Finland is the most beautiful, but most underrated Nordic country and deserves a lot more love and attention than it currently gets. It is the land of a thousand lakes (or 188.000 actually), it is the land of the midnight sun, but it is also so much more. It is a country deeply in touch with nature. And it is a country of modern design and bustling city life. Because we love Finland so much, we have compiled a list of 8 beautiful places in Finland to put on your bucket list!
Capital Region of Helsinki
The most natural starting point for your visit to Finland is the capital Helsinki. Helsinki has been the capital of Finland since 1812 as Russian Emperor Alexander I worked towards reducing the Swedish influence in the country. Today, it is by far the most vibrant city in Finland and worth a visit year round. From the iconic Senate Square to the imposing Suomenlinna Fortress, there is plenty to see for history and architecture lover. A hub for Nordic Design, Helsinki is also the perfect place to give your credit cards a good workout!
- Read more about how to spend one perfect day in Helsinki here.
- Plan an easy day trip from Helsinki to the historic town of Porvoo here!
Historic Finland: Turku & Rauma
Turku was the capital of Finland for several hundred years before it lost its status to Helsinki. Turku has had a tumultuous history and actually burned to the ground several times, most notably in the Great Fire of Turku in 1827. Nonetheless, as the oldest city in Finland, it brims with history and charm. But more importantly, it is your gateway to the beautiful Finnish archipelago. Not far from Turku lies the picturesque town of Rauma which is famous for its iconic wooden houses.
- We lived in Turku for several years. Read our insider tips on what to see and do in Turku here!
- Visit one of the most accessible Finnish national parks from Turku, Kurjenrahka National Park.
- Plan a day trip to quiet & quaint Rauma.
The Finnish Archipelago
The Finnish archipelago is the largest archipelago in the world (although some of the islands are admittedly tiny) and one of the most unique places to visit in Finland. The largest island group is the autonomous region of the Åland Islands, with their capital Mariehamn. It is absolutely beautiful in the summer and easily accessible by cruise ship from either Helsinki or Turku. You can also try and cycle your way from Turku to Mariehamn by catching a series of commuter ferries between the island!
Finnish Lakeland is located in central and eastern Finland and occupies a large area within the country. After all, it consists of thousands and thousands of lakes! The Finnish lake district is a remnant of the last ice age and shapes Finland until today, geographically as well as culturally. It is home to much of Finnish wildlife and the perfect destination for nature lovers. For example, head into Koli National Park, one of the most popular and most beautiful national parks in Finland. If you are looking for a city break close to a lake in Finland, book yourself into an accommodation in Tampere or Jyväskylä.
- Read our insider tips on what to see and do in Tampere here!
- Wondering what Jyväskylä has to offer? Check it out here!
- Are you a winter sports enthusiast? Check out Lahti!
Karelia is a region lying in the far East of Finland and, in fact, is a region shared with Russia. Russian influences can be observed almost everywhere. For example, the Russian language has had a strong impact on the east Finnish dialect. Karelia is best known for its pies, and that’s because they are truly delicious and perfect for long and hard Finnish winters. Some of the cities to visit in the area are Lappeenranta, Joensuu, and Savonlinna. Savonlinna is well known for its imposing castle and the annually held Savonlinna Opera Festival. Lappeenranta is ideal for those wanting to take a visa-free cruise to Russia as Vyborg is easily accessible via the Saimaa Canal.
Ostrobothnia is a small region in Western Finland, located on the Gulf of Bothnia. Fun fact, although it lies in Western Finland it is called Ostrobothnia (Eastern Bothnia) as Finland was once part of the Swedish empire which lay to the west! In fact, much of the Swedish influence lingers today as Swedish-speakers make up more than half of the population in the region. Ostrobothnia’s dominating city is Vaasa. Further to the South lies Pori, which, although not technically in Ostrobothnia, also has a lot of coastal charm.
Two frosty spots to mark down on your Finland Bucket List are the towns of Oulu and Kemi. Both lie on the Finnish west coast, yet they are not known for their beaches. They are known for fantastic winter landscapes! After all, Kemi is home to the biggest snow fort in the world, Kemi Snow Castle! It has been built every year since 1996 with a new design and houses a hotel, a chapel, and a restaurant. Forget the ice bars you have been to… this is the real deal! Find out more about Kemi Snow Castle on the official website.
Even further North, beyond the Arctic Circle in Finland, lies Finnish Lapland. Lapland sports a frosty sub-arctic climate and little vegetation. It is a very popular winter destination and home to dozens of ski resorts. The perfect base for visiting Finnish Lapland is Rovaniemi. Rovaniemi is located on the Arctic Circle, at exactly 66°33′45.9″, and, perhaps most importantly, the home of Santa Claus. The city hosts an entire tourist center in the shape of a tiny village dedicated to Father Christmas. Moreover, it is home to the Arktikum, a fantastic museum on Sami culture and history. Rovaniemi is also the perfect base for exploring Lapland as it is easily accessible by plane from Helsinki.
Read an in-depth guide to Rovaniemi by local travel bloggers Our Life, Our Travel.
Now, what do you think? What are the most beautiful places in Finland in your opinion? Did we miss anything on the list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below! Let’s stay in touch!