I have been living in Finland since 2006 and in this article, you can read about the places I have visited and it may also give you a few ideas if you are planning to travel to Finland and explore the country. Since I am always visiting new places in Finland myself, I am constantly expanding this article. I currently live in Järvenpää and previously lived in Helsinki for 4 years, Vaasa for 2 years, and Turku for 4 years. Here you can also read about my cycling trips in the Turku Archipelago, Päijänne and Saimaa region.
- Åland Islands
- Heinola – Tähtiniemen bridge
- Huuhanranta Beach
- Inkoo – Kopparnäs – Störsvik
- Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area
- Karkali Strict Nature Reserve
- Kurjenrahka National Park
- Kuusisto – Bishop’s Castle
- Kytäjä-Usmi and Lake Suolijärvi
- Lemmenjoki National Park
- Liesjärvi National Park
- Raisio – Kullanvuori
- Raseborg – Västerby Outdoor Recreation Area
- Repovesi National Park
- Sipoonkorpi National Park
- Teijo National Park
- Torronsuo National Park
- Vantaankoski Bridge
- Vihti – Ruhilampi
I visited Ahvionkoski and the Kymijoki river a couple of times. For example, the Finnish Packrafting Meetup has been organized there twice.
Kökar is a Swedish-speaking municipality with 244 inhabitants and is one of the islands (belongs to Finland) that lie between Finland and Sweden. You can reach the Åland Islands by ferry from Turku in 2.5 hours.
The Åland Islands are part of the Finnish archipelago and are one of the most popular sailing areas in the northern countries. There is also a ferry service with Viking Line and Tallink Silja from Turku and Stockholm, connecting the Åland Islands (via Mariehamn) to the mainland. The majority of the population speaks Swedish as their mother tongue.
Although the Åland Islands are a popular sailing destination, it is also popular as a cycling destination. Most connections between the islands are free. I stayed at Hotel Brudhäll, but there are also opportunities for camping in Kökar.
One of the island’s highlights is St. Anne’s Church, built in 1784 and a Bronze Age site dating back to 1150 BC. The organ in the Church of St. Anna was also impressive. A ship model also hung from the roof, which is very popular in coastal churches in Finland and Sweden. I also saw a midsummer pole and a maze (called Jungfrudans in Swedish) on Vålberg rock.
The landscape varies from the sea to rocks covered with bushes and trees. Bog cotton is also widely available as it usually grows in swamps. There are also marked hiking trails on the Åland Islands.
I visited Mariehamn for a short weekend by taking a ferry from Turku. Mariehamn is on the route between Helsinki / Turku and Stockholm, and the big ferries always stop in Mariehamn.
Mariehamn is a small town with a few sights, and my first visit was to the tourist office, where I got a map and some tips. Unfortunately, all shops were closed at the weekend. However, I was able to visit the museum ship Pommern, the Åland Maritime Museum, and also walk past St. George’s Church, Mariehamn High School, and on the bank of Mariehamn.
At the end of the shopping street, there was a sign where I could see the distances to other cities in the world from Mariehamn. For example, New York is 3721 km away.
Next to the maritime district of Mariehamn was a beautiful sailing ship waiting for the crew to return. Mariehamn’s Maritime Quarter is also a museum that sells locally handcrafted products. Unfortunately, it was closed this Sunday.
Varlaxudden recreation area is located in Emäsalo – a 30-minute drive from Vantaa. A friend of mine recommended this place to me, and after visiting, I would say that this is probably one of the most beautiful places I have visited in the Helsinki area. The fireplace is easily accessible from the parking lot and has plenty of firewood to take away. (there are two of them – one in a hut and one outside). We were almost alone here at night and slept in our sleeping bags under the stars.
From Emäsalo you have a beautiful view of the open sea, from where you can also take nice pictures of the Milky Way, as there is less light pollution here than in Helsinki. Unfortunately, there is also a military base next to it, but you can easily walk along the fence to the end of the island.
When it got dark, we made a fire and grilled our sausages while listening to the crackling fire, wind, and waves – just perfect. Later we got creative with the camera and were able to take great pictures of the starry sky. Of course, a telephoto zoom like my Sony 100-400mm lens is also handy here.
The next morning on the horizon, we saw large and small ships leaving the nearby port and arriving there.
I can only recommend Emäsalo if you want to spend a nice day or a nice night by the sea.
I parked my car in the parking lot near the Sorlammen nature trail. Then, I walked about 1.5 km over the Nuuksion Ratsastuskeskus until I reached Hynkänlampi – a small lake with clear water and a well-tended fireplace.
After setting up my tent, I prepared my early dinner and then took a short walk to explore the cliff at one end of the lake. There is a small path up to the cliff, and on top of it, I found an unofficial fire pit and a great view of the lake.
The night in the tent was calm and refreshing but not cold. I woke up around 6:30 a.m. and took a few pictures of the mist-shrouded lake.
I decided to spend the rest of the morning at the Finnish nature centre Haltia, which is only 7 km from Hynkänlampi, where I walked to the nearby Nuuksio Bikepark to take some photos of Nuuksion Pitkäjärvi. Later I had lunch at Ravintola Haltia, where they usually prepare local dishes. It was a little expensive but tasty.
