Finland nowadays is one of the most developed countries in the world with the best social system. Finns are proud about their country, unique language and love their nature. Being sparsely populated, Finland is not a popular route for fellow tourists, but it definitely deserves their attention!
I have been to Finland about ten times because I live pretty close and never tired to visit this country! It has a plenty of things that attract me – the beautiful untouched nature, no crowds like in Italy or France, the way of organizing the cities and of course, Sauna!
Finland is the country of 180000 lakes, swamps, and forest! In summer, it is the best time to enjoy the long white nights, while in winter to watch the northern lights and visit the home of Santa Claus – the town Rovaniemi.
Helsinki – one of the best cities
According to the Economist magazine Helsinki is in the top – 20 of the best cities for life based on the quality of medicine, safety rate, culture, environment and education. The Finnish educational system is a separate topic, but it is worth to mention that it is one of the most innovative in the world.
Helsinki will definitely be the first point of your trip upon arrival to Finland and here you can visit the main sights of the country. The accommodations in Finland not cheap as in Estonia for instance, but if you search carefully and book ahead, you can find some good options as I did.
It will be enough to spend for Helsinki a couple of days without rushing. For my stay here I booked the Cheap Sleep Hostel on booking.com for €37 per night. For this price I got a single room with two beds and common bathroom. You can have here a cheaper option as well – a bed in dormitory for about €17. The location is good – near the Puu – Vallila wooden house district.
What can you see in Helsinki:
- The Helsinki Cathedral – Tuomiokirkko.
- Church in the rock – the Temppeliaukion Church
- Sibelius Monumet
- Puu – Vallila wooden house district
One of the first things you have to do in Finland is to experience the Finnish sauna! This is an essential part of their culture, and there are saunas everywhere in Finland from offices to private apartments, even in small flats. There are also mobile saunas that built into car trailers, buses or tractor trailers, which is surprising!
Types of Finnish Sauna:
- Electric saunas are mostly used in big cities, in public saunas and private apartments in Finland. It is more easy to use and doesn’t require wood to burn. You just need to press the button to make it working.
- Wood stove sauna is more popular sauna type outside of the cities in the rural areas. The wood preferred for this type of sauna is a well dried birch because of its good smell and quality.
- Authentic smoke sauna is the ancient one, which has no chimney. Nowadays we can observe the revival of this type of the sauna because they are appreciated as superior by experts. However, they are not go to replace the modern electric type because the heating process is too long, normally most of the day.
- Mobile saunas are awesome for events or parties and make available to take sauna bath anywhere you like. There are companies in Finland that offer to rent a portable saunas, and if you visit the website www.saunat.co, you will be able to rent a sauna near your location.
Where to visit sauna in Helsinki
If Helsinki is your first point of entry to Finland you should not delay visiting the Finnish sauna! There are several smaller public saunas or large Water parks with many pools and they offer a few types of saunas as well. I usually love to go to the large Water parks instead. So, I listed few of them, where you can enjoy and relax:
- Serena Water Park. Address: Tornimaentie 10, Espoo. This is the largest Water park in Scandinavia located in Espoo, which is close to Helsinki, 20 km from the center of the city. Serena is situated in Northern Espoo area (Lahnus) along the road 120 to Vihti, if you travel by car. You can also take a Bus 355 from Helsinki, or Bus 82 from Espoo
- Kotiharju sauna. Address: Harjutorinkatu 1. This is the last wood – heated sauna remaining in Helsinki, where you can have a massage and try the old remedy of cupping.
- Auquapark Flamingo. Address: Tasetie 8, Vantaa. The Auqapark is situated in the large Flamingo Spa entertainment center, which is 19 km north of Helsinki and close to the county’s main airport in Vantaa.
Turku is the oldest city and the former capital of Finland founded in 13 centuries and located in the Southwest of Finland. The city is an important seaport, where you can take a ferry and travel to Stockholm, for example. The part of the Turku’s population is Swedish -speaking and the city has also the Swedish name Åbo. What can you explore in Turku:
- The Turku Cathedral – Tuomiokirkko. This church is 700 years – old and it was the former Catholic cathedral but nowadays it is the Evangelical Lutheran Church. There are organ concert at noon here. You can walk down from the Cathedral along the Aura river towards the Castle.
- Turku Castle – Turun linna. This is a medieval building down in the harbor, which was built in the late 13 century. Today it is Finland’s most visited museum and here you can learn more about the history of Turku. The opening hours are Mon – Sun 10.00 – 18.00 and for the adult ticket you have to pay €12.
- Turku Art Museum represents the art collection from icons to the latest contemporary artworks. The Museum was designed by Gustaf Nyström and opened to the public in 1904.
If you happened to visit Finland in winter, Rovaniemi should be your first destination besides the sauna!) The home of Santa Clause and the capital of Lapland, this town attract countless tourists from around the world. There are bunches of things to do in Rovaniemi – from visiting the Santa Clause Village and crossing the Arctic circle to taking a sled ding dog tour and interacting with cuddly and fluffy huskies.
The Village of Santa Clause is located about 8 km north from Rovaniemi and this is the Official Residence of Santa in Lapland. You can meet Santa and take a picture with him for 35 euro:), cross the Arctic circle, which runs through Santa Clause Village and even get a certificate for this. From the Santa’s Official post office you can send a postcard and make a nice surprise for someone!
The Santa Clause village is accessible by the bus “Santa’s Express” or bus number 8, if you not go to rent a car. For the nice stay in Rovaniemi you can book the Guesthouse “Arctic Heart” for about 50 euros for a single room or if you want something really fancy, you can book the “Arctic Light Hotel” with the an amazing breakfast for €130.
Written by Alex