Let us rephrase the famous American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Travel is a journey, not the destination.”
When you can spend time unrestrained, your student years are fantastic. Have fun with friends, enjoy sunrises and sunsets, and live your unforgettable moments. And, of course, travel! After all, there are no rules or boundaries for true explorers. Here are some tips for you!
Local adventures of Saimaa Geopark
Saimaa – is the biggest lake in Finland, and Saimaa geopark has been constantly forming since glaciers covered this land. Some animal species have even been separated from the other world and formed different breeds: for example, the Saimaa Ringed Seal, Landlocked Salmon, and others.
Saimaa Geopark is very popular not only for residents but also for international tourists. Take advantage of your opportunity to visit Mikkeli, Savonlinna, and Imatra, explore trails in the forest, and sail over the lake by boat or ship. Go and discover unique stone paintings in Astuvansalmi or strange stone Kummakivi.
Northern Karelia and Koli
The unique Northern Karelia region will take your heart forever. Situated in the lake district of Finland, Joensuu, the administrative center of Northern Karelia, is an idyllic and scenic metropolis renowned for its breathtaking natural scenery. The meandering Pielisjoki River and the verdant, luxuriant landscapes, ideal for nature lovers, foster an idyllic and welcoming ambiance. Joensuu is a picturesque paradise in Finland due to its captivating allure and harmonious mixture of prosperous forest regions and contemporary urban spaces.
Eastern Finland’s Koli National Park is widely recognized for its awe-inspiring landscape, featuring undulating hills that provide expansive vistas of Lake Pielinen. Nestled amidst pristine lakes and dominated by pine forests, the park’s rugged terrain exemplifies the quintessential Finnish wilderness, rendering it an idyllic sanctuary for nature enthusiasts and trekkers. The cultural importance of Koli, which is firmly grounded in Finnish mythology and art, imbues its natural splendor with an ethereal allure, enticing visitors to engage in a fusion of heritage and the natural world.
Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland, still located in the Southern part of it. Lapland is so big that it can stay in the same row as Iceland and South Korea. And that is bigger than Portugal, Hungary, or Jordan. At the same time, there are fewer than 180 thousand people, and the average density is 1.8/km2. Thousands of tourists worldwide are coming to Lapland to see the Northern lights, experience a fantastic winter wonderland, and meet local people, both Finns and Sámi.
However, Lapland, in the broader meaning, or Sápmi, is an international cultural region, traditionally inhabited by the Sámi people. Sápmi is in Northern Europe and includes the northern parts of Fennoscandia, also known as the “Cap of the North”.
You can go to Lapland by bus or night train from Southern Finland. And, of course, you can travel with your ESN section!
Finnish biggest cities
Helsinki and the capital region are the busiest and densest parts of Finland. It is full of history and experiences. Museums, cultural places, parks, landmarks, restaurants and many more. It all depends on your fantasy and interests, what to find and visit. Zoo Korkeasaari, Library Oodi, Senate Square, or Fortress of Suomenlinna? It’s up to you!
Website: My Helsinki
Turku is the oldest Finnish city that is located in the Finnish Southwest. Turku has a compact size, perfect for exploring the exciting mixture of old and new. Reasonable living costs with many housing options, an active student community, a vivid cultural life, and various outdoor recreation possibilities guarantee that Turku offers the best quality of life and is a lucrative location for skilled professionals. From Turku, you can sail to Åland islands and enjoy the surroundings and archipelago around that.
Website: Visit Turku
Situated in the central region of Finland, Kuopio is renowned for its picturesque lakeland landscape. Encircled by dense forests and the Kallavesi Lake, it provides the ideal combination of natural splendour and urban existence. A hub for winter sports, particularly cross-country skiing, the Puijo Tower offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and lakes and is the most recognisable structure in the city. Kuopio is widely recognised for its dynamic cultural milieu, which is exemplified by the Kuopio Wine Festival and the Kuopio Dance Festival, both of which are emblematic of the region’s abundant traditions and the modern Finnish way of life.
