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15 Top Cities of Finland - Best travel and holiday destinations

15 Top Cities of Finland - Best travel and holiday destinations

Updated 21 Feb, 2020
location_on Finland

If you are looking for your next power packed adventure then Finland is THE destination for you.
Throughout my travels, I have realized the truth in the quote ‘Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.’ It is such an amazing feeling to see and understand different people, cultures and lifestyle and then merging our own backgrounds and experiences into the new city, people and cuisines.
My quest for Finland began with the fact that Finland is ranked as the #1 happiest country in the world! I was intrigued to find out how Finland got that rank and thus began my quest to explore this “Land of Thousand Lakes”
So lets have a look at some of the most beautiful cities one should visit in Finland.

Helsinki (most Popular city)

The capital city holds one of the largest sea castles in the world. The city also has the friendliest locals in the country.

Things to do

  • Suomenlinna Fortress: It is a peaceful place to visit and walk around looking at the picturesque views following along numerous trails and parks.
  • Helsinki Cathedral: Located in the heart of the city, the cathedral has a beautiful infrastructure. It is a unique piece of architecture.
  • The National Museum of Finland: If you are interested in knowing about the history of Finland this museum will provide you with all the stories dating back from the Stone Age.
  • Market Square: Famous Finnish products can be bought in this busy market place. Good place to try authentic Finnish delicacies. A few things that you might find in these markets are jewelry, traditional wall hangings and littala glass.
  • Temppeliaukion Church: Quiet and peaceful. One can even walk around this stunning church built inside a rock.
  • Restaurant Savotta: This is one of the many restaurants where you will find yourself indulging in their traditional dishes like Poronkäristys (sautéed reindeer) served in good portions.
  • Baskeri and Basso: European cuisine with vegetarian options and gluten free options.
  • Ravintola Kuu: Brilliant food with friendly staff.

Best time to visit Helsinki-

May to august are the best months to visit Helsinki. The temperature goes from 14 degrees to 21 degrees during the summers.

Average hotel prices-

Hotel prices in Helsinki range from around 98 USD/88 EUROS to 280 USD/ 252 euros onwards.

How to get in and around the city-

Taxi rides are 24/7 available but due to expensive fares tourists opt for trams and buses which are preferred by people residing in the cities too. Transportation of trains from Helsinki are available in almost all large towns except the north as train networks are weak

Porvoo (most instagrammable city)

This 200 year old city has old ancient architecture and colorful wooden houses that will make you fall in love with the town.

Things to do-

Porvoo cathedral: This 800 year old cathedral is very well maintained and can be seen from the riverside as well.
Soderskar lighthouse: Situated in a small island in porvoo, it is an old rustic lighthouse with a view that will be worth your while.
Old town in Porvoo: Colorful houses and cute spacious boathouses will give you a real look of the old town of Finland.
Porvoo doll and toy museum: This museum is open for tourists in the month of July and exhibits various old toys and teddy bears. A good place to walk down memory lane.

Rafael’s steakhouse and bar: Delicious stake and a beautiful ambience. One of the many specialties is their horse steak.
Porvoon paahtimo: This café serves high quality European and Scandinavian cuisines located near the old town. You can also enjoy your meal with a slice of their fresh baked cake or a glass of wine.
Café postres: a small cozy café with a pleasant seating and lovely interiors.

Best time to visit Porvoo-

May to August are the best months to visit Porvoo and the temperature varies from 16 degrees to 22 degrees respectively.

Average hotel prices-

Hotel prices range from 63 euros/ 70 USD to 101 euros/ 112 USD onwards.

How to get in and around the city-

The closest airport to Porvoo is the Helsinki airport. To get to Porvoo from Helsinki, one can get a bus from the central bus station of Helsinki which arrives after every 30 minutes. Since Porvoo is a small city, walking in the city is the best option to get to the places.

Saariselka (Most romantic city)

Things to do-

North village St. Paul’s chapel: The serene chapel is open all day for visitors. It is calm and will take you to a completely zen mode.
Saariselka ski and sport resort: Exciting and adventurous park with loads of activities with euphoric views from the top. A lovely place to enjoy and ski with family, friends and kids.
Angry birds activity park Saariselka: Exuberant place for kids with plenty of amenities. Includes a bar with snacks and drinks.
Urho kekkonen national park: It is a 15 minute drive from saariselka but a must for all tourists. Enormous park with ski activities and laser light shows.

Kaunispaan huippu oy: Famous for its enormous donuts, the restaurant serves great food and beer and has a spectacular view from all parts of the restaurant. Also has a tiny sovenir store.
Teerenpesa: Serves local food and is also well known for its super tender chicken and beef burgers.
Petronella restaurant: Authentic lappish food. Delicious food with a good atmosphere.

Best time to visit saariselka-

July, August and September are considered the best times to visit this beautiful city.

Average hotel prices-

For 3 star hotels prices are 101.10 euros/112.54 USD and 5 star hotels; 252.73 euros/ 281.36 USD.

How to get in and around the city-

The nearest airport is the Ivalo airport which is a domestic airport so tourists mostly fly from Helsinki to Ivalo and then get to Saariselka by a 20 minute bus ride.

Hanko (Most beautiful archipelago)

If visiting on a beautiful day of summer, one should make sure they go sailing in the beautiful town of Hanko, The city is also famous for its stunning night life.

Things to do-

Russaro: It is a small island located near Hanko which shares some spectacular views of the ocean and island.
Tulliniemi nature path: A great place to walk and catch a beautiful sunset.
Tulliniemi beach: The beach is not very far from the nature path, tourists can even get there walking.
Rakkauden polku: A nature preserve in Finland with a beautiful path of hike.

Ravintola pa kroken: The best restaurant to have some of the most delicious seafood dishes.
Bryggan: Outdoor seating and a wonderful view of the ocean along with a hot served meal. What else could you ask for?
Classic pizza Hanko: European delicacies and pizzas served fresh.

Best time to visit Hanko-

The best time to ski is during March but for a perfect weather to go sailing in the sea, the best time of the year would be July and August.

Average hotel prices-

For 3 star hotels, prices are 75 euros/84 USD and 5 star hotels; 113 euros/ 126 USD.

How to get in and around the city-

Again, the nearest airport to Hanko is Helsinki. There are buses arriving in Hanko from the Helsinki bus terminal. The best way to get around the major places is by foot. Public buses are also available.

Turku (Food capital of Finland)

My next destination which in some Finnish dialects means a market place is the former capital of Finland and is located on the banks of the river Aura that flows all the way from the medieval castle to the cathedral. At Turku there are beautiful cafes and restaurants.

Things to do-

The Turku market hall: One should visit this place to explore Finnish and Scandinavian cuisine.
The Turku cathedral: A religious monument and gothic architecture.
Turku castle: A historic fortress located in the Centre of Turku. Largest surviving medieval castle in Finland.

Ravintola Kaskis: A delightful place for a fine dining experience.
Brahen kellari: Delicious steak servings with comfortable seating arrangements.
MorriSons: Perfect place if you are looking for barbeque and American hamburgers.

Best time to visit Turku-

With clear skies and open streets, July is the best month to visit this picturesque city.

Average hotel prices-

2 star hotels in Turku range up to 50 euros/57 USD whereas 3 stars and 4 stars go up to 80 euros/100 USD to 94 euros/130 USD respectively.

How to get in and around the city-

To get to Turku, you can fly to the international airport of Turku which is located approximately 7 kilometers from the Centre of Turku. One can even get on a passenger ferry. Public transportation is available in all parts of Turku. It is well organized and efficient.

Naantali (most important tourist centers)

It is situated on the west of Turku. Naantali is a beautiful city where one can enjoy themselves relaxing as well as doing a lot of activities.

Things to do-

The medieval convent stone church: This is one of the many tourist attractions in this city.
Moomin world theme park- The Park can be enjoyed by children as well as parents
The Naantali spa hotel: It is the largest spa in the Nordic countries.
Tourists also get the chance to attend the international music festival and the traditional sleepyhead day carnival hosted in Naantali in the months of June and July respectively.

Le Soleill: It is an enjoyable breakfast joint with a European buffet, it is simple food but will surely satisfy ones tummy. Also shares a stunning sea facing view.
Naantali metsatahti: A café that serves delicious and wholesome salads that are moderately priced along with beverages and a wide range of coffees
Naantalin Aurinkoinen Tullikatu: Apart from being fairly priced, this restaurant is situated in the center of the city and is open for breakfast lunch and dinner.

Best time to visit Naantali-

June, July and August are known as the best months to visit Naantali due to the number of events and festivals that take place.

Average hotel prices-

Average 3 star hotel prices: 127 euros/141 USD and average 5 star hotel prices: 152 euros/170 USD.

How to get in and around the city-

The nearest airport is the international airport of Turku situated 20 minutes from Naantali. Tourists and locals opt for buses to get to Naantali from Turku. One can get to places in Naantali by foot or public transportation.

Tampere (Manchester of Finland)

From amusement parks to cathedrals, Tampere is the city you definitely do not want to miss. Särkänniemi is an amusement park best known for its rides and dolphin shows.

Things to do-

The Tampere cathedral: It was designed by Lars sonck is famous for its frescoes that are Finnish paintings designed by Hugo Simberg.
The Hameensilta Bridge: It is a very well-known landmark in this city, you can also find the famous hunter statue that was built in the year 1929.
Nasinneula observation tower: The whole 360 view of the city of Tampere can be seen from this wonderful observation tower.
Särkänniemi: An amusement park with an aquarium, children’s zoo and planetarium. In fact the Nasinneula observation tower is also situated in this amusement park. A perfect place for a day out.

Aloha ramen: If you are looking for a touch of Asia in Finland then this restaurant is a must go since it serves one of the best dumplings and ramen in town.
Restaurant Nasinneula: The best time to have a meal here is during sunset since this fine dining restaurant shares some of the best views of the city.
Pikkubistro Kattila: European as well as international cuisine. Beautiful decorations and good music.

Best time to visit Tampere-

From late June to mid-august is the peak time for all tourists to visit Tampere.

Average hotel prices-3 star hotels:

50 euros/57 USD. 4 star hotel prices: 102 euros/ 113 USD to 126 euros/ 140 USD.

How to get in and around the city-

Tampere has its own airport; Pirkkala airport. There is a city bus that takes you around the whole city.

Vaasa (The white city)

This city has a tiny touch of Sweden, and you will come across a lot of locals speaking Finnish as well as Swedish. In fact most of the signs are written in Finnish and Swedish.

Things to do-

Kvarken archipelago world heritage site: Here you can come across fresh nature and breathtaking sceneries.
Meteoriihi: If you are a fan of astronomy this is a splendid place you can visit. You can go on top of the wooden tower for an even better view of the land where a giant meteor had hit the ground 500 million years ago. You will see thousands of migrating birds in this area, there also is an exhibition about the formation of the area (due to the meteor crash). Apart from this they also have a stargazing event that takes place.
Pohjanmaan Museo -Osterbottens Museum: It is a small museum that’s situated near the market place. It has some of the finest piece of art from the golden era and will surely answer all your questions regarding the history of Finland.

Gustav wasa restaurant: One can order from its a la carte menu or enjoy its seven course tasting menu which is out of the world.
Frans and Nicole: Delicious French and European cuisine with good seating arrangements.
Faros: Rooftop restaurant with a magnificent lakeside view and cozy ambience. Includes a wide range of European and Scandinavian dishes.

Best time to visit Vaasa-

July is the best month to go to Vaasa when the temperature gets to 20 degrees Celsius. Tourists can also go during June or august.

Average hotel prices-

3 star hotel prices start from 63 euros/70 USD. 4 star hotel prices start from 126 euros/ 140 USD.

How to get in and around the city-

People can get to Vaasa by train from Helsinki or any other major city. Apart from this, public buses, rental cars and rental bikes are a few ways to get around Vaasa.

Kemi (Home of the famous snow castle)

Visiting the city of Kemi is a must and it should definitely be added in your list of places to go in Finland.

Things to do-

The snow castle of kemi: Though it’s quite an expensive hotel to stay in, its fabulously designed ice sculptures are something you don’t want to miss.
The icebreaker tourist ship: It gives you an opportunity to cruise in the frozen water of Bothnian Sea, visitors can also swim in the pool of ice in a flotation survival kit.
Kemi church: Surrounded by plenty of trees, this is a truly magnificent church located in the heart of kemi.
Bothnian Bay National Park: The glorious park is located near the border of Finland and Sweden.
In the cold winter evenings tourists are also able to see the magnificent aurora borealis in Kemi, Lapland.

