Cities In Finland

Best cities in Finland: Finnish cities to visit this year

The best cities in Finland are the perfect way to start your Finnish adventure. Finnish cities are packed full of things to do and see, from beautiful lakes and forests to stunning stores and cafes.

Like many regions throughout Scandinavia, Finland is a place of amazing natural beauty. However, it’s also overflowing with culture, history, and heritage. For the average visitor, deciding where to get started with your adventure isn’t always easy.

Whether you’re looking for trendy boutique shops, picturesque waterways, old wooden buildings, or historic centers, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in Finland. Today, we’re going to be looking at some of the best Finnish cities to help you start planning your trip.

Cities In Finland

1. Helsinki

Located in the Baltic, Helsinki is easily the top of the list for the most famous cities in Finland. This incredible destination has everything you could want from a city break, with tons of amazing architecture highlighting the country’s rich heritage.

Whether you’re interested in modernism, traditional wooden buildings, or something else entirely, Helsinki has you covered.

Helsinki’s boulevards are packed full of shops, boutiques, and galleries, which show off innovative and creative designs in furniture, fashion, and more. If you want to stay on the cutting edge of your favorite creative scene, Helsinki can help.

Nature is everywhere in Helsinki, and you can sail around the nearby islands if you feel like getting on a boat too, so there’s no shortage of things to explore. The beaches and forests are beautiful in all seasons — so you can enjoy them any time of year.

Find places to stay or things to do in Helsinki.

Cities In Finland

2. Espoo

Just a little way from the wonders of the capital city, Espoo is a fantastic location in the Uusimaa region of Finland. Situated on the northern shore of the Finnish roadmap, the Espoo region is a true delight for visitors.

This is a place packed full of natural beauty, with a Finnish nature center so you can check out some engaging activities too.

There are some amazing shopping centers, flea markets, and atmospheric bars throughout Espoo. The main attraction is probably the Museum of Modern art, where you can find a massive collection of artworks from the 20th century and beyond.

The sizeable student population in Espoo also helps the city to maintain a youthful and playful vibe.

Espoo has a range of phenomenal restaurants to check out, as well as ice skating and skiing locations. With so much to do and see, you’ll be happy spending more than a couple of days here.

Find places to stay in Espoo.

Cities In Finland

3. Vantaa

One of the best cities in Finland, and also among the biggest, Vantaa is an extremely historical city and municipality in Finland, part of the inner core of the Finnish capital region. The city dates back to the stone age, but if you’re expecting to see a lot of historical architecture and streets, you might be surprised.

Today, the location is best known as a large industrial center.

Vantaa is packed full of shopping centers to check out if you’re looking to spend some money. However, there’s still some greenery to enjoy around the Keravanjoki River. While it’s somewhat short on attractions, Vantaa has a lot of people passing through it on a regular basis.

The Vantaa city is also home to the Helsinki-Vantaa national airport, making it an excellent gateway to the rest of the country too. You can also take a tour of the city if you have a few hours between flights.

There’s also the fantastic “Heureka” science center here, with its brilliant interactive exhibits.

Find places to stay in Vantaa.

Cities In Finland

4. Tampere

The second largest urban area, and the third most populous municipality in Finland, Tampere is situated in the south of Finland and has two huge lakes bordering it. Sitting between Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi, Tampere certainly has a lot to offer in terms of beautiful sights and scenery.

There’s a range of museums to check out too, like the Natural History Museum, and an exhibition about the 1918 civil war.

Tampere Cathedral is known for its macabre frescoes, while the Kaleva church is combines striking concrete design with a unique overhead view. This picturesque location even has its own rapids running through the middle of town, and various leafy streets leading onto a multitude of parks.

Once an industrial hub, the various old buildings in Tampere have been repurposed, and cinemas, museums, galleries, and more are now replacing the manufacturing businesses that once sat here. Sculptures are dotted all around the town for an extra taste of art.

Find things to do or places to stay in Tampere.

