Episode 14

Part 1: Travelling from Southern to Central Finland

During the summertime, the sun rises much earlier in Finland. Birds are singing, and the nights get so short that they nearly disappear. Summer is the best time to travel in Finland. In this episode, your well-traveled guides, Petra and Jean, will teach you how to travel in Finland and share the must-see destinations, from tourist traps to hidden gems.

Helsinki: You have probably heard of Finland’s capital city. However, Helsinki is a little bit different from other European capitals. For one thing, its design is more open and the city itself is less packed than most other capital cities, leaving plenty of room to explore. Although most tourists visiting Finland go straight to Lapland, Helsinki is increasingly becoming a popular destination.

One of the major benefits of travelling in Helsinki is its walkability. On top of that, the city boasts well-developed public transportation and an affordable taxi-app option called Yango. In the very center of the city, near a harbour, you will find Helsinki’s main square. With a large, picturesque park, statues, and shops, the main square is one of the most popular areas of the city.

From the harbour, it is possible to take ferries to various islands. Each island is unique and easily accessible. You can take a ferry to the Korkeasaari Zoo, or the sea fortress Suomenlinna.

One popular pastime in Helsinki is to travel by boat from one island to another. There are more islands than you can imagine, and all of them are unique with small cafes, BBQ spots, and nature spots.

Back on the square stand Helsinki’s most important buildings. Here, you can find the President’s palace and the old Orthodox church. In addition to that, the famous hand-shake event is held on the square. Close to the main square there is a very popular spot: the Allas sea pool. Here, you can enjoy the sauna and jump into either the heated pool or the freezing seawater pool.

Helsinki does not have that many skyscrapers; however, there are a lot of interesting museums. The most famous are the Natural History Museum close to Kamppi and the National Museum. Although they are not too expensive to begin with, it is possible to visit for free on every first or last Friday of the month or on museum day.

Oodi is the central library in Helsinki; it was built on the 100th anniversary of the country’s independence. Just look for the massive, futuristic building resembling a boat. Inside, there is a lot of open space for different activities, and the library even has sewing machine rooms! All you need is a library ID card, and you can use any space.

Sipoo: Just to the east of Helsinki Sipoo is pretty much a great National Park. A 35-minute trip from the center of the city, Sipoo is a great place to experience Finnish nature.

Porvoo: A charming coastal city with houses of all different kinds of colours, Porvoo is home to lovely shops and cafes. See if you can find our favourite cafe -- it has the best Ice Cream you've ever had.

Turku: This city holds a special place in Petra’s heart because she spent a lots of time over there when visiting her boyfriend. She is speaking from experience when she warns that the bus ride from Jyväskylä to Turku is very long. Located close to Sweden, Turku used to be the capital of Finland. Turku Castle is one of the main seesights of the city, it is also one of the few castles in all of Finland. It has functioned as a museum in recent years. In addition to the Main Lutheran Church and Aquamarine museum, Turku is known for its amazing hidden cafes sprinkled throughout the city.

Naantali: This tiny (but very pretty) town in southwestern Finland is known for being one of the oldest towns in Finland.

Rauma: This city is home to an old wooden part of the city which is part of UNESCO. It is a very old school and traditional city similar to Porvoo and known for the handmade goods that are sold at its markets. The population is a little bit older, and the city has a lovely charm to it.

Pori: At first sight, this city seems to be very similar to all the other ones; however, it is unique because of its beach. It is a sand beach with access to the sea water-- not many other places in Finland can say that!

Tampere: One of the most unique things to see here is an amusement park called Särkänniemi; however, it might be closed during winter time. If you are able to visit when the park is open, you can catch a beautiful 360 view from the park tower. Outside of the park. Tampere is a lovely industrial city with many local companies and tourists. There is also a beautiful, hidden area with picturesque wooden houses.

Jyväskylä: Our favourite city, and the location of our alma mater. It is a lovely, student oriented city with a big local and foreign population. Jyväskylä is home to the popular ski resort Laajavuori, and also boasts an interesting city center, a harbour, and Jyväskylä university.

Petäjävesi: A tiny charming city in central Finland. It is known for its old wooden church, which is a UNESCO heritage site. You will need to make a reservation to go there; however, it is not difficult to do so. You can read about the church’s rich history on its UNESCO page, which we have linked below.

Kuopio: Another small city with beautiful hiking spots and little markets; we suggest you climb the hill and enjoy the beautiful view.