Both geographically and culturally, the autonomous Åland Islands are oriented more towards Sweden (Internet: www.aland.ax ). Although the islands belong to Finland, the official language is Swedish. The picturesque landscape of the islands attracts cyclists, anglers and water sports enthusiasts in the warm summer months. Bike rental is available in Mariehamn and Eckerö. You can also find some of the oldest churches in Finland here.
Canoeing and white water rafting
Finland’s numerous large lakes and raging rivers offer excellent opportunities for canoeing and white water rafting. Lakes Saimaa, Oulujärvi and Inarijärvi are popular with paddlers. Foaming whitewater can be found at the Kokkolanjoki rapids and in Oulanka National Park.
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Ruka fell is Finland’s most famous ski resort. Here, ski fans can rush down the 28 slopes of the ski area on skis or snowboards until well into May. In summer, the Ruka fell is a hiker’s paradise and the starting point for the 80 km long Karhunkierros (Bear’s Round) hiking trail, which passes many of the sights of Oulanka National Park.
Every winter, thousands of Finns dig holes in the ice and try their hand at ice fishing, with a bottle of kossu (Finnish vodka) in hand to brave the cold. If that’s too cold for you, you can cast your bait in one of the numerous lakes in the Finnish Lake District in summer (Internet: www.fishing.fi ).
The Finnish Lake District
This region is particularly popular in summer because of the crystal clear lakes. Most of the 188,000 lakes are in the south. They are not very deep and are quickly heated by the sun. The countless islands, promontories, bays and extensive water areas exert a great attraction. Numerous events take place here in summer and there are excellent starting points for fishing, cycling, rowing, canoeing and hiking in the vicinity (website: www.lakelandfinland.fi ).
Cross country skiing
Skiing is the most popular winter pastime for Finns. Excellently marked cross-country skiing routes of various levels of difficulty are partly not far from the city centers. The paths lead through forests, over snow-covered slopes to frozen lakes or to the sea. The routes are often illuminated. Cross-country skiing is possible in southern and central Finland from November or December to the end of March, in Lapland from the end of October to the end of May, when the sun shines for 14-16 hours a day. Vuokatti, near Sotkamo, is an ideal cross-country skiing area.
Helsinki and surroundings
Helsinki and the cities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen lie in an area of 800 sq km, only half of which is built up. The other half consists of parks, forests, coasts and lakes with a rural character. Again and again one comes across historic churches, old mansions and also modern buildings by famous Finnish architects of the 20th century. The Dipoli Hall of the Technical University in Otaniemi, the Finlandia Congress and Concert Hall and the Temppeliaukio Church are internationally renowned masterpieces of modern architecture. But also buildings from the Romantic period can be found, e.g. B. the railway station, the national theater and the national museum in Helsinki. You can take a ferry from Helsinki to the 18th-century Suomenlinna Fortress, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Anyone traveling to Finland should definitely pack their hiking boots. There are numerous designated hiking routes of varying difficulty and length (Internet: www.outdoors.fi ). An autumn hike on one of the many routes in Lapland is particularly beautiful, when the heather and the leaves on the trees and bushes change color during the Ruska-Aika. In winter you can experience the snow-covered wilderness on a snowshoe hike, and guided tours are offered in many places for beginners.
Turku – time travel to the Middle Ages
The city of Turku (website: www.turku.fi ), founded towards the end of the 13th century, is the oldest city in Finland. Of particular note is Turku Castle, the country’s largest surviving medieval building. The pompous cathedral and the numerous museums in the city are also worth a visit. Numerous restaurant ships are anchored on the banks of the Aurajoki, which are wonderfully illuminated in the evening hours.
Anyone who has always wanted to harness the huskies and whiz across the snow on a traditional dog sled will find more than enough opportunities to do so here in Finland. There are numerous dog sledding centers in Lapland, many of which also offer guided tours for beginners. These providers include, for example, Harriniva (Internet: www.harriniva.fi ).
In the vastness of silent Lapland (website: www.lapland.fi ) visitors can relax wonderfully. Finnish Lapland covers 100,000 square kilometers with large wetlands and numerous rivers. There are only four major cities: Rovaniemi (provincial capital), Kemijärvi, Tornio and Kemi. Outside of these cities, Lapland is almost deserted with only about 2 people per square kilometer. One can engage in leisure activities in the fresh air, such as B. canoeing, hiking or gold panning. Hikers have free overnight huts available. In summer the sun shines 24 hours a day and temperatures can rise to 30°C – the best season for fishing. Autumn begins at the end of August with a colorful splendor of leaves. The first snow falls in some cases as early as the end of September.