With its lush landscapes, beautifully untouched wilderness, and cosmopolitan charm, it’s really no wonder that Finland has experienced a boom in tourism. In fact, it consistently ranks at the top of the World Happiness Report, and with low crime and high salaries, we’re not surprised.
Finland’s vibrant cities are steeped in history and are architecturally rich, but another pull is the thousands of lakes scattered along the Baltic Sea and archipelagos that offer great fishing and other boating activities. Then there’s the famous hospitality of its people, tasty Nordic cuisine, and, of course, the unforgettable Northern Lights and festive paradise that is Lapland.
As we’re sure you can see, there are plenty of reasons to pay a visit to this vast and varied nation, and in true Scandinavian style, you might be wondering where the best luxury holiday destinations in Finland are. Luckily for you, we’ve created a guide covering just that, to ensure you get the most out of your Finnish getaway. Let’s get into it.
You simply can’t visit Finland without exploring the winter wonderland of Finnish Lapland, where huskies and reindeer pull sleds, and the breathtaking Northern Lights dance across the sky. For the uninitiated, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, is a dazzling, bright-hued weather phenomenon that occurs as a result of electrically-charged particles from the sun entering the earth’s atmosphere.
In Finnish folklore, the solar flares are thought to be caused by a mythical arctic fox brushing its tail across the sky. This is how they’ve earned their name “revontulet” meaning, “arctic fox” in Finnish.
Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, is an undeniable highlight with a host of attractions. For starters, it’s home to a slew of mid-century architecture, dating back to the end of the Second World War when the city was completely destroyed and built back up again.
One of the most popular activities in Rovaniemi is undertaking a tour of the Santa Claus Village, as the city is believed to be the official birthplace or Mr. Claus. Here you can do everything from visiting the Santa Claus Post Office to touring the Santa-themed underground amusement park. Other attractions in Rovaniemi include the Korundi House of Culture, the Pilke Science Center, and the dazzling Jätkänkynttilä Bridge.
You could also visit the charming, three-story snow castle in the city of Kemi, where you’ll find spectacular interiors, intricate designs, the snow hotel, and live performances. It’s a popular wedding venue too. You shouldn’t miss out on Kemi’s incredible four-hour arctic icebreaker boat cruise that travels in search of breathtaking icebergs either. You’ll be supplied with a bright red suit that allows you to get in the freezing water, and have the incredible experience of floating with blocks of ice.
You can even sleep in a luxury igloo here. There are plenty of unique accommodation options to choose from in Rovaniemi and Lapland is the place for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Most offer intimate atmospheres with cabins boasting ice-resistant, warmed glass panels in the ceiling, along with a choice of minimal, but comfortable trappings, or luxury suites.
Your accommodation is the best way to book some of Lapland’s most sought-after attractions too, like Northern Lights chasing, snowmobiling, husky-sledding, or a full-fledged nighttime adventure that involves all three. Camp out under the stars with your experienced guides, huddled around flasks of hot chocolate, waiting for the arctic foxes to prance across the sky.
Places to stay in Finnish Lapland:
Santa’s Igloos Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi ($$$) – Stylish, glass-roofed, five-star accommodation located five miles from central Rovaniemi in peaceful Lapland, just 650 yards to the Santa Claus Village. Enjoy Northern Light shows from the comfort of your bed and the on-site saunas at any time of day.
Nova Skyland Hotel, Rovaniemi ($$$) Plush, log cabin accommodation with aurora hunting tours, husky safaris, snowmobile safaris, and an extensive list of spa treatments. Honeymoon suites include entire wooden villas with spectacular panoramic views of snow-blanketed Rovaniemi.
Aurora Borealis Cottage, Levi ($$) – Experience true wilderness in Levi with mountain views, ski access, and complete isolation in your dreamy log cabin.
Finland is home to over 180,000 lakes, and most of them are located in Finnish Lakeland, which stretches from Tampere and Savonlinna in the south to Kuhmo and Kajaani in the north. Finnish Lakeland is Europe’s largest lake district and was formed at the end of the last Ice Age by mass glacial melt.
Everywhere you go in this region makes for a quaint setting, where log cabins punctuate the lakeside and wooden jetties reach out into calm, crystalline water. Morning boat cruises with picnic lunches are the order of the day here, and many of the luxury resorts in the area are readily available to help you book enchanting tours of the local landscape.
The town of Savonlinna is one of our favorite places to visit here, boasting an incredible 15th-century castle called Olavinlinna. The castle’s original purpose was to defend against Russian attacks from the east and protect the control of the Savo region for the Swedish Crown.
The town is well worth visiting for the castle alone, but you’ll also find a host of world-class coffee shops and restaurants dotted around. Naturally, you could also immerse yourself in the natural landscape by hiking, canoeing, cycling, and fishing.
Another must-do in Lakeland is paying a visit to the magnificent 246-foot Puijo Tower at the top of Puijo hill in Kuopio, where you’ll be greeted with a revolving restaurant that offers mesmerizing panoramic views. You can also explore the city of Lahti’s berry wines, luxurious resorts, captivating sculpture parks, and vibrant culinary scene. Lahti is a great place for shopping too, and at just two hours away from Helsinki, visiting is a no-brainer.
Places to stay in Finnish Lakeland:
Saimaa Experience, Savonlinna ($$$) – Get the true Savonlinna lake experience with luxury boat accommodation, decadent cabins, and a la carte breakfasts served on board.
Hidden Island, Laukanharju ($$) – Camp out on your own private island in luxury dome tents with views of the night sky and mystical surrounding forests.
Villa Kurpisa at Messila, Lahti ($$) – Soak up Lahti’s ski season with these luxury three-bedroom wooden villas with lift access and private kitchens.