Nuuksio National Park
Nuuksio National Park is near Helsinki – just a 1-hour 85A bus ride from Espoo Center. It is a popular place for people in Helsinki to get away from the busy city life and enjoy the great outdoors. Here, you will find gorges formed by the last ice age, valleys, 43 lakes, and hills up to 110 meters high.
The trails are marked, and there are also wilderness huts (Lavvu) and fire pits. There are also opportunities for skiing, swimming, packrafting or walking around the park to pick mushrooms and berries.
I went to Nuuksio several times to hike and visit the Finnish nature centre Haltia, where you can explore different aspects of nature in Finland. From there, you can also hike to Haukkalampi and back (10 km).
The most popular hiking trails in Nuuksio National Park:
- Punarinnankierros Trail, 2 km – marked with red signs
- Haukankierros Trail, 4 km – marked with blue signs
- Korpinkierros, 8 km – marked with yellow signs
Haukkalampi is the most common starting point for a hike in Nuuksio. It can get quite crowded here around the fireplaces in the warmer months as hiking is very popular in Finland.
Hämeenlinna is known for its 13th-century castle and for the view from the Aulanko Tower which opened in 1907 and is only a 10-minute drive from the castle. I usually come to Hämeenlinna in autumn to take pictures of the landscape that can be seen from the Aulanko tower.
Haukankallio is located nearby Pornainen. It is a big hill and offers a great view from the top towards the South. There is also a fireplace but it is not serviced. The view is a bit comparable to the one in Kammiovuori but it is not that high and remote. However, if you live in the capital region and look for something special then I can definitely recommend it. It’s maybe a bit difficult from the parking to get to the hill depending on where you park your car since there are no trail signs. The Google maps coordinates are 60.470342, 25.438271.
Heinola – Tähtiniemen bridge
To see the Tähtiniemen bridge and the nice scenery towards the lake, you need to stop at the Teboil Tähtihovi.
Vuosaari is part of the east end of Helsinki. I lived in Vuosaari for a couple of years, shortly after moving to Finland. The metro ride to the city centre takes around 20 minutes and offers some outdoor activities and photography options. I would recommend visiting these places at sunrise and sunset.
I especially like these places in Vuosaari for photography:
- Uutela, a nature park in Vuosaari, where you can walk in the forest and also along the Baltic coast.
- Kallahtiniemi is a bit similar to Uutela but goes further out into the sea.
- Aurinkolahti beach has a beautiful view of the sea.
- Vuosaarenhuippu is an old landfill that has been converted into a recreational area with a beautiful view of Vuosaari and central Helsinki in the distance.
From Uutela and Kallahtiniemi, hiking across the ice to the nearby islands in winter is possible. The banks are also easily accessible by car, as there is a parking lot nearby. However, if you plan to visit Vuosaarenhuippu, you will have to walk a little (about 30 minutes).
We drove by car to the Huuhanranta beach, where we stayed overnight and got surprised by the full blood moon in the evening. The water was pretty cold but very refreshing. The infrastructure on the beach was also excellent. There were toilets and a new barbecue hut as well as several barbecue areas right on the lake.
Inkoo – Kopparnäs – Störsvik
Kopparnäs-Störsvik is on the border with Inkoo, and I spent one night there in one of the modern wilderness shelters. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great – it was cloudy, and there was fog too. Luckily the fireplace in Sandarbukten was very well done. There were two modern wilderness shelters, a toilet, and a hut with firewood.
A friend of mine and I shared one of the wilderness huts. We inflated our sleeping pads and made a fire. The temperature was around 0 ° C, and I fell asleep at 11 p.m. while the others decided to spend a few more moments by the fireplace.
I woke up at 6 am the next morning and was able to take a few pictures during the blue and golden hours, the best times to take pictures. The sandy beach was only a few steps from the fireplace, but the sea was still frozen.
However, we noticed that migratory birds were returning to Finland, so nature was not so quiet in the morning compared to the previous days in winter.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any great pictures of the birds, but a few landscape pictures turned out quite nice.
There is also a hiking trail that we didn’t hike in full as I was too busy taking photos.
Lake Inari is the third largest lake in Finland and the largest lake in Finnish Lapland. The lake has 3000 islands and the Sami people used one of the islands (Hautuumaasaari) as a cemetery island.
The Siida museum was one of the main attractions I was interested in. It displays the history and culture of the Sami people, and with my museum card, which I purchased a few weeks ago, I was able to get into every museum in Finland for free.
The Siida museum had a room that displayed the history of the area over time. On the next floor, the main exhibition displayed the nature and culture of the area during the seasons. Outside was a trail that displayed different housing styles and traps of the Sami. After lunch, we drove for about 1 hour until we reached a place in Sevettijärvi, which offered small cabins to tourists where we ate pancakes.
The Lemmenlaakson Nature Park is just a few minutes drive from Järvenpää.
The highlights of the Lemmenlaakson Nature Park are the small river that flows through the park, some information points, a lavvu for making a fire and spending the night, and a Frisbee golf park.
I would say that Lemmenlaakso is a good opportunity to get out into nature with the family, as the park is easily accessible by car and there are no places that would be difficult to hike.
