Bridging the gap between Scandinavia and Russia, Finland is one of earth’s northernmost countries, stretching from the Baltic Sea to the wilds of Lapland, high above the Arctic Circle. The Finnish landscape is dominated by vast stands of boreal woodlands—with Scots pine, Norway spruce, silver birch, and downy birch predominating—and nearly 200,000 lakes. Trees cover more than 75% of the land area, making Finland Europe’s most forested country. These abundant natural treasures are protected in more than 40 national parks, from the remote rapids and waterfalls of Oulenka National Park to the forests, lakes, and ice-carved valleys of Nuuksio National Park, just outside Helsinki.
U.S. citizens: Passports are required and must be valid for at least six months beyond the dates of travel. Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days. For more information, see travel.state.gov.
Finland uses the euro (€). For current exchange rates, visit oanda.com.
Some international businesses no longer accept credit cards without PIN numbers (chip and pin cards). Always contact your bank or your credit-card company for details on fees and card use when traveling.
Finland is on Eastern European time, seven hours later than Eastern Standard Time. For more information on worldwide time zones, see: worldtimezone.com.
Finland country code: +358
Cell phone coverage throughout Finland is extensive, but cannot be guaranteed to be accessible on all American mobile carriers or to function at all times while on the trail or in remote areas. For more information regarding international phone use, please refer to https://www.countrywalkers.com/best-phone-options-for-travelers/.
Internet access is generally very good in towns and villages, and Wi-Fi is available at all hotels used on tour. For more details, please refer to the Tour Itinerary Overview.
Finnish, of Uralic origins and therefore unrelated to the Scandinavian languages, is Finland’s official language.
While knowledge of the local language is not necessary, you may want to learn some fun and useful phrases; see www.bbc.co.uk/languages/other/quickfix/finnish.shtml.
Alternating current of 230V and 50Hz is used in Finland. Wall outlets generally take plugs with two round prongs. For a full listing of electrical outlets worldwide, see electricaloutlet.org.
Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Finland’s weather is not as cold as its northern location might lead you to expect. While snow can fall anytime between October and April in the extreme north (around 70°N), southern Finland (around 60°N) enjoys a more temperate climate. Average highs in the Helsinki region, where we’ll spend the entirety of our tour, top 70 degrees Fahrenheit in July, with June and August being only moderately cooler. Precipitation is possible anytime of year, with August through November being the wettest months.
No immunizations are required to enter Finland. Always consult a travel clinic at a local university, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, and/or your personal physician for the most up-to-date recommendations. Routine vaccinations—including MMR (measles, mumps-rubella), DTP (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis), varicella (chickenpox), and polio—are generally advisable for all travelers. Be sure to let your physician know what parts of Finland you plan to visit, as recommendations may vary depending on the regions you are visiting.
This tour provides the opportunity to sample a delectable array of Finnish cuisine. Traditionally, Finns have built their menus around local fish—salmon, herring, Arctic char, zander, and whitefish—along with game, meat, dairy products, hardy cold weather crops such as rye and potatoes, and foraged wild foods such as berries and mushrooms. In summer, these are complemented by an abundance of fresh, organic produce. On tour, you’ll find trend-setting chefs putting all of these ingredients to creative new uses while incorporating a variety of international influences.
Finnish specialties worth seeking out include reindeer, smoked salmon, marinated herring, lingonberries, cloudberries, fish soups, and hearty stews made with meat, peas, cabbage, and other vegetables. Also look for the popular snacks korvapuusti (cinnamon buns), grillimakkara (grilled sausages served with mustard), and karjalanpiirakka—rye pasties filled with rice, typically served with “egg butter” (a spread made from hard-boiled eggs and butter).
Shops and stores are generally open Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Banks are open Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Breakfast is served at hotels from around 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. In restaurants, lunch is typically served from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and dinner from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., though many places remain open throughout the day, from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
In restaurants, service is typically included in the bill, so there is no expectation of a tip—though a gratuity for good service is always appreciated. As a general rule, don’t tip in U. S. coins, as they don’t have much value in Finland.
In outdoor markets, bargaining is appropriate and expected. If moderate bargaining does not conclude with a fair and acceptable price, there is no obligation to buy the item. Always agree on prices in advance of purchasing goods or services. Often merchants do not have abundant cash on hand, so try to have an ample supply of small bills.
We recommend that you do not acquiesce to the temptation of rewarding children who beg for sweets, pencils, or spare change. As difficult as this may be, you can make a more positive impact by giving donations of school supplies or books to your guide, who will ensure that they reach an appropriate organization, or by making a donation to a non-governmental organization working in Finland.
A wealth of information is available at www.visitfinland.com.
Most international flights arrive at Helsinki Airport in Vantaa, 20 kilometers north of Helsinki.
Tallink & Silja Line (www.tallink.com) operates regular ferry service from Helsinki to Stockholm (Sweden) and Tallinn (Estonia).
Finland’s national rail system, Valtion Rautatiet (VR), offers fast and efficient connections throughout the country. Visit it online at www.vr.fi.
Other local transportation
Both long-distance buses and car rentals are available in Finland. Visitors for fewer than 90 days can rent a car and drive with a valid U.S. license.