Lonely Planet guide to Finland

Published: 01 August 2007

Finland is for the most part a quiet land, where a ramshackle cottage by a lake and a properly stoked sauna is all that's required for happiness.

It's a vast expanse of forests and lakes and more forests, punctuated by towns full of people who are genuinely surprised to see tourists.

During the months of the midnight sun, coastal regions are a sailing and fishing paradise. Inland, the largest unspoilt wilderness in Europe attracts thousands of trekkers every year.

In the south, the capital Helsinki is a paradise for lovers of art and architecture.

When To Go

Whatever time of year you visit Finland, there's something happening. Most museums and galleries are open year-round, and there is as much to do in the depths of winter as there is at the height of summer.

Nevertheless, you'll probably have a better time if you come in the warmer months, either in summer or anytime from May to September. As well as the advantages of warm weather, summer is the time of the midnight sun.

Winter north of the Arctic Circle is a chilly confluence of strange bluish light and encroaching melancholy.

Despite snow falls from November, it stays pretty sludgy until late winter: skiing isn't great until February, the coldest month, and you can ski in Lapland right through to June.

Finland – Fast Facts

  • Full Name: Republic of Finland
  • Capital City: Helsinki (pop: 891,000)
  • Population: 5,191,000
  • Time Zone: GMT/UTC +2 ()
  • Daylight Saving Start: from late March or early April
  • Daylight Saving End: end of October
  • Languages: Finnish (official). Finnish is a Uralic language and belongs to the Finno-Ugric group. It is closely related to Estonian and Karelian, and has common origins with Samoyed and the languages spoken in the Volga basin. The most widely spoken of the Finno-Ugric languages is Hungarian, but similarities with Finnish are few. Swedish (official). With six per cent of the population speaking Swedish, Finland is officially a bilingual country. Finlandssvenska, or 'Finland's Swedish', is very similar to the language spoken in Sweden, but local dialects have many Finnish words.. English (other) widely spoken in tourist establishments.
  • Religion: Lutheran & Orthodox
  • Currency: Euro (€)
  • Electricity: 230V 50HzHz
  • Electric Plug Details: European plug with two circular metal pins
  • Country Dialing Code: 358