Welcome to Finland, a country with its own emoticons. Here you will get inspired in a natural way. Think magic Northern lights in the skies of Lapland or the sleepless summer nights. Or lazy days at the cottage listening the sound of silence with an occasional cozy crack from the fireplace and happy-all-night-long birdsong in the spring. Rain or shine, Finns like to hang glued by the outdoor grill in the summer and run crazy for a swim neverminding the chill. Worlds by Milla Visuri.
In three days you will have time to travel to Lapland and whisper your Christmas wish list to Santa Claus, cross the Arctic Circle and say hello to reindeers. You get to sleep in a light house and hop on some of the thousands of islands in the Archipelago Trail or rent a cottage and go fishing in Lakeland by any of the beloved clear blue lakes.
You are not alone though, there are about 500 000 cottages, 3,2 million saunas and 190 000 lakes in Finland. That adds up a lot of sausage eating, beer drinking and wood chopping Finns.
DAY ONE: CROSS THE ARCTIC CIRCLE
Rovaniemi, the official home of Santa Claus, is 800 kilometers and about one hour flight from Helsinki. The most popular sights in the capital of Lapland are Korundi, a lively culture center and Arktikum, a museum telling the Northern stories of life. In the winter go hunting the Northern Lights and in the summer take a Midnight Sun river cruise. There are many reindeer farms to visit in Rovaniemi but even more fun is to go wild reindeer and moose spotting. Fell in love with Lapland? Stay for a while to visit Levi for cross country skiing and skiing on the white fells in the winter and for hiking, fishing or cloudberry picking in the summer.
DAY TWO: CUDDLE IN A LAKESIDE CABIN OR HOP ON A STEAMBOAT
Lakeland, the heart of Finland, is all about the most iconic views of the country. Deep green forests and glittering lakes remind of a set of pearls, following each other under a blue sky and white curly clouds that look like cotton wool. In the winter, the frozen lakes are a playground for outdoor activities such as ice skating, skiing and snowshoeing.
A great way to travel the lakes in the summer is to board one of the many steamers that still operate in Lakeland. The cities of Kuopio or Savonlinna are good places to start.
For slow life book a lakeside cabin and relax with nature activities such as fishing, canoeing or cross country skiing. After being outdoors all day even a simple dinner tastes heavenly. The fresh air, clear waters and a soothing sauna will make you feel like being in a wellness wonderland.
DAY THREE: VISIT A LIGHTHOUSE AND ENJOY THE ISLAND LIFE
The unique archipelago of Finland stretches from the Southern and Western coast all the way to Åland, a group of 6 700 islands (out of only 60 are habited) located between Finland and Sweden, in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Life on the islands is coloured with seasons and the weather – from autumn storms to quiet winters and reborn spring to midsummer magic.
The Archipelago Trail of 250 kilometers starting from Turku is the most popular route to navigate in your own time – or the island time – in no hurry at all. The islands are well connected with ferries and bridges even year-round and there are several bed & breakfasts and hotels to crash for the night, usually with a warm meal and sauna ready waiting for you.
If you are looking for an adventure head to the outer archipelago by boat and spend a night at Bengtskär, one of the best known lighthouses of Finland or take a day trip to Söderskär in the archipelago of Porvoo.
The article was published for Visit Finland in May 2016: