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Last updated : Nov 2009
Finland Sports
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Good areas for canoeing include Saimaa, Lake Oulujärvi and Lake Inari. Owing to strong currents, guides are recommended for trips to the more remote areas. City tourist offices can supply ready-planned canoeing routes for visitors. All canoeists should use the charts of the coastal regions and inland waterways.

Further information can be obtained from:

The Finnish Canoe Federation,
Telephone number: (9) 494 965
Fax: (9) 499 070
Website: www.kanoottiliitto.fi


Finland has few mountains and very little traffic. Many of the cycling routes follow old country roads and, in the cities there are special cycling lanes. Bicycles can be taken to the start of routes by public transport. Along the cycling routes, there are campsites, hostels and other forms of accommodation available. Mountain biking is very popular in the lake districts, where bicycles can be hired from campsites, hotels, hostels and tourist information offices. A useful cyclists’ road map with details of bike centres and connections to ferries and boats is available.


The low salt content of the sea around Finland means that those fishing in the coastal regions can catch sea and freshwater fish. Overall, the Gulf of Finland is excellent for salmon, trout, perch and pike. The lakes and inland waterways are particularly good for trout, perch, bream and roach.

For river fishing, the Tornio and Teno salmon rivers in the Gulf of Bothnia are best. Visitors over 18 years are required to purchase a general fishing licence for all areas (except in the Åland Islands), they are valid for 1 year and can be obtained from postal bank offices and from post offices. In addition, permission from owners of fishing waters should be obtained. Fishing permits, information and maps are available from Metsähallitus (telephone number: (0205) 647 702, e-mail: mailto:natureinfo@metsa.fi).


Finland has over a hundred courses. The season runs from May to October, although in some areas including Rovaniemi, it is possible to play snow golf in winter. The best 18-hole courses are in the Helsinki region. and visitors should bring a membership card from their own golf club.

Horse riding

There are around 150 riding schools located in Finland, most of them are outside of the towns and cities.

Harness racing is very popular, with competitions held throughout the year, the main track at Vermo, just outside Helsinki, hosts 65 races a year (the main ones being the Finlandia Race in April and the Great Finnish Derby in September).

Lake cruises

Many lakes in the eastern Saimaa Lake District are big enough for larger vessels. Cruises ranging from a few hours to a few days are available in June, July and August. The Saimaa Canal, the waterway leading from the Gulf of Finland through Russian territory to the Saimaa lake region, is also open to foreign visitors, but subject to special safety and travel regulations.

For details, contact:

The Board of Management of the Saimaa Canal,
Itäinen, Kanavatie 2,
53420 Lappeenranta, Finland
Telephone number: (5) 458 5170
Fax number: (5) 020 4483 110

Outdoor pursuits

Around 65 per cent of Finland’s surface area is forested, in the north with coniferous forests, streams and open country. In central Finland being characterised by its many lakes and in the east with forests and deep gullies. In the south, though more densely populated, it offers forests and attractive coastal trails for hiking. The midnight sun period in Lapland is particularly popular.

In early autumn, Finland’s trees and vegetation take on the beautiful hues and colours of the ruska season, especially beautiful in Lapland. Finland has thirty-one national parks, the largest of which, such as Lemmenjoki and Pallas-Ounastunturi, are in the north. There are also 7 national hiking areas, specifically designed for outdoor pursuits. These offer a network of trails and extensive recreational facilities. Cliff abseiling, bear trails, bird and reindeer watching (notably in Salla Reindeer Park) and pony treks are also possible. Finland hosts several international orienteering competitions every year.


Visitors arriving in Finland under their own sail traditionally proceed past the west coast of the Åland Islands to either Hanko, Helsinki or Kotka. Hidden rocks make the Finnish archipelago quite treacherous and only experienced sailors with up-to-date charts should try to navigate them. Foreign pleasure boats and craft entering Finnish waters are subject to Finnish immigration laws. The Finnish Maritime Administration publishes a number of useful guides and brochures.

For further information and charts, contact:

The Finnish Maritime Administration,
Porkkalankatu 5,
PO Box 171,
00181 Helsinki
Telephone number: (9) 204 481
Fax number: (9) 2044 84355
Website: www.fma.fi.

For information on sailing courses contact:

The Finnish Yachting Association,
Radiokatu 20,
Telephone number: (9) 348 121
Fax number: (9) 3481 2369).

Special interest

The sauna is perhaps one of the best-known Finnish traditions, and the country has an estimated 1.6 million of them – nearly 1 for every 3 inhabitants. Hotels, holiday villages, campsites and even log cabins come equipped with a sauna, usually built close to the water. During the winter, when the water freezes, it is not uncommon to cut a hole (avanto) into the ice through which seasoned sauna fans may take a quick dip. Sauna tours, notably to the sauna village of Muurame, are possible.

Health-conscious travellers can also go on spa tours, taking in some of Finland’s spas at, for instance, Naantali or Haikko.

Architecture tours put particular emphasis on buildings and designs by the internationally acclaimed Alvar Aalto, one of Finland’s most famous architects. Design tours, focusing particularly on glassware, jewellery and household items as well as fireplaces and log houses, often include a visit to Helsinki’s Iittala Glass Museum or Glasswork.

Winter sports

One of Finland’s most popular sports is cross-country skiing, with marked and often illuminated tracks throughout the country. There are also some 120 downhill skiing resorts, offering ski-school, equipment hire and extensive après-ski facilities. Many resorts have halfpipes and ‘snowboard streets’ for snowboarding enthusiasts. Off-piste skiing available for experienced skiers only, is available through private companies. The skiing season is from January to February in southern Finland and December to March/April in central and northern Finland. The lakes and the ground freeze between November and May and the coastal waters freeze during December. Northernmost Finland is above the Arctic Circle and enjoys a spell of polar night (kaamos) when the sun does not rise with many skiing slopes are artificially lit during this time. Dog or reindeer sledge safaris, snowmobile tours and icebreaker cruises often involve overnight stays in log cabins or Lap tents (kota), located in the Arctic wilderness and although remote, kotas are warm and comfortable.
Useful travel links
Finland Tourism Tourist Board of Finland