Home to more trees than people and more islands than any other nation, Finland is a natural wonderland perfect for a retreat from the hurry and noise of everyday life. A stay at a cottage in the wilderness will have guests swimming, fishing and observing wildlife such as birds and reindeer. Taking a sauna is a national tradition, and there are thousands of saunas located across the country. Summer here is brief, but the days are warm and long, when the sun barely dips below the horizon. When the lengthy cold season returns, snow-dazzled days create a winter wonderland in which to play.
Nearly 70 percent of the country is covered by forests, and 35 national parks provide a natural playground for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, fishing and watersports.
The largest region in Finland, Lapland is also the farthest north. Here in the Arctic Circle, summer brings endless days with a Midnight Sun that never sets. Winter virtually guarantees snow for skiing, boarding and cross-country, while "light chasers" pursue the elusive Aurora Borealis.
Extensive waterways, including Lake Saimaa and the Finnish archipelago, offer opportunities for fishing, kayaking and hiking in southern Finland. The capital city of Helsinki is home to landmarks such as Esplanade Park, Senate Square and the Ateneum Art Museum.
Oulu is the main city in western Finland, with museums, galleries, live theater and ice swimming in Oulu River at the city's center. Jakobstad to the south has a number of museums, gardens, and a summer folk festival called Jakob's Days.
As one might expect in Finnish Lakeland, water dominates the landscape. Lake Saimaa, the largest lake in Finland, is a popular destination for fishing and boating, while the shorelines and heavily forested islands offer hiking and the occasional wildlife encounter.