Known to the world as the land of a thousand lakes, Finland is a beautiful Scandinavian country that’s probably the most natural corner of Europe. The country is well-known for having the cleanest air and the best education system in the world. Therefore, it’s no wonder it’s the happiest country in the world. Always ready to welcome its visitors with its scenic landscapes and stunning lakes, Finland offers an array of things to do and places to visit. Besides experiencing what it’s like to live in the world’s cleanest and scenic environment, people travel to Finland to see the world-famous Santa Clause village. Moreover, Finland’s old sports, historical and cultural attractions, northern lights, midnight sun, and vast wild areas collectively make it a country worth exploring. So, plan your trip to Finland with our list of best places to see in Finland.
- 1 14 Best Places to See in Finland
- 1.0.1 Kauppatori and the Esplanadi Park, Helsinki
- 1.0.2 Suomenlinna Fortress
- 1.0.3 Uspensky Orthodox Cathedral, Helsinki
- 1.0.4 Rovaniemi and the Arctic
- 1.0.5 The Design District, Helsinki
- 1.0.6 Åland Archipelago
- 1.0.7 Porvoo
- 1.0.8 Turku
- 1.0.9 Vaasa
- 1.0.10 Lake Saimaa and Savonlinna
- 1.0.11 Lemmenjoki National Park
- 1.0.12 Tampere
- 1.0.13 Hameenlinna
- 1.0.14 Oulu
- 1.1 5 Must-to-eat Traditional Finnish Dishes
14 Best Places to See in Finland
Kauppatori and the Esplanadi Park, Helsinki
Located in Helsinki’s harbor, Kauppatori (Super Market) is a top-rated tourist spot in Helsinki. Tourists and locals alike come to this open-air market to eat delicious salmon that the fishermen here directly sell from their boats. Besides fishermen, you’ll also see many craftsmen, local farmers, and food producers, all selling their stuff. You’ll find even more food vendors in the historic market hall of 1889.
Situated at a side of the Market Square, Esplanadi is an urban park in downtown Helsinki. The park is one of the many reasons why tourists are drawn to the Super Market. Known as the green heart of Helsinki, Esplanadi Park is another tourist attraction here. Picnicking, watching performances, and listening to music are the top activities here. With its tree-lined flowerbeds and alleys, the park also serves as a great spot for clicking instagrammable photos. Speaking of snapping instagrammable photos, here’s the statue of Johan Ludvig Runeberg. Standing in the middle of the park, it’s the statue of Finland’s national poet who also happens to be the author of the country’s national anthem. Hence, the statue is the symbol of Helsinki and also the city’s first-ever monument. So, be sure you click some great family photos with this statue.
Moreover, the historic Kappeli Restaurant in the park is another attraction that draws tourists and locals to itself. So, after a day full of exploring the Super Market and enjoying in the Park, you can fine dine at the Kappeli Restaurant and taste Finland’s traditional cuisines.
If you’re mostly going to stay in Helsinki during your Finland trip, you can plan another day trip full of fun and head to Suomenlinna Fortress, one of the world’s largest sea fortresses. Or you could add this place as the third destination to your day out to Kauppatori (Super Market) and the Esplanadi Park. Because taking a 15-minute ferry ride from Helsinki’s Market Square to Suomenlinna is a fun thing to do in Finland.
Built-in 1847 for defense purposes, Suomenlinna Fortress is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best places to see in Finland. The fort has many picturesque sights and attractions for its visitors. Tourists come here to see the 250-ton Vesikko submarine that was used in World War II. If you visit the fort in the summer, then you can entertain yourself at the Suomenlinna Summer Theatre here, in which musical performances and evening dance are held. Moreover, there’s the Ehrensvärd Museum for history buffs to explore the history of the early period of Swedish (as Finland was first a Swedish territory). Furthermore, kids can have fun exploring the exhibits of dollhouses and toys at the Doll and Toy Museum here.
Another great thing to do here is taking a scenic walk on the trails around the stunning island. The best way to explore the whole fort is by taking a guided tour of the fort’s museums, tunnels, and ramparts.
