Where to go and what to do.
Finland has now jumped onto the scene as a can’t miss tourist destination. It is a land that offers everything the tourist is after: beautiful scenery, friendly locals, good food, interesting attractions, and plenty of adventure.
When booking your trip to Finland be sure to include the following places:
Helsinki, Finland’s capital and largest city, is more than likely the place that you will get your first and last impression of the country. If you think it’s reminiscent of St. Petersburg, you’re onto something — Helsinki was actually designed to look like the Russian city less than 200 miles away. Sitting on the coast of the Baltic Sea, Helsinki is an old shipping port and still maintains a maritime vibe wrapped up in a modern package.
When in Helsinki, be sure to visit the Uspenski Cathedral, the Church in the Rock, the art deco Parliament House, the avant-garde Kamppi Chapel of Silence, the stadium where the 1952 Olympics were played, as well as Helsinki’s Market Square, where you can try the full range of traditional Finnish cuisine or if you’re looking to do some gaming, Helsinki also offers a wide array of slot machine experiences (kolikkopelit kokemuksia).
When looking for a taste of Finnish history, be sure to go to Turku, a medieval city that served as Finland’s historic capital. Sitting on the coast, walking through Turku is like stepping back in time. Go to the 13th-century Turku Castle, the Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum, where people still make things the traditional way, and wander along the cobbled streets of the Luostarinmäki district. When hungry, go and dine at an array of trendy restaurants along the river.
There is a mystical 6,500 island archipelago that extends between Finland and Sweden out into the Baltic known as the Åland Islands. No trip to Finland would be complete without a visit. However, while technically Finnish, many of these islands self-govern, and Swedish is actually the most common language.
So go to Mariehamn and soak in the island life — northern style. Walk through streets that are lined with old style wooden houses, sit by the sea in wind battered cafes, and eat the freshest seafood imaginable. Go to a museum called Pommern, which was converted from a ship, immerse yourself in the ruins of Kastelholm, and hike out into the wilderness this archipelago is famous for. Also be sure to taste an Åland specialty: pancakes covered in whipped cream and stewed prunes.
Nuuksio National Park
If you have a taste for even more nature, go to the Nuuksio National Park, which is just to the northwest of Helsinki. Here you will find endless expanses of pristine nature, hiking trails, camp sites, mountain biking routes, and horse riding opportunities. This is probably the quintessential Finnish nature experience, so go there and see what all that green is all about.
If you’re a little more adventurous, travel up to Lapland, in the far north of the country. Lapland is a frigid region that extends over the northern portions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and northeastern Russia as is the traditional home of the Sápmi people. The biggest attraction of Lapland — other than the beauty of untouched nature — is the Northern Lights. For roughly 200 days per year between August and April the lights are visible on clear nights. All you need to do is to figure out how to get there. Fortunately, there are tours for this … as well as luxury igloos with big windows which allow you to bask in the beauty of the lights while warm and dry.
So pack your bags and start planning your trip to Finland.
About the Author: Other Voices
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