Cities In Finland

5. Oulu

Located in central Finland, Oulu is positioned where the Bay of Bothnia and the Oulujoki river meet. The waterfront square is home to various food stalls, and beautiful places to simply sit back and relax. There’s also the famous Toripollisi, a policeman statue.

This wealthy city actually spreads across various islands, connected by small bridges which cross various waterways.

The Tietomaa Science center is a must-visit destination in the region, home to a large cinema screen for 3D films. There’s also the Oulu Museum of Art, which showcases a variety of regional works. The Northern Ostrobothnia Museum chronical the cultural history of the city too.

If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, it’s probably best to avoid visiting in Summer, as Finns generally rush into the city to make the most of the sun. For anyone thinking of moving to Finland for their education, however, it’s definitely worth checking out the technology university.

Find places to stay in Oulu.

Cities In Finland

6. Turku

Interestingly, Turku used to be the capital of Finland before Helsinki took over. This city in the Southwest coast is best-known for its history and was first established in the 13th century.

The beautiful Turku castle is a great destination to visit whenever you can. This medieval fortress has its own history museum, perched at the mouth of the river.

This charming destination is packed full of things to do and see, with so much amazing space to explore. There’s a former trade hub in the form of the Old Great Square, which is a great place to visit if you like a little architecture.

There’s also the Turku Cathedral, where you can explore a royal tomb and a museum.

The ancient history of the town is a fantastic contrast with the youthful vibe settling into the landscape. Currently, Turku is home to a pretty large selection of students. As such, you can expect to find a lot of clubs, bars, and restaurants on your adventure.

There’s also the Aoraki river that runs through the middle of the city center.

Find things to do or places to stay in Turku.

Cities In Finland

7. Jyväskylä

Positioned around 150km North-east of Tampere, the third largest city in Finland, Jyväskylä is a surprisingly modern and unique city in the Finnish region. Incredible urban culture and architecture blend with Lakeland nature and a selection of four national parks.

There are thousands of events held here every year, and it’s home to the most Alvar Aalto architecture in the world.

If you’re looking for the ultimate combination of UNESCO world heritage sites and urban experiences, you can’t go wrong with Jyväskylä. This place is home to countless places where you can hike and explore with no problem.

The region also happens to be the ultimate place to go if you’re looking for Finnish sauna culture. There are dozens of high-class saunas to check out throughout the town, making it one of the best cities in Finland for relaxation.

Find places to stay in Jyväskylä.

Cities In Finland

8. Lahti

Lahti is a city and municipality in Finland, and the capital region of Päijänne Tavastia. The traditional sports city is a must-visit destination for a lot of active people. Interestingly, Lahti is home to Lake Vesijärvi, the most southern body of water in Finland.

This heart of the Lakeland Finland water supply leads to Lake Päijänne which provides drinking water for around 1 million Finns.

Lahti’s iconic landmarks include three ski jumps, and two radio towers. There are tons of lake views and urban nature retreats to check out wherever you go. Visitors are welcome to discover fantastic Finnish architecture in this region, or just spend a few moments sitting in a local artisan breweries.

Make sure you take some time exploring the Salpausselkä ridges from Lahti if you have chance and access to a good rental car.

Find places to stay in Lahti.

Cities In Finland

9. Kuopio

Located on the shores of Lake Kallavesi, the sprawling waterways and forests of Kuopio make it a delight to visit, and it really comes to life during the warmer months of the year too. There are several great museums and restaurants in the town, and the largest smoke sauna in the world too.

With tons of places to explore, Kuopio will keep you very busy when you’re exploring Finland. A great time to visit is in June, when a fantastic festival of dance is ongoing throughout the country.

There are tons of amazing outdoor activities on offer during this time, and you can even take a cruise on the waters of the lake or go hiking in the forests.

The Kuopio Finnish city is one of the most populous in the region, but it’s not cluttered for travelers who want a bit of peace and quiet.

Find places to stay in Kuopio.

