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
Further information can be obtained from:
The Finnish Canoe Federation,
Telephone number: (9) 494 965
Fax: (9) 499 070
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:email@example.com).
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.
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).
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
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
For further information and charts, contact:
The Finnish Maritime Administration,
PO Box 171,
Telephone number: (9) 204 481
Fax number: (9) 2044 84355
For information on sailing courses contact:
Finnish Yachting Association,
Telephone number: (9) 348 121
Fax number: (9) 3481 2369).
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
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.
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.