There is also a small hut near the fireplace that is regularly refilled with firewood.
Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area
On July 24th at 8.50 am, it was time to get onboard the Finnair flight AY557, which departed from Helsinki for a 1 hours and 20 minutes flight north to Ivalo in Finnish Lapland.
One week of hiking and packrafting in the Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area, together with Caj and Katja, was waiting for me, including a visit to the Siida museum that displays Saami art and culture.
At the starting point of our packrafting trip, we inflated our packrafts, and there were already many mosquitoes and cloudberries with a lot of vitamin C. So when we reached the Ailijärvi lake, we prepared our gear, started paddling and got rid of mosquitoes.
We had to get out of our packrafts when we crossed to Ailijärvi lake to walk a few hundred meters crossing a reindeer fence until we reached the Katriinajärvi lake. Then, we came across a couple of signs which marked the snowmobile path.
After some paddling, it was time to hike again next to a swamp for another 1 km until we reached the 3 km long Sundeejärvi lake, where we enjoyed the sunset while paddling in our packrafts.
When we reached the end of the lake, we stepped out again and hiked another 500 meters until we found a good place to pitch our tents between the Sundeejärvi and the Opukasjärvi lakes.
Then we pitched our tents we collected firewood and prepared our dinner. We had Pasta with hazelnut tofu, tea, and Brazilian nuts.
Suddenly, we heard some voices and saw a group of 4 people approaching us. They were probably hiking to a summer cottage. It was midnight when we finally fell asleep. It started to rain during the night, but we stayed dry in our tents.
The next morning I woke up at 9 am. We prepared porridge, tea, and rye chips before we packed our gear and refilled our water bottles on the stream. I used a water filter even so it would be probably possible to drink the water straight out of the stream and refilled my plastic bottle.
We put our drysuits on and hiked 1 km to the Opukasjärvi lake. The sun was shining, and the water was warm. First, we paddled to a rapid and then to the Opukassokka Fjell on the opposite side of the lake, which we decided to climb up. We found many blueberries there and also a few Koskenkorva bottles. However, the view from the top of the Fjell was stunning, and an eagle was circling on top of us.
I decided to go for a swim with my PFD to float a bit around when we returned to the lake. I had plenty of time as Katja had to return to the top of the Fjell as she noticed that she forgot her hat.
Then it was time to paddled to a sandy beach on the Opukasjärvi where we had a swim and our lunch – Tacos with beans and hazelnut tofu.
After lunch, we jumped into our packrafts and approached the Näätämöjoki, which is one of the most popular wilderness fishing rivers in Finland. A fishing permit is needed if you want to fish here. And indeed, there were many fishermen along the river. At some point, we had to walk in the river since it became very shallow.
We pitched our tent at 10 pm, prepared a fire and then it started to rain again. We spotted some fishermen and a dog which was chasing birds on the other side of the Näätämöjoki. After it stopped raining, I tried to dry some of my gear, and my sleeping pad was completely wet. After a cup of tea, it was time to go sleeping.
The next day it was still raining in the morning. I woke up at 9 am and decided to sit in the tent and wait for it stopped raining. When Caj and Katja climbed out of their tent, we prepared fire and breakfast and packed our gear. Finally, it was time to paddle again.
There were many fishermen, a few huts and smaller rapids along the river. At some point, we had to leave the Näätämöjoki, deflated the packrafts and hiked on a trail for about 3 km through an area with rocks and old pine trees until we reached the Syrjäjärvi lake.
The trail went up and down, and once we took the wrong trail, we decided to walk off the beaten path to get back to our trail. Someone left the root of a pine tree on a stone. They contain tar and are quite useful to prepare a fire when it’s wet.
We paddled again for 1 km until we reached a spot to change to the Rekkiluobâl lake. Unfortunately, the two lakes were separated by a reindeer fence and a small piece of land. Fortunately, we found a door in the fence and could carry our packrafts from the Syrjäjärvi to the Rekkiluobâl lake.
Two rapids were running against us until we reached the Räkkijärvi. At the first rapid, we were able to paddle up the stream. However, on the second rapid – the Täyttämakoski – we had to step out and walk around it.
Caj tried to pull his packraft with a rope up to the Täyttämakoski rapid, but it did not work. The packraft flipped, and Katja fell into the rapid while she was trying to help Caj. Caj was a bit disappointed after this event and wanted to set up the camp, but we decided to continue paddling and searching for a better camp spot.
We reached the Räkkijärvi lake, and there were 2 cottages on the shore. One person was sitting in front of a cottage, and a lot of smoke came out of its chimney. There was also a propeller plane that can land on lakes. We enjoyed the silence on the lake and were lucky with the wind blowing in our direction.
Then we paddled to the next section of the Jänisjärvi lake on a stream running against us and then for another hour on the lake while enjoying the scenery. There was a higher Fjell at the end of the lake with an antenna on it. At the end of the lake, we decided to set up our camp, and it started to rain again.
We started to collect firewood and prepared our dinner. Fortunately, we found the root of a pine tree with the tar, which helped us prepare the fire in the rain.
