10 best places to visit in Finland

Finland is a Northern European nation bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia. Its capital, Helsinki, occupies a peninsula and surrounding islands in the Baltic Sea. Helsinki is home to the 18th-century sea fortress Suomenlinna, the fashionable Design District and diverse museums. The Northern Lights can be seen from the country’s Arctic Lapland province, a vast wilderness with national parks and ski resorts.

1. Helsinki

Helsinki, Finland’s southern capital, sits on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland. Its central avenue, Mannerheimintie, is flanked by institutions including the National Museum, tracing Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present. Also on Mannerheimintie are the imposing Parliament House and Kiasma, a contemporary art museum. Ornate red-brick Uspenski Cathedral overlooks a harbor.

2. Hämeenlinna

Hämeenlinna is a city and municipality of about 68,000 inhabitants in the heart of the historical province of Häme in the south of Finland. Hämeenlinna is the oldest inland city of Finland and was one of the most important Finnish cities until the 19th century. It still remains an important regional center.

3. Jyväskylä

Jyväskylä is a city and municipality in Finland in the western part of the Finnish Lakeland, some 130 km north-east from Tampere. It is the largest city in the region of Central Finland and on the Finnish Lakeland.

4. Kuopio

Kuopio is one of the many Finnish towns founded under Swedish rule. The town was established as a village in the 1500s and incorporated as a City in 1782. Kuopio is surrounded by lakes from three sides, which supplies loads of beaches and the feeling of water being always close. Part of the wooden houses arranged as a grid have been preserved in the centre which makes it a nice place to visit. Kuopio has a population of around 100,000.

5. Lappeenranta

Lappeenranta is a city and municipality situated on the shore of the lake Saimaa in southeastern Finland, about 30 kilometres from the Russian border. It belongs to the region of South Karelia. With approximately 73,000 inhabitants Lappeenranta is the 13th largest city in Finland.

6. Oulu

Oulu is a city in central Finland, where the Oulujoki River meets the Bay of Bothnia. Its waterfront square, Kauppatori, is home to food stalls and the Toripolliisi, a squat policeman statue. The Tietomaa Science Centre offers interactive exhibits and a large cinema screen for 3D films. Nearby, the Oulu Museum Of Art showcases regional works. The Northern Ostrobothnia Museum chronicles the city’s cultural history.

7. Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi has been the business centre of Finnish Lapland since the 19th century. It was razed to the ground by the Germans in the final days of World War II, with only a handful of buildings left standing. The rebuilding after the war and the economic development in the ensuing decades have left much of the city a featureless expanse of concrete blocks. Officially Rovaniemi became a city in 1960, and in 2006 it merged with the surrounding rural municipality of Rovaniemi.

Because of its central location and status, Rovaniemi has become a center of education in Finnish Lapland. There are as many as 10 000 university and university of applied sciences level students living in Rovaniemi. Compared to the number of inhabitants living in the old city area (pre-2006), as many as one in three or four people are students. During summers this shows as a large drop in the number of people vacating the city.

The river Kemijoki, notable for being the longest river in Finland, runs next to the city center. On the west side of the river there is a large hill called Ounasvaara.

8. Savonlinna

Savonlinna is a town and a municipality of 33,580 inhabitants in the southeast of Finland, in the heart of the Saimaa lake region.

9. Seinäjoki

Seinäjoki is a city located in South Ostrobothnia, Finland. Seinäjoki originated around the Östermyra bruk iron and gunpowder factories founded in 1798. Seinäjoki became a municipality in 1868, market town in 1931 and town in 1960

10. Tampere

Tampere is a city in southern Finland. It sits between Näsijärvi Lake and Pyhäjärvi Lake, with the Tammerkoski rapids in between. The Vapriikki Museum Center houses several museums, including the Natural History Museum and an exhibition about the 1918 civil war. Tampere Cathedral is known for its macabre frescoes. Kaleva Church, with its striking concrete architecture, is designed to look like a fish from above.