One of the great things about backpacking is the freedom this style of travel permits, and in this sense, Finland is the ideal destination. Its big, open skies and vast wilderness provide the setting for truly unique and thoroughly enjoyable vacations. Parts of the nation, particularly in the north and east, remain fantastically remote. For example, the Lemmenjoki National Park and Oulanka National Park offer quiet treks under pines and by lakes. In contrast, the capital Helsinki is a modern and bustling metropolis.
During the warm but brief summer, the country comes to life in a burst of sunshine and travellers can experience festivals along with many other events throughout the year. Meanwhile, in winter visitors can enjoy dramatic snowy vistas while skiing, sledge riding and trekking. After a day in the elements, they can warm up in wood-fired saunas.
Backpackers keen to get away from it all while in Finland should make their way to Lapland, this beautiful northern outpost encapsulates much about this rugged yet welcoming nation. Extending hundreds of kilometres above the Arctic Circle, it offers continuous daylight in the summer and long nights in the winter. Holidaymakers in the area have a great chance to see the magnificent aurora borealis between late September and early April.
At the other end of the spectrum, the coastal city of Helsinki offers style and culture in abundance, with plenty of museums, restaurants, cafes, Art Nouveau buildings and more. It also boasts great nightlife, particularly in summer. However, backpackers should note that there is a lack of cheap accommodation in the city and from mid-May to mid-August, it’s a good idea for holidaymakers to book in advance. In general, Finland offers lots of good quality hotels, but they are notoriously pricey. Those looking for budget options should set their sights on youth hostels as they are more affordable.
During the warmer months, the Lakeland region in the east of the country is well worth checking out. Here, lakes, rivers, locks and canals abound and visitors can take to the water in canoes and ferries. Meanwhile, the south coast also has plenty to offer. Its various coastal settlements include the city of Turku and tourists can check out a series of historic ironworks that have been turned into rural retreats.
Backpackers looking for budget for breaks in Finland should bear in mind that, as well as pricey accommodation, they will have to cover relatively high transport costs. Also, alcohol doesn’t come cheap, so nights out can leave wallets feeling distinctly lighter. That said booze from stores is more affordable.