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Helsinki’s “take your breath away” location on the Gulf of Finland, along with the sublime balance of rich culture and modernity make it one heck of a vacation spot in Finland. Just beyond the city resides a wonderland of nature, small towns of quaint cottages, local food scenes and aquatic adventure. The best part about this is, you can put together several phenomenal excursions from your base location. Some are less than an hour away, while others a bit further, but these are the best day trips from Helsinki.
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Vantaa is convenient thanks to the airport that’s located here, but it also offers other city-like attractions. From an artistically adorned railway station to museums that detail the area’s development, you’ll learn a lot about Finnish roots. Chocolaty adventures await at Finland’s best confectionary heaven—Fazer. The fun continues at Lake Kuusijärvi, which is surrounded by traditional saunas. After a steamy session, folks actually jump into the icy lake—all in the sake of health.
Perhaps the most significant part of Tuusula is its namesake lake, where century-old homes of former community shaping artists once lived. Artists impacted the culture of Finland indefinitely, and today, along the Lake Tuusula Shore Road, there are niche shops filled with ironworks or other artisan treasures for guests to explore. Just a half-hour from Helsinki, a world of enriching history, scenery and local cuisine reside.
Lahti—a place of musical fountains, loads of native festivals and lakeside beauty. However, the area is also a hub for winter activities. Long, expansive runs are available at nearby resorts, and for the more daring, there are exhilarating jumps to launch yourself from. Foodies will not be disappointed in culinary options, which range from locally crafted dishes to simplistically delicious street food. Local whiskey and beer add the perfect accompaniment to your tasty traversing.
Turku is a gorgeous town located on the Aura River. Its age-old architecture reflects the ambiance that once embodied this part of Finland into the 1800s. Museums and cobbled streets overflow with history, telling the tales of the country’s oldest city. Come experience the castle, or remnants of what sparked many cultures, and delve into what modern-day has to offer, such as a slew of mouthwatering restaurants with scenic views.
Tampere is surrounded by lakes, and rapids surge through the center of town, creating a striking appearance that contrasts against the old industrial buildings. Instead of housing mills and factories, these structures now host eclectic restaurants where one can indulge in black sausage, donuts or craft beer. A rustic trendy vibe defines Tampere, which also offers theater, museums, beautiful parks and a fish-shaped church.
Mikkeli is located on Lake Saimaa, one of the largest on the continent, so you better believe views are life here. Markets with local food vendors, cottages sprawling across the shoreline and an abundance of traditional saunas allure locals and travelers for a peaceful escape. Mikkeli is a little bit of heaven on earth.
Pori is a destination best enjoyed in the summer, as that is when the town comes alive—literally. Most notably, the July jazz festival is one of a kind in Europe, and the streets vibrate with catchy tunes and music oh so pleasing to the ears. Other folk festivals pop up throughout the season of lovely weather. Yyteri Beach is touted as being the most beautiful in the country, so when looking to escape the buzz of the streets, the sun and sea welcome you.
Kotka is all about water. Museums focus on maritime history in the area, and visitors definitely take advantage of the idealistic location. Kayaking, sailing and rafting are important pieces of the fabric of Kotka. And if you’re looking to reel in some solid catches, the Kymijoki River offers some of the best salmon fishing in Finland.
Raasepori, also known as Raseborg, is a place of great natural beauty and total serenity. While you can fill your tummy at tasty cafes and eateries, nature is the word in Raseborg. Of course, the namesake castle is a defining feature of the sea surrounded archipelago. While a bit of a drive from Helsinki, it’s still a doable day trip that’s well worth the scenic journey.
Get to Kimito Island via a voyage of driving and ferry travel, to discover a world of outdoor adventure. The island is touted for incredible hiking trails that graze lakes and wind through native foliage, along with various biking routes and kayaking nooks. A family could stay here for days and continue to find new things to experience. But for the day, you can come marvel within national parks and stand before historic structures.
Lohja is that Insta-worthy city within the subregions of Helsinki. A variety of different church styles are interesting to see, and their exteriors enhance when native foliage is in bloom, or when dusted with a fresh coat of snow. Museums, including a functional mine where people can go underground, are unique attributes of Lohja. But the best time to come is during one of the many (many) cultural festivals that take place.