Finland is full of amazing weekend break destinations: cities, national parks, lakes, fells and much more. Sometimes you just need new ideas. We've got you! We've compiled a list of 10 destinations that have all the options you need. If you'd rather travel in the south, you can choose from Turku, Tampere, Porvoo and the gorgeous Repovesi National Park. From Central and Northern Finland, we're introducing Neristan of Kokkola and 5 amazing nature destinations. You can explore each of them in a weekend, although in some destinations that's only enough for a little taster. The bigger the destination, the better you need to plan your trip to get the most out of it.

    All the destinations we're introducing can be reached by car and public transport. You can take a bus to all of them and some even have an airport nearby. Flying will make the journey a lot quicker. For example you can get from Helsinki to Luosto, Central Lapland, in just a few hours!

    1

    Turku

    Aurajoki River, sights and diverse selection of restaurants

    The oldest city in Finland, Turku offers the Aurajoki River, iconic views and a varied selections of restaurants and events. The river runs through the city, and on its shores you'll find the handsome cathedral, hilly parks, the medieval Turku Castle and lots of atmospheric restaurants and bars. In the summer you can also eat and drink in one of the river boats, some of which are open very late. Turku is a cultural city full of museums, art and events, and it's also the gateway to the wonderful archipelago. From the Aurajoki River you can get to Ruissalo, Airisto and the historic Seili easily by water bus. You can also get to Ruissalo with a city bus, so you can visit there any time of the year. If you're travelling with kids, don't forget Moomin World in Naantali, right next to Turku.

    You can get to Turku from elsewhere in Finland easily by train or bus. The stations are a walking distance from the city centre. There are hotels for example at the shore of Aurajoki River, next to the Market Square and in the Kupittaa neighbourhood.

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    2

    Kuusamo

    Relax in Ruka and Oulanka National Park (Oulangan kansallispuisto)

    Kuusamo is located near the eastern border of Finland. It's a true nature lover's paradise, where you can ski, relax and hike under the northern lights. The nature in the area is exceptionally stunning: fells, canyon lakes and virgin forests. The easiest way to explore it is in Oulanka National Park, where you can also find the most popular wilderness hike in Finland: the 7.5-mile-long Pieni Karhunkierros Trail. Then there's Ruka for many activities. In the winter it offers some of the best ski slopes and ski tracks in the country; in the summer you can enjoy for example mountain biking, fishing and sledding down a hill.

    Due to great transport connections you can get to Kuusamo for the weekend as well. Coming from the south the best destination is the Kuusamo airport, where you can continue onwards with a rental car, taxi or bus. As long as you plan the weekend well, you'll have time to experience all kinds of things. In the winter you can admire the northern lights in Kuusamo; in the summer they are replaced by the midnight sun.

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    3

    Lake Inarijärvi

    See and experience the arctic lake scenery and the gorgeous small islands

    Lake Inarijärvi in Northern Lapland offers stunning views, a tranquili environment, and graveyards and places of sacrifice for the Sámi people. Depending on the time of year, you can explore the lake by foot, snowmobile, kayak or boat. Great places to start are for example central Inari, Partakko or the Veskoniemi harbour. The must-see sights are Hautuumaasaari, Ukonsaari and Korkia-Maura ice cave, all related to the Sámi culture. The lake is huge, so in a weekend you only get to see a small part of it. Despite that the experience will be very rewarding, because the views and nature are absolutely stunning. Many people also come here to fish. And they get a lot of it – salmon, trout, Arctic char and much more.

    If you're coming from Southern Finland, the easiest way to get to Lake Inarijärvi is via Ivalo airport. From there you can continue to the lake from Ivalo by following the river with the same name. You can ask about gear and tips from for example the Ivalo-Inari Tourist Information.

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    4

    Tampere

    Beautiful and diverse centre of Pirkanmaa

    Surrounded by lakes, Tampere has a lot of great sights to see, a good selection of restaurants and the historic Tammerkoski Rapids. The most popular places to see in the city are the factory milieu on the shore of Tammerkoski, Särkänniemi amusement park, Näsinneula observation tower and the museums in the centre. When the weather is nice you can also head out for a swim or a picnic, for example to small Viikinsaari Island. When it's cold out, you might want to explore the Finlayson factory area right in the city centre; nowadays there are for example cafés, shops and a cinema in the area. On the other side of Tammerkoski there's also the Museum Centre Vapriikki that has exhibits about the history of the city. The centre of Tampere is split on both sides of the rapid, and all you need can be found nearby.

    It's easy to get to Tampere by car, bus or train. The best option depends on where you're coming from. The good thing about public transport is that the bus and train stations are right in the city centre.

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    5

    Porvoo

    See and experience idyllic Old Porvoo

    East of Helsinki, Porvoo is a gorgeous historic town that's perfect for a weekend trip. The heart of the city is the wooden part of town built in the 18th and 19th centuries called Old Porvoo; there you can find beautiful architecture, cafés, shops and the Porvoo Museum. For many the highlight of Old Porvoo are the cobblestone alleys surrounding the wooden house blocks – you can really feel the romance of olden days there. For families with kids there's for example the fascinating toy and doll museum, mini golf and a climbing centre. You can also rent a canoe and paddle upwards in the Porvoonjoki River or all the way to the sea. If you're looking for nature nearby, a great option is the Varlaxludden recreation area that offers stunning sea views.

