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Finland Destination Guide​

Welcome to the Land of a Thousand Lakes, sweeping forests, and soothing saunas — welcome to Finland! This incredible country is home to beautiful landscapes, breathtaking natural phenomena, and enriching cultural experiences. It’s also the happiest country in the world, according to the World Happiness Report! And this #1 ranking in 2024 was no one-off — it was the seventh consecutive year that Finland claimed the top spot.

It’s no surprise to the Discover Scandinavia Tours team that Finland continues to thrive as a travel destination. As leaders in Finland Private Tours and multi-country Luxury Scandinavia Tour Packages in North America, we’ve seen first-hand what makes this unique place so special.

We’ve used our expertise to write this Finland Destination Guide. It’s filled with the essential information you need to plan a vacation you’ll never forget. Scroll down to get started! And please get in touch with our US-based team if you have any questions.

Why Visit Finland?

Nestled in the northern reaches of Europe and sharing borders with Sweden, Norway, and Russia, Finland is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural richness, and modern innovation. From its vibrant cities to its pristine wilderness, Finland offers a diverse array of experiences for every type of traveler.

For nature enthusiasts, Finland’s vast expanses of forests, lakes, and islands provide endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. Forests cover more than 75% of Finland, and the nickname Land of a Thousand Lakes is actually a gross understatement — there are over 180,000 lakes here! That’s one for every 26 Finns! In fact, over 10% of Finland is covered by water.

For culture buffs, the country’s rich history, unique traditions, and thriving arts scene offer a fascinating glimpse into Finnish life and heritage. And for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, Finland’s renowned saunas, spas, and wellness retreats provide the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We even included sauna culture in our list of five unique cultural experiences you can enjoy in Scandinavia.

The Finnish people are also known for their warmth, hospitality, and love of nature. Finns welcome visitors with open arms and a genuine enthusiasm for sharing their country’s wonders. So whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure, cultural immersion, or simply a chance to unwind and recharge, Finland promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you longing to return.

What Should I Know Before Visiting Finland?

Comfort and confidence are key to enjoying any new destination. Below, we have listed five key things you need to know before visiting Finland to help you travel with peace of mind.

  1. Currency: Finland’s currency is the Euro (EUR). While credit and debit cards are widely accepted, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases and when visiting more remote areas.
  2. Language: Finnish and Swedish are the two official languages of Finland, but English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas. The Discover Scandinavia Tours team and the local specialists we work with speak fluent English, so communication will not be an issue.
  3. Weather: Finland experiences four distinct seasons, with cold winters and mild summers. Be sure to pack accordingly, especially if you plan to visit during the winter months when temperatures can drop significantly.
  4. Sauna Culture: Saunas are an integral part of Finnish culture, and no visit to Finland is complete without experiencing a traditional sauna. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited to join a local for a sauna — it’s considered a sign of hospitality!
  5. Respect for Nature: Finns have a deep respect for their natural surroundings, and visitors are expected to do the same. Be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and adhere to any environmental regulations.

What Should I Do on My First Trip to Finland?

The answer to this question varies depending on the time of year you decide to visit. But you can rest assured, whether you travel in the summer or winter, there’s no shortage of incredible experiences to enjoy.

Visiting Finland for the First Time in the Summer

The warmer summer months are ideal for exploring Finland’s charming towns and captivating cities. Our own Finland in a Week Tour, part of the Must-See Series, visits the best of these destinations, starting with the vibrant capital city of Helsinki, with its charming waterfront, bustling markets, and world-class museums. 

We then move on to the historic town of Porvoo, with its cobblestone streets, colorful wooden houses, and picturesque riverfront. The fascinating medieval town of Turku is a joy to explore while Tampere, nestled in the stunning Lakeland region, is the Sauna Capital of the World.

Our 8-day itinerary includes travel on local trains when these towns and cities are at their liveliest and most lush. Simply immersing yourself in Finnish life, culture, and history is a great way to spend your first trip here during the summer.

Visiting Finland for the First Time in the Winter

Finland becomes a magical winter wonderland in the colder months, offering a distinctly different experience than the summer. You will see Helsinki from a different perspective, with its enchanting Christmas markets and lights, outdoor ice skating rinks, cozy cafes, and charming festive atmosphere.

But if you’re visiting Finland in winter, you simply cannot miss Lapland. Up in the far north of the country, you can witness the breathtaking Northern Lights (if you’re lucky!) and head to the official hometown of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi, where you can visit Santa’s Village, go husky sledding, and enjoy a host of other winter activities. And then there’s the charming town of Kemi, home to the world’s largest snow castle and the unique SnowHotel.

If all this sounds like your dream vacation, you’ll love our Finnish Lapland Luxe Winter Tour! Discover more about this incredible 8-day adventure.

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Finland?

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or not, the “best” time to travel is entirely subjective and will depend on your preferences and interests. But to help you in the decision-making process, we have provided a brief guide to the seasons in Finland below. The following section also takes a closer look at what you can expect on a month-by-month basis.

