Living in Finland

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Recreation and travel in nature

The Finnish nature is diverse. Hiking and other recreation in nature is enjoyable and safe when you choose routes that suit your fitness and skill level, and when you observe the necessary guidelines and regulations.

Finland goes through four decidedly different seasons. Depending on the season and region, you can engage in different types of recreation.

More information about Finnish seasons is available on the InfoFinland page Finnish Climate.

Hiking and trekking

Hiking and trekking are hobbies that are suitable for all seasons. If you have no prior experience, you should begin with short and easy routes located close to residential areas. You can embark on short hiking trips without any special equipment. However, you should bring along something to drink, a phone and a map. It is advisable to start off with hiking on marked trails. Hiking and trekking maps are sold in bookshops and online. Longer hiking trips and treks require more planning and preparation.

Aurora

Finland is one of the best places in the world for spotting northern lights (aurora borealis). Most often you can see them in the skies of Northern Lapland between September and March. Sometimes auroras also appear in Southern Finland. A clear and dark night away from the lights of population centres provides the optimal conditions for sightings. Remember to dress warmly as the night is often cold. In summer, the nights are too bright for viewing auroras.

linkkiFinnish Meteorological Institute:
AuroraFinnish | English

Skiing

Cross-country skiing is one of the most popular winter sports in Finland. It is a healthy and very inexpensive form of exercise. Information on skiing lessons, equipment rentals and ski trails is available, for example, on the website of the Finnish Central Association for Recreational Sports and Outdoor Activities, Suomen Latu ry, in Finnish.

linkkiSuomen Latu ry:
Information on cross-country skiingFinnish

Recreation and Travel on Water

Finns travel on water quite frequently. Particularly for shorter distances, the transport of choice is often a rowboat or small motorboat. Paddling and sailing are also popular activities in Finland. Safety is extremely important when travelling on water. Pay attention to weather forecasts, and always use a life jacket of the correct size.

Recreation and Travel on Ice

In winter, the majority of the Finnish water areas is covered in ice. The activities you can engage in on ice include walking, skating, skiing and ice fishing. Especially thick ice is also strong enough for cars and snowmobiles. There are always risks involved in travelling or spending time on ice, and safety is an important concern.

Important reminders for safety on ice:

  • When water freezes into ice, the ice is not sufficiently strong right away.
  • Ice hardness can vary even within short distances.
  • In the spring, ice strength is extremely difficult to estimate, which is why it is wise to stay off the ice.
  • Ice picks are the most important tool to have with you when travelling on ice. Without them, it is very difficult to get out of the water if you fall through the ice.
  • If you are not sure about the ice strength, do not go on ice.

Fishing

With a few exceptions, angling and ice fishing are covered by the everyman’s rights, so they do not require a fishing permit. For other types of fishing and crayfishing, a permit is needed:

  1. State fishing management fee (valtion kalastuksenhoitomaksu)
  2. Provincial lure fishing fee (läänikohtainen viehekalastusmaksu)

The provincial lure fishing fee is personal, and it must be paid before fishing. The fee can be paid for the entire calendar year or for seven days at a time.

linkkiMetsähallitus:
Information on fishing permitsFinnish | Swedish | English

Everyman’s rights

Everyman’s rights (jokamiehen oikeudet) are an integral part of Finnish culture and legislation.

Everyman’s rights in brief

You may:

  • walk, ski or cycle freely in nature, except in yard areas and in such fields, meadows or plantations that could easily be damaged
  • stay temporarily in areas where roaming is allowed – you can, for example, set up camp relatively freely as long as you maintain a sufficient distance from people’s homes
  • pick berries, mushrooms and flowers
  • angle and ice fish
  • boat, swim or wash yourself in water systems and travel on ice

You may not:

  • disturb or cause harm to others
  • disturb or cause damage to birds’ nests or their young
  • disturb reindeer or game animals
  • cut down or damage living trees
  • collect dried or fallen wood, twigs, moss or similar on someone else’s property without permission
  • light open fires on other people’s property, except in an emergency
  • disturb the privacy of people’s homes by camping too close or by making too much noise
  • leave litter
  • drive motor vehicles off road without the landowner’s permission
  • fish or hunt without the relevant permits

linkkiMinistry of the Environment:
Brochure on everyman's rightsFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian

linkkiMetsähallitus:
Hiking and campingFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiRetkikartta.fi:
Online hiking mapsFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiMetsähallitus:
Wilderness licencesFinnish | Swedish

National Parks and Conservation Areas

There are 35 national parks in Finland. A national park is a large conservation area spanning over 1,000 hectares. The primary function of national parks is to secure natural diversity, but they are also sights accessible to everyone.

The beautiful landscapes of the national parks are excellent travel destinations. In the largest parks, it is possible to stay overnight and embark on longer treks. National parks often include nature centres, which are maintained by the state-owned enterprise Metsähallitus and which provide up-to-date information on the local environment and travelling safely in it. It is a good idea to start your visit there.

The national parks are maintained by Metsähallitus.

linkkiRetkikartta.fi:
Online hiking mapsFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiOutdoors.fi:
Finnish national parksFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian | Chinese

linkkiFinterest:
Leisure destinations on a mapFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian | Estonian | French | Spanish | Turkish | Chinese | Persian | Arabic | German | Vietnamese | Portuguese | Polish | Dutch | Japanese | Italian | Icelandic

Metsähallitus: The Magic of Northern Nature