Finland Cheap Hotel Bed and Breakfast Guest House Accommodation
Finnish beach sauna
With its short, intense summers, when Finns take their chance to head to their wooden lakeside cottages for saunas and refreshing dips, and its deep, dark winters illuminated by the Aurora Borealis in regions above the Arctic Circle, Finland welcomes you to a variety of wholesome holiday experiences. In this country, whose population density is the third-lowest in Europe following Norway and Iceland, the most prominent cities are the capital Helsinki, along with neighbouring Espoo and Vantaa. Other important centres of population are Tampere, Turku and Oulu. But your abiding memory of Finland will be of a country of thousands of lakes and islands, within a landscape that is mostly flat and covered with acres of coniferous taiga forests.
Whilst ranked as the second most politically stable country in the world, its southern regions have had a turbulent history as the focus of conflict between neighbouring Sweden and Russia. Along the west coast you will find the quaint wooden towns of Swedish-speaking Finland known as Aland. Consisting of over 6000 islands, this archipelago is a haven for Swedes and Finns during the summer season enjoying its ideal setting and topography for camping and touring by bicycle. There are curious enclaves like the island of Kökar, where you could be forgiven for thinking that you had cycled into a Viking village. Mariehamn has a lovely harbour, while Vardö and Sund are other favourite spots while island-hopping. In the east however, Karelia is dotted with the onion-domed Orthodox churches and whilst it has a distinct indigenous culture, the favourite local pastimes of hiking and cycling in the wilderness are very much akin to those practiced all over Finland with great enthusiasm.
Mush hour in Lapland
Those in search of a true wilderness will certainly find themselves drawn to Finland’s Arctic terrain: Lapland. There are no limits on the ways in which to experience this place, from husky-dog sleigh-riding across snow-covered frozen lakes, to summertime whitewater-river expeditions. People come here to meet Santa or to tear through snowy forests on snowmobiles. There are fantastic ski facilities and health spas if you just want to be pampered: the choices are endless. Major ski resorts are Pallastunturi, Saariselkä, Pallas, Levi and Rovaniemi. You can even stay in the Snow Hotel in Kemi, where warm sleeping bags ensure that the frozen hotel rooms are comfortable. For local entertainment, catch up with the reindeer round-ups from September to January, while special reindeer-driving contests are on the programme of events in March.
Helsinki is a great city with a diverse cultural programme and numerous interesting historical attractions as well as some of the world’s most important modern architecture. The Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress is UNESCO-listed and tells of some of the history of this eminent sea-town. As well as the cool, stylish restaurants and cafés, Helsinki is a shopper’s paradise, with many stores stocking ranges of some of Finland’s classic designer items such as porcelain, glassware and textiles. If you’re ‘just looking’, why not join one of the city’s design tours which include a visit to Helsinki’s Iittala Glass Museum. Finland’s oldest city, Turku, has further fascinating museums, a wonderful medieval castle and great restaurants.
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