Nine Exciting Experiences in Finland to Add to Your 2024 Travel Bucket List

Credits: Marjaana Tasala


Press release, Helsinki, 1 December 2023

With 2024 around the corner, Finland is the world’s most exciting place to visit in the new year!
Credits: Marjaana Tasala

Offering magical scenery and a wonderful opportunity for well-deserved rest and wellbeing, the happiest country in the world will charm any traveler with its thousands of lakes, millions of saunas, fresh and tasty food from the forest, and friendly locals. 

Below is a list of the top nine experiences in Finland to add to your travel bucket list this upcoming year: 

1. Dine and forage in the Saimaa Region – the European Region of Gastronomy 2024

Saimaa, located in Finland’s Lakeland region, is quickly becoming a top international destination for food lovers. In 2024, Saimaa will be awarded the European Region of Gastronomy Award for its commitment to the importance of cultural and culinary uniqueness. Such dedication is reflected in the region’s beloved produce grown deep in its forests and freshly caught from one of the largest lakes in Europe, Saimaa. The cuisine is based on seasonal harvests including wild game, mushrooms and berries, local perch and vendace, while producers, like the Ollinmäki Winery, fly the flag for Finland’s burgeoning wine industry. Saimaa is a true treasure – as it remains a hidden gem for international travelers, it is a place where Finns like to spend their holidays in a summer cottage foraging for berries and mushrooms.

The vast and diverse nature in Finland has always provided Finns with the freshest ingredients - making it a perfect place to enjoy seasonal and regional food.
Credits : Visit Saimaa
In Saimaa, you get to enjoy a variety of dishes with ingredients freshly caught from one of Europe's largest lakes or produce foraged from the vast local forests.
Credits: Visit Saimaa

2. Watch films for 24 hours above the Arctic Circle

In mid-June, Sodankylä, a tiny town in Lapland, comes alive. With a population of less than 10,000 people, Sodankylä is the center for world-class cinema and culture. The Midnight Sun Film Festival was founded in 1986 by Finnish filmmakers, Aki and Mika Kaurismäki, along with the municipality of Sodankylä, and it has grown in popularity ever since. The atmosphere of the Midnight Sun Film Festival is one of the most unique in the world – there are plenty of international guests visiting, and the program is one of a kind, with a combination of old and new films. The atmosphere is laid-back, and attendees may even spot celebrities like Francis Ford Coppola and Wim Wenders! Films are shown in four lovely venues around town, 24 hours a day.  

3. Cross-country ski in the Green Capital of Europe, Lahti

Did you know that cross-country skiing is a national hobby and a skill that Finns learn at an early age in school? The season starts in October, when the most popular cross-country skiing destinations in Finland, such as Levi in Lapland and Imatra City by Saimaa Lake, open the first snow tracks using stored snow from the previous season. The cross-country skiing season runs as late as May in Finland’s northern most region, Lapland, where you can also ski under Northern lights until spring. The European Green Capital 2021, Lahti has hosted the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships seven times – the region provides world-class 180 km ski tracks in the forest only an hour train trip from Finland’s capital city, Helsinki. Thousands of kilometers of well-maintained ski tracks are found around the country, and frozen lakes are considered the best places to enjoy the sun. Each year in March, Himos Ski Resort hosts a unique bikini skiiing event, Simmarihiihto, which combines skiing and sauna.  

Cross-country skiing is one of the most popular winter activities in Finland – and an easy way to explore wintry nature scenes.
Credits: Mikko Huotari

4. Hike in three Nordic countries in 10 seconds

In Kilpisjärvi, a small but vibrant village in northern Finland near the Norwegian border, the Midnight Sun lasts for more than two months. The village is home to Finland’s national landscape, the 1029-meter-high Saana fell, which is the Sami people’s sacred sacrificial site. Travelers must add climbing Saana to their itinerary when visiting Kilpisjärvi. At Midsummer, you can even ski in the heights of the Saana fell, admiring the glory of flowers on the way down, and take a dip in the clear waters of the Kilpisjärvi Lake from the sauna or go canoeing. In autumn, you can hike amid the paprika and golden-dusted landscape. A 3-kilometer trail begins at the northern end of Lake Kilpisjärvi, leading visitors to the Three-Country Cairn. The Cairn itself is in the middle of water, but a wooden construction has been built around it, making it possible for visitors to go around the Cairn freely, without passports or border controls. You can also hike the neighboring countries of Finland, Sweden and Norway, within 10 seconds!   

