The Very Best Things to Do in Finland
Start with Santa, before wandering through wooden towns and going ice karting
Between Sweden, Norway and Russia, Finland occupies a unique space in Northern Europe. Vast swathes of snow-covered terrain cover the northern reaches towards the Arctic Circle, where the Aurora Borealis makes for an unforgettable spectacle. Making this even harder to forget is the Kossu vodka preferred by locals looking to keep warm across those cold winter nights. As for adventure, you’ll hop across tiny islets, delve into towering forests, and relax by shimmering blue lakes. This so-called Land of the Midnight Sun is bright and blue in summer, before eternal (well, not eternal, but we’re being dramatic) darkness creeps through the nation as winter falls. It’s not all rural of course; explore the country’s rich history and traditions through its old-world wooden towns. There’s something for everyone in this diverse country, so you won’t run out of things to do in Finland. And here at Plum Guide, we consider it our job to provide you with the ultimate guide to enjoying memorable holidays, so read on to guarantee yourself the trip of a lifetime.
Take a trip to Lapland
There’s no surprise that visiting the magical Lapland makes it to the top of our list of things to do in Finland. In the northern part of the country, it’s every child’s dream, as the home of Father Christmas (that’s Santa to many of you). And if you don’t believe us, just head to the Santa Claus Village with your little ones. Take on the husky rides and reindeer sleigh rides, and visit Santa’s Post Office. While in this region, you can also rush down the slopes of Yllas Ski Resort and slip around at the Ice Karting Levi. Other top attractions here include the Angry Birds Park and the Science Centre Pilke.
See the old wooden towns
Back in the day, Finland’s homes were built with wood (not ideal for fire prevention, but there you are). Some of these charming and rustic cabin-like houses have survived multiple centuries, offering an insight into the distant past. Among the top districts for this time travel to time's most wooden are Vallila and Käpylä. If you’re in Helsinki, just a one-hour drive out to Old Porvoo will take you to those wooden delights.
Embrace the snow in North Ostrobothnia
We’re up in the northern limits, where the snow is as white as…well, snow. But it’s also a world of ice. You can go ice fishing in Nallikari or ice climbing in the Ruka Ski Resort (where, you’ll be pleased to learn, you can ski). Fat-biking is another unusual and exciting tour to take in these parts…if you’re brave enough to take to the ice and snow in two wheels. Of course, summer has a place in North Ostrobothnia, with chocolate tasting in Oulu one of our favourite Finland activities. Taste ice creams by the Nallikari Beach, and stroll through the forests in Ruka. Relax with a picnic in Ainolan Puisto park, before seeing the reindeer in the Kujala Reindeer Farm.
Hop across the islands
Don't literally hop, as you’ll look ridiculous. We mean take a boat to visit some of the many islands and archipelagos hanging off the edge of Scandinavia. Relish the utter tranquillity (away from those blasted kids) in the archipelago of Suomenlinna, where you’ll find all sorts of fortresses and dungeons. Shame those kids didn’t come with you on this trip; they’d have loved all that. OK, maybe they can come, then...
Hike the days away
Hey, who doesn’t like hiking? Some of you? OK, well you non-hikers can skip this bit. Only those of you who like wandering aimlessly down long and winding paths will have enjoyed the intro to this section. Did you know there are 40 national parks in Finland? Take on some of the trails in the Oulanka National Park, the Nuuksio National Park and the Urho Kekkonen National Park. In winter, try snowshoeing for something a little different.
Check out the capital
We’ve focussed heavily on the great wilderness, in looking at what things to do in Finland. But there’s plenty of culture to be experienced here too. One of the most magnificent structures in the country is Helsinki’s Temppeliaukio Church. Take a look around it, and gaze up at the impressive architecture. Rummage through the Old Market Hall, pay homage to the Helsinki Cathedral, and stay shtum at the Kamppi Chapel of Silence.