “Kalevala” – one of the largest epic works in world history, based on Karelian folk songs – runes. A huge amount of material was obtained and processed only thanks to the outstanding researcher of the Karelian-Finnish epic Elias Lönnrot. With this invaluable work, he inscribed his name in the history and culture of Finland. The themes of the epic runes “Kalevala” influenced the work of many Finnish artists, writers and musicians.

Every year on February 28 the Finns celebrate the “Day of Kalevala” – the official day of Finnish and Karelian culture. It is also the day of the official raising of the national flag.

Finnish literature is developed in two languages, Finnish and Swedish. For example, the national poet Johan Runeberg wrote in Swedish. One of his patriotic poems was set to music. This song eventually became the national anthem of Finland.

5 February is celebrated by the Finns as a national holiday – Runeberg Day.

The house-museum of the poet can be visited in Porvoo.

The most famous of the fair sex is the writer Tove Jansson, who, by the way, also wrote in Swedish. First of all, she is known as the creator of fairy-tale characters – charming moomins, about whose adventures she wrote a series of books. By the way, Tove Jansson personally performed the illustrations for these books.

The fine arts of Finland developed under the influence of the advanced European schools of Paris, Dusseldorf, St. Petersburg.

The most famous art museum in the country – Ateneum – is located in Helsinki. It houses Finland’s largest art collection. There are paintings by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Goya, Modigliani and other great artists next to the paintings of Finnish painters. In the museum you can see works of Russian masters: Repin, Shishkin and Levitan.

Music plays an important role in Finnish culture. The folk music is based on the melodies of ancient chants, and the traditional folk musical instruments are: kantele (Finnish gusli), horn and violin.

The name of Jan Sibelius made famous Finnish classical music. The origin of the national classical musical tradition is associated with the work and activities of this composer. It was then that the first symphony orchestra, professional composers and performers appeared in the country.

And yet the Finns are the most successful in rock. Perhaps the whole world is known for such groups as HIM, Apocalyptica, The Rasmus and Lordi, who won the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest.

Finland is famous for its many world-class summer music festivals featuring rock and jazz, folk, opera and chamber music.

And in winter, you can get acquainted with Finnish music by visiting the National Finnish Opera, the Helsinki House of Music, the Alexander Theater, the Swedish Theater in Helsinki and the Swedish Theater in Turku.

Finnish Cuisine

Now in Finland you can find cafes and restaurants with cuisine for every taste, but it will be much more interesting to try local dishes.

Cafe in St. Nicholas Cathedral in Helsinki

Cafe in St. Nicholas Cathedral in Helsinki

The proximity of the sea and the huge number of lakes influenced the Finnish diet: there are many different types of fish in it. This is red fish, which is eaten raw or lightly salted, and eel, and Baltic herring in smoked and pickled form.

As for the first courses, you should definitely try the Finnish fish soup with red fish and cream.

Game dishes are prepared in northern Finland. One of the tastiest is the venison stew. In Lapland, you can taste a local soft cheese with a sweetish taste – “leipäyuusto”. It is usually served with cloudberries.

For Christmas in Finland, they bake a ham, prepare a dish of dried cod with potatoes, a rutabaga casserole, and bake various cookies.

Finns love sweet pastries and pastries. Pies with various fillings are very common. For example, in the city of Kuopio, the most delicious Kalakukko is baked – rye pies stuffed with fish. This dish is also a must on the Easter table.

The Karelian gate is also considered a traditional dish – an open pie made from unleavened rye dough stuffed with millet, rice, potatoes, carrots, salmon or cottage cheese.

One of the most delicious baked goods is blueberry pie. Most often it is prepared in summer, during the ripening period of the berry. It is usually washed down with milk. But lingonberries are often used to make jam and juice.

Runeberg cake

Runeberg cake

The most famous pastry in Finland can be considered a pastry named after the national poet – Johan Ludwig Runeberg. This confection is a cylinder weighing about 100 grams, for the preparation of which almond chips, arak or rum are used. As a decoration – a ring of powdered sugar with a drop of raspberry jam in the center. Runeberg cakes are widely sold in Finland in the period leading up to Finland’s national holiday – Runeberg Day, which is celebrated annually on February 5th. But in Porvoo, where Runeberg spent a significant part of his life, the cake can be tasted any day.

