Full of interesting contrasts, such as the Midnight Sun and winter darkness, Finland remains one of the relatively unknown corners of Europe. While its cool capital city and picturesque coastal towns boast many unique cultural and historical attractions, the stunning natural surroundings offer both winter and summer outdoor activities.
Fish and meat (usually pork, beef or reindeer) play a prominent role in the Finnish cuisine. Some dishes have traditionally included various vegetables and mushrooms. Meatballs, pea soup and rye bread are local staples. Finnish foods often use wholemeal products, milk and arctic wild berries. For example, lingonberries are common throughout Finland.
Karelian pasty (karjalanpiirakka) is a local dish made from a thin rye crust with a filling of rice. Butter, often mixed with boiled egg, is spread over the hot pastries before eating. Fried Baltic herring is also a popular wholesome Finnish dish. Bilberry kissel, a kind of thick fruit soup, is a traditional dessert.
Photo: Karissaa, Shutterstock
How to get there:
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Where to stay:
In Rovaniemi, we encourage you to stay at 4* Santa Claus Holiday Village with excellent reviews. Santa Claus Holiday Village is located at the heart of Santa Claus Village in the Arctic Circle, 10 km north of Rovaniemi. It offers private cabins and free airport transfer. All of the heated cabins at this 4-star holiday village have private saunas, a kitchenette and a terrace. They are equipped with private bathrooms and LCD TVs. Staff can help arrange reindeer, husky and snow mobile safaris, and boats, bikes and fishing equipment can be rented on site. Guests can also enjoy the skiing and hiking trails nearby. Lappish and international food is served at Christmas House Restaurant & Coffee. Free Internet access is available in public areas. A shop selling souvenirs and traditional Lapland goods and food is also found on site. Rovaniemi Airport is located 5 minutes from the cabin village. Guests can also visit Santa Claus a 2-minute walk away.
In Kittilä we recommend you to book 3* Lapland Hotel Snow Village with excellent reviews and breakfast included. Situated 200,000 m above the Polar Circle, 20 minutes’ drive from Ylläs, this unique hotel offers rooms made of ice, 2 restaurants and many organised activities. Levi is 45 km away. SnowVillage’s snow rooms feature sculpted ice furniture, and some also have ice and snow carvings. Sleeping bags with fleece liners and personal wake-up service with free hot berry drink are included. All bathroom facilities are shared and can be found in a heated underground building nearby. Upon arrival, guests are given a tour of the property, including sleepover instructions. In addition, SnowVillage offers organised activities such as ice fishing, dog sledding trips and snowmobile and reindeer safaris. The heated indoor Log Restaurant serves a large breakfast buffet as well as Lapland cuisine for lunch and dinner. Housed in a 10-meter-high snow igloo, Ice Bar & Restaurant offers a varied à la carte dinner menu based on local ingredients.
What to do:
For those who love hiking, cycling, horse riding, climbing, paddling and rafting, Finland is a haven.
During spring and summer you can pay a visit to the Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, located on a beautiful green island just a few kilometres from the heart of Helsinki. It consists of old, mainly wooden buildings transplanted from all around Finland and placed in the dense forest landscape of the island.
An array of activities can be enjoyed in Lapland, including the most popular sport in Finland, backcountry skiing. Rent cross-country skis, or Nordic walking sticks. Other activities available include snowshoeing, ice sculpting and moose tracking.
Take a ride on a snowmobile or go on a reindeer or dog sledding adventure.
The Salla reindeer park offers many special excursions, ranging from midnight canoe trips to ice swimming. You can relax in a sauna and then cool off in an ice hole.
Take advantage of round-the-clock daylight during the summer months or spend a night in an igloo hotel and watch the Northern Lights in the winter time.
Rent a boat and go ice fishing. It is an exciting feeling to catch your own dinner out in the sea. Taste traditional Laplandic specialities, based on locally sourced ingredients, such as reindeer and char-grilled salmon.
Discover the medieval Turku Castle and Porvoo Old Town. You can also head to Olavinlinna – this 15th-century three-tower castle is the northernmost medieval stone fortress still standing.
In Tampere you should visit the Pyynikki Park and Observation Tower.
In Perikkala you can discover Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Garden that boasts a collection of nearly 500 concrete figures.
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