8 DAYS DETAILED ITINERARY OF BEST PLACES TO SEE IN FINLAND, EUROPE
Off late Finland is emerging as the preferred European destinations by a large section of well off Indian travellers. What’s attracting the travelers are not the unique culture of Finland but also its history and one of its kind traditions. The indigenous Sami people of Finland have their unique tradition, food, costumes and even language. Finland is suitable for travelers of all gender and age group. I am sharing below an 8 days long itinerary to explore Finland. Though, 8 days are injustice to the magic that Finland is but it is the best you can do in Finland if you are running out of budget and time.
What is the Best Time to Visit Finland?
You can visit Finland throughout the year. What you will experience in one season will be very different from other season in Finland. The weather and feel in drastically different in each season.
Months from December to April are great if you are keen on trying winter sports. Spring falls in May in Finland which is immediately followed by crisp summer.
Day 1 – Itinerary of best places to see in Finland
Helsinki cathedral wins for its central location. It is a traveler’s magnet since time immemorial. The details and mind blowing architecture of Helsinki cathedral is impressive. No wonder it is so popular that it can get very crowded at times, especially if it’s a weekend. Therefore it is best advised to visit the Helsinki cathedral during early morning. That is when the Church is most uncrowded and ethereal.
Go Café Hopping:
Helsinki has many charming little cafes that line the streets. Café Hopping is a good idea here as the city loves to drink different types of coffee. But what many people don’t know is that locals also sip and serve various types of teas. The tea culture is picking up in Helsinki and with good reason. What’s more, you can even get an Indian Masala Tea in Helsinki. The good news for vegetarians and vegans is that ‘it’ is not very difficult in Helsinki.
South harbor of Helsinki
South harbor of Helsinki is great for people watching and soaking in local lifestyle as it is perennially busy. When you are bored of watching old grandpas chasing their unruly grand-kids, you can indulge in some retail therapy as there are many local shops nearby. The views from Helsinki harbor are nice and so is the gorgeous waterfront. A walk here is calming! It is a busy harbor. 4.7 million passengers pay here a visit annually and more than 37,000 international cruise passengers take a break here. It is located in the heart of Helsinki and is thus easy to arrive at.
Uspenski Cathedral is an important stop as it is Western Europe’s largest orthodox cathedral. That makes it a must visit place. The 5 onion shaped domes of the 19th century church stand out. 22 carat gold tops the domes of the Cathedral. Needless to say, it is a Russian Cathedral. It is located in close proximity to the busy market square. It is located on a hilly area on the Katajanokka peninsula. It offers great views of the city below. The cathedral was consecrated in the year 1868 C.E. There is no admission fee to visit the cathedral. Do note that in winters, Uspenski Cathedral is not open on Mondays.
The best part of Helsinki is that most top places to see in Helsinki are located close to each other. The Esplanade is not very far away from the waterfront. It is an upscale area of Helsinki known for its high end boutiques, posh cafes and restaurants, luxury hotels and of course, exquisite architecture. That said, it is not difficult to enjoy this salubrious area even if spending on luxury is not your forte. No one ever paid anything for a simple walk in the public streets.
The al fresco Market Square is a wonderful area located close to the Uspenski Cathedral and the Esplanade. You can hang out at the picturesque Havis Amanda fountain or take selfies with the busy market as the backdrop. It is also a great place to buy the local produce and souvenirs at reasonable cost. It is very difficult to get bored here. Visiting the Market Square of Helsinki during the Christmas week is very rewarding and special for sure.
Old Market Hall:
Old Market Hall of Finland is located near the market Square. It is a great inexpensive way to engage with the vibrant local lifestyle. There are many sections in the Old Market Hall. You can take your pick from the ‘Farm to Table’ items, or even local produce. It is also a great place to sample some local cuisine. There are many interesting gourmet food boutiques here. Traditional giftwares can be bought here.
Day 2 – Itinerary of top places to see in Finland
Located in Finland’s picturesque South West coast, Turku makes for a great excursion from Helsinki. You can reach here via a 2 hours long train ride. What makes Turku special is that it is the oldest city of Finland. You can visit the cathedrals and charming medieval castles. No wonder it is also known as the historical capital of Finland. Spending an entire day in Turku is a good idea. It has a rich historic past as it remained one of the most important cities of Finland for centuries. In fact in old days, just the area in and around Turku was known as Finland. The aura river snakes through the landscape of beautiful Turku. There are as many and 10 bridges on the river including the pedestrian only bridges. A trip to Turku is like entering a time warp.
The grand architecture and good maintenance attract tourists and travelers from all walks of life. It was built in the 1280s. What pushes it on top of the Finland bucket list is the fact that it still is the largest surviving medieval building in all of Finland.
If possible, then visit the Turku Castle on a weekday as it is very popular with travelers and tourists alike. The Turku castle is in a good state of maintenance and is still in use. No wonder, it is the most visited museum cum fort of Finland.
