Summer holidays in Finland


There's more to Finland than Christmas with Santa

Finland may be known for its frozen forests and reindeer drawn sleighs but visit in the snow free months of June to September, and you'll find a destination making the most of life outside of the dark depths of winter. From the Helsinki archipelago to Lapland’s national parks, summer holidays in Finland are just as joyful for travellers as they are for Finns. With the long daylight hours and stretches of wilderness, there's a real buzz about the place – and not just because of the mozzies flitting around the wetlands.
Finland has the most forest cover in Europe, with close to 80 percent of its land covered in trees, and the Wild Taiga along the Russian border is just one region where you can get way out of reach of civilisation in pine covered heaths and old growth spruce, shrouded in lichen. Hiking huts are tucked beside vast lakes, ideal for taking out a canoe before retiring to an open fire for coffee and lingonberry pancakes.

Depending on your interests, you can time your trip to coincide with summer festivals, including chamber music, wife carrying races or swamp football matches. The Finns really do know how to make the most of every single one of those long daylight hours. From spending a night in a bear hide or camping out under the stars to trying your hand at reindeer husbandry or canoeing across a pine surrounded lake, there are so many things to do in Finland during the summer that you'll never need to think about snow and Santa ever again.

Things to do in Finland in Summer


Hiking in Finland is an absolute must in summer with Hossa National Park, especially, providing a series of well marked trails to lead travellers through forests and over wetlands via footpaths and wooden boardwalks. Joining a small group tour (max 13) is a great option if you're looking to explore these wilderness areas with a local guide. Hiking from hut to hut is an excellent way to get deeper into Finnish wilderness. Luggage transfers allow you to cover daily distances between 12 and 20km with ease, while English speaking guides reveal the secrets of the forest ecosystems, help you forage for mushrooms and berries, and share stories about the traditional culture.
Sled dogs need their exercise in the snow free months, too, and hiking with huskies is about as authentically Finnish as you can get. The energetic dogs will take humans on a power assisted hike over distances between 5 to 20km across pine heaths and eskers.

If you're looking for four wheels rather than four legs then a self drive holiday in Finland also fits the bill. Circular driving routes from the city of Oulu, for example, take in some of the uninhabited Wild Taiga areas with good quality roads and hardly any traffic adding making it a breeze to drive between family run guesthouses and locally owned hotels. An excellent road network links up the national parks, and your holiday company will arrange a tailored itinerary, detailed maps and handpicked accommodation. The only thing you’ll need to worry about is keeping your eyes peeled for reindeer…
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Where to go


Finland’s population is concentrated into the south, particularly around Helsinki. So head north and you'll find a far more remote and wild ambience, even by Finnish standards. The north central regions of Northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu, for example, contain numerous national parks which are ideal destinations on self drive tours or as part of hiking holidays. Also worth visiting during the summer is the town of Kuusamo which is the gateway to a wealth of wilderness destinations as well as Finland's favourite 80km walking trail, the Great Bear, in Oulanka National Park. Rokua and Hossa National Parks are also easily accessible during the warmer, lighter months.

If you're looking for a slightly surreal summer tour, check out Rovaniemi in Lapland, just 6km from the Arctic Circle, where every day is Christmas Day.

Where to stay


Come July and August you'll find most Finns heading out of the city and into their lakeside cottages which means you will experience peace and quiet even in the capital. However, if you're looking to go with the flow in Finland find a family run guesthouse or cosy cabin deep within the forests and around the lakes of the north. Self drive itineraries give you every chance to do just that with plenty of good quality half board options offering a chance to stop for a picnic or duck into a village restaurant for lunch. Hiking holidays also offer accommodation in reindeer or husky farms, rural huts and log cabins. These boast outdoor saunas to ensure a good night's sleep as you keep one ear open for the call of the wild.
Photo credits: [Boats: Ninara] [Things to do: Gary Bembridge] [Where to stay: Heather Sunderland]

Written by: Chris Owen
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