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Closest Campings

Harriniva Camping

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Muonio, Lapland
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Nallikari Camping

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Rastila Camping

Rastila Camping Karavaanikatu 4, 00980 Helsinki
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Camping Sodankylä Nilimella

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Mukkula Camping

Mukkula Camping Ritaniemenkatu 10
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Camping Taipale

Camping Taipale Leiritie 1, 78250 Varkaus
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Ikaalisten Kylpyläkaupunki

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Ikaalinen, Western Finland
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Pahkalanniemi Camping

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About Finland

Finland (Finnish: Suomi, Swedish: Finland) is in Northern Europe and has borders with Russia to the East, Norway at the North and Sweden to the West. The country is thoroughly modern with well-planned and comfortable small towns and cities, but still offers vast areas of unspoiled nature. Finland has approximately 188,000 lakes (about 10% of the country) and a similar number of islands. In the northernmost part of the country northern lights can be seen in the winter and midnight sun in the summer.

Northern Finland is also (according to the Finns) the home of Santa Claus and he can actually be visited there. Despite living in one of the most technologically developed countries in the world the Finns love to head to their summer cottages in the warmer months to enjoy all manner of relaxing pasttimes including sauna, swimming, fishing and barbecuing.


Finland is divided into the following provinces (lääni):

  • Southern Finland - the southern stretch of coastline up to the Russian border, including the capital Helsinki
  • Western Finland - the coastal areas, the old capital Turku and Finland's number two city Tampere
  • Eastern Finland - forests and lakes by the Russian border, including Savonia (Savo)
  • Oulu - the former province of Ostrobothnia (Pohjanmaa) and Kajanaland (Kainuu), named after the technology city of Oulu
  • Finnish Lapland - tundra and reindeer above the Arctic Circle
  • The Åland Islands - an autonomous and monolingually Swedish group of islands off the southwestern coast of Finland

While a convenient and unambiguous bureaucratic division, the provinces do not really correspond to geographical or cultural boundaries very well. Other terms you may hear include Tavastia (Häme), covering a large area of central Finland around Tampere; Uusimaa, centred on Helsinki; and Karelia (Karjala) to the east, the bulk of which was lost to the Soviet Union in World War II (still a sore topic in some circles).


  • Helsinki - the capital and the largest city in Finland
  • Porvoo - one of the oldest towns in Finland, medieval wooden houses, quite near to Helsinki
  • Turku - the former capital on the western coast. Medieval castle and cathedral.
  • Tampere - an industrial town, home to the Lenin Museum, in the middle of other big cities in Southern Finland
  • Jyväskylä - a university town located in Central Finland
  • Lappeenranta - the capital of the province of South Carelia, near Vyborg, Russia.
  • Kuopio - the largest city in eastern Finland known for its delicious fish filled bread ("kalakukko")
  • Oulu - a technology city at the end of the Gulf of Bothnia
  • Rovaniemi - gateway to ··Lapland


Finland has a cold but temperate climate, which is actually comparatively mild for the latitude because of moderating influence of the North Atlantic Current. Wintertime temperatures can still reach -30°C in the south and even dip below -50°C in the north, although these extremes are uncommon. The brief Finnish summer is considerably more pleasant, with average temperatures around +20°C, and is generally the best time of year to visit. July is the warmest month with temperatures up to +30°C. Early spring (March-April) is when the snows start to melt and Finns like to head north for skiing and winter sports, while the transition from fall to winter in October-December - wet, rainy, dark and generally miserable - is the worst time to visit.

Due to the extreme latitude, Finland experiences the famous Midnight Sun near the summer solstice, when (if above the Arctic Circle) the sun never sets during the night and even in southern Finland it never really gets dark. The flip side of the coin is the Arctic Night (kaamos) in the winter, when the sun never comes up at all in the North. In the South, daylight is limited to a few pitiful hours with the sun just barely climbing over the trees before it heads down again.

By car

Driving in winter is somewhat hazardous especially for drivers unused to cold weather conditions. Winter tires (M+S) are mandatory from 1 December through the end of February. The most dangerous weather is in fact around the zero degree mark (C), when slippery but near-invisible black ice forms on the roads.

Drivers must stay very alert, particularly at dawn and dusk, for wild animals. Collisions with moose (lethal) are common countrywide, deer (survivable) cause numerous collisions in South and South West parts of the country and half-domesticated reindeer are a common cause of accidents in Lapland.

Finnish speeding tickets are based on your income, so be careful. A Nokia VP who'd cashed in some stock options the previous year was once hit for $204,000!

Traffic drives on the right. Note that headlights must be kept on at all times when driving, in and outside cities, whether it's dark or not. VR's overnight car carrier trains are popular for skipping the long slog from Helsinki up to Lapland and getting a good night's sleep instead: a Helsinki-Rovaniemi trip (one way) with car and cabin for 1-3 people starts from 215€.

Speed limits change depending on the time of the year; the maximum speed limit on motorways is 120 km/h in the summer and 100 km/h in the winter. The main roads usually have speed limits of either 100 km/h or 80 km/h. Speed limits in urban areas range between 30 km/h and 60 km/h.


