The summer season is finally here! Many of us are already making plans for our upcoming summer vacations. To help get you started I’ve put together a list of travel ideas for the summer months in Finland. Whether you’re looking for some city fun or an adventure in nature I hope this blog posts helps get you inspired!
1. Try the Archipelago Trail
For 25 years this 250 kilometres long route has attracted hundreds of thousands of people eager to experience the beautiful Finnish archipelago. The circular route tours some of the most beautiful archipelago islands like Nagu, Korpo and Iniö. You can travel by bike, car or motorcycle. The iconic yellow archipelago ferries connect the islands and transports passengers from island to island for free.
2. Spend a Day Exploring Suomenlinna Island
A true summer classic is spending a summer day exploring the Suomenlinna island outside Helsinki. It’s a great alternative for anyone who’s looking for a half or full day adventure in the capital region. It’s also quite a budget-friendly alternative, at least if you opt for a picnic meal instead of eating at a restaurant.
For history fans there’s an endless list of sights to see, from the old fortress ruins and King’s Gate to the submarine Vesikko from 1933. Beer enthusiasts will head to the island’s own brewery: Suomenlinna Brewery.
3. Hop Aboard a Steamboat
There’s no better way to spend a day in July in Finland than to spend it out at sea. Do that in style by hopping aboard an old steamboat! The steamboat M/S J.L.Runeberg is over a hundred years old. During the summer season it takes passengers from Helsinki to Porvoo and back several days a week and from Helsinki to Loviisa once a week.
It’s a great way to combine both some time on the sea as well as sightseeing in either Porvoo or Loviisa. You’ll find more information about the cruise options here (in Finnish).
4. Discover Finland’s National Landscape Koli
The classic of classics when it comes to Finnish travel destinations: Koli. Over and over again Koli is included in different Finland travel bucket lists and it’s no wonder. Koli truly is a magical place that has attracted visitors and inspired artists for over a century.
The national park offers some excellent hiking trails and awe-inspiring views over lakes and hills.
5. Take a Stroll in Helsinki’s Rhododendron Park
If you love flowers don’t miss the Rhododendron Park in full bloom! The flowers are at their best in the beginning of the summer season, during the first half of June. In addition to some pretty incredible rhododendrons there are also lots of azaleas in all imaginable colours.
This is great for anyone on a tight budget as visiting is free.
For more information on visiting this park check out my blog post about it: A Veritable Flower Fest – Visiting Alppiruusupuisto: Helsinki’s Rhododendron Park
6. Enjoy Jazz Music in Korpo
Korpo has such a special place in my heart and I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful archipelago island. In case you happen to love jazz music the perfect time to travel to Korpo is in July as that’s when the annual Korpo Sea Jazz festival takes place.
The same week as the jazz festival there’s also a regatta for all boat fans out there. During the Korpo Runt Regatta you have a chance to see traditional old clinker sailboats competing.
For more Korpo tips check out my Korpo Travel Guide: Visiting Korpo – A Quick Guide to Help You Plan Your Trip
7. Spend a Summer Day in Porkkalanniemi
Dreaming about visiting the archipelago in Southwest Finland, but don’t have enough time? Porkkalanniemi in Kirkkonummi is the perfect place to go for that archipelago vibe near Helsinki. Pack a nice picnic, your bathing suit and enjoy a whole day here. Porkkalanniemi also has a selection of different hiking trails that you can either hike individually or combine for a longer hike.
For more information about Porkkalanniemi check out my previous blog post: Archipelago Vibes Near Helsinki: How to Go Hiking in Porkkalanniemi
8. Smell the Roses in Helsinki
For those who love roses there are two must-see sights in Helsinki during the summer season: Meilahti Arboretum’s Rose Garden and the Winter Garden’s Rose Garden.
Meilahti Arboretum includes over a hundred different types of roses that bloom from around mid-June to mid-August. It’s a lovely place to visit and it’s also free. You can combine it with a stroll around Seurasaari Island – another summer classic – as the two are located close to each other.
