Finland-is a Northern European nation bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia. Its capital, Helsinki, occupies a peninsula and surrounding islands in the Baltic Sea. Helsinki is home to the 18th-century sea fortress Suomenlinna, the fashionable Design District and diverse museums. The Northern Lights can be seen from the country's Arctic Lapland province, a vast wilderness with national parks and ski resorts.
Trip Planning: The planning stage of your trip can be instrumental in its success and an enjoyable part of the experience itself. You have a world of options...and plenty to consider.
Entry and Exit formalities: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least six months & beyond at the time of entering the Schengen countries. Some nationalities can obtain visa on arrival and for nationalities who requires visa please refer to Finnish consulate website: www.vfsglobal.com/finland/UAE/. Finland is part of the 26 Schengen State Countries.
Transportation: Figuring out how to get around is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get our holiday expert best advice on deciding between your options. Based on your trip itinerary, our experts will help you choose wisely. You'll also find a wealth of practical travel tips.
Money: Use your money wisely. Know the best time to use cash or card — and how to avoid unnecessary fees either way — as well as tipping etiquette, and how shoppers can take advantage of VAT refunds.
Phones and Technology: Phones and other smart devices can be huge time-savers...or expensive distractions. Get our tips for making the best use of technology during your trip, and for calling home with or without your own phone.
Packing Light: On your trip you'll meet two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had.
Sleeping and Eating: Your hotel and restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with locals and their culture.
Health & Hygiene: Take comfort: Doctors, hospitals, launderettes, and bathrooms aren’t that different. Dealing with them can even be part of the fun of travel.
Sightseeing & Activities: Once you're on the ground, the real fun begins…but it pays to have a thoughtful plan. Our experts will help you get oriented to your surroundings, use your sightseeing hours wisely, and find your way off the beaten path.
Things do & see:
Helsinki- Finland’s southern capital, sits on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland. Its central avenue, Mannerheimintie, is flanked by institutions including the National Museum, tracing Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present. Also on Mannerheimintie are the imposing Parliament House and Kiasma, a contemporary art museum. Ornate red-brick Uspenski Cathedral overlooks a harbor.
Lapland- is Finland’s northernmost region, a sparsely populated area bordering Sweden, Norway, Russia and the Baltic Sea. It’s known for its vast subarctic wilderness, ski resorts and natural phenomena including the midnight sun and the Northern Lights. Capital Rovaniemi is the gateway to the region. The homeland of the indigenous Sami people, which extends into neighboring countries, centers on the far north.
Rovaniemi- is the capital of Lapland, in northern Finland. Almost totally destroyed during World War II, today it’s a modern city known for being the "official" home town of Santa Claus, and for viewing the Northern Lights. It’s home to Arktikum, a museum and science center exploring the Arctic region and the history of Finnish Lapland. The Science Centre Pilke features interactive exhibits on northern forests.
Kemi- is a town on Bothnian Bay in Lapland, Finland. It’s known for the massive Sampo icebreaker, a giant ship built to ply the Arctic waters. At Kemi’s harbor is the SnowCastle, a seasonal carved-ice complex. Kemi Lutheran Church is a Gothic Revival structure with an ornate, red-brick exterior. To the north, Bothnian Bay National Park has old fishing huts, rare plants and abundant birds, including Arctic terns.
Ivalo- is a village on the Ivalo River in Lapland, in northern Finland. It’s known as a gateway to Saariselkä, an arctic resort area to the south. To the southeast, Urho Kekkonen National Park is home to pine forests and reindeer. It has trails and seasonal views of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Overlooking the park is the ear-shaped mountain Korvatunturi, which is also the folkloric home of Santa Claus.
Saariselkä- is a resort village in northern Finland. It's a gateway to the trails and ski areas of mountainous Urho Kekkonen National Park. The village's Destination Northernmost Europe exhibition has a panorama theater with films on the region’s plant and animal life, including reindeer. To the north, the lakefront Sámi Cultural Center Sajos includes a craft shop and a library devoted to the indigenous Sami people.
Turku- a city on the southwest coast of Finland, straddles the Aura River. Dating from the 13th century, it's known for Turku Castle, a medieval fortress with a history museum, perched at the river mouth. On the eastern bank lies the Old Great Square, a former trade hub, surrounded by grand buildings. The nearby Turku Cathedral houses a royal tomb and a museum.
