Enjoy a Relaxing Vacation in Finland
Did you know that the largest archipelago in the world is in Finland? The most famous one is the Åland, an independent province of 6,500 islands in the south of the country, but many people (like me before this trip) do not know that Finland has more than 150,000 islands. If you fancy a trip that includes outdoor activities, museums, architecture, and wellness experiences, then Finland is the place for you.
The best time to visit Finland is in the summer, especially the month of July when the weather is mild and the Musiikin Aika (Time of Music Festival) takes place at the beginning of the month in Viitassaari (central Finland). On the other hand, if you want to see the Northern Lights and visit Lapland’s Santa Claus village, the best month to visit would be November. If you plan to visit different regions, you should rent a car that can also board on ferries to visit the archipelagos.
Wear comfy shoes and start the tour of the beautiful Finnish capital; visit the Temppeliaukion Kirkko (the Church in the Rock), an awe-inspiring construction excavated in solid rock that became one of the main attractions of the city. The entrance costs €3 and you can purchase your tickets online here.
After this, keep walking until the Kampin Kappeli (The Chapel of Silence), a place of quiet and rest in the heart of Helsinki. The chapel is made from three different types of wood that completely block noise from the outside. Entrance is free, and if you’d like, you can speak privately with both the employees of the Church and of the Social Service Department staff who are there to give support and listen anonymously.
Keep walking in town and visit the Helsinki Cathedral, the Uspensi Cathedral, and the Esplanadi Park until arriving at the Market Square, where you can enjoy local food stands with fresh fish, berries, and vegetables.
In the afternoon, visit the Design Museum (entrance is €12 for adults and €6 for students) and walk around the Design District where you can find rare handcrafted pieces and local design boutiques. End the day with the traditional Finnish Sauna experience. I suggest Löyly Sauna, an urban oasis on the Baltic sea, or Sompasauna, an open-air complex with saunas and music that was built by locals and is now managed by the municipality.
Eat at Lappi Ravintola, a restaurant from the Lapland region, and try the Reindeer or the Salmon (not adapt for vegetarian/vegan people).
Jump on the ferry to visit Suomenlinna, the Sea Fortress of Helsinki, built on an archipelago of six islands in front of the capital. Walk around its streets and enjoy the breathless landscape of millions of rocks where people have picnics in summer.
Once back in Helsinki, try the cinnamon rolls and a coffee at Johan & Nyström. Take the time to visit Seurasaari, another island of Helsinki known for its open-air museum. Book a table at the Zetor Restaurant and try out the fantastic creamy salmon soup with one of the many ciders they offer.
Now it is time for outdoor activities! Enjoy a day at the Nuuksio National Park; busses take you there, and there are various hiking routes you can take. Book a canoe tour at the entrance of the park, where experts will advise the best one depending on how much time you have and the canoe you prefer. On your day out, you can bring food with you and have a barbecue in one of the many fireplaces you will find in the park. Natura Viva also offers different canoe tours around Helsinki that you can join if you have free time.
Another option, if you have the time, would be visiting Porvoo, a lovely town one hour from Helsinki and the second oldest town in Finland that has been of inspiration for many artists. Once there, sit down at the Helmi Cafè, and try the traditional Runeberg cake before heading to the Cathedral.
From Porvoo, you can also spend a night on the Pellinge archipelago, which is another group of islands where you can kayak, barbecue, or fish. Have a ferry tour at sunset, buy local beers, and finish the day with relaxing sauna – you will feel so regenerated afterward!
If you have time, there are other great activities to do in the area, such as picking berries and mushrooms, birdwatching, bear-watching, bike tours, or walking tours. Helsinki offers many cool events and great restaurants. If you’re traveling to Finland, there are plenty of exciting things to do!