The best country in the world, concluded Newsweek in its August 2010 survey. A title Finland, a progressive nation with strong ties to its natural heritage, was happy to accept.

Finland is a country of contrasts. From endless daylight in the summer to the still, wintry darkness of the polar night, the characteristics of Finland’s seasons shed insight into the country’s supply of extremes. Completed by the melancholic harmony of autumn leaf colors and the astonishing rebirth of nature in the spring, the four seasons have a profound effect on life in Finland.

Located between the East and the West, the cultural atmosphere of Finland is truly unique. The country moves to a Western beat spiced with a tone from the East. Finnish design and architecture are world-renowned, and at best convey the Finns’ pragmatic nature and inclination towards linear, simple and aesthetic everyday solutions. Be it city planning or pottery design, Finns like things that work and look good.

Icelandair flies to Helsinki, the capital of Finland. In Helsinki, the beauty of the surrounding nature blends seamlessly together with high-tech achievements, while old traditions mix with the latest contemporary trends. The city centre has many beautiful parks, outdoor cafes and a Design District for great shopping. The centre stage of Finnish design, Helsinki has been appointed the World Design Capital 2012. Day trips from Helsinki are easily at hand: For example, take a tour on the historical King’s Road along the Southern Coast, a medieval mail coach route used by kings and their couriers since the 1300s. Along the route are many medieval churches, beautiful manor houses, old iron works villages and idyllic seaports.

The medieval city of Turku, the former capital of Finland, has been designated European Capital of Culture during the year 2011, and hundreds of cultural events in and around the city are well worth a visit. From Turku, access to the South West Coastal region with a stunningly beautiful archipelago is immediate. Biking routes, island-hopping and hiking trails are aplenty as are lighthouses and boating opportunities. The Old Town of Rauma is also a thing to see.

Although known for advancements in technology and progressive urban solutions, most Finns spend their free time in touch with nature. With almost 200 000 lakes and half a million summer cottages in the country, there’s a lot of room to retreat to the countryside and get away from it all. The Lake District in the Eastern part of the country is ideal for a quiet retreat at a waterside cottage. Above the Arctic Circle, the sparsely populated Lapland presents itself with unmatched natural beauty. The vastness of fells and forests is breath-taking, and summers are graced with the Midnight Sun, while winters provide unique displays by the Northern Lights. Lapland is well known for its most famous inhabitant: the one and only Santa Claus. Lapland is, thanks to its magical charm, often described as a winter wonderland. Snow fun is guaranteed with husky and reindeer safaris, snowmobiling, ice fishing, all types of skiing and a range of winter sports. Summer months offer fabulous choices of outdoor activities and sights, perfect for the whole family from biking, fishing to white water rafting and canoeing – even gold prospecting.

There are several UNESCO World Heritage sites in Finland like the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress outside Helsinki. If all that is not enough then you can take the high-speed Allegro rail service from Helsinki to St. Petersburg, Russia, or you can choose visa free cruises from Helsinki to St Petersburg or take an excursion to the Baltics or other Scandinavian countries. Anywhere you go in Finland, rarities of modern life are available: space, time, peacefulness and quietness. If a quiet retreat is not your cup of tea, perhaps a sample of quirky Finnish summer events is in order: try your hand at mobile phone or rubber boot throwing, or compete at the wife carrying or air guitar world championships! Whether you win or lose, odds are you’ll be having a good time and party until the wee hours.

If you are looking for a unique travel experience, whether you are visiting for a week or month, Finland summers or winters will fill your days with excitement! Your mind will form memories that will last a lifetime, your heart will fall in love with the Finns and your soul will be touched by the beauty and serenity of our land. Come Visit Finland and you will come back again and again!


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