Close your eyes and picture Finland. What do you see? A never-ending Nordic wilderness? Perhaps miles and miles of lush green forest or herds of reindeer in a winter wonderland? Do you vision trendy towns with arresting architecture, throbbing with cafes, bars and art, or is it the dreamlike Northern Lights you see? Actually, it’s all of the above, plus more. Throw in one of the most charming capital cities in Europe, a few million saunas, 188,000 shimmering lakes, 37 national parks, a Santa Claus and an untainted coastline, dotted with picturesque inlets and islands – you just might get the picture. Whichever way you see it, Finland is just fabulous.
From the Midnight Sun to the Little Mermaid and from crossing the Arctic Circle to crossing the northern seas, Scandinavia is truly an astonishing part of the world.
Experience Baroque splendour and marvel at Scandinavian design, as you discover how the capitals of the north have been shaped by conﬂict, spanning the Thirty Years' War to the end of the Cold War.
Sail the Baltic Sea, crossing rolling tundra and glassy fjords in your search for the midnight sun, all the while enjoying the local culture, history and striking scenery.
Start your adventure in Helsinki’s neoclassical Senate Square, which boasts the magnificent Helsinki Cathedral, plenty of Art Nouveau architecture, the bronze statue of Alexander II, Finlandia Hall, Government Palace and the National Library of Finland. Don’t miss the unusual Sibelius monument and astonishing modern "Church-in-the-Rock". Stroll in the harbour side market or take the ferry from Market Square to the Suomenlinna Island fortress, which is packed with museums and military remnants. Away from the city you have the vast countryside and unspoiled islands, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. The colourful Lakeland gives way to the snow-covered Lapland, and the smaller towns have much history and culture to offer.
Summertime in Helsinki is the time for picnicking in the park, wining and dining on the terraces, hopping from one exciting event - be it a festival, street market, or an art exhibition - to the other. The café tradition is very much alive in all the country’s chic towns, and many festivals are held throughout the year.
Have you been naughty or nice? It doesn’t matter because Mr Claus has set up a village right on the Arctic Circle and you can sit on his knee every day of the year! Want to try herding Santa’s reindeer? Visit Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland to get into the Lapp culture. Also try a traditional Lapp dinner or a performance of local folk dancing.