Hi, we are going to be at the end of our 2 month European holiday in mid July and have a 3 night stop over in Helsinki before flying to Hong Kong and then home to Australia. I was looking at going to Lapland but see that it would be too far for the short time we have. Any similar type of experience you could suggest? We are happy to rent a car and drive a bit. Also would choose a natural experience over a city any day. Any suggestions most welcome. We will not need too many more churches, museums, monuments or zoos by this time in our travels. We prefer active, outdoorsy type of activities getting a feel for the local culture and community.
In addition to spending a day or two exploring Helsinki (Helsinki Cathedral, Suomenlinna, Seurasaari open air museum, etc) you may want to explore a section on the King's Road route:
My old (2001) edition of RS' Scandinavia guide book has a comprehensive discussion of what to see and do in Helsinki. That said, I enjoyed walking around the town, Suomenlimna and Seurasaari as well as enjoying refreshment at an outside cafe.
Sorry to say, I don't think anyone here has ventured much beyond the metropolitan areas of Helsinki and Turku. You might get some ideas from the Tourist Board at www.visitfinland.com. The daytrip by ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia will also give you a taste of another culture.
Laura has a good point. Rick Steves forum participants seem to be main road travelers. You may want to see what the Lonely Planet Finland or Scandinavia says about travel beyond Helsinki.
For example, if you are in Finland the first Saturday in July, the annual wife carry event takes place in Sonkajärvi:
While Sonkajärvi would likely be too far north of Helsinki, point is that Lonely Planet travelers venture beyond the big cities. Helsinki is a great place to visit but there is more to Finland than Helsinki.