Uspensky Orthodox Cathedral, Helsinki
Standing high in the center of Helsinki and overlooking the whole city, Uspensky Orthodox Cathedral is a symbol of the Russian impact on Finland’s history. Designed by the Russian architect Alexey Gornostaev, this Eastern Orthodox cathedral is one of the top tourist attractions in Helsinki.
Tourists visit this cathedral to admire a bit of both Slavonic and Byzantine architecture. As it’s the largest Orthodox Church in Western Europe, it’s one of the best places to see in Finland for many people. Serving the large Russian population of Helsinki, the cathedral also invites tourists to admire its beauty, especially its altar where there are worth seeing paintings of religious figures.
Moreover, when you’re going to be in the heart of Helsinki to see Uspensky Orthodox Cathedral, there’s another worth exploring attraction. And, it’s Temppeliaukio Church where you can explore modern architecture and attend a music concert as well.
Rovaniemi and the Arctic
The town of Rovaniemi serves as the gateway to the Arctic Circle and offer many winter activities to its visitor. Also, it’s known as the home of Santa Claus, so it’s a worth exploring place where you can meet a reindeer. Moreover, fishing, swimming, and canoeing are some of the top activities here. With its majestic natural beauty, the area is also well-known for its cycling and hiking trails. Moreover, the Arktikum Science Museum is another tourist attraction here. In this museum, tourists love to explore the natural history of the Arctic as well as its geology and meteorology.
Besides all that, the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights are the main reasons for Rovaniemi to be one of the best places to see in Finland. In the summer, many tourists and locals alike come here to view the spectacular midnight sun. On the other hand, it’s the awe-inspiring and eye-captivating views of the northern lights that invite tourists to Rovaniemi in the winter.
Furthermore, Rovaniemi is also well-known for its snow activities. The skiing enthusiasts love to ski in the Arctic Region and also to ride across frozen lakes. Two of the top activities to do in snow here are learning to drive one’s reindeer sled and visiting Sami villages on a dogsled safari.
If the winter activities in Rovaniemi aren’t enough for you, then Levi is another winter recreation center. Located in the Arctic Circle, Levi is just a few hours’ drives away from Rovaniemi. The incredible skiing trails of Levi are very popular, and night skiing is one of the top things to do here.
The Design District, Helsinki
No trip is complete without shopping, and when it comes to shopping in Finland, there’s just no match to the Design District in Helsinki. The Design District, mainly named so for being the core of modern Scandinavian design, comprises four neighborhoods: Ullanlinna, Kamppi, Kaartinkaupunki, and Punavuori. The whole of the district is one of Helsinki’s tourist attractions because it’s devoted to galleries, studios, and Finish designers’ antique shops. You can shop here for almost everything from everyday items to fashion accessories or jewelry.
Besides shopping, the Design District lets you closely glimpse Finnish art and culture. Moreover, in the Kaartinkaupunki neighborhood, you can know more about the changes that have taken place over time in Finnish craftsmanship and design if you visit the Design Museum.
Consisting of many small and a few large islands, the Åland Islands are a self-governing archipelago between Finland and Sweden. Though these islands are well-known for their history, it’s the island’s untouched natural beauty and stunning landscapes that serve as the main reasons for drawing tourists to these islands. The combination of history and scenic natural beauty makes the Åland Islands the best places to see in Finland.
If you’re a history buff, then the Jan Karlsgården open-air museum in Kastelholm is a must-to-visit place for you. Because you can step back in time here and see the classic island farm of 1890. Moreover, Mariehamn is also a worth-exploring historical town in the Åland archipelago. As trading and shipping have been the main industry of the islands here, it’s a must to explore their intruding maritime history, and Mariehamn has plenty of it. So, head to the Maritime Quarter, the Museum Ship Pommern, and the Maritime Museum in Mariehamn to explore all the maritime history of the Åland Islands.
