Cycling holiday in Finland

4 minute read

Credits: Juho Kuva

Did you know that Finland is a great holiday destination for cyclists? Here's why.

Fresh unpolluted air, manageable and beautiful terrain, and thousands of kilometres of designated bike paths make Finland an ideal cycling country.

Whatever your preference, from fast road to gravel biking and from city tour to bike-packing, Finland offers two-wheel excursion options. The milder seasons of spring, summer and autumn are most popular for cycling, but winter biking, whether for practical transport or for leisure, is also feasible.

Credits: Juho Kuva

There is a vast network of designated cycling paths in cities

Finland is a nation known for fast car-driving sports, but Finns are increasingly enthusiastic about the sustainable two-wheeled transport option. Clearly designated cycling lanes in towns and cities increase the popularity and safety of this activity.

Helsinki leads the way in this respect, with over 1,500 kilometres of bike paths. The central Baana cycle and pedestrian track is a great example. Baana follows a former railway track from the Kansalaistori – the ‘citizen’s square’ –  on a crosstown short-cut to the new dockside suburb of Jätkäsaari. 

Elsewhere separate cycle paths and gravel roads criss-cross all the city’s parks and follow the coastline, so riders can take in fabulous sea and archipelago views while pedalling or stopping at cafes and ice cream kiosks along the way.

Credits : Harri Tarvainen
Credits: Tern Bicycles
Credits: Tern Bicycles

City bikes are widely available

From April to October, public rental bike-station schemes, such as the very popular Helsinki City Bikes, Tampere City Bikes, and the Mankeli eBikes in Lahti – a legacy of that city’s European Green Capital 2021 programme – make urban sightseeing hops an affordable and convenient alternative.

Credits: Mikko Huotari

Finland has the world's cleanest air and idyllic landscapes

Around Helsinki and across the rest of the country, fresh unpolluted air and manageable terrain make this an ideal cycling country. Finland is not known for big hills or mountains, so our roads are ideal also for beginners.

Once you’re out of town, try quieter asphalted back-road routes, as well as humbler gravel tracks, to avoid heavy traffic and pass through idyllic rural landscapes, dotted with red-barn farms, lakes and rivers.

Credits: Juho Kuva

Everyman's Rights give you the freedom to roam in nature

Thanks to the traditional Finnish code of Everyman’s Rights, anyone can enter the abundant forests and other wild spaces to forage for berries or mushrooms. You’ll share the wilderness with a unique community of wildlife, comprising commonly-sighted deer, elk, hares, reindeer (in the far north) and many kinds of birds, as well as very rarely spotted bears, wolves and wolverines. (Fear not: those last three creatures will run a mile at the mere sniff of a cyclist – in the opposite direction!)

Please keep in mind that the rights come with responsibilities. Respecting nature and wildlife is the most important thing. When cycling, always stay on marked routes and roads, especially in places like national parks.

Credits: Olli Oilinki

Lapland – hills, bike parks, Nightless Nights, Northern Lights and Arctic nature

At the height of summer, your cycling time is doubled above the Arctic Circle because the sun never sets. In the winter, you might catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights when the skies are clear.

Head above the Arctic Circle to the village of Inari, or the resorts of Saariselkä, Levi and Ylläs in Lapland to rent a fat bike with broad tyres – both the electric and non-electric variety – ideal for exploring the silent frozen landscapes and forests in winter, and rugged upland trails at other times.

In Lapland, you also find well-maintained bike parks, like the one in Ylläs. It is the biggest bike park in Finland with eight downhill routes and a gondola lift.

Coast and Archipelago – Baltic Sea, maritime towns, and famous bike routes

Finland has the world's largest archipelago and it's the home to some of the oldest and most famous cycling routes in the country.

One of the best known routes is the Archipelago Trail. The trail is a 250-kilometre circular route starting and ending in the city of Turku in southwest Finland. This Baltic island-hopping ride can also be negotiated in shorter sections but always involves riding along small roads and cycling paths through some of the world’s most beautiful, unspoilt archipelago scenery.

Along the way you'll cross scenic bridges and jump on and off ferries, most of which are free of charge. Accommodation along the way includes rustic farms and guesthouses, intimate hotels, cabins and well-appointed campsites. You can extend your adventure by crossing by ferry from the village of Korpo to the peaceful Åland Islands to explore yet more picturesque island scenery.

The Coastal Route links bike routes, ferries and even the Bengstskär lighthouse, taking in the spa town villas of Hanko and scenic wooden milieu of Ekenäs on the south coast.

The historic city of Turku is a great starting place of the Archipelago Trail.
Credits : Timo Oksanen
Traditional, red wooden buildings dot the way along the Coast and Archipelago.
Credits: Juho Kuva
The Åland Islands are a popular cycling destination for Finns and visitors alike.
Credits: Visit Åland, Rebecka Eriksson

Lakeland - blue waters, saunas, cottages, and traditional Finnish food

Lakeland is all about fresh, blue water. There are about 188,000 lakes in Finland, so it’s almost impossible to avoid water even if you wanted to, which means there’s always somewhere to take a refreshing dip. Lakeland is also known for its many saunas and cottages – perfect places to rest on a cycling holiday. Cities and towns around this vast area are filled with marketplaces, cafés, and restaurants where you'll find traditional Finnish delicacies, like karjalanpiirakka.

Some of the most famous cycling routes Lakeland include the Puumala Archipelago (70km) and Saimaa Archipelago (156km) routes that are biking loops through the stunning Saimaa lake district in eastern Finland, linked by ferries and causeways. 

Credits : Juho Kuva
Credits: Julia Kivelä

Cycling races and events

There are also options for more competitive cyclists and organised events for specialists, such as MTB, gravel and road riders. You'll find events that take place under the Midnight Sun, in the autumn during "ruska" (fall foliage), bikepacking overnighters, gravel races, long-distance races, and even ultra competitions.

Information about these events and everything else to do with cycling in Finland, including trail grades, rental and services, is available from the Finnish Center for Cycling Tourism at Bikeland.fi.  And kindly remember that Finnish law – and common sense – recommends wearing a helmet when cycling anywhere in Finland.

See also

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