Do you want exotic? Look for licorice candy. These are black sweets made from licorice root. The taste is very specific and obviously not everyone will like it. Particularly popular is the so-called “meter liquorice”: the candy looks like a cord cut into pieces.

When in Finland, be sure to visit the Fazer cafes, which offer a wide range of bakery and confectionery products from this world famous company.

Another world-famous chain is the Finnish burger shop Hesburger. So if you want fast food, you are here.

When it comes to drinks, the Finnish people ranked first in the world for the amount of coffee they drink! It is the most popular drink in the country. Each resident drinks about 4 cups of coffee a day. Basically, they prefer a black strong drink, although cappuccino is also popular. In second place among non-alcoholic drinks is milk.

But the most popular alcoholic drink is beer, and mainly its own, Finnish: Lapin Kulta, Karjala, Olvi, Koff and Karhu.

Shopping in Finland

Finnish fish is one of the main export destinations. The range of fish in Finnish shops is simply amazing! In addition to cold and hot smoked fish delicacies, delicious trout or Norwegian salmon fillets, you can buy a jar of Finnish red caviar.

Many tourists buy home different types of cheese, as well as Finnish butter.

Few can resist the real temptation of delicious chocolate. The most famous manufacturer is considered to be the Fazer company, which produces both sweets with all kinds of fillings and pastries.

Would you like to purchase something more unusual? Go shopping in Porvoo, where the Brunberg candy factory and its own shop of original sweets have been operating since 1871. Here you can not only see the products of the factory, but also taste them. Choose from unique flavored chocolate bars, a variety of candies including licorice, chocolate covered nuts and other sweets. Such a souvenir from Finland will not leave anyone indifferent.

Another food product that can and should be brought is Finnish coffee.

Souvenirs at the Helsinki Market Square

Souvenirs at the Helsinki Market Square

Locals know a lot about a strong and aromatic drink, so they prefer coffee beans. The monopolist of the coffee market is the Paulig company. Also the brand “Kulta Katriina” is in demand.

As for alcoholic beverages, it is worth paying attention to Finnish liqueurs, which are produced exclusively from natural ingredients. Fans of beer can grab a few Finnish bottles, and for lovers of stronger drinks – Finlandia vodka.

Among the standard souvenirs, the northern theme is widespread: deer, moose, husky, Finnish Santa Claus – Joulupukki. You can find their images both on magnets, cups, plates, and in the form of soft toys. Reindeer hide products are also on sale, but the cost of such a gift will be very high.

When choosing gifts, pay attention to handicrafts made of wood, glass and ceramics. Men will love traditional Finnish knives.

During the sales season in Finland, you can buy clothes from famous brands at a fairly low price. First of all, this applies to things for sports and outdoor activities. For example, children’s clothing manufacturer Reima and Luhta company sew excellent quality items in a wide range. The best Finnish outlets are located in Helsinki and Lappeenranta.

Be sure to keep your receipts for all purchases in order to receive a tax refund.

Communications in Finland

Let’s start with the most interesting and unusual way of communication in Finland – the post office of Joulupukki, the Finnish Santa Claus.

Santa’s official post office is located in Lapland, near Rovaniemi. Every year, letters from kids from all over the world come here, to the village of Santa Claus. Just imagine: the number of letters in a year has long exceeded one million!

For tourists, the mail is interesting primarily because from here you can send postcards, letters, gifts to anyone: friends, relatives, acquaintances, but even to yourself! The sending process is a fascinating affair: first, you slowly choose postcards and gifts, and then, by the light of candles, you begin to beautifully display the recipient’s address …

After filling in the details, go to the cashier and pay for the postcards and stamps. Next, select a box for sending letters. There are two of them: one for those letters that need to be delivered at Christmas, and from the second postcards, letters and gifts will be sent soon.

Sending letters from the Santa Claus post office is a warm and sincere activity, however, it will cost a lot.

The traditional means of communication in Finland are mobile communications and the Internet.

When traveling to Finland, check the offers of your mobile operator. Perhaps a temporary switch to a tariff with affordable roaming prices will suit you.

