Finland has a population of approximately 5.5 million, making it the 25th-most populous country in Europe.
Finland is a Northern European nation bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia. Its capital, Helsinki, occupies a peninsula and surrounding islands in the Baltic Sea. Helsinki is home to the 18th-century sea fortress Suomenlinna, the fashionable Design District and diverse museums. The Northern Lights can be seen from the country's Arctic Lapland province, a vast wilderness with national parks and ski resorts.
9:00am-12:30pm : Rovaniemi
1:00pm-1:30pm : Lordi's Square
Feel the pulse of a small arctic town at Lordi's Square. Surrounded by local shops, cozy cafes, and restaurants, the square hosts folk parties and other events in the summer. Notice the granite wall at the base of a clock tower..
2:00pm-2:30pm : Santa Claus Office
Meet Santa any day of the year in the heart of Santa Claus Village at Santa Claus Office. Located in the village's main building, this office is a place where childhood dreams come true. Meet the always-cheerful St. Nick, take a picture with him, and whisper what you would like for Christmas, no matter how far away the holiday is. Just remember that Santa is a busy man, and therefore only available during his "office hours." Once you've seen Santa, you can check out the rides and entertainment at Santa Park, or simply stroll around the village.
3:00pm-6:00pm : Santa Claus Village
Traverse the Arctic Circle and meet Santa any time of year at Santa Claus Village. Your whole family can experience the magic of the holiday season at this theme park. Stay in the village or take a day trip into this festive wonderland. Snap photos with Santa Claus in his office or strike a pose at the Arctic Circle line, which runs through the village and provides a popular photo op. Spread the holiday cheer by sending a card from Santa Claus' post office or purchas
10:00am-11:00am : Temppeliaukio Church
Known for its striking copper dome, Temppeliaukio Church has been carved from rock in the heart of the city. Designed by siblings Tim and Tuomo Suomalainen and finished in 1969, this distinctive Lutheran church is directly excavated into rock. Explore the church's interior, which consists of rock and marble walls, with the shining copper dome supported by concrete beams at the top of the structure. Note the light shining in through the skylight on what is commonly called the Church of Rock. Take time to listen to the acoustics, made possible by the church's exposed walls.
11:30am-12:30pm : Seurasaari Island and Open-Air Museum
Discover Finnish folk traditions and architecture at the interactive Seurasaari Island and Open-Air Museum, an open-air museum with 85 buildings. Head to the forested island location to view traditional Finnish wooden homes from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the Karuna Church, built in 1686. You'll experience the different regions and visual cultures of Finland through these structures, which have been transported to the site since its establishment in 1909. Take a tour from a guide in traditional costume and learn about the lives of crofters, peasants, and other Finnish groups over the past few centuries.
1:00pm-3:00pm : Sea Fortress Suomenlinna
Visit World Heritage Site Sea Fortress Suomenlinna to see a sea fortress built on a collection of six islands. This ruggedly beautiful spot is a favorite among both locals and tourists. The fortress was built in 1748 and inhabited by Swedes and Russians until 1918, when it became a part of independent Finland. View the impressive fortified structure, constructed by the Swedish crown to withstand attacks from 18th-century Russia (who eventually overtook the islands in 1808). Nowadays the site supports a town with civilian inhabitants and draws visitors from the mainland of Finland.
3:30pm-4:30pm : Senate Square
The Helsinki Cathedral, Government Palace, National Library of Finland, and main University of Helsinki building surround Senate Square and make up a collective vision of neoclassical design. This historical square boasts the architectural influence of Carl Ludvig Engel and is home to the oldest building in the city center, Sederholm House, built in 1757. Stroll the square to view these stately structures, stopping to take a seat on the cathedral's stairs and to examine the statue of Alexander II, a monument of Russian expansionism in Finland. The square hosts many events, including concerts and art exhibits.
5:00pm-6:00pm : Helsinki Cathedral
A product of Russian expansionism in the region, Helsinki Cathedral was built by architect Carl Ludvig Engel as the pinnacle of the city's Senate Square. The cathedral was constructed between 1830 and 1852 in the neoclassical style as a tribute to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. After Finland gained independence in 1917, it became a Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral. Take in views of the structure's distinctive green domes and white pillars and walk through the church to appreciate its Greek cross layout. Over 350,000 tourists visit this cathedral every year.
