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Best places to visit in Finland

Posted by Elena Praneviciute  |  July 27, 2019

A lot of snow, Santa Claus with his reindeers, Northern lights in the winter sky and Finnish sauna – probably that’s the picture everybody gets when thinks about Finland. Yes, these are it is the most popular, most discussed things and these are definitely worth seeing or experiencing at least once in a lifetime, but Finland has to offer so much more!

From famous winter destinations to sandy beaches and weird museums – this list highlights the best places to visit in Finland.

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Best places to visit in Finland in winter

Seems like the snow is more popular than ever before – the number of visitors in Finland during winter is increasing every year. That is not surprising, because Finland is a perfect place for those who want to enjoy snow – the country can truly be called a winter wonderland. Despite the fact that the number of people is growing, Finland manages to keep the quality and offers for travellers authentic experiences and comfortable vacation by opening new modern hotels, building glass igloo`s and ice cottages and providing fun attractions for families.

Although the whole country gets white and pretty, the best place to visit in Finland in winter is Lapland.

Lapland is the largest and northernmost region of Finland. Lapland is the place where you can experience something that you have never experienced in your life before, whether it would be a fascinating Aurora Borealis or riding the reindeer sleigh. The snowy landscapes will most definitely leave the best memories and impression that you don’t even need anything else, but there are a lot of cool places that you shouldn’t miss, especially if you are travelling in winter. TOP 5 places to visit in Lapland are Rovaniemi, Santa Claus village, Kemi, Ivalo and Igloo`s to catch the Northern Lights.

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Snow castle in Kemi

That is truly an extraordinary and such a fun place to visit in Finland! The castle is rebuilt every year during the winter and it is the biggest snow fort in the world. The architecture of this snow castle varies, which means that the castle looks different every year! But some of the elements are always the part of the castle: a restaurant, a chapel, and a hotel. The restaurant of snow castle has ice tables and ice chairs covered with reindeer fur. Ice sculptures are also being exhibited in the area of the restaurant. The chapel is commonly used for weddings or other Christian events. The temperature in hotel rooms is 5 degrees below zero (Celsius), but it shouldn’t keep you awake, because the standard sleeping bags are provided for snow hotel visitors. These snowy attractions and activities in Kemi have only been available from January to April. But 2019 brought up some new unique activities which you can enjoy all year round In the new massive building you can enjoy Arctic delicacies in Ice restaurant, participate in frosty events or relax in a day spa and true Finnish sauna.

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Rovaniemi and the village of Santa Claus

It is said that Santa Claus’s original home lies in the mysterious Korvatunturi in the Finnish Lapland. Since the exact location is a secret only known to a chosen few, Santa Claus decided to establish an office in Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, in 1985. Rovaniemi received the status of the Official Hometown of Santa Claus in 2010. You have a chance to meet Santa – probably the most famous person on the planet – every day of the year, but during the Christmas is that special time in the year, when everything gets even better. In Rovaniemi, December is a special time, as Christmas markets and events start to buzz around and many flocks to the arctic town to meet Santa in person and experience the festive season in magical wintery surroundings. Besides Santa Claus’s village, other good places to visit in Rovaniemi are Lapland’s Provincial Museum Arktikum, the forest-themed Pilke Science Centre and the Korundi House of Culture. Rovaniemi is also a great place to experience the magic of Northern Lights, ride reindeers, visit Arctic husky farms, have fun with winter sports like ice skating, skiing or other activities like winter safari and winter swimming.

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Ivalo

Ivalo is a village in the municipality of Inari, Lapland, Finland. Ivalo might be the best place to experience all winter activities in a comfortable way because it is the largest population center in the whole area of Inari and it comes as no surprise that this is where you can find the widest range of services in the Northern Lapland. The well-stocked grocery shops open their doors every day of the week, from early in the morning until late at night, including Sundays. The town of Ivalo also features an international airport, so the atmosphere here is always very international. The most popular things to do in Ivalo are nature tours, ice fishing, aurora hunting, husky or snowmobile safaris.

