Planning a perfect Finland itinerary is a great experience if you’re searching for a European destination off the beaten path from traditional tourist-heavy routes. In unique proximity to Scandinavia, Russia, and the Baltics, Finland is saturated with rich history, culture, and “the happiest people” in the world.
From cosmopolitan and sustainable Helsinki to the country’s oldest city, Turku, Finland is a country waiting to be explored with open arms. This itinerary will help you plan an ideal 5 to 7 days in Finland, exploring both cities and nature while discovering unique corners in between.
How Many Days in Finland?
A good place to start while planning a trip to Finland, is to ask, how many days in Finland will give you the best experience and understanding of Finland?
Finland is one of the largest countries in Europe, and with that being considered, there’s a great amount to visit. While Helsinki is a wonderfully exciting city to visit, I think it’s important to get out of the Finnish capital to get to the heart and core of what Finland truly is.
With that being said, I recommend a minimum of 5 days in Finland; this way you can visit and wander around Helsinki, but also manage to get to another city/town or two.
On top of that, I believe that the ideal length of time to spend in Finland is around 1 week. With 7 days in Finland, you’ll experience all that you can in 5 days, but also be able to go beyond.
You’ll truly be able to do the country justice, explore a few different regions of the country and go beyond major cities to further off regions, such as Finnish Lapland.
Getting To & Around Finland
Getting To Finland
Regarding this particular itinerary, the best and most convenient option will be to first fly into the capital city of Helsinki.
Helsinki Vantaa Airport is the fourth largest Nordic airport by passenger numbers and has frequent routes year-round connecting Finland mainly to Europe but also intercontinental.
Due to the large airport and frequent flights, Helsinki is also typically a fairly affordable destination to fly into. You can get from the airport to the city center by bus, train or private transfer.
There are frequent ferry routes to/from each city and depending on your chosen journey, they can also be more affordable than flight transportation. You can browse ferry schedules here.
Getting Around Finland
When organising your transportation plans for getting around Finland, it’s important to keep in mind the time of year. This itinerary is best suited for the winter months, so unless you’re someone with at least some experience driving in wintery/snowy conditions, I’d recommend against driving.
For those that will be driving, the country is well-prepared for winter weather with cars equipped with the right winter tires so you don’t need to worry about anything out of the ordinary.
If you decide to opt-in to rent a car, I’d suggest only renting it for the time in Rovaniemi. Like most European and Nordic cities in particular, you’ll have an excellent public transportation system at hand to get around with and no necessity to rent a car whilst in the capital city. You can browse Rentalcars.com to compare prices on car hire.
Helsinki is also an incredibly walkable city, with most sights and points of interest in close distance, you’ll find it a joy to walk around the pleasant capital Finnish city.
Furthermore, the other destinations outside of Rovaniemi are easily accessible to Helsinki by bus and train. The last two days of the itinerary are in Finnish Lapland and with such a long drive from southern/central Finland (~10 hours), it would take a day out of your trip to drive.
Rovaniemi is the most “wild” part of the itinerary and having a car would be an advantage (especially if you’re determined to spot the Northern Lights), but it isn’t completely necessary. There are several car rental companies in Rovaniemi, both in the city and at the airport if you’re keen to drive during your time in Lapland.
5 to 7-Day Finland Itinerary
Regardless of whether you have 5 or 7 days in Finland, you’ll find spending time in Finland to be a Nordic treasure. If you have 5 days in Finland, you’ll get to know Finland through its capital city, Helsinki, along with other authentic towns and major cities.
For those continuing onwards to a 7-day itinerary, you’ll make your way north to the wild Arctic Lapland region and its capital city of Rovaniemi where you can enjoy either incredible winter activities or, in the summer months, basque in the midnight sun.
Day 1 – Arrive in Helsinki
The first 3 nights of this itinerary are spent in the capital city of Helsinki. Once arriving in Helsinki, you’ll likely first notice the beautiful and diverse architecture and styles painting the capital city.
The city is a unique blend of Finnish, Swedish, and Russian architecture – reflecting the deep history and heritage not just of Helsinki but also Finland itself.
Helsinki is a fairly small and compact city, which makes it convenient to see most of the main sights during day 1 of your time in Finland. Begin at the Senate Square in the center of the city (Kruununhaka neighborhood) to marvel at the stunning white Helsinki Cathedral along with the National Library of Finland.
If you’re keen on learning further about Finland, its history, and its culture, the National Museum of Finland is a great place to start. A short walk from the National Museum will bring you to one of the most unique churches you’ll probably ever visit, the Temppeliaukio Church.
Built within a solid rock, the church is a must-visit in Helsinki and for that reason, it’s one of the most popular attractions in Helsinki.
For a taste of some of the best Finnish cuisine in the city along with affordable options, make sure to visit Helsinki Market Square & Old Market Hall. The market square is particularly special if you’re visiting Helsinki during the winter, where you’ll find a joyful Christmas market full of independent stands and vendors.
