In Finland everything is turned upside down – here, the sun shines at midnight in the summer months, and the magical Northern Lights transform the skies in the long winter. Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region is a picture-perfect winter wonderland offering impressive sights and the opportunity to meet Santa Claus in the village of Rovaniemi. Situated within the Arctic Circle, Lapland’s landscapes include forests laden with snow, glistening frozen lakes and towering mountain ranges.
Finland is a mecca for outdoor adventurers eager to experience an impressive range of winter activities. If you’re seeking the Northern Lights, you’ll find them in Kaklsauttanen, one of the best places in the world to see them. In summer, the Land of the Midnight Sun calls travellers to enjoy endless daylight and numerous fun activities including cycling, hiking, camping and swimming.
Why visit Finland
- Its cities, including Helsinki, the capital, are steeped in history.
- You can meet Santa Claus in his hometown.
- In summer, the sun shines 24 hours a day.
- It’s the best place to see the incredible Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
- The country is crazy about saunas.
- It's home to incredible wildlife including bears, reindeer, lynx and the rarest seal in the world, the Saimaa Ringed seal.
- The skiing is superb.
- It’s home to at least 70,000 islands, many of which you can explore.
From vibrant seaside cities to beautiful islands; from lush national parks teeming with wildlife and birds to the charming olde-worlde town where Santa Claus resides, Finland offers a magical holiday experience. Families love it here, especially at Christmas time. Couples love the romantic idea of staying in an igloo under the stars. Friends enjoy summer and winter travel here with so many different adventure sports. And solo travellers get to experience an extraordinary place with so much to offer. Let Thompsons Holidays arrange a bucket-list Finland holiday package for you.
What to do in Finland
Finland, in Northern Europe, might be small in size, but it’s packed with things to do. Known for its magnificent landscapes, including thousands of lakes and forests, Finland offers a unique holiday where you can visit Santa in his village, admire the magical Northern Lights and see wildlife in its natural habitat.
Helsinki, the capital, is a vibrant seaside town with beautiful islands to explore and lush green parks to discover. It’s known for its bars and clubs, great restaurants and lively atmosphere. In summer, visitors enjoy camping, hiking, swimming, cycling and exploring the country. In the cold months, Finland transforms into a winter wonderland, with so many fun activities, including skiing, sleigh rides, dog-sledding, ice fishing and snowmobiling.
Things to do in Finland
- Go camping on one of Helsinki’s 330 surrounding islands.
- Visit the UNESCO-listed Fortress of Suomenlinna.
- Explore Finland’s second oldest city, Porvoo, with its charming cobblestone streets and iconic red wooden houses.
- Discover the country’s history from the Stone Age onwards in the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki.
- Spend the night in a lighthouse on an island.
- Give Santa your Christmas wish list in Rovaniemi.
- Watch the Northern Lights from a glass igloo in Kakslauttanen.
- Embark on a reindeer safari.
- Stay up all night in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
- Go hiking in one of Finland’s 40 national parks.
Finland is a country that is mostly untouched by tourists, and that is very much part of its charm. Travellers are catching on to its magic, its majestic forests and stunning natural landscapes, fascinating cities and towns and its wintry delights. Thompsons Holidays will arrange a holiday for you in this stunning little country, an opportunity for families, couples, friends and solo travellers to all experience some bucket-list adventures. Choose from our fantastic Finland holiday packages on offer or contact us for a more information.
Know before you go...
- High season for viewing the Northern Lights is September and October or February and March.
- The best time to visit Finland is in Summer (June to August).
- You will fly from Cape Town or Johannesburg to Helsinki in Finland, stopping over in one European destination. You will then fly onto your holiday location from there.
- The shortest flight duration from South Africa with one stopover is 14 hours, 35 minutes.
- South African passport holders require a Schengen visa to enter Finland.
- Passports should be valid for at least 6 months after travel and have blank pages.
- Finland is the same time as South Africa during the winter (November to March) and one hour ahead of South Africa in the summer months (last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).
- The official currency is Euro (€ or EUR).
- Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are prevalent.
- Tipping is not obligatory, as a service charge is added on to all services. especially in tourist areas. Tip for exceptional service.
- Finland is the eighth most expensive country in Europe, so food is not cheap.
- Finnish (spoken by 93% of the population) and Swedish are Finland’s official languages.
- English is spoken by around 10% of the population.
- Almost 80% of the population is Christian.
- When visiting sacred sites, dress conservatively. (See ‘What to pack’).
- It is safe to drink tap water in Finland, which boasts extremely high quality water. Bottled water is easily available.
- Vaccinations are not currently required, but do check with your travel clinic before you go.
- Smoking is not permitted in public areas such as restaurants, bars and indoor work places as well as on public transport. Airports offer designated smoking rooms.
What must I pack?
- Depending on when and where you visit, lightweight clothing for summer, warm clothing for winter, ski gear, rain gear and beachwear if relevant. Choose items that can be layered.
- Dress modestly when visiting sacred sites – no shorts or tank tops. Legs and shoulders must be covered. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are best.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses for summer holidays.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
- The cities in Finland have excellent transport systems as a whole, including Metro, taxis, buses and trams, even a ferry.
- Towns in outlying areas may have less sophisticated transport infrastructure – it depends where you are going.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Avoid single-use plastic; rather take fabric shopping bags with you and use refillable water bottles (when local drinking water is available).
- Respect each other's cultures and customs and avoid imposing your beliefs.
- Do not support animal encounters and wildlife activities that are harmful or unethical.
- Always have a map (or app) on hand, especially when travelling at night.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
We’re sorry! The holiday you’re looking for is not in season. Luckily, we have loads of other exciting options. Take a look!