Finland is a stable, safe and socially progressive country with a respected judicial system, a sound banking system and ethical companies. Finland’s 5.5 million people enjoy a standard of lifestyle that is the envy of many who live in a land of wild natural landscapes and cities with cutting-edge design.
It’s the land of winter magic and northern lights but visiting Finland’s national parks in the warmer months offers excellent hiking, kayaking and wildlife spotting. Yes, you can see bears from overnight huts in the forest. Whether you’re keen on nature or attracted to the city’s buzz, this Scandinavian country there is a treasure trove of historical and natural landmarks in Finland to discover.
- Landmarks in Finland
- Helsinki Landmarks
- Historic Landmarks in Finland
- Natural Landmarks of Finland
Landmarks in Finland
1- Suomenlinna Fortress
Suomenlinna Fortress is an 18th-century landmark in Finland and one of the world’s largest sea fortresses.
The fortress is located on an island and is a popular destination for visitors, who can access the island on a short ferry ride from the Market Square in Helsinki.
Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage gem built in 1847 as a defence against the Russians when the Swedes occupied Finland.
There’s an impressive visitor’s centre with displays and audio-visual information that provides information about the fort’s history.
Ehrensvärd Museum is a showcase of the fort’s Swedish history, with weapons, portraits, oil paintings and Gustavian furniture.
Explore tunnels and ramparts and go on walks around the island to discover the fortress’s mysteries, such as the Finnish Navy’s 250-ton Vesikko submarine that was used throughout World War II.
Spread throughout the fort are buildings that house craft studios where you can watch skilled artisans at work blowing glass, making pottery and creating beautiful works of art.
Summer is a fantastic time to visit to enjoy music and dancing in the evenings at the Suomenlinna Summer Theatre.
2- Helsinki Cathedral
Helsinki’s Senate Square is a beautiful Neoclassical gem with four main buildings designed by famous Finnish architect Carl Ludvig Engel (1778-1840).
The four most important buildings are the Government Palace, the National Library of Finland, the University of Helsinki and Helsinki Cathedral.
Helsinki Cathedral is not only a monument of Helsinki but a famous landmark of Finland.
The neo-classical cathedral’s construction began in 1830, but it took 22 years to complete.
The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran church has an eye-catching design with many impressive features, such as 12 statues of the apostles of Jesus Christ on the roof.
The cathedral towers over Helsinki’s waterfront and Market Square, where visitors go to eat local food. Wandering around the stalls picking on treats is one of the things to do in Helsinki you’ll love.
3- Finlandia Hall
Finnish architect Alvar Aalto designed this impressive white marble-clad concert and conference centre, which was built in 1974.
Finlandia Hall is in Helsinki’s city centre and is worth looking inside for its interior design, which was considered cutting-edge for its time.
Throughout the hall are artworks on loan from the Helsinki Art Museum.
Many consider Finlandia Hall a symbol of Finnish independence (Finland became an independent nation in 1917) and a showcase for the nation’s cultural identity.
There’s a planned renovation of this architectural landmark in 2022.
Finlandia Hall is at Mannerheimintie 13e, 00100 Helsinki.
4- Temppeliaukio Rock Church
Temppeliaukio Rock Church is an underground church in Helsinki’ that attracts almost a million visitors a year.
The unique building, which was completed in 1969, was excavated into solid rock and has a copper-lined dome with a rugged rock interior.
It has impressive acoustics and is used for summer concerts.
This Lutheran church attracts more than 900,000 visitors each year.
Temppeliaukio Rock Church is at Lutherinkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki.
5- Uspensky Cathedral
Uspenski Cathedral is the primary place of worship for the Orthodox Parish of Helsinki, the Diocese of Helsinki, and the largest Orthodox temple in Northern and Western Europe.
The cathedral’s 33m cupola stands out, and it sits on a hill in the Katajanokka district.
It was designed by Russian architect Aleksei M. Gornostajev and built during the 19th century when Finland was a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire.
The construction took nine years, and bricks from Bomarsund fortress in Åland were used to build the cathedral.
The classical and Russian-Byzantine iconostasis was the work of Russian artist Pavel S. Šiltsov.
Uspenski Cathedral is at Pormestarinrinne 1, 00160 Helsinki.
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Historic Landmarks in Finland
6- Turku Castle
Turku Castle is a landmark in the Finnish town of Turku, which is Finland’s oldest town and the country’s capital before 1812.
The medieval town is at the mouth of the Aurajoki River and on the Gulf of Bothnia.
