Travelling to Utö by car and boat from Helsinki takes just as long as flying to New York from Helsinki, even though the distance is a mere fraction of a trip to the United States. Yet many Finns prefer to visit the island of Utö, especially during the winter or in the spring and autumn to watch the migration of the birds.
Koli in northern Karelia is Finland’s most well-known national landscape. Imagine the blue (white in winter) of Lake Pielisjärvi, speckled with its many islands and the rocky summit of the Ukko-Koli Mountain soaring above you. This is surrounded by beautiful hills covered with tall candle-shaped spruce trees. Over 100 years ago, Finnish artists and nature enthusiasts, such as classical composer Jean Sibelius, writer Juhani Aho and painter Eero Järnefelt, began elevating Koli’s status as an important national landscape.
Finnish nature photographer Tea Karvinen shares her list of Finland’s ten most beautiful landscapes.
Full of interesting contrasts, such as the four seasons, the Midnight Sun and winter darkness, urban and rural, East and West.
From the highest peak in the Pyhä mountains, the sky was a beautiful shade of pink one December afternoon. The last rays of light hit the peak of the Luosto Mountain 25 kilometres away. The fog descended into the valley and made the scenery dreamlike, almost like a painting. The snow-covered birch trees created the frames of the photographs.
I had spent a weekend in November in Åland and now it was time to go home. I hopped on board a ship in Mariehamn and began the 5-6 hour trip towards Turku. In the afternoon around 4 pm, I went out on deck and watched the scenery of the Baltic Sea as we floated by. Windmills of a rugged yellow stood against the background of the sky on the rocky islets.
Utö island in the Finnish archipelago
The island of Utö is the southernmost inhabited island in Finland. The free ferry takes five hours to reach this small island in the Baltic Sea. Utö is popular in both the winter, when it is freezing cold, and during the migration time of the birds in the spring and autumn. The photo of the ice and movement of the waves near the shore was taken late in the afternoon on a cold January day.
The rocky island is just over one square kilometre in size and only about 50 people live there all year round – the number triples during the summer. After the Finnish Armed Forces vacated the island in 2005, their premises were taken over by locals that are now rented out as accommodation for tourists.
Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park
It was still quiet at the top of the Ylläs ski resort on a Sunday morning in the middle of February, when this amazing view from the top of Ylläs Mountain appeared. Looking towards to the national park that begins just at the base of the mountain, you could see the Pallas Mountains in the distance, already bathed in bright sunlight. Right in front of me was the Kellostapuli Mountain, with the Kesänki Mountain behind it, and the mist just floated along the valley.
This is a view from Koli in northern Karelia, famous for its tree-covered hill scenery. This particular hill is called the Mäkrävaara and in the distance is Ukko-Koli, the highest peak, soaring 253 metres above Lake Pielisjärvi. The famous painting “Autumn Landscape of Lake Pielisjärvi” by Finnish painter Eero Järnefelt captured this scenery back in 1899, so a friend and I climbed up to witness this amazing view ourselves one September afternoon.
Oulanka National Park
Oulanka National Park in Kuusamo, one of the most popular Finnish national parks, is known for its impressive rapids and falls. The most well-known are the Kiutaköngäs rapids in the Oulanka River, as well as the Myllykoski and the Jyrävä falls in the Kitka River. I use a slow shutter speed when photographing rapids to bring out their natural beauty. I am most taken with the glowing white beauty of the ice and snow. This photo of the Myllykoski rapids was taken in January 2012 (at 2 pm).
The village of Saramo
It was 6 pm at the beginning of October. I was driving from Kuusamo towards the tree-covered hills of Koli in northern Karelia. During the day, I had hiked for five hours at Hiidenportti National Park. As I drove along the small roads towards the south, I spotted a big field with a lake behind it. The lovely autumn landscape was reflected on the surface of the lake, so I walked to the shore to capture this vision lit by the last rays of the sun.
Riisitunturi National Park
It was about midday and the temperature was about minus 30°C as I parked my car in Riisitunturi National Park, which is less than a couple of kilometres from the summit (466 metres). At the top of the hill, it was much warmer and a lovely sunset illuminated the idyllic winter scenery. The snow-covered trees of Riisitunturi in mid-winter are known among nature photographers worldwide.
Repovesi National Park
I was walking through Repovesi National Park one July afternoon. I had taken a tent and some provisions with me, since I was planning to spend the night there. In the evening, I ended up by the Olhava cliffs. I climbed up to admire the spectacular view when I noticed movement along the rock wall: climbers were making their way up the near-perpendicular rock face, 50 metres above the lake surface. It must be an amazing feeling!
At Kilpisjärvi, there is a popular tourist attraction where the borders of Finland, Sweden and Norway meet. Not far from there is Saana Mountain. If you go further up to the north you will find Halti Mountain, which, at 1,324 metres, is Finland’s highest point. One August, I had the privilege of photographing the blue iridescence of Kilpisjärvi Lake from a helicopter.
In a country where people move en masse to the countryside in the summer and where forest coverage is 75%, it's no wonder ecological tourism has taken off so rapidly and steadily. Old farms are opening their doors to visitors from all over the world and their organic food can be gobbled or just nibbled while watching sheep pasturing in a green meadow.