The Old Market Hall is the oldest market in Finland as well as the perfect spot to enjoy a traditional meal.
Where to Stay in Helsinki
Bob W Kluuvi – This hotel is perfect for mid-range visitors looking for a great place to stay in Helsinki. They have a great, central location for exploring the city along with plenty of great rooms to choose from and breakfast available in the mornings. Click here to see their availability
Hotel Mestari – This luxury hotel is perfect for those looking for a plush stay in the Finnish capital. They have a number of wonderful rooms to choose from, great amenities for guests to enjoy and a fantastic location for seeing all Helsinki has to offer. Click here to see their availability
The Yard Hostel – Those visiting Finland on a budget will love this cool hostel in the center of Helsinki. They have both private rooms and dorms to choose from along with good self-catering facilities and common areas. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Helsinki hotels!
Day 2 – Helsinki
After a wonderful first day exploring Helsinki and getting acquainted with Finland, a great way to continue your trip is by making a day trip to the Suomenlinna Fortress. This sea fortess also happens to be a UNESCO Heritage Site.
The Suomenlinna Fortress is situated on a group of 8 islands off of Helsinki and demonstrates key elements of Finnish history and independence from both Sweden and Russia.
Suomenlinna is easily reached by a short 15-minute ferry ride (tickets are included within the Helsinki transport system) from Helsinki Market Square.
Finland has a wonderful fashion scene, with both local and high street shops with a big influence of sustainability. Pohjoisesplanadi, the main shopping street in the heart of Helsinki is about a kilometer long and is the perfect place to take a look at Finnish trends and maybe find a souvenir to bring home.
Day 3 – Porvoo
On day 3 of this Finland itinerary, I suggested making a day trip to the nearby middle-aged town of Porvoo. Porvoo is best reached from Helsinki by bus, with just around an hour’s journey. I recommend booking with Omnibus, as buses are frequent (around every 10 minutes) and the system is reliable. Schedules can be found here. You can also book a guided tour.
Porvoo is a lovely little town giving a completely different feel to Finland than big-city Helsinki. The town is the second oldest in Finland and wandering through the old streets can’t be any more idyllic; especially in the snow during a Finland winter itinerary.
I recommend warming up with a hot chocolate at Petris Chocolate in the town center before heading back to Helsinki.
Day 4 – Turku
After spending 3 nights in Helsinki, make your way to the charming Finnish archipelago city of Turku. Turku is easily reached by train from Helsinki in just under 2 hours and train schedules and booking can be found here.
The city of Turku was founded almost 800 years ago and is a unique must-visit on any Finland itinerary. With the Aura River meeting the archipelago as the centerpiece for Turku, you’ll find the city to be an exciting destination full of soul and history as it was once Finland’s capital city before Helsinki.
Stop by the 13th-century Turku Castle to get a better insight into Finnish Heritage in its oldest town as well as the Turku Cathedral, which also happens to be the seat of the Archbishop of Finland.
If you’re visiting in the summer, a great way to enjoy Finland’s bountiful nature is to take a ferry to the Turku Archipelago. Spending the day in the long daylight is best spent wandering the trails, taking a dip in the water, and discovering the archipelago’s 40,000 tiny islands by bicycle.
For a meal with a nice ambiance, the riverside area has wonderful restaurants with gorgeous views no matter the time of the year that you visit.
Where to Stay in Turku
Centro Hotel Turku – This hotel in central Turku is an excellent choice for those after a mid-range option in this Finnish city. They have a number of great rooms to choose from and a lovely breakfast available in the mornings. Click here to see their availability
Solo Sokos Hotel Turun Seurahuone – Located in the center of Turku, this hotel is a great choice for those who want something a bit more high-end while visiting Finland. They have a range of rooms to choose from, fantastic amenities and an on-site restaurant/bar. Click here to see their availability
Forenom Aparthotel Turku – This aparthotel is great for those who want their own flat but don’t want to sacrifice the convenience of a traditional hotel. There are a range of apartments on offer and they also have a great, central location. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Turku hotels!
Day 5 – Tampere
On your 5th day in Finland, a quick hour-and-a-half train from Turku will bring you on a day trip to the central Finnish, quirky city of Tampere. Tampere is the second biggest city in Finland with a lot to offer but is regularly missed by tourists, making it a great destination for any trip to Finland off the beaten path.
Tampere is the sauna capital of Finland, with over 50 public Finnish saunas waiting for you to relax and rejuvenate in the Finnish style. If you’re looking to tick visiting Finland’s oldest sauna off of your travel list, head to Rajaportti Sauna to experience a sauna heated by wood in the most traditional method.
The city is full of unique and exciting museums such as the Moomin Museum, the quintessential destination for any lover of the Moomin cartoon world. Another great museum option in Tampere for a particular perspective on Finnish culture and social history is Werstas – The Finnish Labour Museum
During your time in Tampere, make sure not to miss the largest Market Hall in all of the Nordics, Tampere Market Hall. This is the perfect destination to sample quintessential Finnish delicacies in a pleasant spot with friendly locals and authentic Finnish food.
