Finland

The land of the midnight sun
The homeland of Santa Claus

Finland has many names – “The land of a thousand lakes”, “The land of the Midnight Sun”, “The homeland of Santa Claus.” These names reflect the diversity of a country that boasts a virtually unlimited range of activities to suit every type of visitor, at any time of the year.

The usual starting point for visitors is the maritime capital and cultural heart of Finland , Helsinki . Over 450 years old, with a wealth of museums, galleries, shops, and other places of interest, Helsinki is truly a world class European capital and already one of Europe’s top travel destinations. But despite its high-tech services and modern outlook, Helsinki retains a small town atmosphere and friendliness, so that after five minutes of strolling the historic city streets, you’ll feel like you truly belong. The city is renowned for its distinctive blend of architectural styles, a mixture of influences from both the east and the west. At its center are the divine symmetry of Senate Square and the world-famous Cathedral, while Market Square , the most beautiful marketplace in the city, is surrounded by stunning 19 th Century buildings.

For those who love to shop, or just to look around, Helsinki offers an abundance of choice and quality. The best shopping is to be found in the streets bordering the stunning Esplanade Park , where you can wander the department stores and boutiques, and buy everything from traditional Finnish handmade crafts to high-tech gadgetry and cutting-edge fashion.

Helsinki has rightly earned its place as one of the Cultural Cities of Europe , earning that accolade in 2000. The city has many museums, such as the recently renovated National Museum , which provide a fascinating window into Finland ’s past. Or visit the galleries, which explore the artistic past as well as providing a showcase for the very best of contemporary art. Start with the Helsinki City Art Museum and the Museum of Cultures and then discover for yourself the literally dozens of galleries all around the city.

For those who want to relax after sampling some of the city’s cultural or commercial delights, the Esplanade Park is also the place to stop for a relaxing drink in one of the many smart terraced cafes. For something more substantial, it might be time to sample some local cuisine at one of the city’s many fine restaurants. Restaurants serving traditional Finnish cuisine using the best quality ingredients can be recognized by the Helsinki Menu sign. To round off the day, step out in style and sample some of the city’s sparkling nightlife, its many clubs and bars and entertainment centers.

Outside of the capital, there is a whole country to explore. With its diverse landscapes and extensive coastal areas, Finland offers an endless choice of activities firmly rooted in nature. Finland is world-famous as a fishing paradise at any time of the year, but for those who love their outdoor pursuits, Finland offers many other pastimes – canoeing, hiking, cycling, golf, to name but a small few!

If your goal is simply to relax, from Helsinki , take a trip through the country and see some of the most attractive locations in Europe . In the south is the Aland Archipelago, a group of 6500 islands, a country within a country, with its own flag, culture, and distinctive traditions, a perfect place to indulge in a spot of island-hopping on bike or motorbike. To the west of Helsinki , visit Turku , former capital of Finland and its oldest town capital and see the famous historic building, Turku Castle , founded in 1280. Travel up the scenic coastline, and stop at Rauma, a living, breathing town, which is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and literally step into the country’s medieval past. There’s a wealth of towns, national parks, lakes and beaches to choose from, as you make your way north. Then, cross the arctic circle and experience the magic of Lapland . The scenery here is truly awe-inspiring, with dense forests, crystal lakes and dramatic river gorges. Visit Santa Claus at the SantaPark theme park! In winter, experience the dramatic frozen north, with a full range of winter sports available, including skiing, snowboarding and ice-fishing. Take a reindeer sleigh-ride or a snowmobile safari or witness the truly spectacular natural phenomenon, the aurora borealis, the famous “Northern Lights.” Whatever your tastes, experience this breathtaking and magical country for yourself, and we guarantee, you’ll want to return!

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