Finnish cuisine is heavily influenced by its neighbors, the main staples being potatoes and bread with various fish and meat dishes on the side. Not exactly a gourmand's paradise, some Finnish specialties worth looking out for include:

  • Karelian stew (Karjalanpaisti), a heavy stew usually made from beef, carrots and onions. Usually served with baked potatoes. 
  • Breadcheese (leipäjuusto), a type of grilled curd best eaten with a dab of cloudberry jam
  • Karelian pies (karjalanpiirakka), a small baked pastry containing rice porridge, eaten topped with butter and chopped egg
  • Liver casserole (maksalaatikko), consisting of chopped liver, rice and raisins cooked in an oven; it tastes rather different from what you'd expect (and not liver-y at all), but many Finns hate the stuff anyway
  • Loop sausage (lenkkimakkara), a large, mildly flavored sausage; best when grilled and topped with a dab of sweet Finnish mustard (sinappi), and beer
  • Meat balls (lihapullat, lihapyörykät) are as popular (and tasty) as in neighboring Sweden
  • Pea soup (hernekeitto), traditionally eaten with a dab of mustard and served on Thursdays; just watch out for the flatulence!
  • Porridge (puuro), usually made from wheat (kaura), barley (ohra) and rye (ruis) and most often served for breakfast
  • Pyttipannu, a hearty dish of potatoes, onions and and any meaty leftovers on hand fried up in a pan and topped with an egg
  • Reindeer (poro) dishes, especially sauteed reindeer shavings (poronkäristys), not actually a part of the everyday Finnish diet but a tourist staple and common in the frigid North
  • Smoked salmon (savulohi), not just the cold, thinly sliced, semi-raw kind but also fully cooked "warm" smoked salmon

There are also regional specialties, including Eastern Finland's kalakukko (a type of giant fish pie) and Tampere's infamous blood sausage (mustamakkara). Around Easter keep an eye out for mämmi, a type of brown sweet rye pudding which is eaten with cream and sugar. It looks famously unpleasant but actually tastes quite good.

From the end of July until early September it's worthwhile to ask for crayfish (rapu) menus and prices at better restaurants. It's not cheap, you don't get full from the crayfish alone and there are many rituals involved (most of which involve large quantities of ice-cold vodka) but it should be tried at least once. Or try to sneak onto a corporate crayfish party guestlist, places are extremely coveted at some.


Thanks to its thousands of lakes, Finland has plenty of water supplies and tap water is always potable. The usual soft drinks and juices are widely available, but look out for a wide array of berry juices (marjamehu), especially in summer, as well as Pommac, an unusual soda made from (according to the label) "mixed fruits", which you'll either love or hate.

Coffee and tea

Finns are the world's heaviest coffee (kahvi) drinkers, averaging an astounding nine cups per day. Most Finns drink it strong and black, but sugar and milk for coffee are usually available and the more European variants such as espresso and cappuccino are becoming all the more common especially in the bigger cities. Oddly, Starbucks hasn't arrived in Finland yet, but Helsinki has had French-style fancy cafes for quite some time and modern competitors are springing up in the mix. For a quick caffeine fix, you can just pop into any convenience store, which will pour you a cuppa for €1 or so. Tea hasn't quite caught on in the same way, although finding hot water and a bag of Lipton Yellow Label is rarely a problem. For brewed tea, check out some of the finer downtown cafes or tea rooms.


Finland is one of the few societies on earth (the other being Mongolia) where it is considered normal for adults to drink milk (maito) as an accompaniment to food. Another popular option is piimä, or buttermilk. Viili, a type of curd, acts like super-stretchy liquid bubble gum but is similar to plain yogurt in taste. Fermented dairy products help stabilize the digestion system, so if your system is upset, give them a try.


Alcohol is very expensive in Finland, although low-cost Estonia's entry to the EU forced the government to cut alcohol taxes by 33% in 2004. Still, a single beer will cost you closer to 5€ in any bar or pub, or 0.5€ and up in a supermarket. While beer and cider are available in any supermarket or convenience store, the state monopoly Alko is your sole choice for wine or anything stronger. The legal drinking age is 18 for milder drinks (to buy hard liquor from Alko, you need to be 20), ID is usually requested from all young-looking clients. Some restaurants have higher age requirements, these may be up to 30 years, but these are their own policies and are not always followed (especially at more quiet times).

The national drink is not, as you might expect, Finlandia Vodka, but the earthier Koskenkorva (or Kossu), a vodka-like clear spirit (38%) distilled from barley. Even more lethal is Salmiakki-Kossu, prepared by mixing in black salmiakki licorice, whose taste masks the alcohol behind it fearfully well.

Beer (olut or kalja) is also very popular, but Finnish beers are mostly nearly identical, tasteless lagers: common brands are Lapin Kulta, Karjala, Olvi, Koff and Karhu ("bear"). Pay attention to the label when buying: beers branded "I" are inexpensive and almost alcohol-free, while "III" and "IV" are stronger and more expensive. You may also encounter kotikalja (lit. "home beer"), a dark brown beer-like but very low-alcohol beverage, which sometimes includes marinated raisins. Imported beers are available in most pubs and bars, and Czech beers in particular are popular and only slightly more expensive.

The latest trend is ciders (siideri), but these artificially flavored sweet concoctions are quite different from the English or French kinds. The ever-popular gin long drink or lonkero (lit. "tentacle"), a prebottled mix of gin and grapefruit soda, tastes better than it sounds and has the additional useful property of glowing under ultraviolet light.

During the winter don't miss glögi, a type of spiced mulled wine served with almonds and raisins which can easily be made at home. The bottled stuff in stores is usually alcohol free, although it was originally made of old wine and Finns will very often mix in some wine or spirits. Fresh, hot glögi can, for example, be found at the Helsinki Christmas market.

Finally, two traditional beverages worth looking for are mead (sima), an age-old wine-like brew made from honey and yeast and consumed particularly around May's Vappu festival, and sahti, a type of unfiltered beer often flavored with juniper berries (an acquired taste). Like kotikalja, sima and sahti sometimes include marinated raisins.

Modified: 2007-02-11 11:40:34+01
Source: http://wikitravel.org/en/Finland


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