If you often visit Finland or plan to come for a long time, consider buying a prepaid card from one of the local operators. These are prepaid SIM cards, when purchasing which you do not need to present documents, register and fill out an agreement. Unfortunately, the validity period of such cards may be limited. If you top up your account with a few euros at least once a year, then their validity is automatically extended. SIM cards are sold in R-Kioski, in shopping centers or in specialized communication shops. The cost is quite affordable.

In Finland, the main mobile operators are: Sonera (TeliaSonera), Elisa (has an additional Saunalahti brand) and DNA. Sonera with DNA starts at 9.9 euros, while Elisa has the cheapest prepaid package: it will cost only 5.9 euros. Upon purchase, a significant part of the amount is immediately credited to the balance.

Mobile internet in Finland is not cheap, carefully study the available offers. For example, Sonera has a plan that costs € 0.01 per megabyte. You can also purchase an unlimited daily package from DNA – the price will be 1.9 euros per day.

There are also many points in Finland where you can use Wi-Fi for free. For example, in the capital, the wireless network covers almost the entire center. Also, Wi-Fi is available in almost all cafes and restaurants, hotels, libraries.

Safety in Finland

Finland is a country for a calm measured holiday. Local residents are law-abiding citizens.

The crime rate in the country is extremely low, so tourists should not worry about their own safety, as well as the safety of things and valuables.

Mounted Police of Finland

Mounted Police of Finland

The Finnish police closely monitor the safety of citizens, however, and requires full compliance with the law on the part of vacationers. We advise you to carefully read the prohibitions and laws in Suomi so as not to get into an unpleasant situation.

Finns are fighting tobacco smoking and aiming to completely eradicate the bad habit. Smoking is allowed only in designated areas. They must be equipped with trash cans, special hoods and signs. There is a fine for smoking in the wrong place.

You can also get a fine for drinking alcohol in public places and transport. Spirits can only be purchased at Alko outlets, while beer and wine sales in regular shops close after 21:00. Advertising of strong alcoholic beverages on television, in newspapers, magazines, on street signs is prohibited.

Quite strict requirements for keeping quiet in places of residence. As a general rule, complete silence should be observed after 23:00. But some houses may have their own rules, for example, you cannot make noise after 21:00 or 22:00.

When resting in nature, follow these rules:

  • do not leave trash after yourself, clean up after pets;
  • do not leave the marked routes in the reserves;
  • pick berries, mushrooms, flowers only in the forest: it is forbidden to do this on the territory of private estates;
  • set up your tent only in a permitted place: camping, recreation areas, on special sites;
  • make a fire only in a designated place;
  • do not fish where there are signs that say Kalastus kielletty (no fishing) or Rauhoitusalue (nature reserve).

Compliance with these simple rules will allow you to spend the most pleasant and comfortable time in Finland.

Where to stay

Finding housing in Finland can take a long time. And this is not because there are few accommodation options in Suomi. Not at all! On the contrary, the Finns can offer tourists such interesting, unusual and truly unique hotels, cottages, igloos that it will be difficult to choose one.

Traveling to Lapland, you can stay in the Santa Claus Village, in a cozy cottage with a sauna in Santa Claus Holiday Village.

Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos near Rovaniemi

Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos near Rovaniemi

From the house, in just a couple of minutes on foot, you will reach Santa’s residence, where you can meet him in person, as well as send a postcard from the main Christmas mail in the world.

Do you want to live in a house with panoramic windows overlooking a snow-covered forest? Choose the Arctic TreeHouse Hotel, a traditional Scandinavian-style suite in Santa Park.

Do you dream of spending a night in a room of snow and ice that will be remembered for a lifetime? Consider accommodation at Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos.

By the way, there are also glass igloos with a warm floor and a roof made of thermo glass overlooking the sky. Just imagine what a pleasure it is to watch the northern lights while in a warm house on the Arctic Circle!

Another resort complex surrounded by nature is located in the Saariselkä ski area. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort – Igloos and Chalets offers igloo glass houses, traditional wooden chalets and the world’s largest Finnish sauna.

If you come to relax on the lake, choose a typical Finnish beach cottage, a camping site where you can rent a cabin, or set up your own tent.

And if the purpose of your visit is a spa break, then one of the many amazing spa hotels awaits you. For example, Holiday Club Saimaa or Finlandia Hotel Imatran Kylpylä Spa in Imatra.