Finland is a country I’d love for everyone to experience. It’s just such a cool and magical place to see and I’m lucky enough to have been twice. I’d totally go again. There are just so many cool things to do in Finland, I think it would take a while to really get under the surface.
Here are a few numbers for you: 187,888 lakes across 179,584 islands, 60 days where the sun never sets and 200 nights of Northern Lights a year. Then, you’ve got the Arctic Circle and Lapland — the home of Santa and his elves — and the largest archipelago on earth.
To narrow it down to just a few things to do in Finland would be too skeletal, so I’ve gone for the full 52, as seems to be the tradition on my blog.
52 of the Coolest Things to Do in Finland
1. In a land where there are more saunas than cars, it’d be rude not to just sit and steam somewhere like the wood-fire Kotiharjun Sauna.
2. Take a ferry over to Vasikkasaari Island in the Espoo archipelago and picnic on one of the two beaches or prepare your own barbecue in one of the cooking spots.
3. Head to the far north countryside and stay in the village of Saariselkä for your best chance of catching the Northern Lights, which appear 200 nights of the year here.
4. Once you’ve seen them, keep it cool with an overnight stay in an igloo.
5. Find good food at Helsinki’s Malaga Bar where artists in the immediate area perform for diners.
6. Marvel at the palace-like Helsinki Cathedral.
7. Get out the gloves and go skiing in one of the 75 ski resorts the country has to offer. Take a look at my week skiing in Levi and then Yllas for more inspiration on that one.
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8. Go on a dog sledding safari with a company like Hetta Huskies.
9. Find your catch with a spot of ice fishing in Lapland.
11. Take a day trip to the Söderskär lighthouse in the Porvoo archipelago where, if you know your stuff, you’ll see some rare sea birds.
13. Step back in time at the Seurasaari open air museum where you can see what Finnish homes would have looked like almost 400 years ago.
14. Continue embracing the country’s olden days in one of the incredibly cute and Instagramable wooden villages like Old Porvoo, Rauma or Loviisa.
15. Enjoy something sweet at the 166 year old Ekberg Cafe in Helsinki.
16. Spend a good few hours escaping in what feels like a Hogwarts classroom at top rated bar, Books & Antiques.
17. Do the 15-minute ferry journey from Helsinki to get your history on at the Suomenlinna sea fortress. It has dungeons, defensive walls and artillery spread across 6 islands along with a museum and 1930s submarine.
18. There in July? Watch one of the weirdest events in Sonkajärvi: the wife-carrying championships.
19. Then catch a summertime game of pesapallo, Finland’s national sport. Sidenote: it’s a bit like our version of rounders.
20. Lace up the boots and hike one of the 40 national parks in Finland.
21. Feel like you’re in a spaceship when you step inside the Temppeliaukio Church.
23. Make like the big man himself and ride a reindeer at Salla Reindeer Park.
24. You can’t go to Finland and not stay in a traditional log cabin.
25. Or rent a snowmobile to explore the icy lakes and snowy forests. You could book onto this highly rated Snowmobile Safari, Reindeer and Husky Farm trip in Rovaniemi. Guaranteed to have a great time!
26. Eat copious amounts of berries and mushrooms after going picking in Nuuksio National Park.
27. Do a guided tour of the Finnish Parliament.
28. Carve by night with a ski session somewhere like Kilpisjärvi where the sun never sets.
29. Take a dip in one of the Finnish Lakeland District’s lakes.
30. Relive a piece of your childhood with a visit to the Moomin World Theme Park (Moomins’ creator Tove Jansson was from Finland so they’re a big deal here).
31. And then head to one of the Moomin Cafes, which are appropriately themed and have some of Jansson’s Moomin artwork on show.
32.Visit Sweden, Finland and Denmark all at once at Treriksröset point where the three countries meet.
33. Feel a little freaked out at Kruunuvuori or ‘The Crown Mountain’. This collection of formerly fancy villas belonged to aristocrats pre-war but are now abandoned and act as creepy relics.
34. Book a table for two, the only table in fact, at Kuappi is in Iisalmi, the smallest restaurant in the world.
35. Learn about the culture of the Sámi indigenous people at the Siida Museum on Lake Inari.
36. Bring the bathing suit and go for a swim at the bottom of the Lahti Ski Jump Tower in the summer.
37. See the true meaning of recycling with a trip to the Alpo Koivumäki Safari Park where all animals are made out of junk.
38. Walk The Aura River to the Turku castle in the city of Turku.
39. Go kayaking at sunset with a tour of the Turku archipelago (that’s the biggie I was talking about with over 2,000 islands).
40. Visit the pottery and candle factory inside the Handicraft Factory in Kustavi in Turku.
41. Stock up on souvenirs and try some of the best Finnish food at Helsinki’s Old Market Hall.
42.Try a bowl of traditional Finish bouillabaisse soup at one of the three Soppakeittiös in Helsinki.
43. Find yourself a grizzly or track down a wolverine with a wildlife tour of Lentira.
44. Bringing the weirdness factor, climb inside the ‘Womb of Mother Earth’ aka the Högberet Cave. Said to a look a little bit like a vagina, stepping inside is supposed to be like being inside a womb.
45. Order a meal of poronkasristys and then feel bad (maybe) about eating this reindeer, potato and berry stew.
46. Enjoy one of the best cocktails in the country at Liberty or Death in Helsinki.
47. If heavy rock and metal are your jam, schedule your trip around the end of June for the Tuska Open Air festival.
48. Unleash your inner Elsa with a trip to the Snowcastle of Kemi. Built entirely from snow, it’s constructed every January and accepts visitors until it melts.
49. Grab a coffee to go from one of the nearby shops and relax in Helsinki’s cute Punavuori Park.
50. Work out how to say ‘karjalanpiirakka’ and then order this traditional pastry each day for breakfast.
51. Get some peace and quiet in the ‘Chapel of Silence’. Kamppi Chapel is dedicated entirely to helping people take a breath and chill.
52. Keep searching for the silence on Highway 5 outside of Suomussalmi. You’ll find 1,000 scarecrow-like statutes that are part of a travelling art installation called The Silent People.