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Northern Lights

Lapland is also the best place to visit in Finland if you are seeking to see the Northern Lights. It is not a place by itself, but the experience you have to witness at least once in your life and all the locations in Lapland, a little out of the towns and other light sources, are very suitable for that. To see the Northern Lights you basically need two things: clear sky and darkness. You might get clear sky all year, but the darkness in Lapland only sets in wintertime. Summer nights get too light for observation of the Northern Lights, because of the natural phenomenon – Midnight sun, when the sun remains visible for full 24 hours. But during the winter season, which actually starts in late August and end at the end of April, the darkness in Lapland is in complete control without any rest. Aurora usually appears from 8 pm till 2 am and could last from a couple of minutes to several hours. Waiting for the Aurora might be a little challenging and cold. To skip this waiting outside, a lot of people choose to spend that time inside the glass buildings. For example, cozy glass Igloo hotels, which makes the whole experience unforgettable. The roofs of the Igloos are made of thermal glass to allow the room to remain warm without disrupting the view.

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Best places to visit in summer

It is widely known and probably already clear for you that Finland might be called the true residency of Christmas and a place where reality is most near to what you can call a winter wonderland. For this reason, most of the people think that it is only worth it to go there in winter. But set all of your presumptions on a side, because to some of the most beautiful places in Finland it is the best to go in summer!

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Salo

Salo is a town in a Southwest of Finland and is located between the capital Helsinki and the provincial capital Turku, making it a busy, small but a very charming city. The most beautiful place that Salo offers is a Teijo national park with peaceful lakes, seashores, and forests, as well as historical places: ironworks villages where traditional crafts still thrive. There are 7 historic villages in the area around Salo, where you can enjoy a delightful selection of quaint scenery, art, design, and antiques. In summer, the ironworks host many art exhibitions and events. Also, only in summer Salo offers markets in the evenings, where you can enjoy Finnish music performances, trade stalls, pancakes, second-hand goods, and flea markets.

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Rauma

Rauma is a town on the West coast of Finland, which is mostly famous for its amazing wooden architecture in the center of town. Old Rauma is one of those historical places where you feel like in a fairy tale, because of all the colorful wooden houses, decorative gates, cobblestone streets, and beautiful public buildings, which creates a charming atmosphere. Rauma is a good place to visit in Finland in the summer because the famous Lace week is organized during the summer months. Lace week is a set of exhibitions since the 18th century, but nowadays developed into the huge communal event with music, dance traditional cooking, friendly battles in which contestants vie for the title of the town’s fastest lace-maker and other fun activities. Of course – lace related!

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Moominworld

One of the most famous characters in the world, created by the Swedish-Finnish writer Tove Jansson, has a residency in the Island of Kailo, Naantali, Finland. Moominworld is probably the best place to visit in Finland for families travelling with kids. A lot of live performances, fun costumes and an atmosphere filled with love and games. Moominworld is a summer theme park, which means it is only open in summer. It also sometimes opens in winter for Christmas or another season for other special occasions.

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Pori

Pori is the seaside city on the West coast of Finland, which attracts visitors with its colorful history and peaceful nature. The most well-known event in the city is the Pori Jazz Festival, one of Europe’s largest jazz festivals and one of the best summer events in Finland. The best places to visit in Pori are 6 km long Yyteri beach – one of the largest Baltic Sea beaches, Juselium mausoleum, Central Pori Church, Pori art museum.

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Oulu

Oulu is a heaven for a cyclist: this city has the most extensive cycling network. If you prefer walking, that is not a problem as well – the city offers a lot of pedestrian areas, parks, and green spaces to enjoy wonderful views. A stay in Oulu will be easy comfortable and entertaining, while the city offers a huge variety of cafes, restaurants, shops and a major music festival in July, and the most beautiful places and natural wonders are near the Oulu: the Syöte National Park is a perfect place for cross-country skiing during the winter, and hiking and mountain biking in the summer, Turkansaari open-air museum and Kierikki stone age center or Koitelinkoski Rapids.

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Kuopio

It is best to visit Kuopio in the summer when the whole city comes alive! The wine festival, dance festival, restaurants terraces by the lovely harbor, summer markets with fresh Finnish produce and some of the best views of Lakelands in Finland. The best places to visit near Kuopio or in the city by itself are Puijo Tower which is also the starting point for good summer trekking trails or charming and authentic Pikku- Pietari market alley which is open from June to August.