Pursiseura: Swift service and nice and simple food, located on the shore.
Olutravintolan Kukko: A good pub for a night out in the city with a good quality beers.
Ammattiopisto Lappia Ravintola Aurinko: This restaurant serves authentic Russian food. Some of the best Russian delicacies.

Best time to visit Kemi-

July to August (summer) or December to march (winter) are known as the best times to visit kemi.

Average hotel prices-

2 and 3 star hotel prices start from 75 euros/84 USD onwards. Whereas 4 star hotels start from 101 euros/112 USD onwards
How to get in and around the city- The nearest airport is Kemi-Tornio airport. There is public bus transportation. Walking is the best way to get around the city.

Rovaniemi (Gateway to Lapland.)

The famous city also known as the hometown of Santa Claus is the capital of Lapland and is the gateway to the Arctic Circle.
It holds innumerous events during the months of November and December.

Things to do-

Along with the Santa Claus village visit there are various husky safaris and northern lights tours. One can also visit the reindeer farm where you can get the opportunity to feed the reindeers and go for a reindeer sleigh ride.
If you choose to live in the Santa Claus village then you can enjoy its sauna which is included in the rooms.
Rovaniemi city Centre’s shopping mall and food at the long strip of restaurants is not something tourists miss.
Arktikum: Science center and museum is made of natural materials. Provides plenty of interesting facts and information.
Santa Park - the Home Cavern of Santa Claus: Christmas theme park. Friendly staff and beautiful place for children and parents. You even get to meet Santa and click pictures with him.

Nili restaurant: Delicious and authentic food, good ambience and music.
Lapland Restaurant Kotahovi: Famous for serving wonderful reindeer meat. A cozy place to keep customers warm in the winters.
Santa’s salmon place restaurant: Crowded all day, this restaurant serves the best crispy salmon in rovaniemi. The salmon gets cooked on fire in front of customers. It is situated in a small hut with simple and cute decorations. The desserts are also a must try.
Frans and Cherie Rovaniemi: Casual dining, amazing cocktails, friendly staff.

Best time to visit Rovaniemi-

June to August are the months of summer with long daylight. Mountain biking and water sports near the lake are one of their major summer activities. However the best time to visit Rovaniemi is between October and May where one can spot the vivid aurora borealis; the famous northern lights.

Average hotel prices-

3 star hotel prices start from 63 euros/70 USD onwards.
4 star hotel prices start from 88 euros/ 98 USD to 277 euros/309 USD onwards.

How to get in and around the city-

You can fly to the Rovaniemi airport or take a bus from Helsinki which is a 10 to 11 hour drive.

Kuusamo (The adventureland of Finland)

Things to do-

The city is famous for its ruka ski resort which tourists can enjoy in winters.
Canyon lake Julma-Ölkky: There is a 10km trail that goes around the lake. You can also take a boat ride on the lake. You can have beautiful views of the lake from every point of the cliff. The marvelous scenery overlooks the canyon, forest and lake.
Riisitunturi National Park: Beautiful and windy. Hiking in the snow trails, ski activities and outstanding views
Kuusamo has plenty of lakes where activities like ice fishing, floating in the water and kayaking are famous among tourists. Most of the ice fishing excursions are combined with snowmobile safaris.

Lammintupa: Café with fabulous European sweet dishes. The cinnamon pastry and pancakes served with local berries are highly recommended.
Restaurant Rukatonttu: A delightful local restaurant. Serves brilliant local dishes of Finland. Buffet and a la carte both available.
Hanki Baari: Local and international dishes both offered at the wide range of menu in this restaurant. Their delicious bakery products like croissants and pastries are a must try.
Monomesta: Great place with live music and excellent cocktails. Good food and service.

Best time to visit Kuusamo-

The months of February, March and April are highly recommended by tourists since the city holds most of its activities during these months.

Average hotel prices-

3 star averaging is 126 euros/ 140 USD and 5 star averaging is 190 euros/210 USD.

How to get in and around the city-

One can get to Kuusamo by flying to Helsinki and taking a connecting flight to Kuusamo airport. Most of the locations in kuusamo are connected to public bus lines, so getting around the city is quite convenient for tourists and locals.

