5 Reasons Finland is Europe’s Best Kept Secret for Hiking and Cycling

Adventure Outdoor Activities Tourist Spots Travel By Kühl Editor

Finland is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets when it comes to hiking and cycling. Most international tourists visit in winter to hunt for the Northern Lights, or to enjoy winter activities like dog sledding, snowmobiling and reindeer safaris. In summer, tourism is largely domestic or from neighboring countries. Locals know it’s the perfect time to go hiking or cycling!

Thanks to the country’s northern location, summer days are very long. Even in southern Finland the sun doesn’t set until 11 pm, and darkness never fully sets in. There’s no need to worry about hiking in the dark!

Finland is also ideal for long-distance hikes or bike rides. In many Nordic countries, you have the right to cross public and private land for recreational purposes. That includes hiking, cycling and even camping in most locations, as long as you keep a reasonable distance from private homes.

In Finland, this is known as ‘Everyman’s Right.’ You can pick mushrooms and berries; fish with a rod and line; sail on waterways; and swim freely in the sea, lakes and other bodies of water.

A woman enjoying a swim in Nuuksio National Park in Finland.
Margherita takes the plunge in Nuuksio National Park

When hiking in national parks, you can also use government-maintained campsites and rest areas, often with toilets and free firewood. With more than 40 national parks, and even more protected areas, there are plenty of opportunities to go hiking or cycling in Finland. Here our 5 unique opportunities from all over the country!

1. Nuuksio National Park

A quick escape to Nuuksio National Park is popular amongst Helsinki residents. Only half an hour from the capital, this park offers plenty to see and do, including, hiking, cycling, kayaking, mushroom and berry picking, geocaching, horseback riding and more.

Wooden bowls filled with two different berries placed on a overgrown rock in Finland.
Berry picking in Nuuksio National Park

If cycling is your thing, you can easily cycle from Helsinki to Nuuksio. Head to Haltia Nature Centre, a visitor center providing info about Nuuksio and other national parks. There are permanent and temporary exhibitions, and you can pick up maps for most of Finland’s national parks. Afterwards, Nuuksio will be yours to discover. There are dozens of trails to choose from, and some are wheelchair accessible.

2. Archipelago Trail

Finland is famous for having the highest number of islands in Europe (and in the world, perhaps). The are close to 180,000 islands, including islands found in lakes. The densest concentration of islands (about 40,000) can be found in the Archipelago area, just off the southwestern coast of the country.

Established more than 20 years ago, the Archipelago Trail is one of Finland’s oldest cycling trails. The loop-shaped trail is 250 km long. Beginning in Turku, the trail hops from island to island via bridges or inter-island ferries to cover Kaarina, Pargas, Nagu, Korpo, Houtskär, Inio and Kustavi. The route follows winding back roads without much traffic, ideal for two-wheeled exploration!

One of the countless lakes on the Archipelago Trail in Finland.
Pass coastline and countless lakes on the Archipelago Trail

3. Karhunkierros Trail

Karhunkierros means ‘The Bear’s Trail.’ Covering some of the most scenic locations in Oulanka National Park, Karhunkierros is Finland’s most popular long-distance hiking trail. Bears do indeed live in the park’s boundaries, but sightings are very rare.

A lake and a forest in Lapland, Finland.
Autumn brings rich colors to Lapland, near Oulanka National Park

The 80-km trail can easily be hiked in 4 to 5 days. June-October is the best time to hike it, but hardy adventurers can conquer it in winter with snowshoes or cross-country skis.

4. Åland Islands

The Åland archipelago is part of Finland, but the main language spoken is Swedish and it’s located right between the two countries. If you have a knack for unusual destinations, don’t miss these islands. Summer weather is usually mild and sunny, and you’ll find far fewer people compared to mainland Finland.

The archipelago is ideal for cycling. Its unique pink roads (made with granite quarried on the islands) see very little traffic, and there aren’t many hills. A popular cycling route starts from the island of Jurmo, moves onto Lappo, and slowly hops from one island to another by bike or ferry, before arriving in Mariehamn, the archipelago’s capital.

5. Iron Curtain Trail

Serious cyclists should consider the Finnish section of the EuroVelo 13. Also known as the ‘Iron Curtain Trail,’ it runs close to the Eastern border with Russia. Approximately 1700 km long, the trail winds its way north to Näätämö on the Finnish-Norwegian border from the southern town of Virolahti.

The route crosses many natural points of interest, including Saimaa and its lakes (where it’s possible to look for the ringed seal), Oulanka National Park, and the Sami Museum in Inari. There’s no better way to discover the country in summer, if you have the time.

What to Pack

One of the reasons why Finland is such a great hiking and cycling destination is that it never gets excessively cold in summer. Having said that, layering is best as it can get cold, especially if you’re heading up north. Pack lightweight items that can easily fit in your backpack, like the KÜHL MØVA HOODY and LEA PULLOVER.

If camping is in your plans, you’ll need something heavier at night, as temperatures can dip below freezing even in summer. A warm, lightweight women’s jacket like the FIREFLY HOODY, layered with a flannel or fleece, should do the trick!


Margherita Ragg is a mountain junkie and co-creator of the adventure travel blog The Crowded Planet. Coffee, hiking and sleeping in are some of the things she loves best. Her husband, Nick, specializes in wildlife and landscape photography.

 

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Kühl Editor