For dinner, we had mashed potatoes, vegetarian chorizo with onions and paprika in tomato sauce. At midnight straight after dinner, we went sleeping. I skipped my evening tea as I was just too tired. It started to rain again.
I woke up at 8 am while Caj and Katja were still sleeping. Again there was a lot of wind, but it was not raining. So I decided to walk around and explore the area a bit.
After breakfast, we crossed the nearby road to the last big lake – Sevettijärvi – a 10 km lake which we had to paddle. Again, we were quite lucky with the wind as it was blowing in the right direction.
Just now and then, a car passed by on the road next to the lake. The lake’s deepest point was 43 m, but we paddled nearby the shore, where we could see to the ground of the lake as it was not that deep here. There were plenty of rocks on the lake’s ground, which is probably also why the lake’s water felt warmer than the air (15 C).
At 4.30 pm, Caj left us to get the car, and we transported his packraft to the next sand beach, where we agreed to meet him. As the wind came sidewards towards us, it was a bit harder to paddle. Caj arrived at the sand beach before we were able to reach it. We carried our packrafts to the shore, deflated them and packed them into the car.
While I was wearing only sandals for the last 4 days, it was somehow nice to wear proper shoes again.
This night we decided to stay in a cabin as most of our gear was wet, and we had plans to drive to Norway to see the Arctic Sea, which was just a one-two-hour drive away from Sevettijärvi. So when we arrived at the Peuralammen Camping in Sevettijärvi, we decided to eat a pancake and to have a sauna.
The cabin, including pancakes, coffee, tea, and the sauna, was 74 EUR which is reasonably priced. At 10.30, we fell asleep with a few mosquitoes flying around in our cabin.
The next morning we woke up at 9 am, had some pancakes, and packed our bags. We passed by an old Russian cemetery on the way back to the main road. Most of the names on the gravestones had similar last names.
There was also some sort of art hanging from the tree – a lot of postcards arranged in the shape of Finland, with postcards from different places in Finland. And then it was time to drive to Norway to visit the Arctic Sea – a one-hour drive to Kirkenes.
I visited the second highest place in southern Finland – Kammiovuori – which is 221 meters high. Of course, 221 meters doesn’t sound that impressive if you live near the Alps (e.g. my hometown Ravensburg is 450 meters above sea level), but when you consider that southern Finland is mostly flat, it is quite high.
It took me about 2.5 hours to drive by car from Järvenpää to Kammiovuori, located in the Finnish Lakeland. The closest national park is the Päijänne National Park.
It was only a short hike of approx. 2 km from the parking lot to the top of the hill (actually a 3.8 km long circular path), where you can also find a wooden table and benches.
There is also a Lavvu along the way where I found a hut with firewood. There are a few other sights to see on the way up – the seven-meter-high Linta Rock and Hezekiah’s Cave.
Hezekiah has been a vagabond who lived in the cave here to hide from the authorities for the past century. We also discovered a fireplace where we warmed up.
I liked the picturesque view of Kammiovuori and was able to take great pictures of here even in autumn, where the whole landscape was covered with colourful trees.
If you have the time, you should also visit Vähäniemi Beach, which is located near the Pulkkilanharju ridge.
Karkali Strict Nature Reserve
In Karkali Strict Nature Reserve, we had one of our first packrafting meetups.
I can also recommend visiting the Meiko Nature Preserve near Kirkkonummi. However, you should come here during the week as the place can be quite crowded on weekends. You can either hike around the lake or just camp at the 2 barbecue sites on the peninsula. Firewood is also provided at the fire pits. Here I took great pictures during the blue hour with the moon. Plus, you can’t hear the traffic here either, so you really feel like you’re in the wilderness.
I visited Porkkalanniemi several times in spring and winter. Porkkalanniemi is one of the most beautiful Finnish coasts because it is one of the few places that opens directly to the open sea. It is located south of Kirkkonummi and is easily accessible by car.
In Porkkalanniemi, there are great facilities such as fire pits, tables, information boards, dry toilets, marked paths, and benches. Porkkalanniemi is also very close to Estonia – only 36 km away and is also a popular spot for bird watchers.
There is also a military-naval base, which I have not yet seen myself. There are three hiking trails on Porkkalanniemi – the Vetokannaksentaival trail, the Telegrafbergetin-Lenkki trail and the Pampskatanin-Pisto trail.
I was lucky to visit Porkkalanniemi as I had a beautiful sunset that day. I plan to go back in a strong wind to take photos of the waves crashing against the rocks.
Kurjenrahka National Park
The Kurjenrahka National Park in Finland is about 30 km north of Turku – a paradise for mushroom lovers! I parked my car at Kurjenpesä, where I found an information board about the national park. The markings along the way in the Kurjenrahka National Park are also excellent.
I was able to pick up a free map at the Kurjenpesä visitor centre and then started my hike on the Savonjarven Kierros, which leads around Lake Savojärvi. On my way, I discovered the Kuhankuono landmark, an important landmark for 600 years.
My hike continues along moors and spruce trees, and at some point, I found a kind of monument – A. Jalosen Muistomerkki said on it. Then I reached Rantapiha, which is on the opposite side of Lake Savojärvi.
