Before visiting Finland on a short break, we have envisioned our trip stressful with the aim to see as much as we can, while the days would be cold, rainy and foggy. To our surprise, it was quite the opposite! When looking back, we have spent some warm, romantic days on a sunny weekend in August 2015. It was the landscape which left us speechless, leading to the conclusion that some future short breaks in Finland will have to follow. Anyone, who wonders how short breaks in Finland can look like, below is our idea for your travel itinerary. This blog post is also a good read if you're looking for any daytrips from Helsinki!
Important to say, the short break to Finland lasted only 3 days, flying to Helsinki on Friday afternoon and returning back on Sunday evening. Since we spent almost all vacation days on our trips to Istanbul, Seychelles, Swaziland and South Africa, we couldn't afford any more days in this wonderful North European country with only 5 million of inhabitants and its 187,888 lakes! To answer your question which might fly through your head now - yes, it was well worth it, visiting Finland for 3 days! Of course, staying longer would be even better but we managed to see so many wonderful places in such a short time, that the money totally paid off!
Flyling to Helsinki
Flying to Helsinki from Zurich takes you approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes. The flight was operated by Finnair which is one of the safest airline company in the world. Although we touched down in Helsinki, we didn't spend any hours in the capital city of Finland. Maybe next time!
Spending the Night at the Airport Hostel
To avoid all troubles getting late in the evening to the city centre of Helsinki, we decided to spend the night at the Forenom Hostel Vantaa Airport. The rooms are very basic but comfortable.
Car Rental at Helsinki Airport
On the next day in the morning, we first picked our car at the Helsinki Airport, which we pre-booked via Rentalcars. We were given the Toyota Yaris Hybrid with its price of 120 Euros for two days. To our surprise, it was an automatic, with cruise control and the navigation system, although we didn't choose any of these on the internet. Well, we couldn't complain :)
Kayaking near Helsinki
We knew, if we head to Finland one day, we want to experience kayaking in their great waters! Therefore, after purchasing the flight ticket, we actually started looking for kayaking operators and after a while we came across the website of Natura Viva, an organisation, which offers a few kayaking routes in the Helsinki archipelago. While being there, we had an amazing trip with the group leader and some other tourists, kayaking around the islands and relaxing at one of the barbecue places on an island. We had fun and since I wanted to give you more details on it, I wrote a separate blog post about our Kayaking in Finland.
After 4 hours of paddling, we came back to the starting point and spent another 1 hour on a beach nearby, swimming and sunbathing. Already then, we felt in love with the tranquility, the surrounding nature and the fresh air. If we weren't short on time, we would have probably spent another couple of hours here.
I knew, Porvoo must be a great stop, and it turned out I was right. On arrival, we first needed to feed our stomach in one of the shore restaurants along the river. I had a baked potato with shrimp sauce and salad, which costed me only 8 Euros, what is, believe me, not much for a Scandinavian country. Jerry ate French fries, made out of sweet potato, some vegetables and a veggie steak. It all tasted very good!
Strolling down the river, we reached the old town of Porvoo, being built around 1380. Today, there are 250 residential houses and 300 outbuildings with its 700 inhabitants. Probably the most known scenery in Porvoo are the red shore houses on the riverbank. In the center of the old town, some colourful wooden houses with its vintage decoration can be enjoyed. It's very invitating to take pictures of the houses' decorations.
Our Airbnb Stay
After visiting Porvoo, we finally arrived to our Airbnb stay for the upcoming night. We were really looking forward to this unique experience. The host was already very nice in the e-mails we sent to each other before our arrival. So she was, as we where finally there! Ann-Sofi is a language teacher, she used to travel when she was younger, and enjoys the international atmosphere in her house since she started hosting people from all over the world. She owns a yellow wooden house, just about 20-minutes away from Porvoo in a very peaceful countryside with lots of lakes and forest. To make the homestay even more cozy, Ann-Sofi has 2 cats, both being very cuddly.
Ann-Sofi offers two types of accommodation. One is the one, we were staying in, and the second one are some basic stays in the building next to her house.
In the outbuilding next to Ann-Sofi's house, there is a real Finnish sauna, which we, of course, had to try out! Did you know, there are 2.2 million of saunas in Finland, 1 for every 2.5 people? Apparently, before the rise of the health care facilities, all mothers gave birth in saunas! Crazy, right?! The typical Finish sauna is warmed to 80- 110 Degrees C, takes usually 2-3 circles and lasts 30 minutes to 2 hours. I've even heard, the Finns like to grill and eat some sausages between the sauna circles! Hihi..
The Pellinki Island
In the same evening, Ann-Sofi suggested to visit one of the Finland's 179,584 islands (!), just about an hour drive south from her house, called Pellinki. It was a nice drive through the forest and with some gorgeous views on the lakes. When arriving to Pellinki, we took one of the offroad paths through the forest to access the island's coast. And look, we found a beach just for ourselves where we spent 2 hours enjoying the views of the sea.
This beach lies on the south-west coast of Pellinki, a very nice place with ponds, trees, flowers, and even a bench.
It was on a warm summer evening, the sun went down and we could soak up a very romantic sunset over the sea. Dear readers, go for a nice sunset if you're heading to Finland :=)
After exploring Pellinki, we decided to drive back towards our Airbnb stay but first we wanted to see the lake near the village called Krakö where nice sunsets can be apparently enjoyed too.
Exploring the Finnish Countryside by Bike
The perfect weekend gateway continued on the next day when we rented out bikes from Ann-Sofi. It took us 2 hours to explore the diverse countryside nearby. It was such a nice day, warm and sunny, the flowers were blossoming and we were in a really good mood, both being calm and relaxed :)
Hiking the Nuuksio National Park
In one of our short breaks in Finland we definitely wanted to include the Nuuksio National Park! It's a 45-min drive from Helsinki. The park with its 80 small lakes, mistic forest and beautiful valleys offers more than 30 km of hiking trails where you're also allowed to set up a tent. One of the cool things to do in the National Park is picking up blueberries, raspberries and mushrooms! What is more, if hiking is not your favourite outdoor activity, go for cycling, climbing, horse-riding, grilling or fishing!
We decided to go for the blue marked path, called Haukankierros. It was a very nice hiking trail, full of blueberry plants, leading through the Finnish forest, with viewpoints over the lakes
and ponds. All together, with all the stops for taking photos and having meals, it took us about 3 hours. It is well worth it, if you have the chance to stop by!
To sum up our travel sights, we started our trip at the Helsinki Airport in Vantaa (A), then we drove all the way down to the starting point of our kayaking trip near Helsinki (B), afterwards we did a stopover in Porvoo (C), left our luggage at our Airbnb stay (D), soaked up the romantic sunset on the Pellinki island (E), stopped at Krakö (F) - spent the night at (D) and went for a bike tour nearby - the next day we finished one of our short breaks in Finland at Nuuksio National Park (G).
After our travel experience, we can definitely say, not only a long vacation stay but also short breaks in Finland are worthy! Choosing renting a car, kayaking, biking and hiking will make your short stay even more reasonable as you can see so much! What is more, we both agreed on it, the destination really has a lot to offer! The nature is still so untouched, it is not crowded with tourists yet and the landscape is different from any we've experienced so far. Most likely, the destination will appear on our travel list 2016 again, including trips to Lapland, Turku, Rauma and Pöri!
Check out the video about our short break to Finland!
Would you consider going to Finland on a short break? Please share your thoughts and travel highlights in the comments below!