Tampere- is a city in southern Finland. It sits between Näsijärvi Lake and Pyhäjärvi Lake, with the Tammerkoski rapids in between. The Vapriikki Museum Center houses several museums, including the Natural History Museum and an exhibition about the 1918 civil war. Tampere Cathedral is known for its macabre frescoes. Kaleva Church, with its striking concrete architecture, is designed to look like a fish from above.
Oulu- is a city in central Finland, where the Oulujoki River meets the Bay of Bothnia. Its waterfront square, Kauppatori, is home to food stalls and the Toripolliisi, a squat policeman statue. The Tietomaa Science Centre offers interactive exhibits and a large cinema screen for 3D films. Nearby, the Oulu Museum Of Art showcases regional works. The Northern Ostrobothnia Museum chronicles the city's cultural history.
Kotka- is a city in the southern part of the Kymenlaakso province on the Gulf of Finland. Kotka is a major port and industrial city and also a diverse school and cultural city, which was formerly part of the old Kymi parish. The neighboring municipalities of Kotka are Hamina, Kouvola and Pyhtää.
Espoo- It is part of the Finnish Capital Region, along with the cities of Helsinki, Vantaa, and Kauniainen. Most of its population lives in the inner urban core of the Helsinki metropolitan area.
Vantaa- It is part of the inner core of the Finnish Capital Region along with Helsinki, Espoo, and Kauniainen. Vantaa is the fourth most populated city in Finland. Its administrative center is the Tikkurila district.
Porvoo- situated on the southern coast of Finland about 35 km east of the city border of Helsinki and approximately 50 km of the city centre. It is one of the six medieval towns in Finland, first mentioned as a city in texts from the 14th century.
Vaasa- It received its charter in 1606, during the reign of Charles IX of Sweden and is named after the Royal House of Vasa. Vaasa has a population of 66,960, and is the regional capital of Ostrobothnia.
Savonlinna- is the southeast of Finland, in the heart of the Saimaa lake region.
Lahti- The capital of the region of Päijänne Tavastia and its growing region is one of the main economic hubs of Finland. Lahti is situated on a bay at the southern end of lake Vesijärvi about 100 km north-east of the capital Helsinki.
Joensuu- is a city and municipality in North Karelia, Finland. It was founded in 1848. The economic region of Joensuu. The nearest major city, Kuopio in North Savonia, is located 136 km to the west.
Tornio- is a city and municipality in Lapland, Finland. The city forms a cross-border twin city together with Haparanda on the Swedish side. The municipality covers an area of 1,348.83 sq. km, of which 161.59 km² is water.
Imatra- is a town and municipality in eastern Finland. Imatra is dominated by Lake Saimaa, the Vuoksi River and the border with Russia. On the other side of the border, 7km away from the centre of Imatra, lies the Russian town of Svetogorsk.
Raahe- Founded by Swedish statesman and Governor General of Finland Count Per Brahe the Younger in 1649, it is one of 10 historic wooden towns remaining in Finland. Examples of other Finnish historic wooden towns are Kaskinen, Old Rauma, Porvoo, Jakobstad, and Vaasa.
Kouvola- It is located on the Kymijoki River in the region of Kymenlaakso and 134 km northeast of the capital, Helsinki. With Kotka, Kouvola is one of the capital centers and is the largest city in the Kymenlaakso region.
Riihimäki- In the south of Finland, about 69 km north of Helsinki and 109 km southeast of Tampere. An important railway junction is located in Riihimäki, railway tracks go to Helsinki, Tampere and Lahti from there.
Jyväskylä- is a city and municipality in Finland in the western part of the Finnish Lakeland. It is located about 150 km north-east from Tampere, the third largest city in Finland; and about 270 km north from Helsinki, the capital of Finland.
Lappeenranta- situated on the shore of the lake Saimaa in southeastern Finland, about 30 km from the Russian border. It belongs to the region of South Karelia.
Savonlinna- is a town and a municipality of 32,872 inhabitants in the southeast of Finland, in the heart of the Saimaa lake region.
Lahti- It is the capital of the region of Päijänne Tavastia and its growing region is one of the main economic hubs of Finland. Lahti is situated on a bay at the southern end of lake Vesijärvi about 100 km. north-east Helsinki.