I decided to hike the nature trail (luontopolku) that goes through an ancient forest before continuing my hike on the shores of Lake Savojärvi (Savonjarven Kierros).
On my second visit to Kurjenrahka National Park, I hiked to Läkijärvi, where I found a shelter to stay overnight. The path was also quite well marked.
The night was also something special, as I could see the northern lights for a short time and the Milky Way.
The next day I decided to pick some cranberries after breakfast and hike the path along Lake Savojärvi again.
There were stones and reindeer lichens (Cladonia rangiferina) and blueberries everywhere, so I often stopped to collect them.
At some point, I arrived at the Kurjenpesä Nature Cabin, where I went down to the lake. The infrastructure to the lake was excellent and made the lake easily accessible, even with a stroller or as a senior citizen.
On my third visit to Kurjenrahka National Park in autumn, I explored the bird tower of Vajosuo and Takaniitunvuori west of Savojärvi.
I started the first part of my hike in Vajsuo and followed the red Kuhankuonon Retkelyreitistö band that I found along the way.
Again there were loads of mushrooms. The path was covered with leaves, and their colour was already turning black. When I reached the bird tower in Vajosuo, the wide-open space was perfect for bird watching.
After visiting the bird tower, I hiked back to the parking lot and drove to Pukkipalon, where I continued my hike. The area was covered in hills, which makes hiking a little more difficult. There were also small bridges that crossed my path. I followed the path until I reached Takaniitunvuori, a pretty nice place on a rock.
From here, I followed the path to Nuotiopaikka, where I rested on a fire pit for a while, before continuing my hike back to Pukkipalo, where I parked my car.
On the way back, I also crossed Huhtaniitunmäki, where I found a bench on a rock with a view of a beautiful landscape.
Kuusisto – Bishop’s Castle
From Turku, I visited the bishop’s castle and the wooden church in Kuusisto by bike.
The castle was built in the 14th century and once served as a fortress until it was demolished in 1528 by the Swedish King Gustav Vasa. In 1792 the church of Kuusisto was built there. 1792. Aside from the ruins, not much is left.
Kytäjä-Usmi and Lake Suolijärvi
We started our tour from the parking lot next to Lake Kytäjärvi, crossed it over the dam, and followed the path past horse stables and farms. After a hike of 3 km, we reached our first camp Iso-Haiskari.
For the night, we set up a teepee in which the three of us stayed while our fourth paddle buddy stayed in a wilderness hut. The tipi also had a foldable wood-burning camping stove made entirely of titanium. However, the tipi cooled down almost immediately when the stove got cold.
The next morning we paddled around the lake at Iso-Haiskari. From Iso-Haiskari, we brought our boats to Kolmiperslammi. It was much easier for me to carry my 2.5 kg packraft while my colleague had to carry his 21 kg canoe through the forest.
When we arrived in Kolmiperslammi, I noticed that the water on my packraft turned to ice. At Kolmiperlammi, we had a beautiful sunrise, and then it slowly got warmer.
From Kolmiperslammi, we carried our boats not only on paths but also through bushes to Vähä-Haiskari. Then we paddled to Haiskarinpoika.
Arrived in Haiskarinpoika, we noticed the first thin layers of ice on the lake. But, of course, they weren’t an obstacle for our boat.
It was quite difficult to carry the canoe from Mäkiperänlampi to Kiiskilampi. So when we arrived in Kiiskilampi, we took a short break. At Kiiskilampi, I climbed a rock from which I had a nice view over the lake.
We paddled to the other side of the lake, where we found a nice campsite, where we prepared our lunch and took a group photo of ourselves.
Then we had to walk through thick bushes again until we finally arrived at Lake Suolijärvi, where I left the group and paddled 4 km down the lake on my own.
When I reached the dam at the end of Lake Suolijärvi, I packed my packraft and walked the remaining 3 km back to the car. The short hike was quite nice, as there was almost a full moon in the sky, and the landscape was also beautiful.
Lake Suolijärvi is a nice place for a hike. The area is not only flat, and the shelters are very well maintained.
Lemmenjoki National Park
Lemmenjoki National Park is the biggest National Park in Finland and I visited the National Park once to participate in the Nightless Night Photography Workshop. Here you can read more about it.
Liesjärvi National Park
Liesjärvi National Park is about 1.5 hours by car from Helsinki and an alternative to Nuuksio National Park if you live in the Helsinki area. It’s also likely less crowded than Nuuksio National Park or Sippoonkorpi National Park.
I parked my car in the Kopinlahti parking lot and took a short hike to Savilahti, where I pitched my tent, made a fire, and prepared a meal. Later some other hikers joined us, and we enjoyed the night together around the campfire.
This was also a great opportunity to test the astrophotography capabilities of my Sony a7III and Zeiss Batis 25mm (which I’ve now replaced with a Sony 24mm GM f1.4mm lens), and I got a nice picture with the lake on it.
If you plan to visit Turku, you should also visit the nearby Naantali, only 14 km from Turku. Here you can visit old wooden houses in Mannerheimintie and take a walk at the guest harbour with its nice restaurants and a beautiful view of the church and Kultaranta – the summer residence of the Finnish President.
