Finland - Touring Holidays
More trees than people and more islands than any other nation in the world, that’s what you’ll discover on an escorted tour to Finland. This is also the home of the sauna, and they are everywhere – in fact it is said that the country has enough of them to accommodate all 5.4 million Finns at the same time!
Start in Helsinki
Small and friendly, its capital Helsinki is a good place to start your explorations. Seek out the Sibelius Monument, unveiled in 1961 in honour of the Finnish composer. The country’s first abstract public monument, it caused some controversy as a more traditional work of art was favoured by some, and the 600 or so tubes that make up the piece could be interpreted as organ pipes, although Sibelius never composed organ music.
Be sure also to head to Senate Square, which sits at the oldest part of central Helsinki. Surrounded by landmark buildings created by architect Carl Ludvig Engel between 1822 and 1852, discover the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki, the National Library of Finland and the Lutheran Cathedral, whose green dome dominates the city skyline.
The ancient riverside town of Porvoo is another must-visit, and its history is played out amongst its charming cobblestone streets lined with cafés, restaurants, museums and craft shops. Once used to store exotic merchandise brought in from faraway lands, its bright-red wooden shore houses on the river’s edge are a striking attraction.
Boasting the Baltic Sea to its western and southern shores, two gulfs, hundreds of rivers and tens of thousands of lakes, 10 per cent of Finland is covered by water. Nearly 70 per cent is covered by forests. This makes the country a natural playground for lovers of the great outdoors, from fishermen and watersports enthusiasts to mountain-bikers and dog-sledders.
Reindeer to seals
Those lush forests, and Finland’s 37 national parks, provide the perfect habitat for an array of animals, from the easy-to-spot reindeer, red squirrel and mountain hare, to more elusive creatures such as bears, wolves and lynx, and the world’s rarest seal. The Saimaa ringed seal adapted to its freshwater home when the species was cut off from the sea in Lake Saimaa after the Ice Age. One of only three types of seal to live in lakes, its numbers are down to just 300. A haven for birders, the country also plays host to many types of bird which can be hard to spot elsewhere in Europe.
Finland is also a homeland of the Sami, the only indigenous people of the European Union. Their unique way of life, their language and their culture is governed by an autonomous parliament, and you can experience the world of the Sami on a holiday here. Reindeer herding is a central part of the Sami culture, with these creatures providing them with transportation, fur and meat.
Reindeer is also on the menu for holidaymakers, as well as beef, pork, elk, hare and wood pigeon. Fish and rye bread feature prominently too, and you can satiate your sweet tooth with a slice of cloudberry pie. Finish a meal with a glass of salmari – vodka flavoured with salted liquorice – you’ll either love it or hate it.
Head to Finland in the winter months when lakes turn to ice, trees become shrouded in powdery snow and the air is clean and pure. Skiing, tobogganing and snowshoe trekking are on offer for the adventurous traveller, or maybe sit back and enjoy the views on a less strenuous but equally thrilling sleigh ride as you tear through the snowy landscape on a reindeer or husky-pulled sleigh. Hotels, bars and castles made of snow, Santa Claus Village and the Northern Lights make holidays to Finland even more magical at this time of year.
After the long, dark winter, Finns welcome the summer months of June and July with open arms, along with the natural phenomena of the Midnight Sun. In the northernmost parts of Finnish Lapland the sun stays above the horizon for more than 70 days in a row. Below the Arctic Circle, enjoy white nights, with just a few hours of twilight diminishing the sun’s rays each day. What a great time to visit, when the days really are endless!
Every Travelsphere holiday offers exceptional value for money. Included in the price are return scheduled flights/rail travel and internal flights, where applicable, overseas transfers and transportation, carefully chosen hotels, many meals and excursions and the services of a Travelsphere Tour Manager or Local Guide.
Articles about Finland
Finland's sauna scene
Only one Finnish word has made its way into everyday English, and that’s sauna. This bathing ritual has been practised all over Finland for millennia, since the very first settlers heated up stones in a pit and enjoyed the soothing steam, which is known as löyly.
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