Besides medieval buildings, Turku also has a fabulous selection of Art Nouveau and modern architecture, such as the Sibelius Museum.
Turku Castle dates back to 1300 and was built on an island at the river’s mouth.
A 17th-century extension added the Turku Historical Museum, which has exhibitions of history, culture and art.
The castle was bombed to ruins in 1941 and reconstructed after World War II.
Turku Castle is at Linnankatu 80, Turku.
7- Nasinneula Tower in Sarkanniemi
Sarkanniemi is an amusement park in Tampere, with adrenalin-pumping rides, an aquarium, a planetarium, an art museum and a children’s zoo.
The Näsinneula observation tower is a Tampere landmark, and its five rollercoasters are an attraction for adrenalin junkies.
Take the elevator to the top of Näsinneula for a stunning view of the city and surrounding countryside.
It was inspired by the Seattle Space Needle and has elevators that zip to the top at 6 m/s.
There are 700 stairs to the top and when the stairs were open to the public, the record time to climb to the top was 3 minutes and 4 seconds in 1989.
Särkänniemi belongs to Tampere and is one of the most popular attractions in Finland for families.
It has two water rides, Koskiseikkailu river rapids and a log flume.
Sarkanniemi is at Laiturikatu 1, Tampere.
8- Santa Claus Village
Santa Claus Village is an enchanting landmark in Finnish Lapland and has gained a reputation worldwide as the official residence of Santa Claus.
It’s a magical place where you can meet Santa Claus throughout the year, go on a sleigh ride and get up close to reindeer.
The shop has lovely Christmas gifts, and the village post office is manned by staff in elf costumes, and you can send a postcard with the Arctic Circle postmark.
The Arctic Circle runs through the village, and the Roosevelt Cabin (named after Eleanor Roosevelt, who visited in 1950) displays how tourism began in the Arctic Circle.
Check out Santa Claus Village on the webcam here.
Finnish Lapland is also a great place to go bear watching in Finland.
Santa Claus Village is at Tähtikuja 1, 96930 Rovaniemi, Finland.
9- Rauma Town Hall
Rauma is a harbour city on the Gulf of Botnia with a historic city centre with buildings entirely constructed from timber.
Old Rauma’s well-preserved 18th-century vernacular architecture of around 600 buildings is a charming sight.
The main landmark of Rauma, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is its town hall built in 1776.
The double-storey baroque-style building was designed by a German architect and has a distinctive clock tower.
It houses a museum where you can learn about the town’s history, lace making and cultural displays.
Rauma’s Old Town Hall is at Kauppakatu 13, Rauma.
10- Olavinlinna Castle
Olavinlinna Castle is located on a rocky islet in Savonlinna.
A Danish-born knight constructed the 15th-century castle to defend the region against an invasion from Russia.
The fairytale castle’s eclectic architecture has evolved through changes in ownership over the centuries.
It was once a prison and is now a tourist attraction where operas are performed during the Savonlinna Opera Festival.
Within the castle are two museum exhibitions, and a guided tour of the rooms, towers and halls are a fascinating way to soak up the castle’s history.
Olavinlinna Castle is at 57130 Savonlinna, Finland.
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11- Hame Castle
Hame Castle in Hameenlinna has been a granary, prison and a residence to royalty.
Dating back to the late 13th century, the castle has thick walls, towers, and an old well and was one of Finland’s first brick buildings.
The castle was a military base at the border of Sweden and Novgorod.
The National Museum of Finland operates the museum in the castle.
Hame Castle is at Kustaa III:n katu 6, 13100 Hämeenlinna Tavastehus.
12- Kastelholm Castle
The ruins of Kastelholm Castle on the Aland Islands is another medieval landmark of Finland.
On the castle’s site, the Jan Karlsgården Open-Air Museum is a recreation of life in the 19th century.
The museum’s 30 buildings were moved to the castle’s site from other parts of the Aland Islands to create a living museum.
A good time to visit is during the Christmas market in the first week of December.
Kastelholm Castle is at Storagatan 1, Mariehamn, Aland.
13- Bomarsund Fortress
Built by the Russian army as a defence outpost, the 19th-century Bomarsund Fortress was destroyed during the Crimean War in 1854.
The fortress is a sprawling complex with the central section housing the Russian garrison, three fortified towers and a settlement that grew around the fort.
British and French forces shot at the fortress with cannons in August 1854, and the soldiers were shipped to England and France as war prisoners.
The entire Aland Islands was turned into a demilitarised zone in 1856 and remains such.
