Backpacking in Finland

Do you wish to see the best of Finland on a shoestring? Have a look at this example route we made for you to experience Finland from top to bottom with a very reasonable budget, starting from 50€ per day! Travel for 11 days (in case you don’t happen to fall in love with this Northern Gem and stay longer) with a little more than 500€*

This example route starts from Helsinki, goes up to Rovaniemi via Tampere, and from the beaches of Kalajoki to Turku and back to Helsinki again.

Backpacking-route-Finland

*Starting prices for an 11-day-route, (Dec 2015) including the public transportation and accommodation in HI Hostels. Prices may vary. Transportation prices to/from Finland are not included.

With the international hostel card you get 10% discount from the accommodation provided by Hostelling International Finland.

For public transportation check out
http://www.vr.fi/en (Finnish Railways)
http://www.onnibus.com/en/index.htm
https://www.matkahuolto.fi/en/

For renting a car, check out
http://www.holidayautos.com/en/
http://www.rentalcars.com/

2 nights in Helsinki

Helsinki is the capital city of Finland, bursting life every day of the week. During the last years, Helsinki has bloomed with new, trendy restaurants and charming design districts and boutiques. Beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, location on the southern sea shoreline and the vivid life of this little big city makes you want to visit the Helsinki all over again.

Sights and activities
A short ferry trip away from the center of Helsinki lies one of the biggest Sea Fortress in the world, Suomenlinna. This UNESCO’s World Heritage site with its unique environment is accessible with just 5€ ferry ticket. In addition to the fortress, the island is also home to a few museums (such as Toy Museum) and lovely cafés.

Other islands that are also worth visiting, are Seurasaari (accessible by bus) with its open air museum, Pihlajasaari and Uunisaari with cosy beaches, and Lonna, an old mine storage island of the Russian Navy.

For museums and churches there are lots of choices, for example the museum of contemporary art Kiasma, art museum Ateneum, National Museum of Finland and the symbol of Helsinki, the Helsinki Cathedral on Senate Square and Uspenski Cathedral.

Helsinki is a green city with great variety of parks in it. In the parks around Töölö you can visit the Winter Garden all year around, and see the Sibelius Monument. For more beautiful park areas, check out Kaisaniemi near the railway station and Kaivopuisto with spectacular views to the sea.

For shopping, Helsinki offers plenty of variety. Shopping centres Forum and Kamppi in the heart of the city have everything one could possibly need. Helsinki is the place for hunting and admiring Finnish design. Check out the Tori Square area and the 6 different themed walking tours around the design district. For market atmosphere, head to the Market Square and grab something fishy to eat like a platter of “muikku” (vendace) or to the Old Market Hall that has been serving the citizens of Helsinki since 1888.

Helsinki
Helsinki Cathedral, Photo by Rebekka Lehtola/Visit Helsinki

Accommodation in Helsinki
Eurohostel, located in central Helsinki offers beds starting from 23.20€/night.
There is also a hostel in Suomenlinna, if you would fancy a night in a World Heritage site. Hostel Suomenlinna also offers beds starting from 24€/night.
Hostel Domus Academica offers beds starting from 29€/night during summertime.

Before moving to the next place, you can visit the second oldest city of Finland, Porvoo. Porvoo is located about 50km away from Helsinki, and the city is known for its old town, a beautiful wooden house district. From a relatively small area you can find amazingly many boutiques, cafés, handicrafts, antiques, vintage, restaurants, galleries, museums and more. The old town of Porvoo is also a world heritage site.

Onnibus takes you from Helsinki to Porvoo in 45 minutes, tickets are sold from 2 -6€. If you would like to spend the night in Porvoo, Porvoo Hostel offers beds starting from 23€/night.

From Helsinki to Tampere 2h
Onnibus 3,5-15€
VR 15-40€

2 nights in Tampere

Tampere, also called “the Manchester of Finland” for its industrial past and the red brick buildings, lies between two lakes, Pyhäjärvi and Näsijärvi. These lakes are connected to each other by rapids Tammerkoski, which flows through the center of the city. Tampere is also the biggest inland city in the Nordic countries.

