Tourism in Finland

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2008-built fast cruiseferry MS Viking XPRS approaching Helsinki. Cruises are a popular tourist activity throughout Finland.

Finland attracted over 6,1 million tourists in 2010, with most coming from Russia.[1] The value added by tourism is about 2.4% of the Finnish GDP, and provides around 60,000 jobs. The Finnish tourism brand is stated by the Finland Promotion Board. The brand has four main dimensions beginning with letter C: Cool, Contrasts, Credible, Creative.

The Nature and the Finnish Summer[edit]

Päijänne, one of the largest lakes in Finland.

The summer is marked by long days in Finland, especially in the far north where the sun does not set at all. Tourists can go fishing and canoeing. There are several large lakes, including lakes Saimaa, Inari, and Päijänne. Walking is quite a popular activity in the summer. There are no high mountains in Finland, so climbing is somewhat limited. The highest mountain is Halti near Enontekiö. It rises 1328 metres above sea level. However, Lapland tourism is a category of its own.

Attractions[edit]

Finland is famous for its many lakes, nearly 200,000 of them (larger than 500 m²/0.12 acres). Tampere is the biggest city on the Finnish Lakeland with other major cities being Jyväskylä, Mikkeli, Lahti, Joensuu, Lappeenranta, Kuopio and Savonlinna. Finland is also known to have excellent water quality, and green deep woods and forests around the sea, rivers, and the waterways.

In wintertime Finland provides opportunities for cross-country skiing and alpine skiing. Many of the popular ski resorts are situated north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland, but there are exceptions like Kuusamo in the northeastern part of Oulu Province and Himos in Jämsä, only 200 km North from Helsinki.

Santa Claus is commonly known to live on Korvatunturi in Finland. In the town of Rovaniemi there is the Santa Claus Village for tourists to visit.

Moomin World in the outskirts of Naantali is a theme park based on Tove Jansson child books about the Moomin.

Museums in Finland[edit]

A painstakingly restored British 0-6-0 "Neilson and Company" 0-6-0 steam locomotive, used in Finland from 1869 well into the 1920s, preserved at the Finnish Railway Museum

Northern Finland and Winter Sports[edit]

In the winter there is a large snowcastle with an Ice hotel built every year in the northern town of Kemi. Rovaniemi is a place from which to see the Aurora Borealis or Northern lights. Tourists in the north of the country in winter often enjoy trips in reindeer sleighs with Sami drivers, or in dog sleighs.

It is also possible to ski, with downhill resorts at Saariselkä and Levi, and many cross country ski tracks throughout the northern part of the country. Ice hockey is a popular sport in winter, and it is possible to go ice yachting, or ice skating on the ice. Most lakes are also frozen, so ice fishing (pilkkiminen) is quite popular.

The Cities[edit]

Helsinki, Finland's capital and largest city, receives many visitors year-round. During the summertime thousands of tourists approach Helsinki by cruising boats travelling across the Baltic Sea. Helsinki is known as a clean, modern and safe meeting point between the east and west.

Other popular tourist destinations within Finland include Jyväskylä, Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Rovaniemi and Porvoo.

Helsinki[edit]

The Temppeliaukio church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city; half a million people visit it annually.

Helsinki is relatively small and intimate but lively and bustling. The nearby islands are its summer delights.

Because Helsinki is located on the coast of the Baltic Sea and has many kilometres of coastline, most of its central districts are near the seaside. Helsinki is a very maritime city and is popularly called the daughter of the Baltic.

Helsinki's coastal position makes it ideal to experience in the summertime from one of the many sightseeing ferries leaving from the port of Helsinki. Many of Helsinki's main attractions are also related to the sea, including the Suomenlinna naval fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the Seurasaari Island with its parks and open-air museum. Locals often spend sunny days at the Hietaniemi beach (often simply called Hietsu), Helsinki's main beach in the district of Töölö.

