Finland family vacation map & highlights

Finland’s long winters are no barrier to travel. Active winter breaks to Lapland of four days and longer are possible using direct flights or domestic connections up from Helsinki. Once here, travel under your own steam, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, or using husky power. Activities for young children are kept to a manageable length – think a 5km husky drive or an hour’s snowshoeing, rather than all day. In summer, self drive vacations are a flexi option, on excellent, quiet roads. Pick a vacation planned specifically for families where drive times are shortish, with plenty of fun stop offs.

1. Helsinki

The capital Helsinki sits on a peninsula in the Gulf of Finland. Its Art Nouveau architecture is well preserved, and the city has a laidback feel, especially in summer when Finns head outdoors to soak up the sun. Families are well catered for, with trams and ferries to ride, excellent museums and the island fortress of Suomenlinna, plus kids under six travel free on public transport.
Hossa National Park

2. Hossa National Park

A popular destination in summer for families, Hossa has gentle kayaking on pretty lakes and rivers, plenty of easy, short hikes and bike rides along well marked trails, plus the prehistoric Värikallio rock paintings. Stay in lakeside accommodation with the obligatory sauna, visit nearby Hossa Reindeer Park and try lasso throwing and from here, you can head towards the Russian border for bear watching.

3. Kumho

Kumho is a great base for discovering Finland’s wildlife en famille. Visit Petola Visitor Centre to learn about the local bear, wolf, lynx and wolverine, then head into the Wild Taiga to track and spot bears, canoe rivers in search of beavers and hang with huskies, grooming and even massaging them! Everyone can muck in with conservation work, too, building bird boxes, hides and husky kennels.
Lake Inari

4. Lake Inari

Finland’s third largest lake is the center of Sámi culture, home to the Siida Sámi Museum and the Sámi parliament. In winter, active families can cross country ski or snow shoe through silent forests, with the chance to see nature’s greatest light show – this region is famously good for the Aurora. Nearby, the isolated herding village of Menesjärvi is a peaceful base for family breaks.

5. Luosto

This little village, in the middle of Lapland, is a popular base for winter vacations, with husky safaris, reindeer sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing on the doorstep. Kids will love digging for gems at the local amethyst mine and in summer, nearby Pyhä-Luosto National Park is ideal for exploring on foot, discovering sacred Sámi sites and pretty picnic spots.
Oulanka National Park

6. Oulanka National Park

Oulanka is known for its 80km Karhunkierros hiking trail, but junior hikers can easily tackle its shorter walks, looking out for wildlife and birds. Rivers plunge through the pine forests and teens will love rafting here. In winter, snowshoe or husky sled through the snowy landscape, eyes peeled for the Northern Lights. The winter activity hubs of Ruka and Kuusamo lie just to the south.

7. Oulu

Northern Finland’s biggest city, Oulu has lots to appeal to families, from its museums and cafes, to its numerous parks, including Mannerheim and Hupisaaret Islands. Teens will appreciate the free WiFi in the city center and the Air Guitar World Championships held each August. In summer, start a circular self drive vacation here, heading east through the Wild Taiga, up to the Arctic Circle and back.
Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

8. Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

Powered by tasty Lappish food and reportedly the cleanest air in Europe, children will love the wilderness fun on offer at Pallas-Yllästunturi. On the border between north and south, this is one of Finland’s largest and oldest parks. Its 1,000km2 of boreal forest, high fells and hiking trails are a treat in summer; in winter, husky safaris and cross country ski lessons are on the activity menu.

9. Rovaniemi

The capital of Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi is just 5km south of the Arctic Circle. This lively university city is the departure point for winter activities and Northern Lights tours and it’s also the home of Father Christmas, who welcomes visitors year round. Once the kids have seen Santa, check out Arktikum, a science center and museum with exhibitions on Finnish Lapland’s culture and history.

10. Torassieppi

Torassieppi sits on the edge of the Pallas Yllästunturi National Park. A reindeer farm was established here in 1847 and it’s now the place to learn about these special creatures and their role in everyday Lappish life. Kids can try lassoing or take a reindeer sleigh safari, while lunch in the ice restaurant at the Winter Village is – ahem – pretty cool.
Travel Team
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Sample itineraries

Winter activity small group vacation (7 days): fly to Kittilä > Jeris > husky safari and Northern Lights > cross country skiing and snowshoeing > Torassieppi winter village and reindeer farm > ice fishing and snowmobile safari > free day
Family summer self drive vacation (9 days): Oulu > Vuokatti (Angry Birds Activity Park) > Kuhmo > Hossa National Park > Rovaniemi > Oulu
Husky safari, for children aged 12 upwards (5 days): fly to Ivalo > three nights in wilderness hotel > two day husky safari > one night in wilderness cabin > Inari

Sample travel times

Helsinki – Oulu: 9.5 hours by road
Oulu – Rovaniemi: 2.5 hours by road
Helsinki – Rovaniemi: 13.5 hours by road
Rovaniemi airport – Luosto: 90 minutes by road
Kittilä airport – Jeris: 45 minutes by road
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: Visit Lakeland] [reindeer sleigh: Timo Newton-Syms ] [Helsinki: Henri Sivonen] [Hossa National Park: Saruwine] [Kuhmo bear: iphoto] [Lake Inari: Richard Mortel] [Luosto: Ray Garcia ] [Oulu: Honza Soukup] [Oulanka National Park - Lake summer : Heather Sunderland ] [Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park - huksy rides : Thomas Hubauer ] [Rovaniemi: iphoto] [Torassieppi - reindeers : Heather Sunderland ] [OR Sample travel times - snowy long road : flightlog ] [Livaari: Guillaume Baviere]