  • Summer (June to August): Ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, and wildlife watching. The long days and mild temperatures make it perfect for exploring Finland’s cities and natural attractions.
  • Fall (September to November): Perfect for experiencing Finland’s stunning fall foliage, with vibrant colors blanketing the countryside. It’s also a great time for mushroom and berry picking.
  • Winter (December to February): Embrace traditional winter activities such as dog sledding, snowmobiling, and reindeer sleigh rides. The snowy landscapes and the chance to see the Northern Lights make it a magical time to visit Finnish Lapland.
  • Spring (March to May): Witness the colorful, blooming transition from winter to spring. Daylight hours start to extend and melting snow brings waterways to life. Along with fall, spring is also a quieter time with fewer tourists.

Our blog
What are the Best Times to Travel to Scandinavia? is another must-read resource on this topic, so check it out when you have finished here.

When To Visit Finland: A Month-by-Month Guide

  • January: Experience the winter wonderland of Finnish Lapland, with opportunities for dog sledding, snowmobiling, reindeer sleigh rides, and Northern Lights viewing. Helsinki in the south has an average temperature of -3.5°C/25.7°F while Rovaniemi in the north has an average of -13.1°C/8.6°F.
  • February: Celebrate the Finnish tradition of Laskiainen and enjoy the magical winter landscapes and fun-filled activities. Helsinki has an average temperature of -6.6°C/20.1°F while Rovaniemi’s average is -13.8°C/7.2°F.
  • March: The transition from winter to spring begins. Days become longer, flora starts to bloom, and wildlife emerges from hibernation. Helsinki has an average temperature of 0°C/32°F while Rovaniemi’s average is -5°C/23°F.
  • April: Experience the beauty of Finland’s springtime, with melting snow, blooming flowers, and the return of migratory birds. Helsinki has an average temperature of 5°C/41°F while Rovaniemi’s average is 0.9°C/33.6°F.
  • May: Explore Finland’s vibrant cities, charming towns, and many outdoor attractions as temperatures continue to rise and daylight hours increase. Helsinki has an average temperature of 10.3°C/50.5°F while Rovaniemi’s average is 5.5°C/41.9°F.
  • June: Enjoy the endless daylight of the Finnish summer solstice, with opportunities for hiking, boating, and exploring the countryside. Helsinki has an average temperature of 19.3°C/66.7°F while Rovaniemi’s average is 15.3°C/59.5°F.
  • July: Experience the magic of Finnish midsummer celebrations, with bonfires, traditional music, and outdoor festivities. Helsinki has an average temperature of 21.4°C/70.5°F while Rovaniemi’s average is 17.4°C/63.3°F.
  • August: Join the locals enjoying Finland’s natural beauty, from its vast forests and pristine lakes to its picturesque coastline and charming islands. Helsinki has an average temperature of 15.9°C/60.6°F while Rovaniemi’s average is 12.4°C/54.3°F.
  • September: Experience the beauty of Finland’s fall foliage, with vibrant colors blanketing the countryside and adding fiery flashes of color to towns and cities. Helsinki has an average temperature of 10.4°C/50.7°F while Rovaniemi’s average is 6.1°C/43°F.
  • October: Enjoy the crisp fall air and the start of frequent opportunities to see the Northern Lights in Finnish Lapland. Helsinki has an average temperature of 8.7°C/ 47.7°F while Rovaniemi’s average is 2.5°C/36.5°F.
  • November: Finland starts its transition into a winter wonderland as daylight hours drop and snowy landscapes glow. Helsinki has an average temperature of 2.7°C/36.9°F while Rovaniemi’s average is -5.9°C/21.4°F.
  • December: Celebrate the holiday season in Finland, with festive markets, outdoor ice skating rinks, and the enchanting glow of Christmas lights. Helsinki has an average temperature of -5.3°C / 22.5°F while Rovaniemi’s average is -11.7°C / 10.9°F.

Where to See the Midnight Sun in Finland

Officially, the Midnight Sun phenomenon — where the sun doesn’t set below the horizon in a 24-hour period — only occurs inside the Arctic Circle. Rovaniemi sits right on the boundary, so it’s one of the best places to visit for this experience. Here, it’s light for around 24 hours from early June through to the start of July. But the white nights season — where the sun sets below the horizon, but its light still illuminates the sky — lasts for the entire summer.

But you don’t need to head to the northern extremes to enjoy the Midnight Sun experience. Even on the southern coast, where Helsinki is located, the sun only briefly dips below the horizon, creating a lingering twilight that lasts throughout the night.

Our Finland in a Week Tour is the perfect way to experience the country’s magical white nights while also exploring its best summer attractions. For more essential reading on this topic, check out our blog Planning Your Trip to Scandinavia During the Midnight Sun.

How to Travel in Finland?

Finland is a large country with an extensive infrastructure network, so it’s easy to get around and explore. But for a truly immersive, meaningful, and convenient experience, look no further than our Finland Private Tours. Our carefully curated itineraries are the perfect blend of guided tours led by local experts and free time for exploring destinations however you wish. 

