Summer in Finland is an absolute delight. In the south, dreamy archipelagos lend themselves to wonderfully scenic boat trips, while in the country’s iconic Lakeland, long and lazy days invite shoreside picnics, refreshing swims and fishing trips to idyllic islands. Then, out towards the Russian border, browns bears roam through old-growth forests, also home to lynx and wolves. And, in the Arctic north, the Midnight Sun casts its glow over rushing rivers and rugged fells. Here, our specialists have picked out a selection of summer favourites, from self-drives and cruises to wildlife-watching trips and even a stay at a glass-fronted treehouse hotel located right on the Arctic Circle.
1. Island hop through the Turku Archipelago
Turku Archipelago (Credit Jaakko Kivela)
With direct flights starting from London in July 2019, Finland’s Turku region is going to be one to watch in the coming months. So, before the secret gets out, we heartily recommend booking onto our summer island-hopping self-drive, which links the delights of Finland’s second city with the craggy coastlines, old-growth forests and historic towns of its archipelago surroundings. An included boat safari, complete with guided nature walks and an island picnic, will see you explore the region’s rural idyll, while evocative stays in everything from timber farmhouses to chic barn conversions only add to a superb experience. And, with car hire included, you’ll have the chance to explore at your own pace, perhaps taking in the fairy-tale gardens of Naantali, or calling into Moomin World for the chance to meet Tove Jansson’s iconic storybook creations.
2. Enjoy a summer adventure in Finnish Lakeland
Lake Saimaa, Finnish Lakeland
There can be few more picturesque spots in Finland than its Lakeland. Here, a vast labyrinth of waterways, dotted by thousands of forested islands, form Europe’s largest lake district. It’s a place of unimaginable beauty and tranquillity, where long sun-filled days are spent swimming and fishing, every home has a sauna and life moves at an altogether slower pace. Our summer self-drive takes in the best of it, bringing you out for stays in boutique guesthouses and remote log-cabin hotels, where you’ll enjoy some much-needed digital detox in the form of languid afternoon boat trips and delightful picnic lunches deep in the wilderness.
3. Cruise from Helsinki to Porvoo
Porvoo, Finland (Credit Julia Kivela)
Finland’s capital is an enchanting blend of 18th-century heritage and cutting-edge Nordic design, all centred around a pretty harbour overlooking the Baltic Sea – a delightful contrast to the medieval charms of nearby Porvoo. You’ll have the chance to explore both cities on this summertime trip, which links the two by way of scenic cruise aboard a century-old ship, immaculately restored to its former glory. As you sail between the archipelago islands of Finland’s south coast, you’ll be treated to a delicious lunch of salmon soup, accompanied by traditional dark bread and followed by a desert of coffee and Runeberg tart. Then, having checked into an 18th-century manor-house hotel, you’ll have a day free to explore the sights of Porvoo itself, perhaps taking in the town’s shops and galleries, or indulging at the acclaimed Brunberg Chocolate Factory before a final scenic sailing back to Helsinki.
4. Go bear watching in Lapland
Bear in Finnish Lapland
One of the best places to spot Finland’s summer wildlife is in the wilds of Lapland, were endless swathes of pristine wilderness provide the perfect habitat for lynx, wolves and brown bears. And, it’s these amazing creature that provide the focal point for one of our favourite Finland itineraries. Staying in the remote village of Kuusamo, you’ll be based in a delightfully rustic timber lodge on the shores of Lake Heikinjärvi , where you’ll be treated superb full-board dining, taking in the likes of glow-fried salmon and red-wine-marinated beef. We've even included a guided hike to Kuntivaara Hill, where you'll enjoy a picnic lunch before returning to that greatest of Finnish traditions – a smoke sauna. It’s all just a preamble, though, to your bear-watching excursion. In the company of an expert guide, you’ll head for a remote hide to enjoy one of the world's best bear-spotting success rates. Just be sure to pack your camera.
5. Watch autumn auroras at Arctic TreeHouse Hotel
The Arctic Treehouse Hotel, Finnish Lapland
Ok, so it’s not a summer break as such. But, with the Northern Lights appearing in the night skies above Finnish Lapland from as early as September, and mild weather still the order of the day, there’s much to be said for postponing your break until autumn. Indeed, with the landscape lit up by the colours of the season and the aurora providing similarly spectacular after-dark entertainment, a trip to Finland’s northern reaches at this time of year is an absolute treat for the senses. It’s made all the more special with a stay at Rovaniemi’s Arctic TreeHouse Hotel, whose glass-fronted suites offer sublime views across the boreal forest. Pair that with the best in seasonal dining, as well as a guided aurora picnic, for an adventure not to be missed.