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Finland Travel & Holiday Tips


There are marked differences in climate and landscape in Finland, with corresponding regional variations in traditions, culture and food. Seasonal variations are particularly marked in the north; in Lapland, for instance, the winter sports season lasts until May, and the midnight sun shines night and day for the whole of June and part of July. Autumn is also worth seeing for, in September, the first frosts produce the vivid colors of ‘Ruska’. In southern Finland, spring comes earlier and summer is longer. At midsummer, daylight lasts for 19 hours and there are generally many hours of warm sun.


There are approximately half a million inhabitants in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, making it the most densely populated region in Finland. The area comprises four towns, Helsinki (the capital), Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. However, only half of the 800 sq km (300 sq miles) that it occupies is actually developed. The rest consists of parks, forests, shoreline and lakes. In many places, there are historical sights – old manors and churches – as well as buildings by the best-known of Finnish architects, including Dipoli Hall at the Helsinki University of Technology in Otaniemi, an internationally acknowledged 20th-century masterpiece.

Finnish Archipelago and Åland Islands

Finland is surrounded in the south, southwest and west by the Baltic, the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia. The coastline is highly indented and its total length is 4600km (2760 miles). Around the coast is a vast archipelago of thousands of islands.

The coast and archipelago are largely composed of granite rocks, either grey or red, but these are generally low-lying. In many places there are long unspoiled sandy beaches. There are no tides to speak of, so the appearance of the sea shore does not differ much from the lakeshores. In addition, the seawater is not very salty as very little water of high salt content passes through the Danish straits, and the many rivers, as well as the rainfall, contribute more water to the Baltic than is lost by evaporation. A special feature of the Baltic is that the land is constantly rising from the sea, as much as 9mm a year in the narrow part of the Gulf of Bothnia - a long-term result of the end of the Ice Age. The archipelago can be explored by local cruises from many coastal towns.

Southwest Finland and the Åland Islands are the warmest part of the country and more deciduous trees grow here than anywhere else in the country. Fruit and vegetables are cultivated extensively and 20 per cent of the country’s fields are here.

For historical reasons, a large proportion of the Swedish-speaking population of Finland lives in this region and is concentrated in the Åland Islands, the Turku Archipelago and on the south coast. The region is often spoken of as the cradle of Finnish civilization and the area has a larger concentration of granite churches and manors than elsewhere.

Main towns & resorts: Hämeenlinna, Hamina, Hanko, Hyvinkää, Kotka, Kouvola, Kuusankoski, Lohja, Mariehamn and Åland Islands, Naantali, Parainen, Pori, Porvoo, Rauma, Riihimäki, Tammisaari, Turku and Uusikaupunki.

Finnish Lakeland

The majority of Finland’s 180,000 lakes are situated between the coastal area and the eastern frontier covering an area some 100km- (60 mile-) wide. The lakes are a veritable maze with their profusion of bays, headlands and islands. Sometimes they open out into broader stretches. They are linked to each other by rivers, straits and canals forming waterways which in former times were a principal means of communication. Nowadays, they are attractive routes for the tourist. As the lakes are usually shallow and the surrounding land is not high, the water soon becomes warm in summer. Many summer festivals of all kinds take place in the lakeland area, often in beautiful country settings.

Eastern Lakeland

The eastern region is an area of interconnected lakes which is dominated by Lake Saimaa, a vast expanse of water. Dotted over their surface are no fewer than 33,000 islands and the shoreline is 50,000km (80,000 miles) long. A network of waterways joins the lively Savo towns, such as Savonlinna with its medieval Olavinlinna Castle, the best preserved in Scandinavia. The Savonlinna Opera Festival is held annually in July. In addition to operas performed to international standards, there are a number of concerts. Kuopio is known for its food specialty kalakukko (a rye bread pie with fish and pork filling).

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