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Finland

Finland is a quiet, laid-back place made up of vast expanses of forests and lakes dotted with small towns. It's also the home of Santa Claus and all the kitsch fun associated with him. [See Finland itinerary ideas]

Helsinki, the chic capital, is the place to see Finnish design, take advantage of excellent shopping and enjoy a lively nightlife. Turku, located at the mouth of the Aura River on the south coast is an historic centre and the gateway to a stunning archipelago that stretches into the Baltic Sea. Tampere in the beautiful western Lake District is a popular start point for sailing, salmon fishing and skating; it's also home to the only Lenin museum in the world.

However, people come to experience the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis that play across the Arctic sky. Discover a world of exciting experiences in the fresh, clean Lapland countryside, where activities include skiing, snowmobiling, reindeer or husky safaris and ice golf; a tot of vodka and a proper sauna provide everything you need for total relaxation.

WEXAS Travel brochure for Finland

Scandinavia

Our in depth guide packed with background information, sample itineraries designed by our experts and hand-picked suggestions for what to see and do, where to stay and when best to go.


When to go

"I love borders. August is the border between summer and autumn; it is the most beautiful month I know."
Tove Jansson

Despite its northerly situation, Finland has a fairly mild climate thanks to the warming Gulf Stream and its many lakes, and there are good reasons to visit in any season.  The climate is warmest, and the landscapes at their prettiest, during months of June, July and August in southern Finland and Lakeland. August is a holiday month for Finns too, who head in large numbers to the coast and countryside, but even the most popular destinations are hardly crowded. Autumn is visually stunning in the countryside, especially in Lapland where the ruska-aika (russeting) of shrubs and trees provides a riot of colour, from gold and orange in the lower fells to deep crimson in the high hills. Lapland's mosquitoes can be unbearable in high summer, while October to March provides splendid opportunities for winter pursuits and northern lights viewing.

Finnish winters are long, cold and dark, but far from severe. Temperatures generally hover at just below freezing, keeping the snows crisp and fresh for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling. Intrepid travellers also join in the local pastime of heating up in a sauna then jumping into an icy lake. Other winter attractions inside the Arctic Circle include visits to Santa Claus Village (though Santa has been open to visitors year-round since 1985) and Ice Park Finland, which is sculpted from scratch each year for a December-to-March season.

Spring begins in mid-April, but it's not really till summer that the last snows disappear and trees and wildflowers burst into life.

JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER
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Essential Experiences

We’ve rounded up our list of recommended sites and things to do. Click on the map to enlarge it and see what we suggest or follow the links in the list to discover how to get the best out of your holiday.


Practical Information

"Finland is a rich country. What have they got? They got Nokia phones and plywood. How'd they get so rich? Because they're free."
P. J. O'Rourke

Capital - Helsinki

Size - 338,145 sq km

Language - Finnish (91%), Swedish (5%) and small Sami- and Russian-speaking minorities

Population - 5.4 million (2011)

Religion - Evangelical Lutheran (80%); Finnish Orthodox (1%); none (18%)

Currency - Euro

Time zone - GMT + 2 hours

Flight time - London Heathrow to Helsinki 3 hours; London Stansted to Tampere 2 hours 40 mins.

Festivals

Midsummer is the main event in the Finnish festive calendar. Named Juhannus (for John the Baptist), the main parties - when people head for their summer cottages, make lakeside fires, swim, row, have a sauna, light a barbecue and raise a glass or several - take place on the Friday nearest the Summer Solstice, leaving the rest of the weekend to relax and recover. The midsummer parties have a wistful echo throughout August when Crayfish parties are convened under the moonlight to say farewell to the short summer. Other notable festivals include:

March - Tampere Film Festival. Including national and international screenings and competitions.

March - Lahti Ski Games. Annual three-day event featuring ski jumping, cross-country and Nordic combined competitions.

April - Funky Elephant Festival, Helsinki. Four-day festival of modern rhythm music from soul and funk to hip-hop, reggae and afrobeat.

April - April Jazz, Espoo. Five days of the best Finnish and international jazz artists.

September - Manifesti Factory Festival, Turku. Art exhibitions and performance in Manilla, a 20th-century factory building-turned cultural centre.

September - Love & Anarchy: Helsinki International Film Festival. Finland's biggest film festival, promoting inventive, controversial and visually stunning new films that would otherwise not be seen in Finnish cinemas.

The summer months welcome many smaller quirky festivals all over the country, with annual favourites including the Wife Carrying World Championships (Sonkajärvi, early July), the Sauna World Championships (Metsäkansa, mid-July) and the World Mobile Phone Throwing Championships (Savolinna, late August).

Visas

Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.

Passport requirements

Passports must be valid for the full duration of your stay. No additional period of validity is required.

Money

Currency

Euro notes and coins from all issuing countries are accepted, with the exception of 1- and 2-cent coins, which are judged to be of too low a value for circulation. Swedish krona is also accepted on Åland and in western Lapland, and Norwegian krona can be used near the border with Norway in northern Lapland.