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Kotka

The city where nature and historical places come together. Feel the history in the fortress town Hamina or Langinkoski, experience the Finnish forests, try local food and beer and, most importantly, enjoy city parks which are the most awarded parks in all Finland. A lot of cycling routes, hiking trails, seaside and water parks, historical sites and pure nature makes it one of the top places to visit in Finland.

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Jamsa

Jamsa is definitely one of those top tourist places to visit in Finland. The city is in a good central location surrounded by beautiful rivers and it offers a huge variety of international events, music festivals and interesting exhibitions in summer. The nature lovers will find themselves in a union with high hills, lakes, and rivers and then lose themselves, hopefully not literally, again while hiking in the Isojarvi National Park or canoeing in Wanha Witonen canoeing route.

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Tampere

This place is suitable not only to have fun in Sarkaniemi adventure park, where usually everybody flows but for the culture as well! Best places to visit in Tampere are the world`s only museum of Moomin, Sisallissota Civil War museum, where you can learn a lot about the history of the country and the Finnish mentality, Tampere Cathedral, and several observation towers. Getting back to the famous Sarkaniemi park, it is worth mentioning that it is open all year round, but all of the attractions, the amusement park, and Doghill Fairytale Farm are available only in the summer season.

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Unusual places to visit in Finland

If you travel a lot sometimes you can get a feeling that everything is the same. All the cities start to look alike, all the natural wonders, of course, breathtaking every time you see it, but put a question in your head: is it really worth it to travel that far away to see something I can see in my own surroundings? Especially to the country, which is expensive for most of the tourists. And if you are travelling to know other cultures, after some time you see that even people, in general, are very similar. But there are places in the world that stand out. It has that special something that makes travelling memorable and exclusive even for the pickiest travellers. Here are a few places in Finland that are a bit unusual, but very unique. And the best part is that it is not overcrowded by tourists.

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Aland

With 6700 named islands and 20000 smaller islands, this archipelago turns to one of the most spectacular places in Finland. Even if it has its own autonomy and the Swedish language as their official one, this place still has the Finnish modernity which perfectly blends together with peaceful nature. The easiest way to get around is by bike or motorbike, so put your helmet on and get ready to do some island hopping instead of bar hopping and fall in love with special picturesque nature views of Aland.

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Imatra

Imatra is considered to be the first touristic destination in Finland but nowadays it is overshadowed by Helsinki or towns of Lapland. Its outstanding beauty was a shelter for poets, writers, and Russian royalty for years and it is even mentioned in the famous Finnish epic poem – Kalevala. In Imatra, you can find numerous museums, hiking trails, and extraordinary architecture gems, like the Church of the Three Crosses and Imatran Valtionhotelli, which serves as a hotel. Imatra has amazing atmosphere and tranquility that you`ll wish to come back for again and again.

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Top 10 places to visit in Helsinki

After some unusual places, it is time for the most famous and most touristic places in the country. Of course, it is the capital of Finland – Helsinki. And like most of the times, what happens with the capitals, it wouldn’t make any sense just to mention Helsinki in a list of the best places to visit in Finland, because it just naturally has too much to offer. And if you have very limited time in Finland, that would probably be the safest choice. Here is a list of the best places to visit in Helsinki:

Rock Church – Temppeliaukio Kirkko
Suomenlinna
Helsinki Cathedral
Market square
Uspenski Cathedral
Seurasaari open-air museums
Kiasma Museum of contemporary art
National Museum of Finland
Kaivopuisto national park
Helsinki Central Railway Station

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________

Sleep in a snow castle, enjoy the world-famous Finnish sauna and then jump in the cold water for a swim, meet the Santa Claus and childhood friends Moomins, jump in reindeer or husky sleigh, admire unforgettable Northern Lights, have fun in amusement parks, see some weird worship places, visit the most exciting museums, go hiking in summer and skiing in winter, relax on the beach, by the rivers and lakes, discover charming villages and modern cities. Go alone, go with a friend or family, pick a tour or plan it independently and discover what are the best places in Finland are by yourself!