If you’re spending just 5 days in Finland, this is the last day of your Finland trip. There is an airport in Tampere with a handful of European connections, making it a convenient ending if you can leave from Tampere. Otherwise, take the train back to Helsinki to continue onward.
For those continuing onward for 7 days in Finland to the city of Rovaniemi in Lapland, the best transportation options from Tampere are to either return to Helsinki to fly to Rovaniemi or take an overnight train/bus from Tampere.
Day 6 – Rovaniemi, Lapland
If your Finland travel itinerary is 7 days, the last two days will be spent in Finland’s largest region, enchanting and magical Lapland.
While also an ideal destination for the summer months because of the incredible nature and lush boreal forests of the northern Finnish region, it’s hard to find any travel destination more perfect in winter than Lapland.
When planning accommodation, the costs of Lapland nature-surrounded hotels are much higher than in the center of Rovaniemi, it enhances the fairytale Lapland experience if you can afford the cost.
The city of Rovaniemi is quite small in comparison to most other Nordic and Finnish cities, but it feels like an entirely different world in itself. To learn more about Arctic and Lappish culture, science, and history, head to the Arktikum Museum for a perfect taster to educate you for the rest of your time in Lapland.
Rovaniemi is the main hub for most activities in the area and they’re plentiful. Whether you’re interested in taking a cosy reindeer sleigh ride in the Arctic forest or an Aurora Borealis expedition with a cup of hot chocolate, there’s something for everyone.
The majority of tour and activity groups leave from Rovaniemi with pick-up from surrounding hotels, making it an effortless trip if you decide not to rent a car to explore Rovaniemi, Lapland.
If you’re visiting Lapland and following this itinerary in the summertime, it’s a completely different atmosphere but still incredibly special in its own right. From long days spent exploring Lapland’s wildly deep nature and forests to midnight-sun bonfire nights, summer in Lapland is truly special as well.
Where to Stay in Rovaniemi
Arctic Light Hotel – Located in central Rovaniemi, this boutique hotel is a great base in Lapland. They have a number of lovely rooms available and countless amenities like free parking, an airport shuttle and an on-site restaurant/bar. Click here to see their availability
Santa’s Igloos Arctic Circle – Those after a unique stay while exploring Lapland will certainly enjoy staying in an igloo in Rovaniemi. There are a number of different glass igloos to choose from (some even include a sauna!) and there are also plenty of other amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to see their availability
Hostel Cafe Koti – Budget-conscious travelers to Rovaniemi will love this hip hostel. There are both dorms and private rooms on offer along with a kitchen, a sauna and breakfast included for guests. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Rovaniemi hotels!
Day 7 – Santa Claus Village
One of the most popular attractions when visiting Rovaniemi, Lapland is the magnificent world of Santa Claus Village. Santa Claus Village is just about a 10-minute drive (or 20-minute bus ride) outside of Rovaniemi city center and is a must-visit magical stop while in Rovaniemi, for both adults and children. You can also take a guided tour from Rovaniemi.
The village is a large wonderland, full of activities from ice skating and sledding to visits at the husky park and postcards and a meeting with Santa at Santa’s workshop. You’ll find conveniently placed fire pits throughout the village and the village’s forest area to warm up if you decide to walk among the snow-dressed Arctic trees.
The official boundaries of the Arctic Circle run through Santa’s Village and even though it’s just a line, it’s truly thrilling to pass back and forth through the Arctic Circle!
Food options are plentiful in the village no matter your budget or preferences; from cafeteria-style food to classic Lappish food (I recommend the open-fire cooked salmon!) in a traditional hut.
With so much joy and winter wonderland from just around every corner, it’s easy to spend a long day at Santa’s Village. It’s also safe to say that there’s no better send-off from a trip to Finland than heading to the snowy paradise of your childhood dreams.
If you’re visiting in the winter, you may be able to find a return flight from Rovaniemi depending on the city, but otherwise, return to Helsinki to wrap up a marvelous week in Finland.
Have More Time?
In the case that you are drawn to the Lapland region and would like to explore further, I highly suggest heading further north to experience the region on a deeper level in the resort town of Levi.
In Levi, you can hit the slopes and ski on Finland’s biggest ski slopes, search further for the Northern Lights with a higher chance of seeing them, and find yourself in further bewilderment by Finland’s stunning natural beauty.
On top of that, if you’re wanting to continue your trip and are looking to go beyond Finland, Swedish Lapland is just over the border with more outdoor adventures waiting for you.
Finnish Lapland is a lot more “developed” and touristy in comparison with Swedish Lapland, so if you’re interested in experiencing more of a local experience in Lapland, Swedish Lapland is a great way to continue your trip.
A Finland trip undoubtedly has something for all kinds of travelers, whether you’re a city-seeker or someone happiest among nature. With this Finland itinerary, you’ll see all aspects of Finland, giving the perfect representation of this dynamically beautiful, and kind country.
Are you planning a trip to Finland? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!