If you visit Finland during winters then snow-hushed forests, Christmas time conviviality and the home of Santa Claus will make an instant impact. You must be there throughout summer as well for midnight morning saunas by breath taking scenic lakes and melt-in-the-mouth fresh berries and potatoes. Fresh air, the Lapland backwoods, the hiking, the wildlife!
Finland isn’t just infinite span of immaculate wilderness. Vibrant cities accumulate the southern parts, headlined by the capital, Helsinki, a progressive urban space with world-renowned design and music Vista. Embraced by the Baltic, it’s a stunning entity of modern and majestic architecture. The Finns, who do their own fad and are much the better for it. They are sovereign, devoted and hospitable – unforgettable people in an inspirational country. Lapland shed a prevailing magic charm: there’s something amazing and elusive here that craft it magical. The midnight sun, skiing, building a snowman, the Sámi peoples, the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) and roaming reindeer and foxes who dawdle with their lives by fluttering across the main road are all stuff which adds up to beauty.
Lapland is a real-life winter wonderland and staying at the snow hotel would be an icing on the cake and the temperature here dips to -30 to -51°C in winter.
Finland Food and Languages
The most regular food consumed in Finland consists of potatoes, bread, Karelian pies, meat. Though finding Halal meat and restaurants are bit difficult. Finns are devoted on potatoes in every variety conceivable – boiled, smashed and toasted.
In Helsinki, Govinda’s Vegetarian Club serves a wholly Indian- style vegetarian menu in a laid-back atmosphere, where customers are encouraged to sit on the floor and eat their order with their hands. Meanwhile, Vegemesta offers a wide selection of vegetarian burgers, such as soya, hemp and tofu, while also offering a great range of local bread, cakes and coffee. As you go Lapland you won’t find Halal meat and vegan food. Self-cooking with the fresh vegetable and salmon fish is the only option.
Accommodation in Finland
There are extensive ranges of accommodation choices available in Finland, from the customary hotels, hostels and B&Bs, or the more rustic log cabins by lakesides and farm stay in the countryside, to the very extraordinary chance to spend your nights in a Snow Hotel or beneath the stars and northern lights in a glass igloo!
- Mixed Hostels rooms – INR 2000– INR 4500 (27 EUR-54 EUR)
- Budget Hotels – INR 14000 – INR 21000 (189 EUR- 284 EUR)
- Campsites – INR 2000– INR 5000 (27 EUR- 67 EUR)
- Holiday homes – INR 2000-INR15000 (27 EUR- 203 EUR)
- Average hotels – INR 3000- INR 6000 (40 EUR- 81 EUR)
Transportation in Finland
Transport network in Finland by air, rail, road, water is comprehensive and trustworthy.
The rail system stretches all over the country from Helsinki to Kolari in Lapland. Trains are well-maintained and the panorama along the rails is stunning, especially in Eastern Finland with its many lakes. For longer distances, travelling during the night in a sleeping car is recommended.
Finland has five international Airports fully operative. The main gateway is the Helsinki-Vantaa international airport. The northernmost airports are in Ivalo, Rovaniemi in Lapland. Few domestic flight operators in Finland are Finnair, Norwegian, Flybe, SAS.
BY BOAT AND FERRY
Almost all of Finland’s coastal and lakeside towns run boat services, as well as prepared sightseeing and charter cruises. Lakeland and Archipelago sail range from small expeditions to relaxed tours with cabin accommodation.
- Viking Line (Estonia, Sweden, Åland)
- St. Peter Line (Russia – St. Petersburg)
Driving in Finland in the summer is a breeze, but can be difficult in the winter if you don’t have any practice you may find a bit difficult. Roads get icy and snow tires are legally required from December to February. Headlights must be used at all times. You can find all the international car rental operators in Finland with good vehicles. Indians holding a valid driving Licenses more than a year can drive in Finland. It is advisable to carry an international driving license which can be taken from the Driving License Authority in a day or two.
Rent Varies from Euro 45 (INR 3400) to Euro 100 (INR 7000) depends on the vehicle. I have booked through the online car rental website Cartrawler, Excellent service.
If you are travelling by Finnair book the rent a car via Finnair website for more discounts.
Finland’s coach road network is one of the broadest in Europe covering more than 90 per cent of public roads. If the rail network doesn’t reach your chosen Finnish destination, coaches will take you there. check these websites mentioned below.
Buy the Helsinki Card: Your Sightseeing Pass to Helsinki You can settle on a 24, 48 or 72-hours on Helsinki Card which also consist of free travel on public transport in the entire metropolitan area and rail link between Helsinki city centre and Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. You could save more than €100.
Must Do in Finland
Helsinki is one of the vibrant cities in Europe, the capital of a country with such watery geography, interweave so stunningly with the Baltic’s bays and islands.
The architectural scene and design here is one of the most stimulating in the world today, with boutiques, workshops and galleries flourishing in the Design District, Helsinki’s street, beautiful forests, museums and intriguing back streets. Helsinki card is a great way to travel around the city.
Top tourist attractions of Helsinki are: Seurasaaren Ulkomuseo , Ateneum, Kiasma, Tuomiokirkko, Mannerheim-Museo, Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, Tamminiemi, National Museum of Finland, Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, Flytour Helsinki, SkyWheel Helsinki, City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour, Beautiful Canal Route Cru, Amos Anderson Art Museum, Temppeliaukio Church
- Travel around Helsinki city by tram
- Discover Helsinki with City Bikes
The Helsinki Card also bids great value discounts such as 30% discount on the Finnair airport bus, discounts on tours out of town, tours to Tallinn, restaurants, concerts, sports, sauna, rentals and much more.