Sights and activities
In Finland, nature is always close to you, even in the biggest cities. Pyynikinharju ridge is a stunning escape place, located a walking distance from the city center. On the top of the ridge you can admire the lake view and enjoy the most delicious, sugar coated doughnuts in the café of Pyynikki Observation tower and visit the top of the tower for just 2€. Need something to pump up the adrenalin? Try abseiling from the tower (includes doughnuts in the cafe!) for 20€.

While you’re in between two lakes, you can try out paddling the regular way or trending stand up – paddling for 20€ with guidance.

Sauna is a major part of the Finnish culture. In Tampere you have a great opportunity to experience the löyly in the oldest public sauna Rajaportti Sauna (5-8€), or in Rauhaniemi Sauna (6€) where you have the possibility to have a dip in the water – whether its summer or winter.

To explore the industrial history of Tampere, have a stroll in the historic Finlayson area, where you can pop into some museums, like the world’s very first Spy Museum (8€), Labour Museum Werstas (for free), Milavida (8€) and Vapriikki (10€). Visit the nearby Stable Yard with its lovely little boutiques and cafes and a chocolate shop that sells the treats to die for. To top the tour in this charming area you could have one (or two…) of the many award-winning beers in Plevna Brewery Pub & Restaurant.
Tampere also has the one and only Moomin museum.

Tampere
Photo by Kari Savolainen

Accommodation in Tampere
Dream Hostel offers beds starting from 25€/night. Dream Hostel sells tickets to most museums, saunas and activities.

From Tampere to Rovaniemi
To go to Rovaniemi from Tampere, you can either choose the more comfortable train (around 60 – 90 €, takes about 7 -9 h) or the affordable Onnibus. With Onnibus you can manage with as little as 20 €, but this way you have 2 stops on the way: Jyväskylä and Oulu, and in the other one you would have 15 minutes to change to a connecting bus, and in the other you would have 5 hours to spend. Naturally, you can also mix and match the trains and the buses. Note that the Onnibus goes from Oulu to Rovaniemi (and vice versa) only on weekends.

2 nights in Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi is the gateway to Lapland located just below the Arctic Circle. And even though it’s not Santa Claus’ official home, we’ve heard He spends quite a lot of time in there, in Santa Claus Village… Hope you haven’t been naughty this year!

Santa Claus Village is the place to go in Rovaniemi, and it is available every day of the year, with buses leaving from the railway station of Rovaniemi every hour. After you have told Santa your deepest wishes and had a selfie with the Old Man, you can send a letter to your family with an Arctic Circle postmark in it. Cross the Arctic Circle and say hello to the Santa’s reindeer and adorable huskies, and let yourself feel like a kid on Christmas. Doesn’t matter if it is the middle of July, it’s always Christmas in Santa Claus Village!

When on the border of the Arctic Circle, you have great chances to see the Northern Lights on winter or late autumn or to experience the nightless night on summer.

Rovaniemi is commonly thought as a winter destination with heaps of different types of winter activities, such as Husky and snowmobile safaris, reindeer sleigh rides, snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding, ice climbing, ice fishing, winter sledging etc. Prices vary on excursions from 13€ of a 1km long reindeer sleigh ride to several hundreds for overnight safaris.

However, if you’re visiting Rovaniemi in the summertime, you would still have lots of activities to do. Lapland offers the greatest hiking tracks in Finland, and a few good ones are located near Rovaniemi, such as Könkäiden polku (“path of the waterfalls/cascades”). The length of Könkäiden polku is 10km with medium demand level. You can get to the starting point of the trail by buses that go daily from Rovaniemi to Sodankylä or Kemijärvi. You can also try rafting the rapids of Rovaniemi, feel the speed on a jetski, join a quad bike safari, do wildlife watching and have a relaxing kayaking trip.

Rovaniemi-Santa-Claus
Photo by Visit Rovaniemi

Accommodation in Rovaniemi
Santa’s Hostel Rudolf offers beds starting from 44€/night.