Cities In Finland
Credit: Kallerna

10. Pori

Pori is best known for the international jazz music festival first established in the Finnish city during 1966. Today, Pori Jazz isn’t just one of the biggest jazz festivals in the country, it’s also one of the biggest in Europe.

The location is home to a wonderful local beach with a wide selection of sand dunes, making it a great place for both people and dogs.

The Reposaari island is a beautiful and historic destination given to the town of Pori by Sweden’s John III. The harbor of this island was once very busy, particularly when shipping tar during the 18th century. Nowadays about a thousand people are living there.

If you’re looking for something offering a mixture of history and modernity to explore, the Kallo Lighthouse is a beautiful destination. The lighthouse dates back to the 19th century and sits on a rocky island about 20 km from the Pori city.

Find places to stay in Pori.

Cities In Finland

11. Kouvola

One of the top Finnish cities to visit, Kouvola has a ton of things to do and see for the average adventurer. If you’re looking to soak up some phenomenal Finnish art and architecture, make sure you visit places like the Verla world heritage site.

Tykkimaki amusement park is nearby for the kids, with a number of fantastic rides to explore, and there’s a model railroad museum too. For a touch of retail therapy, you can check out the Veturi shopping mall, or brush up on radio history at the radio museum.

For lovers of nature, we definitely recommend taking a walk through the Niivermaki nature conversation area, which is packed full of sensational hiking trails. You’re sure to spot some amazing wildlife around here.

Find places to stay in Kouvola.

Cities In Finland

12. Joensuu

A compelling destination and one of the most famous cities in Finland, Joensuu sits next to the Pielis River. This university town is full of youthful energy, so it’s great for younger travelers. The region gets a lot of snow during the winter season (up to a meter deep), so make sure you’re prepared for some really cold weather.

If you’re feeling particularly brave, there are a number of places by the river where you can test some ice swimming — but make sure you don’t do this without the support and guidance of a professional.

Due to heavy bombing during the second world war, much of Joensuu’s original beauty was destroyed. Today, however, there’s a far more modern appearance to the city, making it ideal for those who want a more urban experience in Finland.

Find places to stay in Joensuu.

Cities In Finland

13. Lappeenranta

One of the things making Scandinavia and Finland so impressive is the approach the region takes to environmental protection. Lappeenranta is an excellent example of this, known as one of the greenest cities in Europe. The European Green Leaf 2021 Award winner offers exciting experiences and attractive destinations to visit year-round.

We’d definitely recommend taking a trip to Lappeenranta during the winter months if you can — particularly around Christmas, when the city lights up with festive cheer. Of course, you can definitely enjoy the city elsewhere in the year too, thanks to its wide selection of spa and sauna options, and the stunning lake Saimaa.

Lappeenranta is ideal for more relaxing vacations, with beautiful harbor-side cafes and terraces to stroll across. Russia is also located very close-by, so you can expect to enjoy a mixture of amazing cultures when you’re here.

Find places to stay in Lappeenranta.

Cities In Finland

14. Rovaniemi

If there was ever a perfect destination to visit around Christmas time, it’s definitely Rovaniemi. The official “hometown of Santa Claus”, Rovaniemi is one of the most famous cities in Finland. This location, situated nearby the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland, and home to Santa Claus.

It’s a popular tourist destination, though the basic and functional buildings aren’t the most beautiful year-round.

The most exciting part of Rovaniemi is the Santa Claus village, and its amazing rural surroundings. You can even take trips from here to the arctic circle, where you can potentially spot the Northern Lights. Sleigh rides and dog trekking are common activities here. Plus, you can find a handful of igloo and frozen hotels too.

We’d definitely advise signing up to some tours so you can discover the wonders of the arctic circle for yourself. Don’t forget to wrap up warm when you’re here, though.

Find things to do and places to stay in Rovaniemi.

Cities In Finland
Credit: Jaakko Virtanen

15. Hameenlinna

A city and municipality in Finland, Hameenlinna is one of the oldest inland cities in Finland. It was also one of the most important Finnish cities until the 19th century. Today, it continues to stand as a beautiful and historical destination to visit.

