Finland's most fascinating national parks
Finland is full of wonderful national parks. In the middle of beautiful fells and evergreen forests – not forgetting the clear waters – you can find unforgettable experiences in every season.
National parks offer numerous activities for sports enthusiasts, from camping and cycling to kayaking, skiing and snowshoeing. Alternatively, you can just enjoy the sensational scenery over a campfire coffee. Thinking about the things to do in Finland? We listed six memorable national parks to visit.
Pallas-Yllästunturi – Finland's oldest national park
The fresh landscape full of fells in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, located near Kittilä, enchants visitors all year round. Lapland's gorgeous nature, summer's nightless nights, autumn's magical fall colours and the northern lights of winter nights charm the visitor in every season.
Pallas-Yllästunturi is a true nature adventurer's treasury. The park's most popular route is the 55-kilometre-long Hetta-Pallas, which alternates between peaks and gorges of breathtaking fells.
You can also get unforgettable memories by day hikes as the park total a staggering 350 kilometres of hiking routes. In addition, the park has a ski track network of more than 500 kilometres and comprehensive and versatile mountain biking routes.
Wander to Taivaskero, Pallastunturi's highest peak, to see the impressive view that opens over the northern wilderness. In Pirunkuru, enjoy the clean fell breeze as you ascend along the rocks to the top of Kesätunturi, or try the easier route to Särkitunturi, where you can adore the full beauty of the Pallastunturi national landscape.
Did you know that in the park you can also admire the environmental art created by an international group of artists?
Urho Kekkonen National Park – Wilderness and reindeer herding tradition
To the south of Ivalo, you will find the Urho Kekkonen National Park – an enchanting arctic fell wilderness. In this park, you will discover astonishing natural attractions as well as cultural and historical sites: wide forested wilderness, clear-water fell ponds, steep gorges and the old settlements of the Skolt Sámi. In addition, in the southeast part of the park, in the middle of a pine forest and open swamps, rises the mythical Korvatunturi, the home of Santa Claus.
Visit the Raja-Jooseppi homestead, which is a nationally significant cultural history environment, and get to know the buildings of the fascinating courtyard and the abundant meadow. Walk along the dry boreal forest to the Ukselmapää fell, where you will face a remarkable view of the valleys and gorges bordering the fell and admire the crystal-clear ponds in Paratiisikuru.
In addition to hikers, the park also attracts skiers; the park has more than 200 kilometres of marked hiking trails and a ski track network. Urho Kekkonen National Park is also popular with kayakers and fishers.
The park's comprehensive services include three nature centres from which you can get guidance on the area, as well as numerous lean-to buildings, campfire sites, day huts, and six saunas open to everyone.
Oulanka – Sparkling rapids and mountains
In the Oulanka National Park, located in Kuusamo, you can admire Finland's most beautiful rapids and nature rich in species. If you are lucky enough, you can find a rare calypso orchid flower in the spring or spot the jumps of wild trout.
The park's most legendary route is the 82-kilometre-long Karhunkierros trail, in the scenery of which you can get to know rapids and waterfalls, suspension bridges and meadow barns. Good news for beginners – the Karhunkierros is also perfect for a first long hike. Moreover, there are many hiking trails suitable for day trips in Oulanka National Park.
You should consider visiting the scenery of the park by canoeing and rafting rapids. More experienced water explorers can head for the roar of the rapids on the route of the upper part of the Oulankajoki. The route in the lower part of the river is more suitable for families and beginner paddlers because there the noise of the rapids has changed to slowly flowing water.
Koli – Finland's national landscape
Koli National Park is located about two hours' drive east of Kuopio. These rocky fells and charming lake landscapes are the most famous in Finland, as they have inspired many well-known artists from Jean Sibelius to Eero Järnefelt. The many impressive viewpoints in the national park are the park's best asset. Don’t forget to bring a camera with you, as you'll want to return to these landscapes again and again.
In addition to stunning landscapes, Koli has about 80 kilometres of marked routes and nature trails for hiking for trekkers of all levels. The most iconic landscape opens up on the Huippujen kierros route starting from the heart of the national park, which covers the highest peaks of Koli: Ukko-Koli, Akka-Koli and Paha-Koli. Also, make sure to visit the Tarhapuro waterfall in the middle of a grove and the mystical Pirunkirkko cave.
In addition to hiking, Koli invites you to various activities. Paddle on Lake Pielinen or experience the astonishing mountainous landscapes on horseback. In winter, when Koli is covered in a blanket of snow, the snowscapes offer an excellent setting for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Repovesi – A blend of rock and lake landscapes
Compact Repovesi of only 15 square kilometres is located two and a half hours' drive from Helsinki. Repovesi is a beautiful mosaic made up of dozens of lakes and ponds, rock walls and primaeval forest. At this hiking destination, you will find numerous routes of different levels for visitors of all ages. In Repovesi, the high hills and rocky slopes challenge even the most experienced hiker.
The unique experience of the park is the 55-meter-long bridge of Lapinsalmi, at a height of 12 meters. Another place to admire magnificent views is Olhavanvuori Rock, which is bordered by a 50-meter vertical rock wall – a true rock climber's paradise. Pay attention, because in Repovesi, you can also meet the wilderness bird, the red-throated diver!
Nuuksio – A nature site within the capital region
Located just a stone's throw from Helsinki, Nuuksio National Park consists of the wilderness of the lake highlands. Primaeval forests, green meadows and numerous ponds serve as a home for plentiful species, from otters to rare flying squirrels.
Nuuksio is an ideal day trip destination, as the park's routes are versatile and vary between 1.5 and 17 kilometres. Some of the routes are also accessible. The park's most iconic view can be seen from the four-kilometre-long Haukankierros ring trail, where a beautiful forest landscape takes the walker towards the peak of the hill, from which a view opens over the Myllypuro valley.
In the forests of Nuuksio, you can also go cycling, horseback riding, canoeing and stand-up paddling. Get refreshed by swimming in the park's lakes or why not try lodjing, in other words, solving riddles, or geocaching!
In Nuuksio, visitors can also enjoy versatile services, which include fire and camping sites and cabins or even a nature boutique hotel Haltia Lake Lodge. At the Finnish Nature Center Haltia, you can get to know Finnish nature comprehensively through various exhibitions, guided tours and excursions.