Finland


A Visitor’s Guide To Finland

While Finland may have a long history and culture, it has also spent much of its recent history as a part of several different empires, meaning that it is only approaching a hundred years since it achieved independence from the Russian Empire in 1917. The lakes of Finland are famous, and with over 180,000 lakes that have been documented, it is really a significant understatement when people refer to Finland as the ‘land of a thousand lakes’. Another interesting aspect of life in Finland is that for those living in the far north of the country there are periods of the year when the sun doesn’t set in the summer, and during the winter these people don’t get to see the sun for a long period of time.

While the US State Department does advise visitors to remain cautious of the potential of terrorism and petty crime, in general Finland is a very safe place to visit.

Top Attractions To Enjoy In Finland

Santa Claus’ Village – Located in the heart of Finnish Lapland, this is the traditional home of Santa Claus and is one of the most popular attractions in the country, drawing families from across the world to the town of Rovaniemi, where they can meet Santa Claus and his elves.

Helsinki – This city is an interesting combination of historic and modern buildings, with many buildings dating from its history as a part of the Russian Empire including the superb Lutheran Cathedral, along with having a vibrant cultural life and night life.

Suomenlinna – This historic fortress has been built spanning six small islands off the coast near Helsinki, and was commissioned by the Swedish forces to try and defend the territory, while today visitors can explore this huge complex and see the series of museums located on the islands.

Rauma – Located on the south west coast of the country, the town is famous for the historic wooden buildings that make up much of the town center, with many buildings and outbuildings dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Olavinlinna Castle – This impressive medieval castle is the northernmost surviving castle in the world, having been built in the fifteenth century in an imposing and defensive location on an island in the Kyronsalmi Strait.

The Kvarken Archipelago – Located on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia near the Swedish High Coast, this attractive area was revealed when the glaciers covering the area melted, and today is known for being an attractive area that is consistently growing, as the terrain is rising 8mm per year

Levi – Situated in Lapland, this popular winter sports destination is known as a hub for downhill and cross country skiing, snowmobiling and husky sledding, as well as being a good place to try local delicacies such as reindeer and willow grouse.

Koli National Park – This area is located in Eastern Finland and is a popular place to visit throughout the year, boasting forested hillsides rising from Lake Pielinen during the summer, and attractive skiing slopes during the winter

Turku – As one of the oldest cities in Finland Turku has several historic sites worth visiting including the cathedral, which has been at the heart of the city since the fourteenth century, along with several annual events including the Medieval Market and two annual music festivals.

Kemi Snow Castle – This castle is built anew every year as the snow falls and temperatures drop, and is one of the country’s most popular attractions, housing a hotel, restaurant and a snow chapel within its walls.

Where To Stay In Finland

Helsinki

Arthur Hotel – This large hotel is located right at the heart of the city within walking distance of the main sights, and offers comfortable and clean rooms with nice bathrooms and access to a sauna and the pleasant communal areas of the hotel.

Eurohostel-Helsinki – A good choice for those trying to see the most of the city without breaking the bank, visitors can enjoy pleasant rooms that are simple yet affordable, with all of the modern features you would expect including televisions, a sauna and wi-fi interne

Rovaniemi

Santa Claus Holiday Village Hotel – While guests will enjoy the traditionally decorated and cozy rooms, it is the festive atmosphere and access to Santa Claus’ Village which makes this the perfect choice for a family holiday to meet the man himself.

Santasport Hotel – Located just a short journey outside the town center, this is a great base from which to explore Rovaniemi and to see Santa Claus’ Village, while guests also have comfortable rooms and access to leisure facilities such as a bowling alley, swimming pool, spa and jacuzzi.

Tampere

Hotel Kauppi – Guests staying at the hotel can use facilities such as an indoor swimming pool, sauna and fitness center, while the rooms are comfortable and modern, with a location that is within easy reach of the city center.

Hotel Iltatahti – A smart choice for those looking for well priced accommodation in the city, this hotel offers clean and simple rooms that enjoy televisions, couches and an eating area, with a great location that is right among the sights of the city.

Turku

Centro Hotel Turku – This modern stylishly designed hotel shows off many of the design traits that have allowed Scandinavian furniture to be exported around the world, and guests can enjoy airy rooms with luxury bathrooms, and a central location within walking distance of the town’s sights.

Inn 22 – Located just outside the town center this hotel offers guests affordable and attractive accommodation with comfortable rooms and pleasant communal areas offering a television, as well as a sauna, which is almost mandatory in almost every home and hotel in Finland

Finnish Cuisine

Because Finland spends so much of the year in a relatively cold winter, root vegetables such as potatoes and turnips have always played an important part in the country’s cuisine, along with preserved meats and sausages that historically helped people to survive through the winter. Today visitors to Finland, particularly to the Lapland area will often try sauteed reindeer, while the Kalakukko Fish Pasty Loaf is an ideal food to eat with your hands, with a filling of fish and meat cooked inside a loaf of bread. For those who enjoy trying local versions of fast food, Karelian Pasties are a lovely dish of rice, egg and butter baked in a rye pastry crust.

Currency And Visa

Like many of its neighbors, Finland has chosen to adopt the Euro as the national currency, which certainly makes it an attractive destination for those taking a tour of several European countries, and those from the United States will usually exchange around 1.37 Dollars for every Euro they buy. Finland is also a part of the Schengen Agreement, which means that it is a great option for those looking to explore Europe, and no visa is required unless the visitor is staying in Schengen Agreement countries for over ninety days in total.

Further Reading

There are many activities that can only really be tried in destinations that lie to the far north or far south of the world, and this article is an interesting look at husky sledding, while this article looks at the tradition of ice swimming in Finland. This article looks at the role that the reindeer plays in Finnish culture, and why it is acceptable to like the animals as well as enjoy the flavor of their meat.