This was a trip I did in April 2018. After spending two days walking around the city of Helsinki, we rented a car. Our itinerary for the last three days consisted of zooming out on google maps, finding something green or near a lake, driving there and finding out what it was. This is probably my most spontaneous trip because we had no plan, we didn’t google anything or look up where we should go and to be honest, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever done. We were also very lucky with the weather for the start of April. Though I’m not necessarily suggesting that you do exactly as we did on your trip to Helsinki, we did have a great time and saw some really incredible places.
We stayed in an Airbnb in Torkkelinmäki, a short walk from the centre of Helsinki. There are lots of cool buildings to see in Helsinki as well as many nature parks spread throughout the city. We spent the first two days walking around with no map and I recommend you do the same. The city isn’t very big so you aren’t likely to get lost. It is also nice to walk around Hietaranta Beach and the park area around it. I have never seen a beach with ice on it before so it was a new experience.
A short ferry ride from Helsinki is an island named Suomenlinna. A UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once used as a sea fortress, the island is now inhabited. There are lots of things to do on the island as there are many museums, a Finnish submarine and many natural places to walk around or take a picnic. Being there in April, we got to see the ice breaking up which was very cool to see.
Haukkalampi, Nuuksio National Park
I’m not sure how we found this place but it was such a gem and I highly recommend it. There are many different walking trails leaving from the Haukkalampi carpark. We had a beautiful sunny (cold) day in spring so there was lots of wet ice around and walking was quite slippery sometimes but the park was so beautiful. There were frozen waterfalls and the lake was still frozen over. This is somewhere I would recommend all year round, though you may need more serious gear here in winter, picnics in summer would be incredible.
Lapinsalmi, Repovesi National Park
This was another incredible accidental find. The national park has multiple trails leaving from Lapinsalmi parking area. We did the ‘fox trail’ which is 3.5kms and takes you around the national park. On the trail there are lots of high viewpoints to see over the lakes and islands. Though it is quite a long way from Helsinki, the drive and the national park is worth it to get a feel for what Finland is really about.
The southern coast of Finland is dotted with islands. On our last day in Finland we drove to the Tulliniemi peninsula past the town of Hanko. The colours on the coast line are amazing. We really enjoyed walking around the coast and looking out over the islands.
Finland is a really incredible country and one that I definitely want to go to again. I really recommend hiring a car and travelling spontaneously if that is an option for you as there are so many incredible places to explore outside of Helsinki as well as the city itself.