5. Travel regeneratively and build an insect hotel

Regenerative traveling encourages visitors to travel in a more meaningful way to help the well-being of the community. Haltia Lake Lodge, awarded Visit Finland’s Sustainable Travel Finland award  and the Best Sustainable Hotel in Europe 2022, is helping travelers fight biodiversity loss. In summer 2024, Haltia Lake Lodge will offer planet-positive conservation holidays for groups for the first time. These holidays involve actions such as combating the spread of invasive plants and rejuvenating meadows. Hawkhill Cottage Resort, a pioneer of regenerative travel, has been able to increase their revenue while decreasing CO2, by allowing guests to engage in building insect hotels. Lapland-based company, Wild Out, is dedicated to taking everyone into the woods to have lunch on a fire and build a birdhouse, helping the local community. 

Nestled close to one of Finland's 41 National Parks, Hawkhill Resort takes sustainable actions to tackle nature loss and climate change: building insect hotels with travelers is one of them.
Credits : Hawkhill Cottage Resort
Haltia Lake Lodge has been recognized as Best Sustainable Hotel in Europe 2022 and also received the Visit Finland Sustainable Travel award.
Credits: Haltia Lake Lodge

6. Have small talk in the heat of a sauna

Finland has a population of 5.6 million people, but it has over 3 million saunas. Finnish sauna culture is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. The sauna is one of the few places left in the world where mobile phones are not welcome, allowing visitors to enjoy tranquility and deep relaxation. The most public saunas are in Tampere, the sauna capital of the world. In Mänttä, one-hour from Tampere, is the only prestigious Art Sauna in the world. The Lonna Sauna, handcrafted by a wooden log structure, is on a nearby island in front of the city center of Helsinki – it can be reached by a public boat and is only open during the summer season. The northernmost public sauna, Arctic Sauna World is located above the Arctic Circle by the holy Jerisjärvi Lake and offers blissful moments after a hike in the Ylläs-Pallas National Park.

7. Celebrate love in the capital, Helsinki

Helsinki is one of the world’s most LGBTQ+-friendly cities in the world. If you visit the capital city, you might even find famous erotic artist Tom of Finland’s hunky imagery on your Finlayson hotel bed linens – or buy them as a souvenir. The capital’s pride festival makes the whole city come to life with the colors of the rainbow at the end of June. Helsinki Gay Pride attracts more than 100,000 visitors and is celebrated across the city through a week-long series of cultural events, parties, demonstrations, and exhibitions. Activities for LGBTQ+ visitors are not solely limited to the once-a-year pride festivals. Recently re-opened DTM, the biggest gay club in the Nordics, is an institution of all things queer at night in the capital. It has been running since 1992, originally known as “Don’t Tell Mama,” and it is now located in the city’s former meatpacking district, Teurastamo.  

Helsinki is one of the world's most LGBTQ+-friendly cities in the world, inviting everyone to participate in their week-long Pride Festival across the city.
Credits: Mika Ruusunen / Helsinki Partners

8. Admire and photograph wildlife in the last wilderness of Europe

Reindeer are the most common inhabitant of Lapland. In summertime, these cute animals roam freely and cause the only traffic jams in Lapland by crossing empty roads. Bear watching season starts at the beginning of May and runs until September. The pristine and picturesque landscapes of Finland are also home to many wild animals and birds, including wolves, lynxes, eagles, cranes, and swans. While traditional photography tours in the wild are widely available, one unique way to experience the local wildlife is from the heat of a sauna. Hossan Karhut’s Bear Sauna Safari welcomes you to the only “hide sauna” in the world, giving visitors the chance to watch bears and other wildlife through a window while relaxing in the sauna. 

Finland is home to a wide variety of wildlife that can be experienced up close.
Credits : Valtteri Mulkahainen
Dive into the Finnish wild by joining a bear watching safari.
Credits: Valtteri Mulkahainen

9. Stay warm – go ice fishing, embark on an ice cruise, or sleep in an ice hotel

The Nordic latitudes typically guarantee a snow-filled season, especially in the central and northern parts of the country. The Lakeland region, with thousands of frozen lakes, provides great conditions for ice fishing from January to March. For example, the European Gastronomy Capital, Lake Saimaa has plenty of fish even during the frosty winter months. The legendary and world’s only icebreaker cruise, Sampo in Kemi, takes you to the frozen sea where the scenery is one of a kind. Finish the “cold exposure” with a once-in-a-lifetime experience by night in the Arctic SnowHotel. If you dare to take it to the next level, take a dip in the frozen lake or sea like locals love to do to boost the happy hormones and improve your health. 

Taking a dip in a frozen lake or sea is a great way to boost your health and happiness hormones.
Credits : Aku Pöllänen
Spend a night in a hotel built from snow and ice for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Credits: Kemi Tourism Ltd.
Hop on board the world's only icebreaker cruise, Sampo in Kemi.
Credits: Icebreaker Sampo/Kemi Tourism

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About Visit Finland

Visit Finland, a unit of Business Finland, is a national authority on tourism and an active force in promoting international travel to Finland. Its main goal is to develop Finland’s international image as a destination. Visit Finland supports the travel industry through research and helps businesses and groups develop products and services for the international market. For more information, please visit