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Eur First Trip to Finland

Revised November 10, 2007

Like Norway and Sweden, Finland reaches into the Artic Circle and is a country with long summer days and cold winter nights. Alaskans will feel right at home with the seasonal patterns in this beautiful country but most Americans will enjoy the country most in summer, late spring or early fall. From May through September, the weather is relatively warms and the sun shines into the evening.

Most travelers begin their trip to Finland in Helsinki. The city blends its historic buildings with modern architecture. Among the most popular attractions are Market Square and Three Blacksmiths Square. Tourist are also drawn to the Finnish National Museum and Senate Square. Some of Europe's most interesting churches are found in Helsinki; the archtypical Finnish church is the Helsinki Cathedral, Temppeliaukio 'Rock' Church reflects modern Finnish design and Uspenski Cathedral is "the largest orthodox church in Western Europe."

Not far from Helsinki is Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress. One of the largest fortresses in the world, Soumenlinna has now become a tourist attraction housing shops and cafes.

To truly understand the history of Finland, you should travel the Kings Road to the oldest Finnish city, Turku, and on to the old town of Rauma, preserved as a UNESCO historical site and filled with the well-preserved Scandanavian wooden homes. Near Rauma, you can also visit an archaelogical site where significant Viking relics have been found. Then you should head east from Helsinki to the towns of charming medieval town of Poorvoo and on to the fortress town of Loviisa.

As you travel along the southern Finnish coast, you will appreciated the beauty of its offshore islands.

Many foreigners think of reindeer and Lapland when they think of Finland and tours can be arranged to the region where Finland's aboriginal people live. There are many activities year-round though it seems that winter is a popular time to drop in on Santa's neighbors and enjoy Christmas near the North Pole.

Many people visiting Finland make a side trip to St. Petersburg (fomerly Leningrad) in Russia. The famous Russian Winter Palace houses part of the collection of the Hermitage, a museum that rivals the Louvre for its great holdings of historic art. You can get there by train or by bus but it is essential that you have a visa for admission into Russia, so if you think you might want to visit St. Petersburg, be certain you have done the necessary paperwork before you get to the Russian border.

Visas for Finland

Currently North Americans who are staying in Finland for less than 90 days do not need a visa. To verify whether you need a vias or to start the process, go to Finland's Foreign Ministry Website