2) Santa Claus Village
Winter doesn’t get much more impressive than in Scandinavia’s frozen north. The ‘official’ Santa Claus Village where the big white beard guy resides is built at the Arctic Circle indicator, symbolized by a line painted on the tarmac (Arctic Circle certificates cost €4.20; the tourist information desk can stamp your passport for €0.50).
Santa sees visitors year-round in this impressive grotto, with a huge clock mechanism. The chubby saint is fairly a linguist, and an old hand at chatting with kids and adults alike. The Lappish town of Rovaniemi, with its Disney-style theme parks, can, nevertheless, abscond a lot of serious traveller’s cold. Instead, wrap up warm and head out into the wilds. There’s a combination of souvenir stands and classier shops, some selling Sámi handicrafts. Additional attractions here comprise reindeer-pulled sleigh rides (on wheels in summer, traditional runners in the snow; per adult/child from €17/13 for 400m) and Santa’s Grotto.
Lodging options embrace panoramic glass-walled cabins. There’s also igloo accommodation in winter. You can also trip a husky park, and view ice sculpting and varying Christmassy exhibitions.
Bus 8 heads here from the train station, via the city and airport (return adult/child €7.20/4, 20 minutes, hourly 6.30am to 6.30pm).
Don’t miss to take a selfie crossing the Arctic line.
3) Northern Lights Hunt from Rovaniemi.
Unleash your inner Arctic voyager on this 2.5-hour husky safari from Rovaniemi. Start for a husky farm where a team of friendly huskies or reindeer-driven sleighs will woof a fervent welcome. The Northern Lights hunting is an epic outdoors night tour. The warm outfit, a professional guide, hot drink and snacks on fire is all you need – the Aurora Borealis will make you feel the real spirit of Lapland.
You will be picked up from your lodging point in Rovaniemi and transferred for a 2-hour outing to a customary Finnish tent with a campfire on the lake shore. This secret spot is the best place to observe the northern lights as well as the Polar night’s beauty. You will also enjoy snacks geared up on a campfire and conventional hot berry juice and cookies. A plenty of legends and fascinating stories about the life beyond the Arctic Circle will be told by your professional guide. And if you are lucky the Fire Foxes (northern lights) will appear and lighten up everything around you!
The rates vary from euro 120 (INR 9000) to Euro280 (INR 20000) check for safari bookings at laplandsafaris.
4) Cruise to SuomelinnaIsland
Suomenlinna, the ‘fortress of Finland’, is set on a bunch of islands connected by bridges. It was initially built by the Swedes as Seaborg in the mid-18th century. Quite a lot of museums, former bunkers and citadel walls, as well as Finland’s only remaining WWII submarine, are captivating to explore. From the main dock, walking path fixes the main attractions. There are guided walks from here (adult/child €10/4) in English three times daily from June to August, and 1.30pm Saturdays and Sundays the rest of the year. There are several other eating places, largely mediocre. The best for a hot coffee or a bite is Suomenlinnan Panimo, by the main quay. At around 5.15pm find a spot to watch the massive Baltic ferries go by the narrow gap between islands.
- Ferries (single/return €2.80/5, 15 minutes, three times hourly, fewer in winter) depart from the passenger dock at Helsinki’s Kauppatori.
- JT-Line (http://jt-line.fi) runs a water bus at least hourly from the Kauppatori, making three stops on Suomenlinna (one way/return €4.50/7, 20 minutes, 8 am to 10 pm May to mid-September).
5) A day trip to Tallin – Estonia
Estonia’s capital is one of Europe’s most beautiful and romantic medieval towns, with its towers and battlements, fortification walls, winding streets and green parks. Tallinn offers a wide range of activities with the charming old town and a number of other destinations within walking distance of the harbour.
Travel with Viking XPRS or the newly added Viking FSTR, which makes the trip one way in under 2 hours. Spend the day in Tallinn and then travel back the same evening.
6) Ski at Ruka-Kussamo/Yallas/ sariselka
Finland’s most popular ski and holiday resorts are located in these locations. You will find yourself encircled by the immaculate scenery of the magnificent hills, pure rivers, wild woodlands and wonderful natural scenery.
On the onset of winters that is around October or November, you can find moderate snow. These are a haven for skiers since A vast network of cross-country ski tracks circle is available.
- ICE KARTING RACE – 1 h, driving time 25 min, 50€/person
- PRO ICE KARTING RACE – 1,5 h, driving time 35 min, top 3 drivers get medals, 80€/person
- ICE KARTING SAFARI – 20-40 km snowmobile safari combined with an ice karting race, starting from 110€/person
7) Visit Nuuksio Reindeer Park
Experience a touch of Northern magic in Nuuksio Reindeer Park which is the southernmost place in Finland where you can see reindeer. A peaceful walking tour with a reindeer in the beautiful national park. Enjoy the tranquillity of nature and clean air. Hiking from Haltia to the reindeer park, Meet Santa Claus and reindeer in Nuuksio.
Opening hours of Nuuksio Reindeer Park and entrance fees
Finnish National holidays: 20/5, 17/6 and 26/8/17, 12pm – 4pm
Summer 2017: 1/7 – 13/8/2017 (closed on Wednesdays), 1pm – 5pm
20 € – adults
10 € – children (4-11 yrs)
50 € – family (2+2)