There is a guided tour which you can participate in. It is a gorgeous castle. The best part is that entry is free at the Turku Castle. It is an old cathedral which was built between 1276-1300 C.E. The original cathedral was much smaller. More additions were made to it since the 14th century onwards. Some important personalities like Blessed Bishop Hemming, Paulus Juusten, Princess Sigrid of Sweden and Åke Henriksson Tott were buried within the cathedral precincts. A visit to Finland is incomplete without a visit to the Turku Cathedral as it is the most remarkable religious and historical building of Finland. It was originally built in wood and thus suffered massive destruction during the Great Fire of Turku in the year 1827 C.E.
Luostarinmäki is great for history buffs as well. It is an al fresco museum. It is an important stop on your Finland itinerary because it was the only area which survived the Great Fire of Turku in the year 827 C.E. It houses the only surviving buildings from the late 18th-century to early 19th-century period in their actual location. There is also a handicrafts museum which is worth a visit here.
Kakolanmäki Hill Museum–
Not only can you enjoy the breathtaking views from the Kakolanmäki hill but you can also learn about the 19th century prison. Kakolanmäki Hill Museum is quite a popular destination. You can also sit back and indulge in some coffee and muffins in the Café Kakola. One of the rooms of the museum talks about how labourers were forced to do hard labour to quarry the Kakola granite. The same granite was used for the construction of St. Michael’s Church in Turku. And oh, Kakolanmäki Hill is also the 2nd highest hill of Turku. So, be prepared for some stunning views of the town below. That’s another thing that this place once was home to the most hardened criminals of Finland for 150 years.
You can visit many of the interesting museums of Finland. Some of them are as below:
Sibelius Museum –
Sibelius museum is dedicated to the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The centuries old musical instruments in display are intriguing. There is an entire room dedicated to the life and work of Sibelius. If you are a music buff, then you will love your time here as it is the only museum of Finland which is entirely about music.
Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art:
In this museum, you can learn about the legendary Finnish artist and sculptor Wäinö Aaltonen.
Day 3 – Itinerary of best places to visit in Finland
The UNESCO World Heritage site status of Suomenlinna makes it worth a visit. The formidable sea fortress was built in mid 1700s by Swedish people. Also called the “Gibraltar of the North”, a visit to Suomenlinna requires all day.
How to reach Suomenlinna –
HSL Ferry to Suomenlinna are available from the market square. The ferries are available every half an hour. It takes about 15 minutes to cover the distance from the Market Place to Suomenlinna.
Day 4 – Itinerary of top places to visit in Finland
You must visit Kittila next. Kittila is a skiing destination but even if you are not into skiing, this gorgeous place will cast a spell on you. Located on the north of Arctic Circle in the Lapland region, the landscapes of Kittila are incredibly gorgeous, no matter which direction you look at. The abundance of snow can lead to a fun holiday.
How to reach Kittila – It takes slightly more than 1 hour to arrive at Kittila from Helsinki via flight.
Day 5 – Itinerary and guide on best places to see in Finland
Luvattumaa – Levi Ice Gallery
You should continue staying at Kittila and make a day trip to Luvattumaa – Levi Ice Gallery. It is a quirky place. Everything you see here is built up of snow. Spread across ,1,10,000 square feet , you need to wear proper winter wear as the temperatures at Luvattumaa – Levi Ice Gallery hover around -22°C. There are hotels, chapels and even a bar in this structure built entirely of snow and frozen blocks.
It is one of its kind place. You must not miss the snow village.
Days 6-8 – Itinerary and complete guide of best places to see in Finland
Rovaniemi and Oulanka National Park
Rovaniemi is another popular snow destination located near Kittila. You will not feel like leaving Rovaniemi. Rovaniemi is one of its kind place in the entire Finland. A visit to the Santa Claus Village will be memorable. The arctic wilderness adds to the aura of Rovaniemi. Marttiinin Wanha Tehdas is also a must visit place in Rovaniemi. The rugged landscape of Oulanka National Park is a photographer’s and nature lover’s paradise. Some of the outdoor adventure activities you can do here are canoeing, treks, snow shoeing, cross country skiing and cycling. What’s more? Even bird-watching and mushroom and berry picking is popular here.
How to reach Rovaniemi:
You can arrive at Rovaniemi from Kittila via a 2 hours long scenic road trip. If you are on a backpacking budget then go for buses which are cheaper than cabs. Next you should head to the Oulanka National Park which is just 2 hours 30 minutes drive away from the snow paradise – Rovaniemi. Locals and travelers come to Oulanka National Park for hikes, canoeing and snowshoeing. To appreciate the beauty of Oulanka National Park, you must spend an entire day here.
Distance from Rovaniemi to Kittila is just 150 kilometers and it takes approximately 2 hours to cover the journey. It is an easy journey via picturesque locations.
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