As the country has just 5 million inhabitants, you’d be forgiven for thinking it might be on the smaller side as far as geography goes. But Finland is actually far vaster than the United Kingdom, which fits 70 million people between its shores. This’ll give you an idea of just how sparse and remote some of the beautiful places to visit in Finland are. You can really lose yourself (in a good way) hiking up in the snowy mountains, or hopping between the islands of one of the archipelagos. A trip to Lapland will leave you standing face to face with Father Christmas (Santa Claus to many of you), while reindeer sleigh rides will help you traverse the large distances. No trip to this Scandinavian gem is complete without delving through its capital, Helsinki, and you’ll want to try the skiing and ice fishing among other winter activities in the dark, cold winter. With a bit of luck, you’ll spy the green embers of the Northern Lights gracing the night sky. Here at Plum Guide, we might not be able to control the Northern Lights, but we can control pretty much everything else regarding your trip, so book one of our exclusive Finland holiday homes to guarantee yourself a stay of genuine quality and comfort.
Santa Claus Village, Lapland
This is one of the highlights of not only Finland, but a child’s life. Scrap that, every parent also wants to visit the Santa Claus Village. Up in the secluded and snowy reaches of Lapland, you’ll find this children’s paradise in the shadow of snowy ridges. Pass through mesmerising forests to reach this little village, purported to be the real home of Santa Claus. See his post office, meet his reindeer and visit the farm yard. You can trek across the Arctic Circle here, and a simple look up may just reveal the Aurora Borealis.
Yllas Ski Resort, Lapland
Person skiing in vast area of snow in Finland
Since you’re in the area, why not? It’s just another couple of hours north by car from the Santa Claus Village. Let’s ignore the fact that nothing is technically supposed to be further north than Father Christmas, hey? Just don’t tell the kids which way you’re driving. Ride a cable car up to the peaks of the mountains, taking in the spectacular views down below. The resort has 26 lifts that take skiers and snowboarders to 34 miles (55 kilometres) of snowy slopes. Continue exploring Lapland for the Science Pilke and the Angry Birds Park among other top activities.
Between Lapland and Central Finland lies this expanse of snowy hinterland, where you can get familiar with some true Finnish traditions. You’ll head to Oulu City to see the charming cathedral (and go chocolate tasting), wander through the forests of Kuusamo, and relax on the sandy dunes of the Gulf of Bothnia in summer. As for winter activities, the Iso-Syöte ski resort and the Ruka ski resort make for spectacular family holiday destinations, while Nallikari is perfect for ice fishing tours. Sit by a fire on the ice (providing said ice doesn’t melt), and patiently await your catch.
Ghost-like shadows in a cobbled alleyway at Turku Castle, Finland
This is one of the best places to visit in Finland, simply because it showcases the country as it once was. Its charming origins, complete with wooden buildings and old-world attractions, really make this place a must-visit. Turku is said to be the oldest city in the country, so you can imagine that its historic centre is like a trip back in time. Amble along narrow lanes adorned with cobbles, and get an insight into the country that once was. For another example of an old wooden town a little closer to Helsinki, head to Old Porvoo.
This is as much a fortress as it is a ‘place’, but the Suomenlinna fortress is exceptional in that it stretches across eight different islets. Constructed hundreds of years ago, when Finland was part of Sweden, the attraction is now part of UNESCO, and has become an emblem of the country. See the various dungeons and monuments scattered across the islands that lie just off Helsinki Harbour.
Helsinki Cathedral at sunrise, Finland
Well, we had to reach the capital city eventually. It’s the biggest hub of culture, and one of the best places to visit in Finland. Get a sense of the local customs and traditions in the Kauppatori market place, where you can try some of the famed foraged woodland mushrooms and fresh salmon. Wander around Helsinki Harbour and amble through the Esplanadi, where live performers bring the city to life. Another top highlight is the Design District, which is packed with galleries and luxury boutiques.
Including the aforementioned Turku (the country’s oldest city), Southwest Finland is home to some of the best attractions in the country. Bring your little ones to Moomin World, a quaint theme park based on the cartoon. Admire the exhibits in the Aboa Vetus Ars Nova museum, and take a boat through the Archipelago National Park.