Finland

Finland is a scenic country of lakes, islands, and forests, its pristine wilderness juxtaposed against ultramodern technology.

Finland is a fascinating and beautiful European country bordered by Sweden, Norway and Russia. Any Finnish travel experience will be largely determined by the seasons. Winter is a time of perpetual darkness, magnificent frozen lakes and the glorious Northern Lights. In summer vast green natural landscapes are bathed in the light of the midnight sun.

Enormous spreads of virtually untouched natural wilderness provide a playground for trekkers, mountain-bikers, skiers and fishermen. Reindeer roam free when they aren’t pulling sledges or being served up on the dinner table. This natural wonderland lies on the doorstep of phenomenally innovative modern cities offering cosmopolitan living, while the surrounding smaller towns are home to quaint wooden churches, historic castles and quirky museums brimming with cultural artefacts.

Helsinki is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most charming and idiosyncratic capital cities, largely due to its unique geographical location on a group of peculiarly shaped islands and peninsulas projecting out into the Baltic Sea on the Gulf of Finland. The majority of attractions are conveniently clustered on a central peninsula which, while not exactly an ancient ‘Old Town’, boasts some of the purest neoclassical architecture in the world. The city springs to life in summer when the sun continues to shine long after midnight. Winding streets play host to an array of tempting sidewalk cafes and bistros serving bizarre Finnish delicacies such as beaver sausage and dried reindeer. If that proves a little too exotic, check out the legendary Design Museum or try the saunas at the famous Yrjonkatu Swimming Hall, known for its spectacular architecture and unique atmosphere.

As you might suspect for a nation dominated by water, fish plays an essential role in Finnish cuisine. Salmon, herring and other fish are cooked fresh or served smoked and pickled in cold courses. Meat comes in various forms, including the ubiquitous meatballs and HK Sininen Lenkki sausage. Reindeer, elk and bear meat are served as delicacies. Lunch is the main meal of the day – dinner is often a cold meal served with pickles and dark rye bread.</p?

In summer and autumn, look out for tender new potatoes, rutabaga, fresh peas, dozens of varieties of wild mushrooms and a fabulous assortment of wild berries, including blueberries, cloudberries (like yellow raspberries), crowberries and red lingonberries, which are often used in jellies and preserves.

Finns drink more coffee than anyone else in the world and kahvilat (cafes, singular kahvila) are found in every village and town square. More substantial meals are served at ravintolat (restaurants) – home-style Finnish cooking predominates, but you’ll also restaurants serving French, Italian and other international cuisines.

Its pristine wilderness juxtaposed against ultramodern technology. With it extending well into the Arctic Circle, the sun never quite sets during summer, nor does it ever quite rise in the winter time.

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