Bomarsund Fortress is at Storagatan 1, Mariehamn, Åland.
14- Porvoo Cathedral
Located along the river, Porvoo is Finland’s second-oldest town and a picturesque place with red and ochre timber buildings and a medieval cathedral at the top of the hill.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church’s walls are adorned with 15th-century paintings, and the ornate pulpit dates back to 1764.
The cathedral is the seat of Finland’s Swedish-speaking diocese and is dedicated to Mary.
If you’re keen on seeing more local art, Porvoo’s Edelfelt-Vallgren Museum features the Art Nouveau movement, with artworks of local artists, ceramics, furniture and crafts.
Porvoo is 48km from Helsinki and can be visited as a day trip.
15- Petajavesi Old Church
Petajavesi Old Church is an impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site and a historic Finnish landmark.
It’s unique because the church was constructed entirely out of pine logs and is an excellent example of Nordic architecture.
It was built between 1763 and 1765 and is a combination of Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic design with beautiful chandeliers, balustrades, pews and a lovely carved pulpit.
The church is in a picturesque location at the intersection of two lakes.
Attend a service or a concert in summer or organise to see Petajavesi Old Church by appointment in winter.
Petajavesi Old Church is at Vanhankirkontie 9, 41900 Petäjävesi, Finland.
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Natural Landmarks of Finland
16- Paasselkä Devils
Paasselkä is a deep oval-shaped lake formed within a crater in Southern Savonia.
The crater is believed to have been formed by a meteorite crashing into the Earth during the Triassic period 229 million years ago.
The circular lake has no islands and flows into other lakes to form the Greater Saimaa complex.
One of the lake’s unique things is the light phenomena over the lake and forest nearby, which have appeared since the 18th century.
According to those who have seen them, the Paasselkä devil looks like a brilliant ball of white or red light.
The lights seem to have a will of their own, are sometimes calm, like a lantern, or they can move around rapidly.
Paasselkä Devils can be found at Paasselkä Lake.
17- Julma Ölkky Canyon Lake
Julma-Ölkky is a two billion-year-old canyon lake within a deep crevice, formed simultaneously as the Earth’s surface.
The 3km lake flows into the Gulf of Bothnia and is the highest in the Oulujoki water system.
At its narrowest, the lake is around 10 m wide with rocks 50 m high. The most popular activities are boating and hiking.
The 10 km Ölökyn Ähkäsy walking trail along the lake has stunning views, and there are ancient rock paintings at Hossa Värikallio.
The lake is at Julma-Ölkyntie 86, 93700 Kuusamo.
Lostenen is a 16m high glacial boulder moved by glacier.
The boulder was named after the lynxes that lived among the rocky outcrops around the 1900s.
It has been a shelter for wildlife and humans who lived in caves.
You can hike Lostenen along a set of stairs.
Lostenen is at Överpurmontie 704, 68970 Pedersöre, Finland.
19- Wolf Cave of Vargberget (Susiluola)
Wolf Cave is in the Pyhävuori mountain in Kristinestad near Finland’s Karijoki municipality.
Archaeologists discovered scrapers, heated stones and objects made from quartz, sandstone and volcanic rock in the cave, leading some experts to conclude that it was where Neanderthals lived during the Paleolithic era up to 130,000 years ago.
That finding has been vigorously debated in academic circles.
Wolf Cave is at Varggrottsvägen, 64350 Kristinestad, Finland.
20- Struve Geodetic Arc
The Struve Arc passes through Finland as one of the 10 countries in the chain between Hammerfest in Norway and the Black Sea.
These survey points were logged from 1816 to 1855 by astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve and are historical measurements of a meridian.
This mapping was instrumental in measuring Earth’s shape and size and was a fantastic collaboration between scientists of various nations.
There are 34 station points with markings such as cairns, obelisks and drilled holes in the rock.
Stuve Geodetic Arc is in Stuorrahanoaivi, Aavasaksa, Oravivuori, Tornikallio and Mustaviiri in Finland.
Sammalahdenmaki is a burial site with 33 granite burial cairns from the Bronze Age.
These cairns are a record of the funerary practices and the religious and social structures from three millennia ago.
Located on the Gulf of Bothnia, the cairns are gathered in clusters along the ridge and built from granite boulders.
These cairns are symbols of a sun-worshipping religion in Scandinavia and come in different shapes, including oval, elongated and quadrangular structures.
Sammalahdenmaki Sammallahdentie, 27230 Rauma, Finland.