I visited Finland for the first time this summer and fell in love with the people, their culture and the wealth of natural beauty that covers the land in lake and forest. With that in mind here is my essential travel itinerary for a 4-day holiday in Finland, covering all the best and most luxurious things to do. Smoke sauna? Check. Night in a treehouse reserve? Double Check. Enjoy!
Day 1 – Helsinki: Dining & Drinking Capital of Finland
Finnair Flight departs London Heathrow and lands a mere few hours later in the buzzing capital of Finland, Helsinki, where our Nordic journey begins
After landing at the modern airport, take a short taxi ride to the hotel for the night, Klaus K. The hotel is clean and bright with plenty of examples of Nordic design to get yourself submerged in. There are also some very serviceable restaurants, and the breakfast buffet is reason enough to make Klaus K your hotel of choice. The hotel is also brilliantly located in a central hub of the city that means you can explore the town and coast by foot.
Spend the day exploring Helsinki, checking out the town with its traditional dome pitched Nordic houses through to the lovely Senate house with its Neoclassical architecture and then along the coastline dotted with lazily floating boats.
Full of amazing things to eat and drink, tailor your own culinary exploration of Helsinki. Try Hotel Lilla Roberts with a few modernist creations which are described as ‘meeting creativity and positive Nordic madness’. Hell yes.
After some suitably mad and seriously avant garde creations, head to brunch at the hotel’s restaurant Krog Roba, whose fresh bread and open sandwiches, plentiful smoked salmon and Nordic cookies will keep most likely everyone happy.
A fantastic dinner restaurant to check out is Restaurant Bronde, where you can try some of the most progressive food that Helsinki has to offer.
Spend the day exploring the culinary and cultural prowess of Helsinki, and then call it a night at A21 Decades, an exclusive little nook in central Helsinki that specialises in botanical mocktails.
Day 2 – Gardens, Lakes & Lighthouse Islands
Your journey continues. Leave the modernity of the capital and book a bus to explore the wild, southern Finnish Archipelago, comprised of over 70,000 islands, old wooden towns, lighthouses, historical manors and stone churches, large national parks stretching over land and sea; and all of it summing up Coastal Finland in a nutshell.
A transfer bus can be booked to take you from the hotel in Helsinki to Kokkila ferry, with a transfer to Kimito Islands, and your first stop the Westers Garden.
The Westers Garden is an oasis of Flowers, herbs and vegetables, grown side by side in harmonious ecological cultivation. Its roots lie in the old kitchen plots of the farmers and seafarers, but the modern day garden itself stretches far and wide, scented with an unfathomable number of different types of herbs. The Westers Garden is also composed of a shop, art gallery and café which is located in an old atmospheric cow house, and many of the products are made from the gardens own yield.
After lunch head out to the Bengtskär lighthouse island.
Bengtskär lighthouse is the tallest in the whole of the Scandinavian region, and is located at the entrance of the Gulf of Finland. Towering 52m above the Baltic Sea, the massive stone structure has provided ships with safe passage for over 9 decades. At various times of the year the lighthouse shows exhibitions, and also houses a boutique hotel and a breathtaking view from the tower.
Day 2 ends on a literal high, with a boat transfer to the beautiful Högsåra island and Villa Cecilia where you can stay the night.
Day 3 – Högsåra & Treehouse’s
Begin Day 3 at Villa Cecilia on the gorgeous island of Högsåra. The boutique hotel fits the aesthetic of the rest of the island, which is dotted with bright wooden country houses and full of small-town charm. Cows and sheep saunter on the fields and lie resting on hot days, and life suddenly gets much more relaxed.
Breakfast at Farmors Cafe (”grandmother’s cafe” in Swedish), the island’s number one meeting spot and the archipelago’s most famous cafe. The scent of fresh baked good wafts deliciously on the island air, and people far and wide come here to take delight in a fantastic breakfast spread.
In the afternoon take another boat back to Kimito island and to Söderlångvik Manor with its art collection and seasonal exhibitions.
Continue with a bus ride to Storfinnhova Forest Village, where you get to sleep in these amazing tree-huts for the night:
Explore the midst of the mystic Finnish forest and and leisurely relax in the granite-smoke-sauna with its candle lit interior and natural cooling pool.
Day 4 – Cakes, Water Sports & the Endless, Magical Forest
Wake up bright and early after a night in the forest and take a bus to the Mathildedal ironworks village.
After a quick sea-view lunch at Mathilda Marina restaurant, tour the idyllic village with its historic red-earth buildings, manor house milieu, old factories and… Alpaca!
The very unlikely alpaca farm, alpaca mill and boutique are great to wander through, and sell some beautiful and unique item made from alpaca wool.
Relax with a coffee and pastry in the local Kyläkonttori café, where the cakes and ice creams are out of this world.
Before taking a bus to the Teijo National Park and Nature Centre where you can enjoy all the experiences of being in the Finnish forest, including canoeing, fishing, wild swimming, hiking, berry and mushroom picking.
End an amazing day at the idyllic Kirjakkala hotel in the historic Ironmills village, which offers beautiful country style accommodation at the foot of one of the thousands of lakes that dot the Finnish Archipelago.
Be sure to also spend some time in the sauna, the best bit of which is jumping into the lake every so often to cool down. It doesn’t get any better than this, or any more authentic.
Rest assured that by now you’ve experienced some of the very best of what Finland has to offer in summer, take one last look around, have one last fresh salmon lunch and then head to the airport.
I was a guest of Visit Finland for this trip