The observation tower is also one of the remaining old buildings from the old spa in Naantali.
The Naantali Church was built in 1462. As in most other churches around the Baltic Sea in Sweden and Finland, I was able to see a small model ship hanging from the ceiling of the church. There are also some paintings from the Middle Ages on the wall.
In Mannerheimintie, there were many “symbols” in every house. Most of the houses also had a name. I liked a window with model sailing ships in it lived old times.
There is also something for children called Muumin World if you want to travel to Naanatali with your whole family.
The Kuhakoski rapid is a great place if you like to photograph. The rapid is easily accessible and just a few meters away from the parking spot.
I visited Mylllykoski twice – in winter and in April 2021, where I did a 3.5 km hike.
I was amazed to find such a fast stream near Järvenpää, where I live – only 25 minutes by car.
The parking lot was easy to find, and the trail starts right there. The trail is reasonably well maintained and has a scenic view of the river.
The first wilderness hut (Lavvu) with a fireplace was only a 20-minute walk from the parking lot and was supplied with firewood.
After lunch, I kept walking until I came to a bridge built over the river. However, this was not part of the official hiking trail, so I went back to the fireplace to find the right path.
When I got back to the parking lot, I visited the stronger section of the rapids near the parking lot, which was pretty impressive, and there are 2 bridges from which I got quite good pictures. In addition, there was another fireplace next to the rapids.
One of the most exciting places in southern Finland is probably the fortress island Örö, located in the outer archipelago. Örö has a military history that is still visible today, diverse nature, and sandy beaches. On Örö, you can hike, bird watching, geocaching, diving (with a special permit), fishing, cycling, kayaking, or packrafting.
Before you go to Örö, it is worth visiting the nature centre “Blue Shell” in Kasnäs to learn more about the archipelago’s nature. The information boards are in Swedish in English, but you can also get a brochure with English translations at reception. There is also a beautiful view from the tower of the nature centre.
Örö can be reached by ferry or taxi boat, the more expensive means of transport, from Kasnäs. In my case, however, I was paddling (and sailing) a distance from Kasnäs to Örö (approx. 15 km or 3 hours) and took the ferry back (EUR 16 one way or EUR 25 with a return ticket) the next day. Paddlers can also enter the island from the northern part near the campsite, the special berth for kayakers, while normal boats can use the island’s harbour. These are the only places where you can enter the island.
The campsite is located in the northern part of the island, and it is only a short walk from the shore to the forest, where you can recognize the campsite by a sign. The island also has a hotel, hostel, cabins, short-term apartments, a sauna, grocery store and restaurant. There are also plenty of toilets all over the island.
At the harbour, I found a coffee house that sold inexpensive products and, in the immediate vicinity, a fireplace, which turned out to be the only place on the island where it is allowed to make an open fire.
Örö is also a great place for hiking as you can enjoy nature and the military history, which is also explained by information boards in English, Swedish, and Finnish.
There are two marked routes on the island. The red marked trail with a length of 5.3 km in the south and the blue marked trail in the north with a length of 5.6 km.
Military history continues across the island through fortifications, barracks, cannons (e.g. the 12-inch or 305-mm Obuchovski cannons that were used to defend the Bengtskär lighthouse, the one in the distance from Örö visible) and a 6 km long cobblestone road that was used to transport cannons from the South to the North Island.
The large 50-ton guns had to be replaced after 200 rounds and were transported from St. Petersburg. The 500 kg grenades could reach targets at a distance of up to 45 km.
The combination of history, activities, and nature visits Örö something extraordinary.
On the way from Turku or Helsinki to Kasnäs, you should also enjoy the view from the 473m long and 19m high Lövö Bridge over the Finnish archipelago.
Raisio – Kullanvuori
The Kullanvuori watchtower is just a short hike (about 2.5 km one way) from the nearby ABC Raisio gas station, where I parked my car.
The watchtower of Kullanvuori is approximately 71 m above sea level, which is quite high compared to the rather flat area of the region.
There were many pine trees along the way, so finding wood for a campfire is pretty easy. There is also a pet cemetery when you enter the path in Raisio. The trail was quite well marked, and we came across several waypoints.
There was still ice on the way, even though the temperatures reached around 9 ° C that day. So we found a refuge, also called “Lavvu” in Finnish and is very common in Finnish national parks. There was also a BBQ grill installed in front of the shelter and a “mini” Lavvu that I could find firewood in.
While crossing a bridge, I reached the Kullanvuori watchtower. If you want to hike more, you can continue your hike on a hiking trail to Kurjenrahka National Park.
Raseborg – Västerby Outdoor Recreation Area
At the Västerby Outdoor Recreation Area, we parked our cars at Västerby ulkoilualue parkki. Then, we went with the bike a few kilometers to the Långträsket lake, where we found a Lavvu and a fireplace. We spent the night there. The place is quiet (no noise from cars), so it feels like the real wilderness.
Repovesi National Park
The Repovesi National Park is southern Finland’s most popular hiking destination and can be reached within 2 hours by public transport from Helsinki.