Hämeenlinna- is in the heart of the historical province of Tavastia in the south of Finland. Hämeenlinna is the oldest inland city of Finland and was one of the most important Finnish cities until the 19th century.
Kajaani -It is the center and capital of the Kainuu region. It is located southeast of Oulujärvi, which drains to the Gulf of Bothnia along the Oulujoki.
Seinäjoki- is a city located in South Ostrobothnia, Finland; 80 km east of Vaasa, 178 km north of Tampere, 193 kilometres west of Jyväskylä and 324 kilometres southwest of Oulu. Seinäjoki originated around the Östermyra bruk iron and gunpowder factories founded in 1798.
Mikkeli- It is located in what used to be the province of Eastern Finland and is part of the Etelä-Savo region.
Pargas – is an the Archipelago Sea. The big limestone mine in Pargas is the base of the main industry and except for the central parts, the municipality is still mostly rural. Pargas is located in Åboland in the province of Western Finland.
Varkaus- is a Middle-Savonian industrial town and municipality of Finland. It is located in the province of Eastern Finland and is part of the Northern Savonia region, between city of Kuopio and town of Savonlinna.
Kauhava- is a town and municipality of Finland. It is part of the Southern Ostrobothnia region, 400 km northwest of Helsinki and by the main railway from Helsinki to Oulu.
Suomenlinna - The fortified islands of Suomenlinna are a part of Helsinki. The fortress of Sveaborg (Swedish Castle) dominates the island. It was built in the mid 18th century to bar Russian access to the Baltic. During the Swedish-Russian war of 1808-09, it fell to the Russians, who thereafter enlarged and strengthened it. In 1918, it passed into Finnish hands and was given the Finnish name of Suomenlinna (Finnish Castle).
Market Square - is the main planned and paved square in central Helsinki, and is one of the best-known outdoor markets in northern Europe. Bordering the Baltic Sea, at the eastern end of the Esplanadi, it is full of stands selling Finnish foods, flowers, and tourist souvenirs, and there are often fishing boats lined up in the water selling seafood directly from the boat.
Temppeliaukio Church (Rock Church) - North of the Hietaniemi area along Fredrikinkatu is Helsinki's Rock Church, designed by Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen in the late 1960s. The underground interior of the church was carved out of and built directly into the ancient solid rock of the Helsinki peninsula.
Seurasaari - East of the city center is the island of Seurasaari, linked with the mainland by a footbridge. It has an interesting open-air museum with old houses, farmsteads, a manor house, a church from Kiruna (1686), and other timber buildings that have been brought here for all parts of Finland.
Sibelius Monument and Park- Designed by Eila Hiltunen, the monument to the great Finnish composer was unveiled in 1967 and raised immediate controversy and not a little criticism.
Uspensky Cathedral- One of two imposing churches that dominate the skyline above Helsinki's harbor, Uspensky Russian Orthodox Cathedral is an eye-catcher, a brick building whose multiple towers and spires are topped by 13 gold cupolas.
Linnanmäki Amusement Park- To the east of Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, beyond the railroad line, is the Linnanmäki amusement park, with a water tower, a switchback, and a giant wheel.
Museum of Contemporary Art (Kiasma)- In a land renowned for its cutting-edge native architects, it's ironic that the building considered one of Finland's landmarks of modern architecture was designed by the American architect Steven Holl.
Helsinki Railway Station- Original Art Nouveau railway station was designed by Eliel Saarinen and is especially notable for American tourists because its 48-meter-high clock tower was the first of several designs that finally resulted in Saarinen's 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower - America's first skyscraper.
Ateneum (Finnish National Museum of Art)- On the south side of Helsinki's Station Square is the National Museum of Art, usually known as the Ateneum after the name of the impressive Neoclassical building it occupies.
Finlandia Hall- North of the Municipal Museum in Helsinki, on the shores of Töölö Bay (Töölönlahti), is the Finlandia Hall, a concert and convention hall designed by Alvar Aalto and built in 1971 with a white facade of Carrara marble.
Korkeasaari Zoo- Founded in the 1880s, Korkeasaari Zoo is one of the oldest in the world, and holds a foremost place for its exceptional breeding programs for endangered species. They have been especially successful with breeding snow leopards and other big cats, such as the Amur and Siberian tiger.
