Finland


Overview

Finland travel guide, including map of Finland, attractions, weather, food & drink, health and safety and general facts on Finland

Stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Arctic Circle, Finland boasts calm lakes, glorious national parks and picturesque wooden villages.

Lapland in the north is home to Santa, as well as over 230,000 reindeer. For the wildlife fanatics there’s plenty more besides: see freshwater seals in the lakes at Linnansaoi National Park, and trek the Bear’s Ring in Oulanka National Park.

If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of an elk or wolf as well (probably not together, though!)

In the far North, the lights of the Aurora Borealis can be seen in the Spring and Autumn.

Explore the cycling routes around the Åland islands, or in July, go to Sonkajäri for the nation’s strangest sport, wife carrying (it hosts the world championships!)

In Finland’s capital city of Helsinki, mix contemporary art museums with browsing the stalls of Hakaneimi market, and let your worries melt away in the sauna.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Visit the far north for the Ultimate Arctic Adventure
  2. Take a wilderness weekend in Finland
  3. Camp out in a log cabin
  4. Visit the seals of Linnansaoi National Park
  5. Embrace contemporary art at Helsinki’s Museum of Contemporary Art
  6. Meet Father Christmas and his reindeer in Lapland
  7. Explore Finland’s Åland islands by bike

Wanderlust tips

If you want to see more wildlife than what Helsinki Zoo has to offer, Finland’s countryside has plenty: wolves, bears, elks, lynx and beavers are just a few.

But most animals are extremely shy, and many are limited in number, so you won’t have much luck without a guide. Hire someone at a national park to find the most elusive.

Further Reading

Travel in Finland: vital statistics

 

  • Capital of Finland: Helsinki
  • Population of Finland: 5.3 million
  • Languages in Finland: Finnish and Swedish official. The majority of people in Finland speak Finnish, and just over 5% speak Swedish. English is spoken well only by tourist information offices.
  • Time in Finland: GMT+2.
  • International dialling code for Finland: +358
  • Voltage in Finland: 230V 50Hz
  • Visas for Finland: Finland visas
  • Money in Finland: Euro (EUR). Swedish krona are accepted on Aland and in western Lapland. Norwegian krona are accepted near the border with Finland in the far North. ATMs, or Ottos as Finns call them, are of easy access and take most types of credit card. Tipping is not expected; some restaurants may include a service charge.
  • Finland travel advice: Foreign & Commonwealth Offices
  • Finland tourist board: Visit Finaland

     

    When to go to Finland

    In the south, the tourist season runs from early June to late August; at this time of year the majority of tourist attractions are open.

    At this time, the north of the country enjoys 24-hour daylight. Lapland gets an influx of tourists in December with children flocking to see Father Christmas; this is an ideal time for skiing as temperatures drop to -30?C.

    Equally good opportunities for snow sports can be found in autumn and early spring, and this is also the best time to see the Northern Lights. Helsinki is thriving all year round.

    International airports

    Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL) is19km north of Helsinki, Rovaniemi Airport (RVN) is 10km north of Rovaniemi. Flights to the UK are seasonal only. Tampare-Pirkkala Airport (TMP) is 13km southwest of Tampere.

    Getting around in Finland

    Finland has a good road network and car hire is easily obtained but tends to be pricey, as are taxis.

    There are plenty of cycle paths and bikes can also be taken on most buses and trains so it’s a great place for cyclists.

    Buses are available for both long and short distances; these tend to be efficient and run on schedule.

    For long distances between major points it’s better to take the train, as this is both faster and cheaper. Sea ferries operate between large islands and the mainland.

    There are a number of domestic flights; costs can vary so watch out for happy hour discounts.

    Finland accommodation

    Most hotels in Finland will be clean and tidy, but standard rates are expensive. However as the major market is business customers then travellers staying in the summer and at weekends should be able to find a good deal.

    For budget accommodation there is a widespread network of youth hostels.

    Accommodation is also available in farm stays, campsites and self-catering.

    Finland food & drink

    The Finns take great advantage of their native animals and lake dwellers, and more unusual menu options include reindeer, elk and muikku – deepfried lakefish.

    Another favourite is the rice-filled pastry karjalanpiirakka. Berries are very popular and a lot of people pick them straight from the bushes.

    Cloudberries are used to make a sweet alcoholic drink, lakka. Finland produces its own vodka – Finlandia – that is a big rival with the Swedish Absolut. Finns are manic coffee drinkers, ranking along with Norwegians first.

    Health & safety in Finland

     

    Always check with a GP or travel health clinic before travelling. No vaccinations should be needed to go to Finland. Protect against ticks in woodland areas – to avoid these, keep skin covered and use plenty of insect repellent.

    The biggest danger is from weather extremes - if you are staying outdoors for long periods in the winter, be wary of hypothermia – dress in layers and wear a hat.

    Crime is very low but in urban areas be wary of petty theft, and drunk people.