The electric capital city of Helsinki has a lot to offer with its dazzling architecture, centuries-old churches, vibrant design district, and buzzing museum scene. From the treats and handmade souvenirs at the colorful stalls of Market Square to the UNESCO-inscribed Suomenlinna fortress, this city has something for everyone.
The sea fortress is a great place for history buffs, and you can find everything from bunkers, to fortress walls, nature trails, and a WWII-era submarine to explore. Naturally, no trip to Finland would be complete without utilizing one of its most popular exports, namely, the sauna. You won’t find any shortage of public or private saunas in Helsinki, and you’ll spot them everywhere from apartment buildings to private homes, hotels, and even offices.
If it’s a traditional, yet luxurious, experience you’re after, check out the Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall in the city center. Featuring a 28-meter tile pool with brass finishings, in addition to multiple saunas and steam rooms, it’s the oldest indoor public pool in Finland, dating back to 1928. That said, it’s important to note that most saunas here are all done in the nude for hygiene regions. So, bare if you dare.
Places to stay in Helsinki:
Radisson Blue Plaza Hotel ($$)- Grand, five-star accommodation, right in the center of Helsinki with a top-rated spa, in-house fine dining restaurant, and great metro access.
Hotel Kämp ($$$) True, Scandinavian style in the heart of Kluuvi, Hotel Kämp is located opposite the beautiful Esplanade park with spacious and elegant suites, marble bathrooms, French-inspired Brasserie, and afternoon tea facilities.
Lapland Hotels Bulevardi ($$$) – A stylish, urban hotel with a five-star reputation, private in-room saunas, an exquisite restaurant, and an on-site bar, strategically located close to Helsinki’s best attractions.
Bordering Sweden to the north, Oulu is a quaint village of islets, affluent neighborhoods, and esteemed universities, nestled on the shores of Bothnian Bay. It’s Finland’s fifth-largest city, and technology capital, with the metropole housing several tech firms and Finnish innovators, but it’s also beautifully verdant in the summer.
There’s no shortage of fun activities to do in the city, and we highly recommend checking out the vibrant, cobble-lined central Kauppatori square, which hosts farmer’s markets over the weekends. The Oulu Market Hall has also been a local favorite for over 110 years, thanks to its reputation for high-quality foods and hand-crafted goods. You’re sure to find a variety of delectable, ready-made food products, local spices and materials for cooking and baking, fresh, locally sourced produce, and even contemporary Asian cuisine.
The bubbly Rotuaari district is a shopper’s haven, and also well worth a visit, but there are plenty of neo-Renaissance facades to explore in the city, and a first-rate science center too. There’s no shortage of fine dining restaurants serving world-class Finnish cuisine using local ingredients either. As a bonus, you’ll also find a host of luxury spas and saunas perfect for some revitalization after that seaside indulgence.
Places to stay in Oulu:
Hotel Lasaretti ($$) Delux riverside accommodation, just six minutes from the beach with bright modern rooms and a delectable local restaurant.
Nalikari Holiday Village ($$) Luxury, self-catering, holiday villas that melt seamlessly into the landscape with their contemporary Nordic sommerhouse style and a beachfront location.
Original Sokos Hotel Arina ($$) – One of the most centrally located hotels in Oulu, the Soko Hotel offers spectacular city views and a popular in-house restaurant serving French countryside cuisine.
Nestled between Sweden and Finland, Åland Islands is a small, predominately Swedish-speaking Finnish province, comprising a few large islands and a slew of smaller ones. It is a Scandinavian paradise thanks to its unspoiled nature and gorgeous landscapes, serving up everything from culinary fusion delights to medieval architecture and luxury resorts.
One of the main reasons to visit is for the scenic ferry trip across the Baltic sea, but there’s a host of museums to explore for history enthusiasts too. The main industry of the islands are shipping and trade and the Maritime Quarter in Mariehamn is one of the best places to visit if you want to learn more about the rich history behind it. You could even top it off with a world-class dining experience at one of Mariehamn’s many esteemed restaurants serving Swedish and Russian-influenced cuisine.
There’s also the option of de-stressing, and lounging out at one of its many luxury seaside resorts, or attending the ancient celebration marking the longest day of the year on midsummer’s eve. You really won’t struggle to find enthralling art studios and galleries to explore here either.
Places to stay on Åland Island:
Björnhofvda Gård ($$$) – Set in Björnhuvud, 18 miles from Mariehamn, this luxury cottage-style accommodation offers quaint dwellings, deluxe suites, and a spectacular terrace with views of the extensive grounds.
Svinö Waterfront Villa ($$) – This huge private house comes equipped with a large modern, sun terrace with a BBQ area, sea views, and its own beach.
Havsvidden Resort ($$$) Cozy accommodation in a remote resort with a private beach, fine dining, spa facilities, and a heated indoor pool. Havsvidden overlooking the Gulf of Bothnia and Åland’s rocky coastline.
Is Finland expensive?
Finland is known as one of the most expensive countries in the EU and Finns pay more for food, alcohol, and hotels than a lot of the continent. You’ll need a bigger budget if you plan to visit the capital, the historic coastal town of Turku, and Lapland, especially during the peak festive season. However, Finland is cheaper than some of its Nordic counterparts and can be your gateway to Scandinavia if you don’t have tons of cash to splash.
When is the best time to visit Åland island?
Summers don’t tend to get particularly warm on Åland island, but July is still a great time to visit with the best weather and some famous festivities taking place. Expect highs in the mid-70s and plenty of crisp, blue skies.
Does it snow in Helsinki?
You can expect snow almost everywhere in Finland at least once in the year, the capital included. It varies by year, but Helsinki can experience snowfall for as many as six months of the year, starting in October and coming to an end in April. The average amount of snow across this time is just one inch per month, but January experiences the heaviest snowfall with around six inches in its 31 days.