Jyväskylä (Athens of Finland)

The city of Jyvaskyla is calm and peaceful and you can enjoy having some freshly baked cookies at one of the many bakeries it has.

Things to do-

The city’s old church of Petäjävesi is said to have built in just 35 days which is fascinating that after 250 years it is still the same.
The Alvar Aalto Museum: It is located in the center of the city and holds all of Aalto’s work and provides detailed information. It’s a small museum and won’t take up much of your time so you can go around the city and visit the tiny shops and cafes.
Himos ski resort: One of the biggest ski resorts in Finland. Superb amenities with winter sports and outdoor activities. In the month of June, tourists get to be a part of the famous Iskelma Festival.
Laajavuori: Another ski resort with loads of activities taking place in the winters.

Viikinkiravintola herald: Good place to enjoy wine and cheese.
Teeleidi: The café offers plenty of tea flavors in their menu, wonderful snacks and beautiful location.
Le Qulkuri: Street food restaurant and bar. Nice and friendly atmosphere. Great service.
Pettola Lorenzo: Good music with quick service and delicious, out of the oven pizzas.

Best time to visit Jyvaskyla-

The city holds innumerous events in the months of April, may, June and July. Therefore, tourists prefer to visit central Finland during these months.

Average hotel prices-

2 star hotels average prices; 50 euros/ 56 USD. 3 star hotels average prices; 102 euros/ 112 USD.

How to get in and around the city-

The nearest airport is the Jyvaskyla airport located 20 minutes from the center of Jyvaskyla. "Linkki" local buses in Jyvaskyla are available for people to go around the city, it travels to almost all locations of the city. There is a yellow-black bus stop sign which is for local buses in the city whereas Blue-white bus stop sign is for the long distance public buses.

Savonlinna (City of Islands)

The area of Savolinna is the pearl of Lake Saimaa, it’s a beautiful and lively city which is built on islands.

Things to do-

The castle of Savolinna, Olavinlinna: It is a medieval castle with interesting history between two northern powers. It is in this fortress, in the summers, where the world famous Opera event takes place.
The Linnansaari National Park: It is a beautiful and serene island, with lots of opportunities to swim, sauna, trails and canoeing. One can reach the park with a boat or a kayak.
Lake Saimaa: The enchanting city also has lake cruises on Lake Saimaa, exhibitions and galleries and a lot more events to just take away your breath.
Lusto, the Finnish Forest Museum: A museum which provides interesting facts and information about Finnish forests. Very informational and educational experience that discusses about climate change and ongoing issues in the society. A must visit for nature lovers.

Kahvila Saima: Wonderful outdoor and indoor seating with delicious and healthy European dishes. A very helpful staff.
Bistro Waahto: Wonderful view and amazing food.
Kalastajan Koju Savonlinna: Well known for its brilliantly served seafood, located in the heart of Savonlinna.
Olutravintola Sillansuu: A small pub, traditional décor and a great selection of beers.

Best time to visit Savolinna-

June to august are the months preferred by some tourists since the weather is pleasant but the best time to go if looking for skiing then its February.

Average hotel prices-

3 star averaging is 102 euros/112 USD and 4 star hotels averaging is 126 euros/140 USD.

How to get in and around the city-

The availability of buses to go to Savonlinna and get to destinations in the city are very flexible and efficient. The Savonlinna airport is located on a 15 minute drive from the center.

Lahti (Main economic hub of Finland)

Things to do-

The city of Lahti is situated on a bay at the southern end of Lake Vesijarvi.
The high ski jumps at Lahti’s sport Centre are put to spectacular use during the annual Lahti Ski Games and have hosted plenty of internal events over the years.
Ristinkirkko Church: Different from other churches, this church is beautifully built and has a very unique design.
Messilä Ski Center: A wonderful skiing center to spend the day and relish with family and friends.
Päijänne National Park: This Park has beautiful trails leading to beaches. Fun and adventurous to spend a day here.

