Nordic Reisen

What to do in Finland – TOP 10

Finland is called the land of a thousand lakes and between the Baltic coast and the Arctic Circle hide untouched natural landscapes and cosmopolitan cities. Our editors have researched and present you the top 10 among Finland’s sights at this point.

Linnansaari National Park

Linnansaari National Park
Linnansaari National Park with its untouched nature, photo: Sampo Kiviniemi

In the middle of the Finnish Lake District in the province of Savo lies the Linnansaari National Park with its untouched natural landscapes and its species-rich flora and fauna. The nature reserve is composed of more than 150 islands surrounded by crystal clear lakes. For days you can explore the island labyrinth from the water side by canoe and with a little luck you can watch an osprey hunting its prey. The waters are home to the rare Saimaa ringed seals, and on the main island of Linnansaari, beautifully situated hiking trails tempt visitors with excursions in the great outdoors. Oskari Nature Center is the information center of the National Park and the first point of contact for visitors to the natural paradise.

Helsinki Cathedral

With around 350,000 visitors annually, Helsinki Cathedral is one of the most visited sights in Finland. The Evangelical Lutheran Church was built between 1820 and 1850 in the classicist style and is the landmark of the Finnish capital. The architect Carl Ludwig Engel was inspired by the magnificent Orthodox cathedrals of Russia when designing the cross-domed church. Plain white dominates the interior of the cathedral, with only a few sculptures of the church reformer Martin Luther and Mikael Agricola serving as ornaments. During the summer months, the newly furnished crypt café invites you to visit.

Ruka

Ruka winter sports center
The popular Finnish winter sports center Ruka

Ruka is a Finnish winter sports center near the city of Kuusamo and has exceptional charms in every season. From November to the beginning of May, skiers and snowboarders romp in the white powder snow on the 28 ski slopes on the 493-meter-high Fjell Rukatunturi. Fans of Nordic winter sports disciplines will find an extensive network of biathlon and cross-country skiing trails in Ruka. The Rukatunturi ski jumping hill is the venue for the first World Cup jumping event of the season, and the Ruka Nordic Opening, a cross-country skiing World Cup race, is held in the winter sports resort in November. In summer, hikes in the fells and numerous festivals held in the glow of the midnight sun attract visitors.

Linnansaari National Park

Suomenlinna Fortress Island
The popular fortress island of Suomenlinna, photo: Jussi Hellsten

More than 700,000 tourists and locals visit the fortress island of Suomenlinna every year. This makes the UNESCO World Heritage Site near Helsinki one of the most popular sights in Finland. The fortress complex extends over five islands off the harbor entrance of the Finnish capital and was built in the 18th century. Inside the bastion there are several museums and most parts of the complex are open to the public. The fortress is surrounded by a six-kilometer wall and includes about 200 buildings. Among other things, 105 historical cannons and a dungeon can be visited.

Rauma

UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Rauma
UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Rauma, photo: Jussi Hellsten

Rauma is one of the oldest cities in Finland and the entire city center with its Scandinavian wooden houses is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The founding of the port city on the Baltic Sea dates back to 1442, and the historic old town consists of some 600 wooden houses jostling for position in the winding medieval alleys. It is the largest contiguous wooden house complex in Scandinavia and the historic buildings now house apartments, cafes and souvenir stores. The Old Town Hall on the Market Square dates back to 1776 and today houses the Town Museum with documentation on the history of Rauma.

The bear round

The Bear Circuit is the most famous and popular long-distance hiking trail in Finland. Over a length of 82 kilometers, the route leads through untouched wilderness and passes crystal clear lakes, deep pine forests and mysterious moorlands in its course. The starting point is Kuusamo and the end point of the Bear Circuit is in the Finnish winter sports center of Ruka. You will need about six days for the hike and on the way small wooden huts offer accommodation. There are no shopping facilities along the route. For this reason, you need to carry enough provisions in your luggage. The hiking route got the name because of the brown bears that are native to this region of Finland.

Naantali

Naantali in Finland
One of the oldest cities in Finland, Naantali

Naantali is one of the oldest cities in Finland and welcomes you with a picturesque old town, where countless historic wooden buildings line up. The coastal town is located in the south of the country on the Baltic Sea coast and has a maritime natural paradise to offer with the archipelago gardens in front of the harbor entrance. Naantali was founded in the middle of the 15th century after the settlement of a monastery of the Brigittines. Below the monastery church stretches the romantic old town with wooden houses from the 18. and 19th century. Worth seeing is the medieval fieldstone church from the 15th century, to which a baroque steeple was added in 1797.

Eureka Science Center

The Heureka Science Center is located in the city of Vantaa and is still considered the most important science museum in Scandinavia. The permanent exhibition invites visitors to participate and experiment. You can perform around 100 technical experiments yourself. In addition, the Science Center houses a planetarium and a cinema showing films with thrilling special effects. Outside there are exhibitions on the geology of Finland and a botanical garden. For the youngest visitors, a science park with an experimental area and a playground was set up. Between 200,000 and 420,000 visitors come to the Heureka Science Center every year, making the facility a major attraction in Finland.

Olavinlinna Castle

Olavinlinna Castle
Olavinlinna Castle is a monument in the Finnish city of Savonlinna

Olavinlinna Castle is a monument in the Finnish city of Savonlinna, which is one of the most popular sights in Finland. The castle was built in the 15th century and is considered the best preserved medieval castle complex in Northern Europe. It was built to protect the waterways when Finland was still part of the Swedish Kingdom. The complex with its massive towers is located on a rocky island and is only accessible via a bridge. Since extensive restoration work was carried out in the 1960s to restore the old fabric of the building, the Savonlinna Opera Festival has been held behind the old walls in the summer.

Mount Koli

Mount Koli rises in the Finnish national park of the same name near the Russian border. It has a height of 347 meters and Lake Pielinen stretches at its foot. Despite its comparatively low altitude, the treeless peak offers you an overwhelming panoramic view of the lake landscape in southeastern Finland. Numerous artists have been inspired by the view, and among the population, Mount Koli is considered a national symbol of the country. In summer, well-marked hiking trails tempt you to climb the mountain, and in winter, Finland’s longest lighted cross-country ski trail invites you to long-distance skiing in white powder snow.

Frequently asked questions

Where is the best place to see auroras in Finland?

The Lapland region in northern Finland is particularly good for viewing auroras, especially in the two cities of Rovaniemi and Glasiglus.

Which sight should you definitely visit in summer?

In summer, a trip to Suomenlinna is not to be missed. The construction of the sea fortress began as early as the 18th century and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. From Helsinki, a ferry goes directly to Suomenlinna, which takes only a few minutes.

Which sight should you visit in winter?

In winter, be sure to visit Santa’s Village in the northern city of Rovaniemi, which is of course very suitable for families. Here you will not only meet Santa Claus, but you can also cross the wonderful Arctic Circle.

What are the must-see cities in Finland?

Besides the capital Helsiniki, the cities of Turku and Tampere are also popular destinations. Turku is located on the southwestern coast of Finland, which is famous for its medieval castle. In Tampere, in the south of Finland, on the other hand, there is the Vapriikki Museum Center with the Museum of Natural History or exhibitions about civil wars, etc.

Which national park is a must-see?

Linnansaari National Park in southeastern Finland is definitely recommended. More than 130 islands have been part of the park since 1956, where, with a little luck, the endangered Saimaa ringed seal can be seen.

What is the best way to get to Suomenlinna from Helsinki?

There is a direct ferry connection, which goes directly from Kauppatori to Suomenlinna. The trip lasts 15 minutes and every 30 minutes there is a new ferry.

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