For more information on Meilahti Arboretum’s Roses head to my previous blog post: La Vie En Rose – Visiting the Rose Garden in Meilahti Arboretum in Helsinki
The Winter Garden has a small, but pretty rose garden with around 3000 roses. It’s at its best from around mid-July to late August. This is another great budget-friendly summer excursion as it’s also free. You might like to combine it with a visit to the Winter Garden – one of Helsinki’s oldest sights.
You’ll find more information on how to see the roses at the Winter Garden in my previous blog post: Visiting the Rose Garden at Helsinki Winter Garden – A Complete Guide
9. Relax at Haikko Manor
With its beautiful, majestic manor garden Haikko Manor is a wonderful place to visit during the summer season. This is a great choice for those who aren’t on a super tight budget and want to enjoy some luxury in a sophisticated setting. There’s also a nice spa to help you unwind. Haikko Manor is located around 40 minutes from Helsinki by car.
10. Marvel at Eva Ryynänen’s Masterpieces in Paateri
Finnish artist Eva Ryynänen had the extraordinary ability to turn wood into the most imaginative creatures. Paateri –her home and atelier – was turned into a museum after she and her husband passed away in 2001. It’s a truly magical place to visit, almost like stepping into a fairytale world. The detailed decorations on their house and in their home is so inspiring: even the fire escape is a piece of art!
Paateri is located in North Karelia on the shore of Vuonislahti Lake.
More information about Paateri and how to visit in my previous blog post: Where Wood Comes to Life – Visiting Sculptor Eva Ryynänen’s Home Paateri
11. Fall in Love With Rugged Jurmo
One of the most special islands to visit in Finland is Jurmo. As one of the outermost islands in the archipelago in Southwest Finland Jurmo is rugged and weather-beaten. Yet it also manages to be both charming and captivating. The large ferry M/S Baldur transports visitors and permanent residents to and from Jurmo for free. Baldur departs from the island of Nagu/Nauvo.
Though around ten people live on the island all year around, for visitors summer is by far the most popular season. Watching the summer sun set into the sea is magical!
You’ll find all you need to know to plan a visit in my Jurmo travel guide: Visiting Jurmo – A Complete Guide to Exploring the Stone Kingdom of the Archipelago
12. Enjoy an Open-Air Theatre
Outdoor theatre is an integral part of the Finnish summer experience. Across the country you’ll find smaller and larger open-air summer theatres with all kinds of different productions. The Finnish summer weather is unpredictable, but that’s part of the summer theatre charm. Sometimes there’s sunshine and sometimes there’s rain (even snow on the very rare occassion!). An unexpected downpour can inspire some phenomenal improvised acting.
Raseborg’s Sommarteater in Raasepori (Raseborg) is one of my favourites. As it’s located right next to the beautiful Raseborg Castle Ruins you can combine both theatre and exploring the ruins on the same visit. For more information about the castle and its history head to Visit Raseborgs webpages.
13. Have a Drink at a Terrace in Helsinki
After a long, cold, dark winter there’s nothing better than to make the most of the bright days and the white summer nights. All over Helsinki there are cute and inviting terraces where you can sit down for a drink and enjoy the summer in the city. There’s an endless amount of options to choose from, but one of my personal favourites is Relandersgrund in Kruununhaka in Helsinki. Relandersgrund is an old lightship that has been transformed into a restaurant/bar. It has a nice view over Katajanokka and the Uspenski Cathedral.
14. Visit the Island of Seili (Själö)
The small island of Seili (Själö in Swedish) has it all. Gripping history, beautiful architecture and amazing archipelago views. For hundreds of people, Seili was a place of no return. Many were brought to Seili by force and had to spend the rest of their days here. Seili has a history both as a leper hospital and as a mental asylum for women.
Spend a day getting to know this fascinating place or stay for a night or two. If you love the scent of lilacs make sure you visit during early summer when the lilacs bloom.
For more history and tips on how to visit head over to my Seili Travel Guide: A Complete Guide to Visiting the Island of Seili – An Archipelago Gem With a Dark History
15. Stroll Around Porvoo Old Town
Porvoo Old Town is one of Finland’s most popular destinations. And it’s not hard to see why. It’s incredibly picturesque with all the colourful, old wooden houses and the red-ochre painted red warehouses by the river bed. There’s a lovely atmosphere no matter what season you visit and an endless selection of cute shops and cafés. One of my favourites is Riimikko, an old-fashioned toy store I loved visiting as a kid.