Finnish National Museum (Kansallismuseo)- The National Museum was built in 1912 in a National Romantic style, Finland's own take on the Art Nouveau movement that was popular in Europe at the time.
Helsinki Olympic Stadium- To the north of the Finlandia Hall, at the top of the Töölönlahti lake is the old Trade Fair Hall, and beyond this the Olympic Stadium (1938), with a 72-meter-high tower from which there is a magnificent view of the city and an elevator. Finland was awarded the Olympics prior to the advent of World War II and the Soviet invasion of the country.
Northern lights safari with snowmobiles- Take a snowmobile safari in Yllas to see the Northern lights and explore the area. This is hands-down one of the most incredible sights in Europe.
Ice climbing- Finland is known for its impressive ice formations. There are several companies who will outfit you with the right gear and introduce you to ice climbing.
Icefall at Tajukangas- If you’re not afraid of heights and a bit of a thrill seeker. Rappelling at Tajukangas to see what it’s about. The best place to head is Pyhä with the team at Bliss Adventure.
Visit Pakasaivo, the “Hell of Lapland”-This lake is 60m at its deepest, and the steep cliff walls surrounding the lake reach up another 60m above water level. It is a Sámi holy place and a scenic place to hike or snowmobile.
Salla Reindeer Park – This park gives you a comprehensive overview of the old forests and the encounters reindeer had with predators.
Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi – Here, you will find year-round Christmas cheer. Snowshoe safaris that run both day and night.
Cycle The King’s Road to the East- This route is an old postal route connecting Sweden and Russia. The 330km trail dates back to the 15th century, making for a great scenic trip for anyone looking to explore the country by bike!
Pyhä-Luosto Mine – Pyhä-Luosto means Amethyst in Finnish. During the mine tour, you actually learn how to mine this precious mineral. If you’re visiting during the winter, the experience is even more incredible because you can ski, snowshoe or walk the last stretch of the 2.5 kilometer trek before you head through Santa Claus Village.
Ranua Wildlife Park – While you’re in Finland, learn about the indigenous arctic animals in their natural habitats at the Northernmost zoo in the world.
The Old Church – This is Finland’s best-preserved wooden church. The steeple-less church was built from timber in 1689, commissioned by Charles XI, who granted 900 copper dollars to the building. Entry is free.
Sodankylä Museum of Local History and Culture – Built in 1906, the main building of the Sodankylä Local Heritage Museum is a Kuukkeli house from the village of Riesto, but it was moved to the museum site by voluntary labor in the 1960s. The museum also includes numerous other buildings from traditional Sodankylä industry, such as a workshop, an arctic house, a calving hut, a summer house, barns, and part of a reindeer fence. The museum is closed in the winter.
Suvanto village – Situated near Pelkosenniemi, Suvanto is one of the rare villages in Lapland that wasn’t burned down by the Germans in the Lapland War (a spin-off conflict from WWII). When visiting Suvanto, you should check out the cafe-art gallery Säpikäs because it is housed in the yard of an idyllic 1930s country house and renovated barn.
The Ethnographic Museum- Tells the story of peasant lifestyles at the turn of the twentieth century. The main building has a farmhouse living quarter, maid’s chamber, daughter-in-law’s chamber, and living room. In addition to the house, the grounds accommodate a granary, a workshop, a smoke sauna, a barn, and a stable. A memorial to the founder of the Finnish Co-Operative Movement, Hannes Gebhard, is nearby at his birthplace.
Sleep in an ice hotel- A very seasonal and very cool place to stay (pun intended). Everything in Snow Hotel is made of ice including your bed!
Cruise around the Harbor Islands- If you don’t spend a whole day hanging out and lounging around Suomenlinna, take a tour around some of the other islands in the harbor to get an idea about how important the harbor was to local lifestyle in the past.
Air Guitar World Championship – Held every year at the Oulu Music Video Festival, this competition started out as a joke but has evolved into a major event.
Commune with nature – There are almost 40 national parks in Finland, each with hiking trails and camping sites. In the winter, they make for great places to cross-country ski or go snowshoeing. To get off the beaten path be sure to visit Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in the north!