Vibrant, design-conscious Finland is one of Northern Europe’s true gems, a year-round destination full of mountains, lakes and forests where a well-stoked sauna is the cure to all ills.
Winter has a particularly special charm here.The locals barely take their skis off for months though they’re far from the only method of scooting across the snow.
Places such as Harriniva offer a range of activities designed to take you into the heart of Finland’s winter wonderland: snowmobiles, dogsleds, reindeer and snowshoes are all there for the taking. And, although you’re high in the Arctic Circle, this wilderness hotel comes with homely comforts including a spa and outdoor hot tubs. For a touch of the unique, look to likes of Levi’s glass igloos, which come with panoramic views of the Lappish landscape and private displays of the Northern Lights in the skies overhead, while wilderness lodges abound at Muotkan Maja and remote Nellim.
In summer, the capital Helsinki comes to life; its Art Nouveau buildings, lively bars and abundant cafes provide a cosmopolitan springboard to Finnish Lakeland around four hours drive away. Further north still, the country’s central region offers a combination of wilderness, wildlife and welcoming people. Kuhmo, in the east, is gateway to vast forests that are still home to lynx, wolves and around 1,000 brown bears. And, towards the Russian border, several hiking routes, including the UKK trail – Finland’s longest marked trek – provide further ways to explore.