Helsinki, Tampere, Turku are undoubtedly highlights, but visiting the small Finnish villages gives the traveler a more intimate, authentic, and relaxed view of Finland. Dotted around this land of lakes and forests are a number of truly stunning towns. Here are 7 of our favorites:
Porvoo has been loved by some of Finland’s greatest poets and artists. It is the second oldest city in Finland and evidence of its long history can still be seen and felt as you walk its charming streets. The historical old town boasts lots of pretty, colorful traditional wooden houses, which are an amazing sight to see. Porvoo is also famous for its countless interior design shops and always has been a source of inspiration for many local designers.
It may come as a surprise for some people, but Finland has beaches too. Hanko is a summer paradise for anyone who loves sun, sandy beaches and sea combined with the old town’s charming atmosphere, colorful events and enticing restaurants. Hanko is often spoken of as Finland’s Hampton or the Finnish riviera.
Mariehamn is the capital of Åland Island, an autonomous Swedish-speaking territory in Finland. Walking around the small center, you will see streets full of colorful wooden buildings and houses that really bring the town to life, either in summer or in winter. Mariehamn is the perfect antidote to a hectic, big city life style of the Baltic Sea capitals: Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn and St. Petersburg. The town was also once the home for the world’s largest oceanic sailing ships and therefore, there is a large marina to explore and a museum ship anchored in the city’s western harbor.
There are a number of things to see in Raseborg, both man-made and natural. There are historic ironworks of Fiskars and Billnäs, Raseborg castle ruins, the Svartå Manor and Ekenäs with its quaint small wooden houses to cheer you up on a dark day. On the natural side, Raseborg is a good jumping-off point to explore the magnificent archipelago, which contains Ekenäs National Park.
One of the most important Finnish experience is, without any doubt, sauna. Salla is a great place to get an authentic sauna experience by enjoying the relentless sauna heat and afterwards, going swimming in the ice-cold, crystal clear lake. As Salla is in Lapland, there are tons of other great winter activities there, so make sure you stay for a few days to experience them all.
Naantali is the town of a thousand islands. The highlights of sunny Naantali are the idyllic old town and the nearby archipelago. There is a shimmering energy in the heart of the town with its lively cafes, restaurants, terraces and a world of colorful boutiques. The town’s well-known sights are Moominworld, Naantali Spa Hotel and Kultaranta – the summer residence of the President of Finland.
Ever dreamt of sleeping in an igloo? Ever dreamt of sleeping in an igloo with a glass roof, perfectly suited for Aurora Borealis-hunting? Then Saariselkä is your place to go. You can take a sled-dog safari to witness the beauty of what real winter looks like or come in June or July to find out the real meaning of White Nights.
Also, don’t forget to check our Finland’s Bucket List for the best experiences in this magic country.