The national park offers many lakes and hills. There are campsites and shelters, and it is close to the town of Kouvola and can be reached by public transport. There is also a well in the national park from which you can get fresh water. Navigation in the Repovesi National Park is quite easy, as hiking trails are marked.
The Olhavanvuori Rock is 50 m high and shines in different colours on sunny days. It has prehistoric rock art and is perfect for rock climbers. There is also a watchtower nearby, which I highly recommend to take nice landscape photos.
From Mustalamminvuori, I had a great view of the national park. I had to climb the observation tower in Mustavuori to enjoy the scenery. I also walked over the Lapinsalmi suspension bridge.
I took the fox ferry to the other side of the lake. The 270 m long Kuutinkanava Canal was built in 1912 to float tree trunks.
Sipoonkorpi National Park
Sipoonkorpi National Park is the closest National Park to Helsinki, beside Nuuksio National Park. I have visited two places with fireplaces as well as Kuusijärvi, where it is possible to swim or hike around the lake. There is a fireplace as well.
Teijo National Park
I went hiking in the Teijo National Park a few times but also took part in the Finnish packrafting meeting in 2018, which took place over three days.
The Teijo National Park is still a young national park and was founded in 2015. It counts around 79,000 visitors annually, covers 34 km2, and has 50 km2 of marked hiking trails. It offers a great variety of lakes, swamps, forests swamps, and a sea bay. The marked trails are easy to hike. The Teijo National Park is also suitable for those who do not have much hiking experience.
Having lived in Turku for over 4 years, it was one of the closest national parks I could visit from there. The national park is fascinating as it is also possible to reach the sea.
At the Finnish Packrafting Meetup, we parked our cars near Lake Hamarijärvi, inflated our packrafts, and paddled to our first campsite. From there, we paddled the next day to the other side of the lake, where we hiked to Lake Sahajärvi.
In Sahajärvi, we had lunch in Kalasuntti. We then paddled on to Kaniholma, where we pitched our tents and visited the nearby brewery in a village called Matilda just a few hundred meters away with our packrafts.
We enjoyed delicious sandwiches, cider, and pastries at the brewery, and some of us brought a few bottles of beer back to the warehouse. We also saw some llamas in the village. The next day we paddled back to Matilda and carried our packrafts a few hundred meters to the sea (Hummelfjärden).
From there, we paddled a couple of miles to a fire pit, where we had our last lunch before paddling a couple of miles back to our parking lot (it was just a short hike from the ocean to the parking lot).
On another visit to the Teijo National Park, I parked my car near the nature centre in Matildanjärvi. The nature centre offers a lot of information about the national park, and you can also get a free map. There was also an information board near the nature centre where I parked my car.
I hiked the trail along Matildanjärvi. There were several campfire sites and shelters along the way. I stopped at Kavanderinlahti – where a group of girls had prepared their camp for the night – and Roosinniemi before leaving Matildanjärvi.
I also visited Puolakkajärvi, the closest lake to Matildanjärvi. Unfortunately, Puolakkajärvi is partly outside the Teijo National Park, suitable for hiking but offers nothing special up to the Endal hut.
From Endal, it went on to Teerisaari, Vicksbäckinlahti, and then back to Matildanjärvi, where Isoholma was the last stop on the way back to my starting point. Unfortunately, however, the path outside the national park at Puolakkajärvi was not that spectacular.
Torronsuo National Park
Torronsuo National Park is somewhat different from the other national parks in southern Finland. First, it’s a bog – the largest raised bog in southern Finland. Second, it has wide-open spaces and a few trees, while the other national parks in Finland are forests.
In ancient times, most of southern Finland looked like the area in Torronsuo National Park. However, people dried up the moors and turned them into arable or wooded land. It also has something to offer for bird watchers who want to see cranes and geese.
Another difference is that I had to run on duckboard trails. The trails are between 1.5 and 10 km long. It is also possible to come here to ski in winter.
For photographers, Torronsuo National Park is a great place. With a long telephoto zoom lens – like my Sony 100-400mm – I can take fantastic pictures in such an environment where I can compress the background. There is also an observation tower from which I could take some nice pictures of the area.
I visited the park early in the morning, around 6.30 a.m. and was able to take beautiful pictures with the rising fog. I prefer to take photos with clouds or fog, giving the picture more drama than blue skies.
There is also a new, serviced fireplace right next to the observation tower. The fireplace and two tables with benches are under one roof.
Ruissalo is the recreational island of Turku, which I frequently visited during my 4 1/2 year stay.
Ruissalo is a good place to spot migratory birds and the large cruise ships operated by Viking Line and Tallink Silja. Many old mansions appeared to be empty, but cafes along the waterfront invite you to take a break.
The Meyer-Turku Werf is also visible from Ruissalo and can be seen shortly before entering the campsite. The largest cruise ships were built here. Golfing is also possible in Ruissalo, and there are also many events throughout the year – such as Ruisrock.
If you are into history, you will also find some places where cannons were set up in the past against the British who tried to invade Turku during the Crimean War of 1854-1856. At the end of the island, there is a beach and a campsite where you can go for a walk and take pictures.
Turku – Stockholm Cruise
The cruise starts at the Viking Terminal in Turku, where I got my boarding pass. While you are waiting to board, you can grab a few drinks at the terminal bar.
