6 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Finland

Finland presents an abundance of delightful destinations and points of interest, spanning from the artistically vivacious metropolises of Helsinki and Turku to the sparsely populated outer archipelago and the boreal forests.It is also a relatively unknown region of Europe, possibly due to its remote location from the main tourist routes, but the country’s pristine natural surroundings and numerous cultural and historical sites make it an ideal vacation spot.The extensive wilderness areas lakes,fells,and rivers of Finland, coupled with the assurance of winter snowfall, make it a playground for both winter and summer activities in the Nordic region. The primary point of admission for the majority of visitors to Finland is Helsinki. Numerous activities and significant institutions, including works by some of the greatest Finnish architects, are located along the bustling Baltic port.The lovely smaller communities of Porvoo and Turku are easily accessible from Helsinki.However,it would be a disgrace to limit one’s travels solely to the Baltic coast,given the allure of the surrounding picturesque countryside.The Finnish lakes are situated to the west,while the vast region beyond the Arctic Circle, which features the midnight sun, northern lights,and some of Europe’s finest winter activities, is situated to the north. Winter or summer,Finland provides an abundance of activities.Use our list of the most popular attractions and destinations in Finland to organize your trip.

1. Suomenlinna Fortress

The 18th-century fort on Suomenlinna, one of the largest sea forts in the world, is accessible via a 15-minute ferry journey from Helsinki’s Market Square (a bonus attraction of the mini-cruise is breathtaking views of the city). The primary attraction is the fortress-castle, originally known as Sveaborg, whose construction commenced in 1748 during a period of Swedish rule. Following the surrender of the fortress to the invading Russians in 1808, its condition declined significantly throughout the subsequent century. The gradual restoration of the landmark commenced once the Finns seized possession of the fortifications in 1917, subsequent to the restoration of independence. It was an active submarine base during World War II and is now a renowned tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site. After engaging in an English-language audio-visual presentation at the visitor center regarding the island’s vibrant history, proceed to investigate its fortifications, tunnels, museums, and the picturesque island’s trails. Alternatively, one may register for a guided tour of the fort and its many attractions. The Finnish Navy utilized the 250-ton Vesikko submarine from 1936 until the conclusion of World War II. The Ehrensvard Museum depicts the earliest Swedish period, while an ancient Russian villa houses the Doll and Toy Museum, which features dolls, dollhouses, and toys. Various structures house the workshops and boutiques of potters, glassblowers, and other artisans; during the summer, the Suomenlinna Summer Theatre features evening dance and musical performances.

2. Kauppatori (Market Square) and Esplanadi

The harbor of Helsinki is an essential component of the city, as it is framed by significant landmarks. It is also a popular gathering spot, with an outdoor market featuring fishermen, craftsmen, local farmers, and food producers selling directly from their vessels. Salmon cooked on cedar planks by the boats may be visible, and depending on the season, there may be an assortment of ripe berries that sparkle or containers containing foraged woodland mushrooms. While more food merchants are housed in the historic market hall from 1889, the outdoor market remains a yearly tradition, shielded from inclement weather by tarps and tents during the winter months. The Esplanadi, which extends from one side of Market Square, appears to be the gathering place of the entire city on summer evenings. Elegant structures line the tree-lined promenade, and the Kappeli Restaurant is situated within a pavilion; the terrace is particularly lively during summer evenings, when concerts are held in the bandstand. Another creation by Eliel Saarinen, a fountain bears the emblematic Havis Amanda statue of Helsinki. The Street Museum, the most peculiar in Helsinki, ascends Senate Square from Market Square, a one-block progression spanning the early 1800s to the 1930s. During this time, paving surfaces, street lighting, mail boxes, and phone booths underwent transformations to reflect the era.