Moreover, if you’re someone who’d rather explore the natural beauty than the history of a certain place, every island on the Åland archipelago is worth-visiting. It’d be even more fun if you get to explore the islands in the summers. Because Åland archipelago traditionally celebrates midsummer’s eve, the longest day of the year, by holding a huge celebration. In this massive celebration, the Åland islands seem to be bustling with tourists as there are many studios and galleries. A large population of artists also head to these islands to showcase their artwork or refresh their artistic skills in the stunning landscapes of the islands.
If you want a day trip away from the hustling and bustling Helsinki, you can head to Porvoo, Finland’s second-oldest town, for a complete family day-out. Because Porvoo is located in the east of Helsinki on about kilometers’ drive.
Rising stunningly from the riverfront line, Porvoo is one of the best places to see in Finland, especially in the summers when you can visit it by taking a scenic boat trip from Helsinki. Shopping at the shops and studios is one of the top tourist things to do here, as the town is well-known for its fine crafts. Moreover, with its colorful buildings and old tangled streets, the town is a beauty in itself that tourists love to see. There’s a hilltop medieval cathedral that provides tourists with 15th-century paintings to admire, besides its beauty. The view of this old town from above the hilltop cathedral is also scenic.
Whether you’re a history explorer or not, there’s no point in exploring the second oldest town of Finland without knowing the town’s history. So, go to the Market Square of the town as there are worth-visiting museums to grab some local history. If you’re into knowing something other than local history, then go to the Edelfelt-Vallgren Museum. This museum elegantly displays the artwork inspired by the Art Nouveau movement.
How could it happen that you visit Finland’s second-oldest town but forget its number one oldest town in history? Yes, lying on the Gulf of Bothnia, Turku is the oldest town of Finland. This traditional medieval town, with its eight centuries of history, is one of the best places to see in Finland.
The Sibelius Museum is a popular attraction of the town where you can glimpse modern architecture and artworks of the Art Nouveau movement. Moreover, the town lies at the mouth of the Aurajoki River, the focal point of many activities in the river. Tourists love to dine at the historic boats in the river because these boats have been converted into restaurants now. If you’re a shopping enthusiast then the town’s Market Square (Kaupatori) serves as a great shopping center. Moreover, there’s also an old-Romanesque style Orthodox Church to visit that also has some touch of Gothic and Renaissance art.
Another main highlight is the Medieval Festival of the town that takes place in the midsummer. With its food vendors and craft stalls, the festival draws many tourists to itself annually as the old town regains its medieval air during this festival.
With some of its Swedish-speaking population, Vaasa is also one of the oldest towns in Finland. The town is one of Finland’s top-rated tourist attractions and offers a plethora of things to do, such as water activities, history exploring, shopping, music activities, and hiking as well. The town’s large market serves as the focal point for tourists because it’s lined with many restaurants, shopping centers, and cafés. History buffs will find no shortage of museums to explore in this town. The Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art, the Vaasa Maritime Museum, and the Terranova Kvarken Nature Center are three of the top museums to name.
As far as the music activities are concerned, the town hosts many music festivals and cultural events as well. The Vaasa Choir Festival, the Korsholm Music Festival, and the Night of the Arts are must-to-attend festivals.
Moreover, the town has many beaches and is also known as Finland’s sunniest town. So, you better head to one of its beaches to relax and soak up some sunshine. Those who’d rather hike than relax can head to the Kvarken National Park. And there’s also the Tropiclandia and tropical spa that offers many water activities. Vaasa is, therefore, undoubtedly one of the best places to see in Finland.
Lake Saimaa and Savonlinna
As said earlier, Finland is home to thousands of lakes. So, it won’t be justice to your Finland trip if you don’t explore some of its lakes. And when it comes to lakes, there’s no match to the Lake Saimaa of Finland. Known as the “lake of a thousand islands”, Lake Saimaa welcomes numerous tourists annually with its wide arms of hilly shores. Taking boat cruises is one of the top things to do in the lake. And in the lake’s region, Savonlinna is the country’s main city and a popular tourist destination. The city is home to many worth-visiting places. The highlights are the medieval Olavinlinna Castle and Kerimäki (the world’s largest wooden church).