In the winter-time Helsinki's northern position makes it dark for most of the day, thus making it a cosy town with much interesting lighting, such as the classic Aleksanterinkatu's Christmas street (Joulukatu). During the coldest months of the winter it is very common for Helsinkians to go for walks on the frozen sea, although much caution must be taken. There are also many places for ice swimming along the coast, some with saunas.

Air travel to Helsinki is via the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, situated in the neighbouring town of Vantaa, a town part of Greater Helsinki. Helsinki also has popular cruiseferry links with Stockholm, Sweden and hydrofoil and catamaran links to Tallinn, Estonia. Silja, Viking and Tallink are the biggest ferry operators.

Helsinki is also the home of the Linnanmäki amusement park, which features five rollercoasters and many other rides, including the world's first Intamin ZacSpin rollercoaster.

Helsinki is a safe city for tourists and a safe place in which to live. In terms of personal safety, Helsinki has been named 2nd safest city in the world.[2]

Helsinki has also efficient tourist information system maintained by the City of Helsinki Tourism & Convention Bureau located in the city centre next to Esplande park.

Jyväskylä[edit]

A view from Lake Jyväsjärvi towards the city centre.

Lonely Planet calls Jyväskylä as a Mecca for architecture lovers around the world for its large collection of Alvar Aalto buildings. The city is the biggest city on Finnish Lakeland and capital of Central Finland.[3] Later, a modern architect Arto Sipinen, a pupil of Aalto, has influenced in the cityscape since the 1970s by designing most of the new university buildings in the city.

The Alvar Aalto Museum and the Museum of Central Finland form a centre of culture in the immediate vicinity of the historical campus of the University of Jyväskylä. Both museums are designed by a functionalist Alvar Aalto. The Alvar Aalto Museum displays the artist's most important work and design. The Museum of Central Finland specializes in cultural history. It serves both as the town museum of Jyväskylä and the provincial museum of Central Finland.

One of architect Aalto's most significant works Säynätsalo Town Hall is located in Säynätsalo island on Lake Päijänne.

The city hosts the Neste Oil Rally Finland (formerly known as 1000 Lakes Rally). It is the biggest annually organised public event in the Nordic countries, gathering over 500,000 spectators every year. The rally has been held since 1951, first as a national competition, then from 1959 on as a European Rally Championship event and since the introduction of the World Rally Championship in 1973, as Finland's WRC event.

UNESCO World Heritage site Petäjävesi Old Church is located in vicinity of Jyväskylä.

Cuisine[edit]

Main article: Finnish cuisine

Finnish cuisine includes fresh ingredients, particularly game and fish, foraged berries and mushrooms such as false morels, and even reindeer. Alcoholic drinks of note are Koskenkorva, the salty liquorice-flavored Salmiakki Koskenkorva and cloudberry liqueur.

Transportation[edit]

The Finnish rail system is called VR. It offers InterCity and express trains throughout the country, and the faster Pendolino trains connecting the major cities. There are very large discounts (usually 50%) available for children (7-16 yr), students, senior citizens, and conscripts. There are international trains to St. Petersburg (Finnish and Russian day-time trains) and Moscow (Russian over-night train) in Russia. Connections to Sweden are by bus due to rail gauge differences. It's possible to take the Silja, Tallink and Viking Line ferries from Helsinki to Mariehamn in the Åland archipelago, Stockholm (Sweden), Rostock and Travemünde in Germany, and to Tallinn, (Estonia).

There are about 25 airports in Finland with scheduled passenger services. Finnair, Blue1 and Finncomm Airlines provide air services both domestically and internationally. Helsinki-Vantaa airport is Finland's global gateway with scheduled non-stop flights to such places as Bangkok, Beijing, Guangzhou, Nagoya, New Delhi, New York, Osaka, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Helsinki has an optimal location for great circle airline traffic routes between Western Europe and the Far East. Hence, many foreign tourists visit Helsinki on a stop-over while flying from Asia to Europe or vice versa. The Helsinki-Vantaa Airport has been ranked as one of the best airports in the world.

See also[edit]

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