3. Rovaniemi and the Arctic

Rovaniemi is situated precisely where the Arctic Circle traverses northern Finland, thereby establishing the city’s designation as the “Gateway to the Arctic.” This during the summer signifies the renowned Midnight Sun.During the summer solstice in late June, the sun remains above the horizon for a complete 24 hours in Rovaniemi. However, from late May to early August, the sun never sets far enough to cause darkness.Locals are savoring the great outdoors while “White Nights” occur, and they cordially invite visitors to join them. Rovaniemi is situated in the heart of a vast natural area comprised of rushing rivers that offer opportunities for canoeing,bathing,and fishing,as well as hiking and cycling trails.The city is most widely recognized (ask any Finnish child) for Santa Claus Village,perched atop the Arctic Circle.Here, you can visit a Sami reindeer farm and encounter reindeer.Visit the magnificent Arktikum Science Museum to gain a deeper understanding of the natural history, meteorology, and geology of the Arctic as well as Lapland culture.

4. Helsinki Churches

Three prominent attractions in Helsinki are churches, with two of them being cathedrals and the third being a modern architectural monument. Elevating dramatically from the eastern shore of the harbor, Uspensky Orthodox Cathedral is comprised of thirteen green-topped structures that culminate in gold cupolas. The interior of the largest Orthodox church in western Europe is adorned with gold, icons, crosses, altars, and elaborately decorated arches. The cathedral welcomes visitors and services the sizable Russian community in Helsinki. Situated on the hill directly behind the harbor and serving as an equally conspicuous landmark for those approaching Helsinki via sea, the enormous Neoclassical Lutheran Cathedral seems to be perched atop the roofs of the buildings that front the harbor. Senate Square is regally illuminated by the early 19th-century cathedral’s towering green dome and broad steps. The buildings that face the plaza create one of the most aesthetically pleasing public squares in Europe by forming a harmonious enclosure. It is frequently utilized as the commencement point of demonstrations and festivities. The entire plaza is lined with stalls selling exquisite regional handicrafts and holiday delicacies in December. In contrast to these two cathedrals, which are securely rooted in their respective denominations, Temppeliaukio Church is an architectural experiment carved into solid rock in the city center on a comparatively small area. The chapel was designed by architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and featured a rounded, woven copper roof that was reinforced with concrete spokes. The extraordinary acoustics produced by the stone and copper composition make this a popular location for concerts of all genres.

5. Go Skiing or Ride a Dogsled

The Arctic region is a wintertime paradise for skiers and other enthusiasts of snow and ice activities.A dogsled safari across frozen lakes and visits to Sami villages is possible, as is snowshoeing for miles, learning to operate your own reindeer sled, and cross-country skiing while taking in the spectacular northern lights. Approximately 170 kilometers north of Rovaniemi, downhill skiers should travel to Levi, a hub for all winter recreation with miles of lighted, scenic Nordic ski trails suitable for night skiing. The pistes and slopes of the greatest downhill ski area in Finland are the same. Numerous hotels in Levi feature accommodations with glass ceilings, allowing guests to observe the northern lights from within.

6. Shop and Browse in Helsinki’s Design District

Helsinki, the center of contemporary Scandinavian design, is home to an entire district devoted to antique stores, studios, and galleries that feature the work of Finish designers. A few hours spent in these neighborhoods, whether you’re purchasing or simply browsing, provides an opportunity to experience this vibrant aspect of Finnish culture and the arts.

In the central neighborhoods of Punavuori, Kaartinkaupunki, Kamppi, and Ullanlinna, Design District Helsinki unites creative individuals. These areas are home to studios, galleries, and boutiques that specialize in contemporary designs for tableware, jewelry, fashion, and commonplace items.

In addition to the shops, certain designer studios offer opportunities to observe artisans at work, including Paja (artisan jewelry) and Raaka Rå (organic pottery); contact information for these studios can be found on the official Design District website. Additionally, one can discover boutiques that specialize in vintage Finnish designs and design-driven antiquities, including Art.fi and Artek 2nd Cycle.

Visit the Design Forum Finland on Erottajankatu for an overview (and a fantastic shop) of the finest Finnish design in every category, from paperclips to dishes. Observe the evolution of Finnish craftsmanship and design and view some remarkable examples from the past by visiting the Design Museum in the Kaartinkaupunki district.

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