A surprise was waiting for me in my cabin – free Fazer chocolates.
Then it was time to explore the ship. First, I went to the duty-free shopping area and had dinner afterwards. I also explored the kid’s area, which would be nice for my daughter to play.
We passed the famous white bird islands between Turku and Stockholm. Birds inhabit these islands, and they are full of bird shit. As far as I remember, these birds did not originally come from this area but migrated there at some point.
It is a nice experience to take a ferry from Finland to Sweden and watch the islands while having a nice dinner on board. The price of the cruise depends on the booking situation. The Viking Line tickets also get more expensive if you stay overnight in Stockholm or Turku instead of returning immediately by ferry. One of the highlights is the buffet for around 30 EUR, where you can eat as much as you want.
Fjällbon Puisto has been created quite recently. It’s a nice place to visit with the family. There is a playground for kids, a fireplace just next to the lake, and a hut filled with firewood. There is also construction built into the lake from where you can easily get into the lake to swim.
This weekend I took my bike and rode 25 km around Lake Tuusula. The route is famous for its “Rantatie”, where many Finnish artists lived in the 19th century and influenced Finnish culture. You can see this in the Rantatie:
- Lotta Museum is dedicated to Lotta Svart – a voluntary paramilitary organization for women founded in 1918.
- Halosenniemi – art museum dedicated to Pekka Halonen (1865-1933) – a painter of Finnish landscapes and people. The large window of Pekka Halonen’s house is surrounded by a beautiful landscape by Lake Tuusula.
- Erkkola Museum – Erkkola was a poet and a leading cultural figure around 1900.
- Tuusula Church from 1734
- Tomb of Aleksis Kivi (1834-1872), who wrote the first important novel in Finnish – Seven Brothers
I have lived in Vaasa for 2 years. The area around Vaasa is quite flat and there are a few places which are worth visiting.
Björköby is located 20 km north of Vaasa and was originally an island before it got connected with the longest bridge in Finland to the mainland. I went with the bicycle from Vaasa to Bjököby, where I planned to visit the Kvarken Archipelago – a UNESCO World Heritage site. To learn more about the area and, in particular, the Kvarken Archipelago, a visit to Terra Nova – a museum in the city of Vaasa is highly recommended. The distance to the Swedish mainland is just about 80 km, and the water depth is about 25 meters. Human beings have populated the area for 7000 years. The land here is rising at about 1 cm a year. The distance to Björköby is about 40 km from Vaasa. In Björköby is also the Saltkaret observation tower.
Kajane is a nice place to go hiking and is located South of Vaasa, where I also found serviced fireplaces. The trail which leads to lake Lisansjön is called Lillträsket or in Swedish Lilla Naturstigen and went through a swamp area.
Öjberget is a small ski hill nearby the village of Sundom. If you live in Vaasa and want to enjoy nice scenery or do some downhill, cross-country skiing, or snowboarding, you should visit Öjberget.
The hill is 45 m high and has a length of 325 m. There is also an observation tower on top of the hill. Further, you can find a 5 km long cross-country ski run which is also lighted in the evening. 4000 years ago, the hill was an island 30 km away from the shore. I often visited Öjberget from Vaasa on my bicycle. The distance is approximately 10 km from the city centre.
Öjen is located between Vaasa and Sundom and can easily be reached by car or bicycle. The trail has a length of 5 km, and there are around 130 different nesting species. The trails are well-maintained, and there is also a fireplace.
In case you are interested in packrafting, you could visit the Pilvilampi lake, a recreational area nearby Vaasa, and a paradise for birdwatchers.
Approximately 5 km south of the Vaasa city center, there is a possibility to hike in Risö and observe birds from a bird tower. There is also a fireplace nearby the bird tower, but you have to bring your firewood.
Söderfjärden is located about 10 km south of Vaasa and a meteorite crater that I visited with my bicycle.
Old Vaasa is also an interesting place to visit. There is, for example, the old court of appeal and a monument from 1808 when Russian forces occupied Vaasa.
If you are looking for a place to pack up or take a stroll in Helsinki, you should probably visit the Vantaankoski Bridge. This area was a bit industrial with a mill in the past.
Vihti – Ruhilampi
Ruuhilampi is a lake near Vihti – an hour’s drive from Helsinki.
I parked my car at a natural roundabout on Ruuhilammentie, where I found the way to Ruuhilampi. The hike to the viewpoint was just about 2 km. There was no firewood at the lookout point, so it is advisable to bring a gas stove with you if you want to make a fire. Meanwhile, the sky cleared, and I slept in the open air. I had a tarp with me, but there is no point in using it if it won’t rain anyway.
The next day I woke up around 6 a.m. and continued to photograph the awakening nature. There was some fog on the river, and I also explored the nearby “canyon”, which seemed to be a popular climbing spot where we found firewood and artificial fire pits. The place seems to be run by a Finnish association that promotes outdoor activities.
I took a different route back to the car, and on the way, I spotted a grey owl flying towards me. This was the first time I’ve seen a grey owl in the wild since living in Finland. There is also a bear cave in Ruuhilampi, but the location has not been published anywhere.