Finland is like a fairytale. There is so much to see and do in this snowy strip of land in northern Europe. And while it’s not technically a Scandinavian country, it shares some of the most attractive attributes with its Scandinavian neighbors, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
If you’re looking to explore a beautiful but underrated region, full of rugged landscapes and soothing saunas, you’ve got to get to Finland. Here are some of the best spots to visit.
Food – Restaurant Aanaar
Looking to get to know the Finnish culture a bit more? Then head to Restaurant Aanaar in Inari for a taste of high-end local cuisine. You’ll get to enjoy eccentric local delicacies like reindeer heart and pine needles. You’re sure to be in awe at how the Finnish repurpose and prepare these interesting ingredients. While you eat, there’s a great view of the Juutuanjoki’s Jäniskoski Rapids. You know, for better digestion.
Winter Sports – Skiing at Levi
A visit to a Nordic country wouldn’t be complete without a skiing trip and a dip in the saunas afterward. Head to Levi, the best and biggest ski resort in Finland. There are reindeer parks and sled rides available for kids and there’s even a dedicated snowboard park for anyone who wants to try out some tricks.
Summer Sports – Archipelago National Park
This park is on an island off the southwest coast of Finland. Located in the Baltic Sea, it hosts all sorts of wildlife, including seals and geese. Rent a sailboat or kayak to explore the waters and neighboring islands. Trout and pike are also common here, so you make sure to bring your fishing rod!
Unique Experience 1 – Dig for Amethysts
At Lampivaara mine, deep in Pyhä-Luosto National Park, you can mine your own amethysts! The rocks in this mine are 200 million years old. And the park rule is that if you unearth an amethyst smaller than your fist, you get to keep it. Happy hunting!
Unique Experience 2 – Lumilinna, Ice Castle
Sure, castles are cool, but the stone variety are all over Europe. Only Finland offers a castle of the ice variety. Lumilinna Snow Castle of Kemi melts every summer and then is rebuilt every fall. And it offers everything you would want in a castle: draw bridges, towers, even high ceilings. Plus, you can choose to stay overnight and sleep in an ice bed, complete with headboard and pillars. There’s also a restaurant in the castle if you get hungry after the tour.