ATMs

ATMs are everywhere in towns and cities, and in rural areas you can usually withdraw money at kiosks or petrol stations.

Cash and EFTPOS

Always keep some cash on you for small purchases. If you wish to withdraw or exchange money over the counter, banks are normally open from 9.15 am to 4.15 pm Monday to Friday. Credit and debit cards are accepted almost everywhere, even for small amounts. Mobile phone usage is so ingrained, handsets are commonly used by locals to buy from vending machines, while text messages confirming payment serve as tickets for travel and entertainment.

Guideline prices

Finland can be expensive, especially Helsinki, but most daily purchases cost no more than in many European countries. Look out for summer offers as venues and restaurants compete for trade.

Museums and attractions typically charge between €5 and €25, a small beer is €3 to €4, and express rail or bus travel between Helsinki and Turku (200 km) up to €32 at spring 2013. Expect to pay €12 to €15 for a gastro pub burger in Helsinki, €30 for a main course, €40 and up for a bottle of wine at a smart bay front restaurant, and a minimum of €400 for a week's car hire in high summer.

Regions [7]

Click on a place name below to find out more. Alternatively, to start planning where to go in Finland, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0618.


Itinerary ideas [17]

The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Finland. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0618.

Hotel Jeris – a week of fun in Finland

Spa History & culture Activity & adventure

The beautiful scenery of Finnish Lapland is the ideal winter playground for the whole family. Easily reached from the UK, with great accommodation and a wealth …

Supercar ice-driving experience, Finland

Short break Activity & adventure Ski & winter

The ultimate thrill for any budding petrol head, our supercar experience will give you the chance to rally such cars as a Volkswagon Golf, Audi R8 and …

Powder Pro snowmobile break

Ski & winter Activity & adventure Natural world

Learn the secrets of deep-snow driving on this five-day adrenaline-pumping snowmobile tour across the fells of Finnish Lapland. You'll be given all the training …

Northern Lights at Nellim

From £1315 pp incl. flights
Short break Activity & adventure Natural world

All Northern Lights enthusiasts should have their sights set on Lapland and this four-day trip gives you every opportunity to view the celestial …

Torassieppi Northern Lights break

From £1450 pp incl. flights
Ski & winter Activity & adventure Natural world

Part of the Harriniva group and just a 15-minute drive from the Harriniva Hotel, the reindeer farm of Torassieppi is a superb destination for any Northern …

Meet Santa in Lapland Finland

Short break Activity & adventure

As summer turns to autumn, countless Santa holidays are available to book. Most herd their guests into large, impersonal groups and offer little more than a …

Kemi Icebreaker & SnowCastle

Activity & adventure History & culture Ski & winter

The remote town of Kemi, in Finnish Lapland, is the only place in Scandinavia, and indeed the world, where visitors can combine the thrill of crashing through …

Muotkan Maja Wilderness Lodge

From £1430 pp incl. flights
Activity & adventure Wildlife History & culture

Muotkan Maja Wilderness Lodge is a charming log-cabin style lodge by the Saariselkä fells in Kakslauttanen and makes a wonderful alternative to either Nellim …

Time out! Huskies in Lapland

Activity & adventure Ski & winter

Enjoy the incredible beauty of Finnish Lapland on this five-day winter adventure to Harriniva, deep inside the Arctic Circle. This exciting trip combines four …

Harriniva Santa break

Short break Activity & adventure Natural world

Your base for this four-day Santa break is the Harriniva Hotel, a cosy retreat high up in the Arctic Circle, complete with jacuzzis on the riverbank and a …

Hiking the Russian Border

From £1295 pp incl. flights
Escorted tour Activity & adventure Natural world

This excellent eight-day escorted walking tour along the Finnish-Russian border is a real back-to-nature experience through diverse forests and pristine …

Belles of the Baltic - Helsinki, Stockholm & Tallinn

City History & culture

This superb five-day independent tour takes you to three fantastic capitals in just five days. You'll travel from the Swedish capital, Stockholm, to Finland's …

Places to stay [3]

The places to stay listed below only represent a handful of the accommodation options available in Finland. We can also recommend and arrange accommodation to suit your personal tastes and budget. To start planning where to stay in Finland, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0618.

Hotel Haven, Helsinki

Deluxe

What does Deluxe mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).

Finland's first member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, Hotel Haven benefits from a great central location on Market Square, overlooking …

Hotel Kamp Helsinki

Deluxe

What does Deluxe mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).

Revel in the timeless splendour of Hotel Kamp, with its unique blend of Western and Eastern culture. Located only a short walk away from the harbour and …

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Helsinki

Superior

What does Superior mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).

A mix of historic ambience and modern convenience make the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel a great city-centre choice for visitors to the Finnish capital Helsinki. The …

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