Lemmenjoki National Park
This wildland is the largest park in Finland and serves as a paradise for those who seek Arctic wilderness experiences. The park is well-known for its long and scenic trails, the wild huts that are free to visitors, and its campfire and sauna places. As the park is located along the Lemmenjoki River, you can also take awe-inspiring boat cruises. Moreover, you’d also love to glimpse the wildlife here, mainly wolves, reindeer, golden eagles, and brown bears.
Known for its vibrant culture, industry, and festivals, Tampere is the largest town of Finland that lies between two lakes, namely Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi. So, other than the town’s vibrant life, it’s its stunning beauty that makes it one of the best places to see in Finland. The town’s jazz music festival, the November Tampere Jazz Happening, is the main tourist attraction. Moreover, the Tampere Cathedral and the Kaleva Church are two fine examples of architecture here, and hence worth-visiting places. There’s also the Vapriikki Museum for history explorers to explore some history of the town.
Known as the birthplace of the famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, Hameenlinna is also a worth-exploring town in Finland. One of the top attractions here is the 13th-century old red-brick Tavastehus Castle. Here you can take some great instagrammable photos, other than admiring the beauty of the castle. Moreover, Aulanko Nature Reserve is another major tourist attraction here that has scenic trails for hiking-lovers. The Aulangonvuori Hill provides the tourists with charming views of the town. Furthermore, exploring history is another top thing to do here which you can do at Sibelius Museum and Hämeenlinna Historical Museum.
Last but not at all least on out best places to see in Finland is Oulu, a small beautiful village that lies at the mouth of the Oulujoki River, near the Gulf of Bothnia. Apart from exploring the village’s beauty, meeting the locals, and admiring the old castle and cathedral, you have easy access to some beautiful islands from here. One is the island of Ainola that you can access through a beautiful and small bridge of the village, namely Kirkkokatu. The Provincial Museum on the island of Ainola is a must-to-visit place. And, the other is the island of Hupisaari that’s full of summer activities.
5 Must-to-eat Traditional Finnish Dishes
No tour is complete without tasting some traditional dishes of the country you’re traveling to. So, the following are the top 5 traditional Finnish dishes that you must try.
NOTE: These dishes are available at almost every traditional restaurant in Finland.
Kalakukko (fish pie)
As home to numerous lakes, Finland takes its seafood to another level. Fish pie is one of the most-eaten traditional Finnish dishes. It’s traditionally prepared with rye flour and filled with bacon, pork, and fish, and then baked for hours.
Graavilohi (cured salmon)
Made from raw salmon, it’s one of the most-loved Nordic dishes in Finland. The salmon is cured in dill, sugar, and salt. It’s traditionally served with boiled potatoes.
Korvapuusti (cinnamon buns)
Traditionally served with coffee, it’s a most-eaten Finnish cinnamon roll or a Finnish sweet bread you may say. The dough of the Finnish cinnamon roll is prepared with fresh yeast and thus it could be your traditional breakfast in Finland.
Mustikkapiirakka (blueberry pie)
Filled with yogurt, Mustikkapiirakka is Finnish cuisine that Finnish love to eat in the summers. It’s traditionally served with fresh milk. So, it’s a traditional healthy breakfast that tourists love to have.
Lihapullat (Finnish meatballs)
Finnish adore their meatballs so much. Though their meatballs mostly resemble those of Swedish, Finnish make it slightly different by using a curd cream, namely kermaviili, and adding fewer herbs and spices. It’s traditionally served with mashed (or cooked sometimes) potatoes, cucumber pickles, and gravy.
Best Time to Visit Finland
As Finland is a year-round destination with various activities to do in every season when you should visit it mainly depends upon what you want to experience there. If you’re specifically traveling to Finland to see spectacular Northern Lights, the period between August and April is best for it. But, if you love to travel in the spring season, then it would already be best because what else could be more refreshing than experiencing the comeback of nature in Finland’s scenic surroundings. Moreover, June, July, and August are the months full of events and various tourist activities. Also, the transport services and tourist facilities operate at peak during these months. Furthermore, if you want to travel in winter then it’s also best because Finland becomes a snowy wonderland. And you can enjoy various winter activities, such as snowmobiling, skiing, and steaming saunas.