In part two of our ‘traveling in Finland’ series, we focus on the country’s northernmost cities and the nearby international destinations. As a general rule, keep in mind Finland is known for having all different art exhibitions hidden around. It is suggested that when traveling in Finland, you should pay attention to them. You never know where you can find them.
Lahti: This city, which Jean used to call home, is one of the main economic hubs of Finland. It houses an interesting market with a food court; it also boasts a famous ski jumping spot and holds yearly ski tournaments.
Oulu: Oulu is a coastal northern city, enjoyable during both summer and winter. It is accessible by bus and car, but makes for a challenging day trip. There is a unique statue on the main square— see if you can find it! There is an open market surrounded by plenty of cute houses, as well as a garden-like space and beach called Nallikari. Oulu is home to one of Finland’s few sand beaches with open access to water, and we highly suggest swimming there.
Kemi: Kemi is known for its amazing ice-snow castle, where you can rent a room during winter! It is very popular among YouTubers because there was an episode of Game of Thrones filmed there. The city is filled with many cute cafes of all different kinds. Be aware that this is a northern city, and it can get very cold— up to -20 C. However, it is very popular among foreigners because you can walk from one island to another across the frozen water.
Kuusamo: Kuusamo is a northern town and municipality with a beautiful national park; however, it is challenging to get there without a car. In Kuusamo, you can rent a cabin and even ride reindeers!
Ranua: Wildlife park; this zoo is home to over 50 arctic species!
Rovaniemi: Santa’s residence makes this northern municipality very popular among tourists. In Rovaniemi, you can find an arctic museum with a lot of unique exhibitions, as well as shops filled with items that you cannot buy anywhere else. For the best husky-ride experience and to have the best chance at a Northern Lights sighting, you should visit during late fall or winter.
Inari: Inari is one of the northernmost cities in Finland, and it gets very cold. It is possible to take a husky ride there as well, or a reindeer ride guided by one of the Sami people. . Don’t worry if you do not have the necessary clothing or equipment; they can rent you anything you might need.
Tallinn: Our first stop outside of Finland is the capital of Estonia. It is perfect for an inexpensive one day trip; however, you will likely need at least two days to see all of the sights. An old school city with a beautiful city center, Tallinn is a great place for shopping at a lower price. Alands/Ahvenmaa: Two of the most expensive cities in Finland, Alands and Ahvenmaa are close to Sweden. Here, you can find plenty of peaceful and beautiful islands.
Stockholm: You can get to Sweden’s capital city in 12 hours by water from Tallinn. If you can, we suggest taking a cruise— it is pricey, but worth it. Once you arrive, it takes about 2-3 days to see everything in the city. The city is quite expensive, even in comparison to Finland.
St. Petersburg: From Finland, you can reach St. Petersburg by car, bus, boat, or plane. By ferry, it takes 72 hours, but you do not need a visa. Most people take a quicker land or air route, however, because it is not difficult to get a visa to Russia from Helsinki.