10:00am-11:00am : Uspenskin Cathedral (Uspenskin Katedraali)
The largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe, Uspenskin Cathedral (Uspenskin Katedraali) stands as a symbol of Russian influence in Finland's history. Designed by architect Aleksey Gornostayev during Russian rule of the region in the 19th century, this Eastern Orthodox church was completed in 1868. Visit the popular Helsinki landmark, note its traditional Russian design, and then enjoy the view of the city from this scenic hilltop. Take time to inspect the structure's ornate interior, domed ceilings, and crypt chapel, as well as several historically and artistically important icons, including St. Nicolas the Wonder Maker and Theotokos of Kozeltshan.
11:30am-2:30pm : Korkeasaaren Elaintarha
Since it was established in 1889, Korkeasaaren Elaintarha has attracted tourists and animal lovers for more than a century. The zoo's rocky island location attracts as much awe as the animals here; in fact, the island was a national park and used for fishing in 1569 until the establishment of the zoo in the 19th century. Discover this quiet spot removed from the city center where you can view over 150 animal species and 1,000 types of plants. Walk through the site's popular cat valley and get to know the exotic creatures at one of Europe's oldest zoos.
3:00pm-6:00pm : The Esplanadi Park
Enjoy green space in the heart of the city at The Esplanadi Park, a historical park and walking area originally opened in 1812. The park is known for hosting a number of outdoor events, including the Marimekko Fashion Show and Jazz-Espa concert series. You'll find plenty of high-end shops, restaurants, and bars lining nearby streets.
10:00am-6:00pm : Linnanmaki Amusement Park
10:00am-12:00pm : Natural History Museum (Luonnontieteellinen Museo)
Recognizable by a moose statue that marks the entrance, Natural History Museum (Luonnontieteellinen Museo) offers insight into Finland's natural wonders. You'll encounter a stuffed African elephant and a bone exhibit on the first floor, displayed next to fossilized prehistoric animals and minerals. Nature exhibits specific to Finland are housed on the upper floors. The building itself was constructed in the early 20th century and once housed a school for Russian youth. Don't worry about purchasing tickets in advance; there are rarely lines at the entrance.
12:30pm-2:30pm : The National Museum of Finland
Experience Finnish history from prehistoric times until the present day at The National Museum of Finland. View the Romantic-style exterior of the museum before stepping inside to the Art Nouveau interior for viewing archaeological objects and cultural artifacts dating back to the Middle Ages. Look up at the entrance hall ceiling, adorned with frescoes about the Kalevala, the Finnish national saga. Learn about 10,000 years of history through the museum's permanent exhibits, including collections of coins, jewelry, metals, and weapons. See visual representations of Finnish folk culture up to the time of industrialization.
3:00pm-5:00pm : Sibelius Monument
Stroll by the sea at Sibelius Monument, which commemorates Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. Designed by Eila Hiltunen and completed in 1967, the structure features over 600 steel pipes fused together with a bust of the composer to represent the music of Sibelius. Photograph this 24-ton work of abstract art, which is also one of Helsinki's most popular tourist attractions. Some say they can hear music playing here with the sound of wind moving through the hollow pipes.
5:30pm-6:00pm : Kamppi Chapel of Silence
Savor a moment of quiet reflection or prayer inside the contemporary Kamppi Chapel of Silence. While it seems to contradict its surroundings, this site is nicknamed the "Chapel of Silence." Built on one of the busiest streets in Helsinki, the chapel provides a calming atmosphere inside a tranquil space positioned in an otherwise hectic area. Step inside the chapel, which welcomes people of all faiths. Examine the contemporary architecture, designed as a part of the World Design Capital program of 2012 by Kimmo Lintula, Niko Sirola, and Mikko Summanen.
10:00am-12:00pm : Kansallisgalleria
At the grand national monument Kansallisgalleria, view international and Finnish works of art from the 18th century and beyond. This museum, opened in 1887, was named after Greek goddess Pallas Athena, who represents warfare and wisdom. Learn about Finnish art history from the likes of Albert Edelfelt, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, and other important Finnish artists. The site also houses works from famous foreign artists including Van Gogh, Rodin, and Cezanne, as well as Russian and Karelian pieces. After touring the museum, you can head to its cafe, bookshop, or reading room.
12:30pm-2:30pm : Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Known for its impressive collection of contemporary pieces as well as for its building's design, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma will expose you to new, fascinating works of art. Designed by American architect Steven Holl, this museum was founded in 1990 and opened in 1998. The Finnish National Gallery's contemporary collection resides here. View over 8,500 pieces of artwork, primarily collected from Finland and nearby countries. Visit the museum's cafe or pick up a souvenir at its on-site shop.