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1 week in Finland

We are considering a trip to Finland at the beginning of August and would like to spend several days in Helsinki, then head out and explore the country for at least a week.

We can rent a cat if that seems like the best way to get to the cool stuff.

We are an active, adventurous and travel experienced family with two tween boys and want to enjoy the Finnish summer as much as possible!

Any suggestions for itinerary or must see/experiences outside helsinki would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Following.
i am interested in this topic also because i am going to Finland in September for the first time. Tallin via ferry for the day. Also traveling north via train to the city of Vaasa. Continuing family research. I good Finnish way of life book is The Finnish Way by Pantzar.

Posted by
4665 posts

So, what do you want to see and do? What is "the cool stuff" in your opinion? Is the only stop or is it part of a bigger trip? Not Finland, but adding a day trip to Tallinn is not a bad idea.

As for seeing the rest of the country, the Åland islands is a lovely place that is a must see in my opinion.

We can rent a cat if that seems like the best way to get to the cool
stuff.

I'd not recommend that. Sure they are cute and can be nice company, but they are usually pretty lousy tour guides. :-)

Posted by
139 posts

Thank you Badger!

We love nature, quaint towns, historical locations, museums, quintessential cultural experiences, hiking, biking, delicious food, saunas, beaches, lakes, national parks. The islands are a great idea!

We will definitely do a trip to Tallinn but not during this particular week - we plan to travel around Europe for a while and thought of spending a week or so exploring Finland, as it gets comparatively little attention and by all accounts looks like a country we would love to experience.

Yes, a car would be a much better rental idea if you recommended it for exploring!! :)

Posted by
4665 posts

Thanks for the update. Sounds like a good idea to visit Finland, even if one week won't let you see everything. But if you like biking, beaches, lakes and nature I think Åland is an even better idea. I don't know if I'd call Mariehamn (the only town on the islands) quaint but it is nice and has its charm. For museums, the Åland Maritime museum and the sail ship Pommern are worth a visit, https://sjofartsmuseum.ax/en/. And Åland's museum which is small but good, https://www.museum.ax . The islands are also great for biking, a good network of bike lanes and the regular roads are also good for biking as there are not that much traffic on the roads. For historical locations, the remains of Bomarsund fortress ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bomarsund ) can be worth a visit. Even if it's just a ruin today. Not that many lakes though, but there are a few. But plenty of sea within easy reach.

For a week, 6 nights, my suggestion would be three nights in Helsinki and two nights on Åland. And add a night in Åbo on the way, that will let you see something else as well make the trip a bit easier from a logistical point of view.

Posted by
139 posts

Thank you! We will definitely be spending several days in helsinki and tallinn apart from this several-day exploration.

The islands sound perfect. If we were to do a little road trip however, (or add that on to this trip) what would be a couple of cool destinations?

Posted by
24061 posts

You're spending enough time in Finland that the country's museum card might be worthwhile for you. I haven't worked my way through the list of covered sights yet, so I don't know what isn't covered, just that a lot of places are covered--and not only in Helsinki. The card is good for a year, so it's not one of those situations in which making the card worthwhile requires a forced march through a bunch of sights within a few days.

https://museot.fi/searchmuseums/

Posted by
4665 posts

So it's 7 days outside Helsinki? How long is a "little" road trip for you? Normally I would suggest the train between Helsinki and Åbo, but you can rent a car for the trip instead, it is not that long but can be a nice trip for about a day if you stay along the coast. Ekenäs is a nice little town roughly half way that can be a good lunch stop.

Posted by
139 posts

Aiming for 6-8 nights on Finnish mainland outside Helsinki/Tallinn.

Posted by
4665 posts

So 6-8 days outside Helsinki and Åland, that is quite a long road trip. I have to think about that for a while.

Posted by
4 posts

Food:

Turku is the kebab-capital of Finland, every corner has a kebab-place and its cheap and tasty (the first few times at least).

In the city center there is "Turun Kauppahalli" which is a food market with lots of small stalls with food, one of the fish-mongers makes the best take-away fish-soup you've ever eaten during lunch hours. The best sushi-place (Kado) and pizza place (forget the name, its in the middle) in Turku are there too (in my opinion, of course).

Drinks:

Cosmic Comic Cafe for nice atmosphere and good selection of beers.

Cafe Art by the Aura River has the best coffee in Turku.

Places to see:

The Archipelago in Turku is really nice but its hard to reach without a car or boat - check the tourist information to see for current information about the boat.

I personally like the "Aboa Vetus" part of the "Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova" museum. Its a dug out part of the old city, housed underneath a museum of modern art. The Turku Cathedral is close by if you like old buildings.

Can't comment on accommodations since I used to live there and nowadays my employer pays for the hotels when I go there, I usually stay at the Sokos Börs hotel and that's an ok hotel. In general a real hotel in Finland will have a high standard, there aren't room for many seriously bad hotels.

Posted by
3 posts

You won't freeze at all if you bring/purchase the following (for general urban hanging around): wool socks, long johns, proper boots. However, if you wish to go to a bar/pub, those long johns can get hot. It also helps to dress in layers, let's say you bring your favourite hoodie, definitely have a t-shirt under that and the jacket, but if it's cold and you're going to be outside, a thin shirt between the tee and the hoodie will help immensely. Also, a scarf is highly recommended, also a hat.

Alcohol restrictions: Got to be over 18 to buy alcohol and tobacco, and over 20 if the alcohol you wish to buy has over 22% alcohol content. Except the last bit doesn't apply to a bar, I suppose.

Grocery stores can only carry beer, cider etc up to 4,7%, everything else you have to get from the state monopoly Alko. And only drinks that have been made through fermentation can be sold in grocery stores, so if you wish to try the lovely Finnish lonkero, the one in the grocery stores is not the proper one.

Bars and stores start serving alcohol at the same time, 9 in the morning, and stores stop selling after 9 in the evening, Alko however closes at 8, and 6 on Saturday. It's not open on Sunday.

Also, some of feel that the price of alcohol is a bit of a restriction...

I've bought some extra warm clothes, plus planned to dress in layers, so sounds like I should be good. I can't remember what I bought exactly, though my feet, hands and head are well packed, so that's the most important thing.

I'm 20+, so that's no problem.

Is the Finnish lonkero recommended? Can't say I've heard of it before. I'm guessing I can buy that in an Alko store?

Posted by
15 posts

The beginning of August is still a vacation time for Finns (till Aug 10-14), so prices are high and some places may be closed. There are some tips on what to do in Helsinki: https://www.finlandprices.com/things-to-do-prices-finland/
Lonkero is just a soda drink mixed with gin. Does not taste good to me;-)) Try Cloudberry Liqueur or Minttu peppermint-flavoured liqueur.

Posted by
8626 posts

I guess you’ve already gone on this vacation by now — I follow a Finnish woman on Instagram who has me dying to go to the lakes region up by Savonlinna.

And I really hope to go the Aland islands sometime, but I seem to recall getting the impression when researching them last summer that they are more easily visited from Sweden (I seem to recall I was thinking of heading up to Uppsala from Stockholm, then getting a bus to the town from where the ferries departed . . .this is however a bit vague in my mind since I ended up going on a different trip to Norway instead).