Tips for hiking and walking in Finland

4 minute read

Credits: Aku Pöllänen

Find your inner happiness on a hike

When it comes to experiencing the natural wonders of Finland, few activities can rival the joy and excitement of going for a walk or a hike. Finland's over 40 national parks provide a diverse array of marked trails offering opportunities for short and accessible routes for everyone, invigorating day hikes, and even unforgettable overnight backpacking trips. Both locals and visitors alike are drawn to the allure of Finland's great outdoors, making hiking and walking not just a pastime, but a sustainable way of life.

Credits: Harri Tarvainen

Where to start?

The best place to start is to think about what kind of walking or hiking you would like to do.

Local parks and recreational areas for day-trips in and around cities can easily be found in map applications, like Google Maps (in Finnish, "puisto" is park, "metsä" is forest, and "luontopolku" is a nature path).

For longer hikes, we recommend heading to a nearby national park. Whether you're a seasoned trekker or a casual stroller, Finland's national parks have something for everyone. The network of trails, as showcased on sites like nationalparks.fi, let you explore the wilderness at your own pace. There are national parks in each of the four regions of Finland: Lakeland, Coast and Archipelago, Lapland, and two in the Helsinki region.

Around the country, you'll also find well-kept national hiking and wilderness areas, and local forests with trails.

Credits: Julia Kivelä

What kind of trail should I choose?

Consider the duration first: do you prefer a brief one- or two-hour hike, a memorable overnight excursion, or an extended week-long adventure? For instance, embarking on a hike in Lapland requires you to factor in travel time alone, especially if your journey starts from Helsinki.

Another thing to consider is your experience level. Are you a seasoned hiker or just getting started? In general, hiking in Finland is easy because there are no tall mountains or very demanding trails. Weather conditions, however, are something to do consider always – especially in the winter.

Trails in Finnish national parks are rated from easy to demanding. Before your hike, check the rating of your chosen trail. Coloured signposts on marked routes will help in not getting lost. The most popular trails in Finland include Karhunkierros in Kuusamo, Hetta-Pallas Trail in Western Lapland, and Pyhä-Luosto Trail in Central Lapland.

If you're looking for accessible trails, visit nationalparks.fi.

Credits: Petri Jauhiainen

When is the best time to hike in Finland?

Each season in Finland has its own charm and appeals to different preferences. The best time for you to go hiking depends on the kind of experience you want, whether it's enjoying the midnight sun in the summer, witnessing the autumn foliage ("ruska" in Finnish), embracing the magical but rigorous winter conditions of Finland, or witnessing the transition from winter to spring.

Traditionally, Finns themselves have enjoyed longer hiking trips during the autumn foliage season, especially in Lapland. The best time to see the "ruska" in Northern Finland is typically in September and October. This is also when the northern lights season begins!

It's advisable to check trail conditions, weather forecasts, and local guidelines before planning your hiking adventure, even in the summer as the conditions may change quickly.

Credits : Hotel Punkaharju / Visit Saimaa
The northern lights season in Finland begins in the autumn when the nights start getting darker.
Credits: Markus Kiili

Where to rest on a hike?

When embarking on a hike in Finland, there are several options for resting and taking a break along the way:

Rest areas: Many well-maintained hiking trails have designated rest areas with benches, shelters, and picnic tables. These areas provide a perfect place to pause, enjoy a snack, and take in the scenery.

Huts and shelters: Finland is known for its network of wilderness huts and lean-to shelters ("laavu"). The most common form of freely accessible huts is the open wilderness hut. These huts are designed for a single-night stay. Additional types of open include day trip huts, intended solely for daytime use, as well as open turf huts and campfire huts, which offer suitable locations to pause and rest during the day. There are also reservable wilderness huts available for a fee.

Visitor centres: Many national parks and hiking areas have visitor centres where you can take a break, get more information about the trails, and interact with fellow hikers. You'll often find a café or a restaurant there as well.

Your own gear: Carry a lightweight and portable camping chair, hammock, or mat in your backpack. This way, you can create your resting spot wherever you find a picturesque location. For a longer hike, a tent is recommended. If the weather changes and it'll begin to rain, your own tent will provide cover no matter where you are.

Remember to always follow the Everyman's Right and Leave No Trace principles, respecting the environment and leaving the rest areas as you found them.

Everyman's Right in Finland

Everyman's Right, known as "jokaisenoikeus" in Finnish, grants people the freedom to access and enjoy nature in Finland. This unique legal concept found across the Nordic countries allows individuals to roam, hike, camp, and pick wild berries and mushrooms on most uncultivated land.

However, it comes with responsibilities, such as respecting the environment, private property, and adhering to specific rules in protected areas.

Read more about Everyman's Right at nationalparks.fi.

Credits: Julia Kivelä

Unique hiking and walking destinations in Finland

Looking for places outside of national parks to visit for hiking and walking? Here are some of our other, unique suggestions:

Pilgrimage at St. Olav Waterway

One of the ways do a long walk is a pilgrimage. St. Olav Waterway is part of St. Olav Ways, a networks of pilgrim paths to Trondheim in Norway and a certified Cultural Route of The Council of Europe. The sea route begins in Finland’s former capital, Turku, and passes through historically interesting areas in the archipelago of Finland and Åland.

Longest outdoor stairs in Finland at Tahko

Stair running and walking has become one of the most popular ways of exercise in Finland. Tahko, a Sustainable Travel Finland labelled destination near Kuopio in Eastern Finland, has the longest outdoor stairs in the country. There are 1054 steps from the bottom to the top of Tahko Mountain!

Finland's most famous canyon at Kevo Nature Reserve

The Kevo Canyon is a spectacular natural formation located in Lapland near Utsjoki. It is renowned for its stunning landscapes, deep ravine, and the Kevo River that flows through it. The Kevo Canyon is considered one of the most impressive and significant canyons in Finland. Hiking is in this areas is permitted annually between June 15 and October 10 on marked trails.

World's northernmost point where three countries meet in Lapland

The world's northernmost point where the borders of three countries – Finland, Sweden and Norway – meet is located in Kilpisjärvi. During summers, you can hike through the Malla Nature Reserve to reach the Three-country cairn, making the total round-trip just over 20 kilometres. In winters, you can either ski across the frozen lake or take the route through the Malla Nature Reserve to reach the cairn.

Hiking and walking products

Here's a selection of hiking and walking products and service providers from different parts of Finland.

Oravi

Autumn colours in Linnansaari National Park and a night in Oravi village

1 day

See also

Camping in Finland

Camping in Finland is easy and safe. Choose from 41 national parks, over 200 hundred official campsites and countless other nature sites to start your exploration!