Ravintola Rou: Dishes are decorated in a very fancy manner which makes your mouth water but the look lives up to your expectation as the food tastes delicious. Welcoming staff and excellent seating. Must visit for all foodies.
El Toro: Best steakhouse in town.
Wine Cafe Olavi: Contains a vast selection of wines, soups and salads. A delightful place to enjoy brunch.
Viikinkiravintola Harald: Viking atmosphere with Viking styled decorations and music. Serves traditional and European/Scandinavian meals.
Trattoria Seurahuone: Outstanding Mediterranean and Italian food. Comfortable ambience and friendly staff.

Best time to visit Lahti:

May, June and July are known as the best months to visit this enchanting city.

Average hotel prices:

3 star and 4 star hotel prices start from 100 euros/107 USD onwards.

How to get in and around the city-

The nearest airport is the Helsinki airport which is a 50 minute journey from Lahti. Trains are available for tourists and locals travelling to Lahti from other Finland cities. Lahti’s public transport mainly consists of public buses.

Hämeenlinna (The oldest inland city)

Things to do:

Skogster Museum / Museum of the City of Hämeenlinna: Castle and museum that occupies exibitions and interesting facts on the formation and history of Hameenlinna.
Parola Tank Museum: A military museum that has well presented facts and information about militaries. An interesting display of armours, weapons, tanks and military vehicles from the time of world war 1, world war 2 and cold war.
Aulangon näkötorni: An observational tower with breathtaking views of lakes and valleys of the city from top of the building. It even has a small café with tea and cakes.
Torronsuo National Park: One of the deepest swamp in finland is located in this national park. The park has a lot of nature trails and scenic views.

The gingerbread house: The place serves typical traditional finnish delecacies that are best known for its reindeer and elk meat. Outstanding food at very reasonable prices.
UOMA: Perfect place for a big group of people with great food and service.
Ravintola Verka: Lively restaurant with a charming ambience. Serves warm and fresh seasonal dishes.
Birger: Famous for its wide selections of beers and ciders, this restaurant serves various ranges of seafood. Sweet and interactive staff.

Best time to visit Hameenlina:

June-August are the best months to visit Hameenlina. The temperature falls between 20 to 25 degrees celcius during these months and the weather is pleasant with various activities taking place.

Average hotel prices:

Prices of 3 star and 4 star hotels in Hameenlinna start from 88 euros/ 98 USD to 152 euros/168 USD onwards.

How to get in and around the city:

Hameenlinna does not have its own airport but the nearest airport from the city is the Tampere-Pirkkala airport which is located at a distance of 79 kms. Public bus lines travel to most of the streets and attractions in the city.

Finnish Food items that every tourist must try:

Finnish traditional food mostly consists of bread. But Finnish people love eating fish. One of the dishes you will find in Finland all year long is its smoked white fish.
Other staple dishes include:

Salmiakki (salty licorice)-

Black candy flavored with ammonium chloride to give a strong, salty kick. The candy that is referred as ‘black gold’ is eaten by Finns regularly and they even take it around while travelling. You will find this candy in any supermarket and is also available as a flavor in ice cream, chocolate and vodka.
##Poronkäristys (sautéed reindeer)-
Reindeer meat is a common delicacy eaten by almost all Finns. It is mostly eaten sautéed with a side of mashed potatoes. The meat is served hot and tender and sometimes with a delicious lingonberry jam.

Lohikeitto (salmon soup) -

As mentioned above, Finns love eating fish and the most popular fish is salmon. The most common salmon dish would be a bowl of hot salmon soup served with a side of rye bread at Finland’s local restaurants.

Ruisleipä (rye bread)-

Loved by Finns, this bread is eaten for breakfast, lunch and as a snack. Often served with ham and cheese this dish was voted as the national food in 2017. You will find this bread in each and every bakery of the happiest country in the world.

Karjalanpiirakka (Karelian pie) –

The bread was originally from the Karelia region which is now a part of Russia. It is filled with rice porridge and is mostly eaten as a snack. Finns also eat it with a mashed potato filling or with a spread called munavoi that is made out of chopped boiled eggs and butter. Again, you will find this bread in every bakery of any town of Finland.

Weather

Winters start during the month of late October and lasts till March, the average temperature regarding Helsinki is around 4 degree Celsius and summers can be seen in the months of June, July and August.
Tourists prefer visiting the cities in the north during the months of November and December as the streets are lit up for Christmas and a lot of Christmas festivities take place. As compared to this, in summers and spring a lot of activities are closed.