The next stop on the route goes to the western coast of Finland. However, if you didn’t get enough of the magic of Lapland just yet, you should take a bus towards Sodankylä (17€, tickets from Matkahulto) and make a visit to Raudanjoki, located between Rovaniemi and Sodankylä.

Visatupa, charming rural accommodation provider offers beds starting from 25€/night. There you can sense the real countryside and Lapland, and if you like, help with the chores to get to know the way of living in Lapland. Your hosts can also organize trips to nearby attractions, for example the amethyst mine in Luosto.

From Rovaniemi to Kalajoki
Rovaniemi – Oulu 4h
Onnibus (only from Saturday to Monday) from 7€
VR from 25€
Matkahuolto from 29€

Oulu – Kalajoki (Hiekkasärkät) 2h
Matkahuolto from 29€

2 nights in Kalajoki

Kalajoki is best known for its 3,5km long coastline, forming mostly from sandy beaches and dunes. The coastal area called Hiekkasärkät is a popular summer destinations for Finns – the center of Kalajoki itself is located about 8km away from this haven.

Kalajoki is the place in Finland to try out beach activities, such as windsurfing and kitesurfing (also wintersurfing in the winter), and naturally, relaxing on the beach.
If you would like to visit the town, or perhaps a candy workshop in nearby village Tynkä, you can rent a bike starting from 5€.

In Lohilaakso, a restaurant and a fishing spot, you have the opportunity to catch your own rainbow trout from a pond, have it smoked and eat it on the spot. They also have a nice variety of smoked fish available in the restaurant, in case you wish to leave the fishing for the professionals.

Kalajoki-Hiekkasarkat
Hiekkasärkät. Photo by Flickr/Ville Oksanen

Accommodation
Tapion Tupa offers beds for 28€/per night in Hiekkasärkät.

From Kalajoki to Turku
Kalajoki – Kokkola 1h
Matkahuolto, from 15€

Kokkola – Turku
VR, around 70€

2 nights in Turku

Turku is the oldest city and former capital of Finland, and its history goes back to the 13th century. The archipelago of Turku is one of its kind with thousands of islands. The best way to explore the archipelago is by cycling: Saariston rengastie is a 250km long cycling trail around the archipelago, and its little sister Pieni Rengastie is a 100km long. You can also get to know to the archipelago by kayaking or by a ferry.

Ruissalo is the favorite summer spot those who live in Turku, and no wonder: this picture beautiful island just outside the city with botanical gardens, old villas, nature trails and beaches is indeed the greatest place to spend a summer day (works in the winter, too) and have picnic. One of the biggest music festivals in Finland, Ruisrock, is also held in Ruissalo every summer in July.

In the city center, the Aura river flowing through the city has attracted people through the history of Turku, and the surroundings of Aura river is filled with cafés, restaurants, restaurant boats and boutiques. Crossing the river with Föri, the City Ferry, is something everyone must do, and it is free of charge. The world’s last steamboat Ukkopekka departs from Aurajoki to Naantali during the summertime from Tuesday to Saturday. (29€)

The most important sights in Turku are the Turku Castle and Turku Cathedral, both having 700 hundred years of history to share. You should also take the time to see the Kakola Hill, old prison surroundings.

Turku
Photo by Visit Turku

Accommodation
Now what could be a better way to spend a night in Turku, than an old steamboat?
Laivahostel Borea offers beds starting from 26€/night on the Aura river.

A bit further away from the center Linnasmäki offer beds starting from 32€/night.

From Turku to Helsinki
Onnibus starting from 3,5€-15€
VR from 15-35€

1 night in Helsinki

Back where you started. Do the things you didn’t have the time to do during the first days here and buy the last souvenirs from Finland before you head back to home!

Mainphoto by Visit Helsinki/Kaisa Luukannel

Prices may vary. All rights reserved.

 

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One thought on “Backpacking in Finland

  1. Wonderful post. I am glad that You visited in so many places, although You missed the Lakeland area. Did You made a stop at Oulu? Its beach is as beautiful that one Kalajoki is beautiful.

    Happy and safe travels!

    Like

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