    The centre of Porvoo is very compact, so you don't need a car in the city. If you're coming from elsewhere in Finland, it's easiest to take a bus. In the summer there's also the museum train that goes from Kerava to Porvoo, which is the only train that goes there.

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    6

    Luosto

    Versatile fell destination near Rovaniemi

    If you want a weekend getaway in Lapland, consider the versatile Luosto. This fell destination is only 1.5 hours from Rovaniemi airport by bus, and it offers everything you could expect from a holiday in Lapland. In the winter you can spend your days downhill or cross-country skiing, or in the big Pyhä-Luosto National Park, and the evenings in your cabin, at the restaurant or in the warmth of the spa. In the summer and autumn they offer mountain biking trails, a disc golf court and of course the midnight sun or the glorious colours of the autumn. Once it gets dark in the evening, Luosto is also a perfect place to admire the northern lights. There are some sights available all year round: one to keep in mind is the Lampivaara Amethyst Mine.

    What makes Luosto a great weekend destination is its location. A bus straight from Rovaniemi airport means you can get to Luosto in a few hours, so you'll have enough time to relax, too. If you want to spend more time there, you should visit Pyhätunturi on the south-east side of Luosto. Its greatest sight is the unique Isokuru.

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    7

    Repovesi National Park (Repoveden kansallispuisto)

    Experience the magic of forests in Mäntyharju

    Repovesi National Park is located in Mäntyharju, north of Kouvola. It's the biggest connected forest area in south-eastern Finland and a true hiker's paradise. There are over 25 miles' worth of hiking trails and plenty of sights, like the suspension bridge in Lapinsalmi, the timber rafting channels in Kuutinlahti and the Olhanvuori Mountain loved by climbers. Along the wilderness trails there are big bogs and forests, and plenty of lakes. The terrain is hilly, so reserve a good amount of time for a hike. The shortest trails are only a few miles long, but if you'd like a bit of challenge, there's also the 14-mile-long Kaakkurinkierros Trail. There are a lot of bodies of water in the park, so you can also paddle there, and in the summer there's even a water bus.

    The easiest way to reach Repovesi National Park is by car. Buses run all year round to Lapinsalmi, south of the park. The nearest train stations are in Kouvola and Mäntyharju.

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    8

    Wild Taiga

    Versatile hiking and culture destination in Kuhmo

    Wild Taiga is an area covering Kuhmo and Suomussalmi north-east of Kajaani, where you'll find plenty of options for camping, culture and other activities. From spring to autumn you can hike, cycle, paddle and admire the apex predators here, and in the winter you can try dog sleigh rides, snowmobile safaris and swimming in rapids. If you're looking for culture, there's the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, the Christmas-y Kalevala Village and the fascinating Juminkeko Culture Centre. In the summer there's also the Sommelo Festival that specialises in folk music. The prettiest nature destinations of Wild Taiga are the big Hossa National Park (Hossan kansallispuisto) and the huge Friendship Nature Reserve (Ystävyyden luonnonsuojelualue) that stretches all the way to Russia. Both are great for day trips, too. You can find restaurants and other services in Kuhmo and Suomussalmi.

    You can get to Wild Taiga from elsewhere in Finland easily by car, train or bus. The nearest train station is in Kajaani; by bus you can go all the way to Kuhmo or Suomussalmi. If you're leaving from Southern Finland, you might also consider a Helsinki–Kajaani flight.

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    9

    Lake Keitele

    Trips in water and gorgeous lake views

    Lake Keitele is located north of Jyväskylä. On the shores of this 53-mile-long lake you'll find idyllic cities, stunning views and plenty of nature. You can explore the lake on a rental boat or from the shore, for example by bike. The views are amazing all the way through – Finnish Lakeland at its best! There are lots of sights in the area: you should check out the rock wall east of Viitasaari, the rock steps called Karoliinanportaat, Laulavan Mörön polku Nature Trail that starts near Äänekoski, Hiltonhauta gorge and the Keltele Museum in Suolahti. There are also a lot of tiny islands in Lake Keitele, some of which can be reached by kayak. In the summer you can also get to Lake Keitele with cruises leaving from Jyväskylä. If you arrive by car, the best starting points are Äänekoski and Viitasaari.

    If you use public transport, the easiest way to Keitele is via Jyväskylä. It's a great transport hub with bus, train and flight connections, and you can go the rest of the way to Keitele by bus or boat. Before travelling it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the area well, because it's hard to see it all in one trip.

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    10

    Neristan

    Charming and idyllic wooden houses in Kokkola

    Kokkola Old Town, also known as Neristan, is one of the most well-preserved historic wooden house areas. The oldest buildings are from the 1600s and the newest from the end of the 1800s. Neristan is easy to explore by foot. There are also a few cafés in the area, so you can stop for a snack or refreshments. You can get to know the atmosphere of the houses for example in Laivurintalo on Läntinen Kirkkokatu or Villa Pormestari on Pormestarinkatu. Don't forget Kieppi, Kokkola Museum of Natural History south of Neristan, and the K. H. Renlund Art Museum. If you stay in Kokkola for a bit longer, you should consider a trip to Tankari Island where they have a lighthouse with the same name, a small seal hunting museum and a café, among other things.

    You can get to Kokkola easily by car or public transport. The quickest connection is via Kokkola-Pietarsaari airport on the south side of the city; there's a regular flight connection there from Helsinki-Vantaa airport. The centre of Kokkola is easily walkable.

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    photo by Mikkoau (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

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