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Finland

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Table of contents

Things to do and See in Finland

Helsinki


In a European perspective, Helsinki is relatively young (450 years), yet its Finland’s sixth oldest town. In 1809 the Grand Duchy required a new power base and Helsinki was chosen because of the massive sea fortress (Suomenlinna), which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Modern Helsinki was born when Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917 and it really stepped on to the world stage when the Olympic Stadium was completed in 1938, although the games were postponed due to the war and were finally held there in 1952. It still holds the record as the smallest city in the world to host the Olympic Games.
 
The city’s population just teeters over half a million and with its tallest building only 12 storeys high, Helsinki seems almost provincial. However, statistics reveal that the city is one of the fastest growing areas in the European Union. Within the last decade, 100,000 inhabitants have moved into Helsinki and by the year 2030 government statistics predict over 1.3 million people will be living within the region.

If you plan to see all the sights I recommend you get the Helsinki Card, which gives you free entrance to most of the tourist sights in town. For more information on prices and information go to www.helsinkiexpert.fi  


The Senate and Market Square

The Senate Square and surrounding buildings form a unique and cohesive example of Neo-Classical architecture. The square is decorated by three buildings designed by C. L. Engel between 1822 and 1852: the Cathedral, Council of State and the University of Helsinki. The buildings that border the square include the white-domed Tuomiokirkko (a Lutheran cathedral, consecrated in 1852), the Government Palace and the University Library. In the centre of the square stands a statue of Tsar Alexander II, cast in 1894.

The Market Square is located on the seafront and is where the local’s lunch on freshly caught salmon steaks and reindeer meat. It’s a great spot for tourists to find souvenirs like Russian fur hats, carved wooden bowls, gloves and hats knitted on the spot, reindeer skins and Lapp hunting knives. Additionally, an undercover market is just 100m away, selling similar fare. The Market Hall is a great stop for souvenirs such as dried reindeer salami and Finlandia vodka.


Mannerheim Museo

This fascinating museum was the home of the much-celebrated C G E Mannerheim. Born in 1867, he served for over 30 years in the Russian Imperial Army, leading Finland to independence in a bloody civil war that saw 30,000 Finns killed in 108 days. Mannerheim served as a commander-in-chief, a regent and as president. Admission is €7.00, but prices are subject to change. For more information go to www.mannerheim-museo.fi


Ice Hockey


As I’m Canadian I know how passionate the Finnish are when it comes to Ice Hockey.  Of course there biggest rivals are the Russians and Swedish teams, but I know they are up for it when they face the best team in the world in Canada.  I hate to say it, but other than the Russians this is the National team I always know will be an excellent game when Canada plays them.  If you are in Finland in winter be sure to go see a game as you won’t be disappointed. For more information on the Finnish Hockey League go to www.sm-liiga.fi


Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress


Built in the 1700s, Suomenlinna is one of the world's largest maritime fortresses and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. Built on six islands off the coast of Helsinki, it was built when the Swedes were in control of Finland and it was a way to fight off the Russians. Suomenlinna is today one of the most popular sights in Finland.  For more information go to www.suomenlinna.fi


Linnanmäki Amusement Park


Founded in 1950, Linnanmäki has been the traditional highlight of every Finnish child's summer holiday for the past 50 years, as it attracts over 44 million visitors every year. The amusement park offers thrills for the whole family. The rollercoaster is a favorite and is backed up by all the latest rides, which at least one new ride is added every year. Admission to get into the park is EUR3.5, but that is subject to change. For more information go to www.linnanmaki.fi/en

Helsinki Zoo

The Helsinki Zoo on Korkeasaari Island is another family favorite, featuring exotic animals from the Arctic tundra to the tropical rainforests. It is a great place in the winter too, as 80 percent of the animals can be seen throughout the year. Sea Life takes you on a voyage from the tropical oceans to the Arctic Sea, not forgetting the Baltic Sea along the way. The exhibitions present many species whose environments are under threat. As well as seeing live creatures, visitors can also enjoy interactive and educational presentations.

Churches and Cathedrals

The Cathedral of Helsinki is perhaps the most photographed and recognizable building in Finland. Designed by C. L. Engel, the Cathedral celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2002.

The Temppeliaukio 'Rock' Church is one of Finland's most popular tourists attractions and one of the most respected examples of modern architecture in Helsinki. Quarried out of the natural bedrock, the church has excellent acoustics and is a popular venue for concerts.

Completed in 1868, the Uspenski Cathedral is the largest Orthodox Church in Western Europe. With its golden cupolas and redbrick facade, the church is one the clearest Russian impact symbols in Finland. You can find this Cathedral on Seurasaari Island.


The Ateneum Art Museum


The Ateneum Art Museum is the National Gallery of Finland. The nation's largest art collection includes an impressive exhibition of Finnish art from the mid-1700s to the 1960s. The museum's foreign collection features western art from the mid to late-1800s to the 1950s, including works by Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cézanne. Special exhibitions are also arranged. For more information go to www.ateneum.fi/en

 

 


The Rest of the Country


Finland is perhaps best known for its peacefulness and beautiful nature, but don’t forget about over the 200,000 lakes they have located all over the country. With all the countries lakes and forests it makes for a very soothing and peaceful holiday

Turku

Helsinki is the most visited city in Finland, but Turku is a close second. From Turku’s medieval castle to its museum ships on the River Aura, it has it all.


Tampere

Established in 1779 on a narrow stretch of land between two scenic lakes, the Tampere of today is a bustling city of more than 200,000 people, which makes it the third largest city in Finland. It’s known as a centre of culture, sport, events, research, education and business activity. Tampere is 160 km from Helsinki, or about an hour and a half by car or train. There are direct flight connections with Stockholm, Copenhagen, Riga, Frankfurt, London, Liverpool, Dublin and from April 2007, Bremen.

This city offers spectacular scenery in Pyynikki Ridge and has a pretty cool Lenin Museum.  If you come to Tampere this museum is definitely worth a visit. For more information go to www.tampere.fi/tourism


Rovaniemi

This is the capital of the Finnish Lapland, which is located in the countries far north. This small but modern city is worth a visit as it gives you insight into how this community lives way up North.



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