One of the world’s largest sea fortresses, the 18th-century fort on Suomenlinna is a 15-minute ferry ride from Helsinki’s Market Square. Once here, you could easily fill a day with its sights and activities. Begin with the audio-visual experience in the visitor center for a lively history, then explore its ramparts, tunnels, and museums and walk the trails around the beautiful island. Or sign up here for a guided walk to learn more about the fort and its various attractions. Among these are the 250-ton Vesikko submarine, used by the Finnish Navy from 1936 until the end of World War II. The Ehrensvärd Museum illustrates the earliest Swedish period, and the Doll and Toy Museum displays dolls, dollhouses, and toys in an old Russian villa.
Rovaniemi and the Arctic:
The Arctic Circle runs across northern Finland, right through the town of Rovaniemi, giving it claim to being the Gateway to the Arctic. In the summer, this means the famous Midnight Sun. Rovaniemi is in the center of a vast natural area of rushing rivers for canoeing, swimming, or fishing, with trails alongside them for hiking and cycling. The city is best known as the home of Santa Claus, right astride the Arctic Circle at Santa Claus Village. You can meet reindeer here or visit a Sami reindeer farm.
In the winter, this region is a paradise for skiers and others who love snow and ice sports. You can ride across frozen lakes and visit Sami villages on a dogsled safari, learn to drive your own reindeer sled, snowshoe or cross-country ski for miles.
For most people, seeing the Northern Lights is a once-in-a-lifetime treat. Finland is perhaps the top country in the world for seeing these blazing curtains of light drape across the sky. Although, at times, the lights can be seen even in the southern most regions of the nation, the best place to see them is in the region close to or north of the Arctic Circle. Here, between September and March, visitors are almost guaranteed a show if the sky is clear. A wide range of hotels in the north cater specifically to people wanting to see the lights.
Fried vendace (Coregonus albula) is a summer-time delicacy in Finland. The fish are fried, served, and eaten whole, usually accompanied with garlic sauce. Fried Baltic herring is a popular and wholesome Finnish dish. It is usually accompanied with boiled or mashed potatoes.