Our Finnish Lapland Luxe Winter Tour includes:

  • Five guided tours
  • Internal train transportation
  • Internal flights
  • Icebreaker cruise
  • Private airport transfers

And on our Finland in a Week Tour, our itinerary includes:

  • Five guided tours
  • Internal train transportation
  • Private airport transfers

With Discover Scandinavia Tours, you can travel around Finland with ease because we take care of everything for you! With no worries about making bookings on your mind, you’re free to soak up every incredible moment of your vacation.

What are the Most Beautiful Things to See in Helsinki?

Helsinki is a city of contrasts, where historic landmarks blend seamlessly with modern architecture and glistening waterfronts. Luckily for visitors and locals alike, this combination creates a diverse range of must-see attractions, including:

  • Suomenlinna Sea Fortress: Explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its historic fortifications, museums, and scenic walking trails.
  • Helsinki Cathedral: Admire the striking neoclassical architecture of this iconic landmark, located in the heart of Senate Square.
  • Temppeliaukio Church: Marvel at this unique church carved into solid rock, known for its stunning architecture and exceptional acoustics.
  • Market Square: Discover Helsinki’s vibrant culinary scene at this bustling waterfront market, with stalls selling fresh produce, local delicacies, and handmade crafts.
  • Esplanadi Park: Relax and unwind in this photogenic park, with its lush greenery, charming cafes, and lively street performers.

Be sure to read our picks for the best places to visit in Finland for even more vacation inspiration. 

What and Where is Finland’s Lakeland Region?

As you might expect from a country with so many lakes, Finland has a designated Lakeland Region, or lake district. It’s the largest of the country’s four geographic regions, with the other three being Archipelago Finland, Coastal Finland, and the Upland Forest. Broadly speaking, Finnish Lakeland covers parts of southern, central, and eastern Finland.

The image of a lakeside cottage surrounded by a lush and dense forest is a quintessentially Finnish scene. This is why so many Finns retreat to the lake district to relax and recharge. It helps that many of the best spots are within easy driving distance of Helsinki!

Finnish Lakeland offers fun and exciting activities year-round, from fishing, paddleboarding, and cruises in the summer to ice skating and ice swimming in the winter. This spectacular region is Europe’s largest lake district, so there is plenty of space for everyone to have some fun.

For an insight into what it’s like to visit Finnish Lakeland, read our blog Lake Saimaa, Finland – The Most Peaceful Vacatio.

Lake Saimaa Archipelago FInland Lakelands

What are the Dos and Don'ts When Visiting Finland?

To make your trip even more enjoyable, keep these dos and don’ts for Finland in mind. As with any destination, Finnish people greatly appreciate visitors who make an effort to respect and engage with their culture and customs.

Dos When Visiting Finland

  • Do respect personal space. Finns are used to (and enjoy) having plenty of it.
  • Do try traditional Finnish foods such as reindeer meat, salmon soup, and Karelian pastries.
  • Do take the time to learn a few basic Finnish phrases, such as kiitos (thank you) and hei (hello).
  • Do embrace the Finnish sauna culture and enjoy a relaxing sauna experience… and always use a towel when sitting in the sauna itself!
  • Do be punctual, as Finns place a high value on timeliness and reliability.

Don’ts When Visiting Finland

  • Don’t be overly loud or expressive in public, as Finns value privacy and respect for others.
  • Don’t be offended if Finns are reserved or introverted, as this is simply part of their cultural demeanor.
  • Don’t litter or disturb the natural environment, as Finns have a deep respect for their surroundings.
  • Don’t expect shops and restaurants to be open late, as opening hours in Finland are typically limited.
  • Don’t use shoes inside a Finn’s home. It’s unlikely you will find yourself in this scenario, but it’s an important custom!

Finland Packing Tips

Wondering what to pack for your Finland vacation? Use our brief guide below to get you started!

  • Summer: Lightweight clothing, including shorts, t-shirts, and sandals, as well as a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings. Don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent for outdoor activities.
  • Winter: Warm layers, including thermal underwear, fleece jackets, and insulated boots, as well as a waterproof jacket and pants for snowy conditions. Don’t forget hats, gloves, and scarves to protect against the cold. 
  • Spring/Fall: Mix of lightweight and warm clothing, including long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and waterproof jackets, as well as sturdy walking shoes for outdoor exploration. Don’t forget an umbrella or rain jacket for unpredictable weather.

Are you considering other Nordic countries for your vacation? We think you’ll appreciate our Norway Destination Guide and Iceland Destination Guide if either of these awe-inspiring countries is also on your wishlist

Don’t Miss Out on Our Finland Private Tours!

We hope you’ve found this Finland destination guide informative and inspirational. If you’re ready to take the first step to exploring this remarkable country, browse our range of Finland Private Tours. If you want to discover multiple Nordic nations on your trip, you’ll prefer our multi-country Luxury Scandinavia Tour Packages, most of which include Finland.

If you have any questions for our US-based team, please feel free to contact us for all the answers you need.