Tampere: one of the technological hearts of Finland, the calm brother of Helsinki, and a very attractive place for many people who come to Finland or already live here. Museums of spies, Moominds, and minerals. And of course, amazing nature and lakes are present in the city.
Website: Visit Tampere
Oulu is up to 10 hours of driving from Lappeenranta or Helsinki. That is more or less the middle part of Finland, leaning more above the central line. Lapland will only start “after Oulu.” The city itself is the capital of Northern Ostrobothnia, and regardless of being a very cold city with a harsh marine climate, it is a very comfortable and livable place. This is also a very enjoyable tourist destination. Find Toripoliisi close to Kaupahalli, walk by the Pikisaari Old Town and visit museum of Pohjois-Pohjanmaa. And Oulun Linna, the castle of Oulu, surrounded by the amazing parks where the museum is located.
Website: Visit Oulu
Discover Jyväskylä, the vibrant heart of Central Finland, where the spirit of education and culture thrives amidst the stunning backdrop of Finnish Lakeland. Wander through the city streets to marvel at the architectural genius of Alvar Aalto, including the iconic Alvar Aalto Museum, a must-see for design enthusiasts. Embrace the great outdoors in Jyväskylä, where the crystal-clear lakes beckon for sailing adventures and the lush trails invite you to explore the serene beauty of Finland on foot or skis. Jyväskylä is a destination where modern innovation meets natural splendor, offering an unforgettable experience for every traveler.
Website: Visit Jyväskyla
Vaasa is a multilanguage city with a well-working ferry connection to Swedish Umeå laying over the sea in Sweden. So, it is pretty nice to see both of them together! It is located on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. The unique Kvarken archipelago off the coast of Vaasa is Finland’s only natural heritage site on the international UNESCO World Heritage List.
Gamla Stan, Drottningholm Palace, Drottninggatan, Vasa Museum, and many other places in Stockholm are waiting for you. If you can’t understand what we are writing about – take your ticket and go. You can fly and sail to Stockholm from Helsinki. Of course, ESN Finland organizes the Pirates of the Baltic Sea cruise every semester. But Stockholm is not the only place worth visiting. The amazing city of Uppsala, on the eastern coast of Sweden, has a ferry connection from Umeå to Vaasa and Swedish Lapland. Don’t ignore your possibility to visit southern parts of Sweden when it’s looking towards Denmark.
Technically, Norway is a neighbor of Finland. There is a pretty good and inexpensive connection with Oslo from Helsinki Vantaa. Of course, the capital of Norway is not the only noticeable place. Norwegian fjörds entertain thousands of tourists monthly. Norway is surprisingly warm for its location, as there is a warm ocean current. ESN Lappeenranta section and our partner Timetravels offer students trips to Lofoten and periodically to Kilpisjärvi and Tromsø. Don’t miss your chance, and follow our information channels!
Estonia is almost always visited together with Finland, and vice versa. Many Finnish students visit Tallinn at least once to see unforgettable Old Town. The city is a blend of modern and historical influences, with contemporary art, cuisine, and technology thriving alongside its ancient architecture. Tallinn’s strategic location on the Baltic Sea has historically made it a crucial point of trade and cultural exchange, contributing to its rich and diverse heritage.
It might sound strange to suggest visit Iceland from Finland, because it is still 4 hours of sitting in the plane. But that is already closer than from some US states of Eastern Asia, right? Also, our partner Timetravels offers Icelandic journeys.
Iceland, a Nordic island nation, is known for its dramatic landscape with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, and lava fields. It’s a land of stark contrasts, where fire and ice coexist, home to some of Europe’s largest glaciers and some of the world’s most active volcanoes. Rich in history and folklore, Iceland is also celebrated for its unique culture, deeply rooted in Norse traditions and sagas. It is known for its strong commitment to environmental sustainability and renewable energy.
Website: Visit Iceland