Five Things First Time Travellers To Finland Should Know
- Don't buy bottled water. 90% of the water from taps or lakes in Finland is drinkable. Just pack a reusable bottle and fill up as you explore the country.
- Finland operates on an honesty policy. You won't find anyone checking your tram or train ticket, but that doesn't mean you should try to buck the system.
- The official currency in Finland is the Euro. Unlike its neighbouring countries, it's part of the European Union, which makes travelling here less of hassle. There are also no one cent or two cent coins in operation, so expect prices to be rounded up or down.
- Save money with rideshares. Uber is available in Finland with the carpool option. This is a great way to split costs and meet new people at the same time. It also works out cheaper than hailing a taxi from the street and sometimes even taking the bus.
- A service charge is included in your bill at most restaurants. If you do want to tip on top of that, it is appreciated, but no one will be offended if you don't.
Best Time To Visit Finland
The best time to visit Finland, if you want perfect weather, is from May to September. The temperatures are warm, and there are plenty of events and outdoor activities to take part in. The most popular to look forward to being: the Midnight Sun Festival, the Pori Jazz Festival and the Naantali Music Festival.
But the good conditions come with a hefty price tag. The summer months are the most expensive and busiest time of year to visit Finland. If you're planning on travelling here during this period, make your reservations months in advance to avoid as much of a price hike as you can.
On the other end of the spectrum, winter isn't a bad time to visit, if you can handle the cold. From December to April, you'll be able to witness the Northern Lights, and after the Christmas rush, prices will start to drop.
But if you really want to save money, book your trip between September and October. You'll avoid the summer crowds and score lower hotel rates and cheap flights. The only downside to visiting during this time is that some attractions will be closed.
Helsinki is the capital city of Finland. Facing the Baltic Sea, it's full of museums, art galleries and three major theatres. Built in 1550 by King Gustavus Vasa of Sweden, Helsinki has a fascinating history and was once part of the Russian empire.
After much of the city burnt down in 1808, its streets and boulevards were rebuilt in a Neoclassical style by Carl Ludwig Engel.
Make sure you visit the National Museum of Finland and spend time exploring the Finish Art Gallery.
Once the capital and largest city in Finland, Turku is a charming town situated on the banks of the Aura River.
It has a trendy cosmopolitan vibe and is full of creative bars, interesting restaurants and medieval cobblestone streets.
For the history buffs, there are old sailing ships moored in the river, castles and a cathedral from 1290 that all deserve a visit.
Founded by Tsar Nicholas I, Jyvaskyla is an important administrative and cultural hub of Finland.
If you can, plan your trip around the Jyvaskyla International Arts Festival. It's held every year in June and is the longest-running cultural event in Finland.
The city's highlights include a Neo-Gothic church, Leivon Maki National Park and its plethora of museums and galleries.
Tampere is the third largest town in Finland. Established in 1779, it's developed into the country's leading industrial city.
It's renowned around the world for its theatres and plays host to many festivals throughout the year. For history buffs, there is a museum dedicated to Lenin, a throwback to when the region was under Russian control.
Top Attractions in Finland
The Northern Lights are Finland's top attraction and for a good reason. It's nature's most spectacular light show and is visible only 200 nights per year. The best time to see them is usually from late August to April and in the far north.
While the traditional ways of watching the lights include skiing, snowshoeing or sledge dog touring, a more comfortable way is to stay in a glass igloo. You won't even have to leave your room to star gaze and marvel at skies changing colours.
If you want to increase your chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis, sign up for free email alerts from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. It's a great way to plan your visit and predict more accurately when the conditions will be at their best to see the Northern Lights.
Lemmenjoki National Park
Lemmenjoki National Park is the largest in Finland and over 70 years old. It stretches across 1,000 square miles of wildlands and boasts miles of marked trails.
Inside the park, you'll catch glimpses of Scandinavian creatures like brown bear, wolves, reindeer, and wild golden eagles to name a few.
But the park's highlight is the Lemmenjoki River. It leads into the homelands of the indigenous Sami people, and there's an onsite museum to learn more about their culture and way of life.
If you want to spend the night, Lemmenjoki has free wilderness huts or luxury rental cabins complete with saunas and fireplaces.
If you head east, you'll discover Finland's lake region. It's full of thousands of lakes, rivers, ponds and marshes.
Lake Saimaa is the largest in Finland and the fourth biggest in Europe. It boasts an area of 1,300 square kilometres and holds numerous islands.
Some of the best ways to explore Saimaa is to hire a bike, paddle across the calm waters or take a slow boat ride over the water highways of Finland.
Near its shorelines, you'll also find Linnansaari National Park, and the town of Savonlinna that's home to Olavinlinna castle.
Located outside the city of Pori, Yyteri is one of Finland's most popular beach destinations. Its sandy shores stretch across the coastline for 4 miles, and during summer the water is a comfortable 20°C.
If you've ever wanted to learn how to ride a wave, Yyteri is considered the best place to surf in Finland. There's also a range of other activities to take part in like windsurfing, biking and paddle boarding.
Once you've had enough of the outdoors, you can pamper yourself at the nearby spa. There's also a restaurant that's open daily and many accommodation options to choose from.
Situated between Finland and Sweden, the Aland Islands are full of unspoiled nature and beautiful landscapes.
The archipelago consists of 6,500 islands with only 60 inhabited. It's a unique place to visit with its own postage stamps, flags and taxation system.
The best way to see Aland is to get on board one of the many ferries and go island hopping. For cyclists Aland is a dream to explore, with many paths and bridges running through the wilderness.
For families travelling with children, Lilla Holmen island is a must-visit. It's home to a pirate ship, beautiful picnic areas and a small petting zoo with bunnies and other small animals.
Major International Airports in Finland
- Helsinki Airport
- Oulu Airport
- Rovaniemi Airport
- Turku Airport
- Vaasa Airport