Nature is always nearby at Hameenlinna, with popular hiking areas like the Aulanko and Ahvenisto trails. There’s a sports and outdoor center, built for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, and you can also check out one of the largest forested areas in Southern Finland too.

Travelers in the Evo hiking area will have around 8,5000 hectares of land to explore.

One place definitely worth visiting while you’re here is Iitalla village, which is otherwise known as the village of design, crafts, and art. There are tons of great local creations to explore in this region.

Find places to stay in Hameenlinna.

Cities In Finland

16. Vaasa

Vaasa is situated just across the Gulf of Bothnia, close to Sweden. It’s actually named after Swedish royalty, and has quite a significant Swedish population, despite being a region in Finland. The location was once ruled by the Russians, and unfortunately had to rebuild the Old Town after it was destroyed by a fire.

There are three universities in Vaasa, making it quite the active student location. There are lots of bars and restaurants — ideal for catering to thirsty students, and tons of places to brush up your education with lively art and culture scenes too. You’ll even find a number of fantastic museums here.

The Kvarken archipelago nearby is wonderful to explore, and you can also visit the Vaasa car and motor museum if you’re interested in beautiful engines. Definitely head over to the Onkilahti playground if you have kids.

Find places to stay in Vaasa.

Cities In Finland

17. Savonlinna

Often referred to as the “pearl” of lake Saimaa, Savonlinna is an eye-catching and lively Finnish city in the East of the country. The destination sits on the Russian border, across a number of small and stunning islands.

The beautifully picturesque region is a delight to visit, particularly during the summer months when you might want to spend more time out on a boat.

The 15th century Olavinlinna castle is probably one of the most significant attractions in the city. The location hosts an amazing Opera festival each year too. When you’re not soaking up amazing music, you can spend your days relaxing by the cafes at the harbor or checking out the market square.

This amazing region comes with a selection of fantastic cruises to explore, as well as rental cabins, so you can get back to nature for as long as you like.

Find places to stay in Savonlinna.

Cities In Finland

18. Rauma

The unforgettable Rauma is one of the best towns in Finland. Founded all the way back in 1442, Rauma is in western Finland, and it’s one of the oldest towns in the country. Best-known for a unique regional dialect, and preserved wooden buildings, Rauma is packed with unique history and heritage.

The old wooden center in the delightful Old Town is one of the largest in the Nordic region.

Rauma was formerly a trading center, and this is definitely easy to see, with plenty of amazing architecture to explore, and an important port region. Renowned for it’s lacemaking, Rauma also has a lively festival once per year.

At times, you can hear a local dialect in this region known as Rauman Gial, which highlights some of the amazing history of this space. With tons of little islands and regions to explore, there’s no shortage of things to do here.

Find places to stay in Rauma.

19. Porvoo

Easily among the most picturesque locations in Finland, Porvoo is the second oldest city in the country. 

Though relatively small compared to other Finnish cities and towns, Porvoo is packed with charm and charisma. This location is only around 50km from the city centre of Helsinki, so it takes no time to visit from the capital either. 

Take a stroll along the Porvoo River to see the beautiful selection of brightly-colored houses sitting by the water. Alternatively, spend your day soaking up the culture or history of the incredible old town, with houses which look like they were plucked from a story book.

If you’re looking for a way to get around, why not rent a green bicycle, or grab a kayak to explore the region by water?

Learn more about Porvoo here.

Find things to do and places to stay in Porvoo.

The best cities in Finland

The best cities to visit in Finland for your adventure will depend largely on you. There are tons of amazing cities in Finland to consider, ranging all the way from Rauma to Helsinki.

You can also find some fantastic must-see destinations on the map we haven’t mentioned here. For instance, Kokkola, Mikkeli, Lovisa, and many others attract visitors all year round.

Remember, when planning your tour of cities in Finland, check the weather in advance. Many of the locations mentioned above can be pretty cold during the winter. Some destinations also become increasingly difficult to visit during certain seasons, due to local holidaymakers.

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