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Finland is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Russia to the east, Sweden to the west, and Norway to the north. The Gulf of Bothnia sits to the west of the country while the Gulf of Finland rounds out the south.
The region of Lapland stands out as one of the most highly visited areas of any Finnish region. As it’s above the arctic circle it experiences both a polar night and a midnight sun. It’s so far north that the aurora borealis is seen regularly throughout spring, winter, and fall. Lapland is also regarded as the home of Saint Nicholas and hosts several theme parks celebrating the fact.
Covered in thick pine forests, lakes, and rolling hills, Finland attracts people predominantly for its natural landscape. It contains 40 national parks and plays host to a range of outdoor activities including skiing, fishing, golfing, bird-watching, hiking, and kayaking.
Finland also has plenty of urbanized regions to attract city-goers. Helsinki, as its capital, sees the most tourism.
Helsinki Airport is the major international gateway to Helsinki and represents the largest airport in Finland. Operated by Finavia, it’s located in Vantaa.
You have two options for entering Finland from Sweden via car: you can go around the Gulf of Bothnia and enter from the north or have your vehicle ferried across the sea from Kapellskär. It’s a similar story if you want to enter from Norway: you either make the trip up north and circuit Sweden or you can ferry to Finland from Stockholm. If arriving via Russia you have plenty of entry points along the border.
There are currently no rail options from its bordering countries to Finland but plenty of buses make the journey.
Turku: The oldest city in Finland, Turku is a fun, lively destination with plenty to keep tourists busy. A river city, the Aura River weaves throughout the ancient squares and streets, hosting various picturesque riverside restaurants and cafes to catch a coffee or a bite to eat. The history of the place is also not to be missed, with a visit to Turku Castle — the largest surviving medieval building in Finland — an absolute must.
Lake Saimaa: One of the largest natural freshwater lakes in Europe, Lake Saimaa is famous for its inhabitants: the Saimaa ringed seal. These endangered animals are the only in the world to evolve to live in freshwater after being separated from others of the species by receding ice at the end of the last Ice Age.
Kemi Ice Hotel: The Kemi Ice Hotel lives up to its name as a hotel made entirely out of ice and snow. Located in Lumilinna, it’s a must see if you’re traveling to Finland in the winter.
Drivers drive on the right-hand side of the road in Finland so you may only park on the right side of the carriageway. However, if the street is one-way then standing and parking are allowed on both sides.
Parking restrictions in Finland are strict but clearly indicated. Most cities have time-limited spaces which you’ll need to purchase parking vouchers for. These vouchers can be bought from vending machines along the street.
If you’re parking in a free but time-limited spot, you’re required to indicate your time of arrival. This is most commonly achieved with a parking disc. The indication of your start time but me clearly displayed on the dashboard.
Midsummer Festival: Midsummer festival is a traditional Finnish festival that is celebrated on a Saturday between June 20th and 26th. The festival sees bonfires lit by the sea and at lakesides, branches of birch trees placed to either side of front doors, and a maypole erected. The whole country celebrates with plenty of drinking and celebrating so whatever city you’re in you’re sure to find something to join.
Midnight Sun Film Festival: Held the second week of June in Sodankyla, this festival hosts national and international films for 5 days without break. Some of the biggest names in film have attended and the festival is one of the most popular in Finland.
Kaustinen Folk Music Festival: Having been around since 1968, this festival is the biggest folk music and dance festival in the Nordic countries. It hosts artists from around the world every July and lasts for around a week each year in the town of Kaustinen.