16. Admire Classic and Vintage Cars in Helsinki
The first Friday of each month during the summer season an endless parade of colourful classic and vintage cars flock to Helsinki Market Square. For over 30 years Helsinki Cruising (or Stadin Cruising) has attracted car enthusiasts from near and far. From Buick Riviera and Chevrolet Corvette to Ford Mustang and Ferrari – you never know what you’ll spot and that’s part of the excitement.
For tips on how to visit and when to get there check out my Helsinki Cruising Guide: How to Visit the Helsinki Cruising Event – A Must-See For All Classic and Vintage Car Lovers
17. Head to Finland’s Easternmost Point
As far East as one can go before entering Russia lies what was once EU’s easternmost point. Once EU expanded in 2004 this place was downgraded to being just Finland’s easternmost point and the title of EU’s easternmost point went to Cyprus. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting spot to visit!
The sight itself might not be that extra – it’s just a symbolic post and some water dividing the two countries. But the whole journey towards it is exciting as it takes you through beautiful Finnish wilderness. It’s also an area with an exceptionally high density of bears!
This is also an excellent place to visit for those interested in military history. The area played an important role during the end of the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union. As a result there are plenty of military sights such as war memorials and a war museum on the road towards the easternmost point.
For more on the history of this place as well as information to help you plan your visit check out my previous blog post: At the Edge of EU – Visiting Finland’s Easternmost Point and Brushing Up on Wartime History
18. Go Bird-Watching at Suomenoja Bird Pond
Looking for something involving animals and nature that you can do near Helsinki on a tight budget? Suomenoja Bird Pond (Suomenojan lintuallas in Finnish) might be just the place to visit.
This small pond is a true bird paradise. It attracts around 200 different species of birds and from spring to autumn there are thousands of birds here. As it’s a popular nesting site, by the end of May and during June visitors have the chance to see numerous cute and fluffy chicks.
It’s a place that’s easy to access with public transportation or by bike and visiting is free. Suomenoja Bird Pond is located in Espoo, just a short distance from Matinkylä metro station.
19. Admire the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Petäjävesi Old Church
The 250-year-old wooden church in Petäjävesi was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1994. As part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites it represents a typical architectural style that was commonly seen in wooden churches in eastern Scandinavia.
But Petäjävesi is more than just the church. If you visit during the summer months you’ll ge to drive through some of the most idyllic Finnish summer landscapes including lakes, fields and old wooden houses. Located right by Petäjävesi Old Church is an old farm, Lemettilän tila, that has been transformed into a bed and breakfast. This is a lovely place to stay at if you ever visit.
20. Soak up the Sun at the Beach
The summer season is short so the Finnish mentality is that you have to make the most of it. And what better way to make the most of summer than by spending a day at the beach? The most famous beaches in Finland, like Yyteri in Pori and Bellevue in Hanko, are not in Helsinki. But even if you’re stuck in the capital region there are several good options.
One of Helsinki’s largest and most popular beaches is Hietaniemi beach in Töölö. It’s a nice beach, but during summer weekends it can have a bit of a party vibe, since many young people like to gather here to spend summer evenings. If you prefer something more quiet perhaps try the beaches at Mustikkamaa.
There are several alternatives to choose from in Espoo as well. Most of these are located along the Rantaraitti Seaside promenade and can be easily accessed by public transportation or by bike. My personal favourite is Mellsten Beach, located in Haukilahti in Southern Espoo. The café offers excellent pizza and drinks overlooking the sea.
21. Take in the Yellow Landscapes of Helsinki’s Sunflower Fields
Many cities in Finland grow sunflower fields for the enjoyment of its citizens. Helsinki’s sunflower fields have delighted the people of Helsinki (and its visitors) for over ten years. The fields are located in the northern parts of Helsinki in Haltiala and Tuomarinkylä.
The bright yellow sunflower fields are at their best at the end of summer, usually around late August.
You’ll find more information about how to visit the fields in my blog post: A Pocketful of Sunshine – the Complete Guide to Visiting Helsinki’s Sunflower Fields