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Finland with elderly parents and sister

My sister, 40, and I, 50, are thinking about taking our parents (late 70's) to Finland. We have thought about flying to Helsinki and renting a car and traveling for a week or so. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Both parents speak Finnish enough to get by. Any tours you might recommend to Finland or possibly combine with Norway, Sweden, etc.
Thanks!

Posted by
10344 posts

Do you have Rick's book Scandinavia? 2008 edition should be showing up soon. It will give you lots of ideas, in addition to what others will hopefully share here.

Posted by
4683 posts

If you want to visit Sweden, Stockholm is a very easy side trip from Helsinki. Take the overnight ferry (quite comfortable). Another easy option from Helsinki is the boat to Tallinn. The Rick Steves Scandinavia book is very thin on Finland, so look for another guidebook on Finland to bring along. You will not need (or want) a car in either Helsinki or Stockholm, but a car would be great for exploring the Finnish countryside.

Posted by
2788 posts

Enjoyed Helsinki last year. Took the "fast boat" over to Tallin - would not pay the extra to take that "fast boat" again - flew to Stockholm - would not do that again - would take the overnight ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm. Do you really need a rental car to get around in Finland or could you use local tours, including Sweden and Estonia, and save the $$ from the rental car? Happy travels

Posted by
8984 posts

If at all possible, try and take the Stockholm-Helsinki ferry from Stockholm into Helsinki. It's most scenic in that direction; going the other way, you will sleep through most of it. Also, keep in mind that 95% of the population of Finland lives in and around Helsinki. The rest of the country mostly forest, and tundra, and there isn't much to see or do outside of the capital. There are a few small coastal cities but most of these have big paper mills that produce a big stink:) Helsinki is only worth about a day of sightseeing; but it is a scenic city.

Posted by
49 posts

"Also, keep in mind that 95% of the population of Finland lives in and around Helsinki. "

Well, if you think 25% is the same thing as 95%, let it be so... The truth is, 75% of Finnish live OUTSIDE Helsinki area.
If you go only to Helsinki and say afterwards "I've seen Finland", it's the same thing as going to New York and say "I've seen the USA"...

For the tips:
Go in Finland at summer. In winter ONLY if you really like snow, and then mostly in north. At summer the country is full of breathtaking lakes (outside Helsinki) and forests... and you dont really know what is "the midnight summer" before experiencing it.

Posted by
102 posts

Insight Guides has a good book about Finland. There are plenty to see and do in Finland, if you have the interest to do it. I recommend Porvoo, about an hour from Helsinki. It is a historic town and it offers a nice daytrip. You can drive there or take a scenic ride there on a small ship. Also, Turku the old historic capital has interesting sights: a castle, an old church, digs of the medieval town. Hanko and Naantali are beautiful seaside towns. Savonlinna is a another town with an old castle and beautiful scenery. Also there are other sights like Fiskars and several old manor houses to tour. Looks like you have roots in Finland, so it should be very interesting for you. You can not beat the beauty of Finland in the summer time with the more than 100 000 lakes. If you want to, you can also go up to Lappland and see the Santa's Village but I would do that in the winter time. Good luck for you for your trip there. I will be going there at the end of May for 2 months with my daughter.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks for your replies! We are going to fly to Iceland (where my cousin lives), spend a day or two, and then go on to Finland. Perhaps we will fly into Stockholm and then take the ferry to Helsinki. We are spending the last 2 or 3 weeks in September, 2009 there. We have family in Isalmi and will drive there to visit any relatives we can locate. We are interested in visiting the Iitala glass company and Marimekko while we are there. Does anyone know if they have factory tours?

Posted by
632 posts

Your trip sounds delightful! I want to second the advice on the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki...we took the Silja line ferry and really enjoyed the trip (great sailing out of the channel with over a 1000 islands lining your exit. The food on the ferry was excellent (although it can be very confusing with respect to how you make reservations for dinner). By the way, we loved Helsinki, with lots to see and do there, I just don't understand how people can say it only deserves 1 or 2 days...and I can truly say that we had some of the best dinners of our trip north in Helsinki. Try the Elite or Havis for some really great modern Finish cuisine.

Posted by
49 posts

Iittala has a museum (in Iittala, suprisingly ;D )
http://tinyurl.com/5m2k5q

On the contrary, Marimekko doesn't have any factory tours, but you can find a Marimekko shop in every town... even in Iisalmi...