Backpacking in Finland
Backpacking in Finland offers addiction potezial, so you want to travel the country again and again. In addition to open-minded Finns, there are dreamlike landscapes that will fascinate you. Finland – that is an incomparable archipelago coast, an endless patchwork of forests and water, wide moors, an indescribable tundra and bright summer nights as well as winter snow areas.
To reduce the land only to this is simply too bad. On the border between East and West there is a special way of life that alternates between tradition and modernity as well as politically and socially. The 338,145 sqm large country has almost 5.4 million inhabitants. The cultural diversity and lively art and music scene can be experienced at the many festivals where you can enjoy Finnish specialities and first-class hard rock.
The capital of Finland is Helsinki with 635,181 inhabitants. Besides the capital there are other cities like the student city Oulu and Rovaniemi, countless smaller cities and villages that you should visit on your backpacker trip. They are located in an indescribable landscape. Finland has gentle hills, rugged and round rocks and 187,888 lakes. It is not for nothing that Finland is called the “land of 1000 lakes”. There is a unique infrastructure that makes life and travel by sea, land and air work very well.
There are fantastic relics from the country’s history to admire, which belong to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will find Gothic wooden churches, the historic old town of Ruma or the coastal bastion of Suomenlinna. A total of six cultural sites and one natural monument are waiting to be discovered by you. Finland is not a cheap travel destination, so you’ll have to invest more in backpacking yourself.
Finland is one of the countries with a cold temperate climate. In summer you will experience temperatures above 30°C. In winter it gets really cold in the whole country. Temperatures around minus 40°C in the north and minus 25°C are not uncommon. To provide you with money, there are ATMs available almost everywhere. Common credit cards are accepted everywhere.
Talking to the Finns in their national language is problematic. Finnish belongs to the Finno-urgical branch of the Uralic language family and is very difficult to learn. Both Finnish and Swedish are used as official languages. But the Finns have a very good command of English, so that you can communicate very well with English even in the villages.
You won’t starve to death either. Besides the big well-known fast food chains and kebab stalls you will find markets with food stalls everywhere where you can taste local delicacies.
Culture in Finland
You don’t need to be afraid of a backpacker trip to Finland. Apart from an occasional national impact, customs and traditions are very European. The Finn as such is very liberal. Therefore, the danger of stepping into one or the other of the fat cups is very low. The rules of etiquette are also quite relaxed. Only after a longer period of time one acquires a good or bad reputation. In the end, it is all about the overall behaviour and not about occasional misconduct. Therefore, a single social mishap does not immediately degenerate into a state catastrophe that damages a good reputation.
In Finland, words are important because they convey a message. That is why the choice of words is very carefully considered. Finns therefore tend to be rather taciturn in order to avoid smaltalk. In a conversation you should therefore think carefully. Because what you say should be better than silence. If not, you shouldn’t say anything.
Finns have a very strong national feeling, which is rooted in the history of the country. They are proud of sporting successes, warriors who feel glorious and top technological achievements. But since they are also realists, they don’t expect you to know the personalities and history of yesterday and today in backpacking.
Equality is written with capital letters in Finland. The relationship between the sexes is shaped by this to a high degree. Particularly striking is the high number of women in Finland who hold senior political and other positions in society.
When greeting someone, it is customary to shake hands and look the other person in the eye. A bow is a sign of special respect. Hugs are very rare, as is kissing as a greeting. The Finnish sauna has an old and long tradition. It can therefore be found everywhere and is a central part of social life in Finland. It can be found in apartments and small houses. If you have the opportunity, you should definitely take part in a sauna session.
More backpacking information about Finland
Finland is not one of the top countries for backpackers. It is certainly not due to the cultural and adventure offer. Rather, it is the high cost of living and the prices that will deter you from backpacking in Finland. You can spare your wallet if you are planning a longer trip. During the peak travel season, prices are guaranteed to rise again, especially in the area of accommodation.
Moderately to well, you’ll have to cope with 50 to 80 euros a day to discover interesting highlights. In any case, make use of the savings offers on the transport and travel pages on the Internet and avoid tourist highlights in high season. In Finland you will find a wide variety of cultural and adventure offers that you can experience on foot, by bike, by bus and by train. Thick forests, unique lakes, moorlands, the tundra, hilly landscapes and beautiful cities can be discovered. Depending on the season, you will not only need weatherproof clothing, but also clothes that will keep you warm.
Since Finland has never been a cheap travel destination, you have to increase your basic budget considerably. Even travelling in Finland is not cheap. Finland has a good cuisine and offers some culinary delicacies that you should try. There’s even good beer and various schnapps to keep you warm from the inside.
As a German citizen you don’t need to apply for a visa for your backpacker adventures in Finland. But make sure that your identity documents are still valid. What else you need to know about Finland can be found under Visa & Vaccinations.
The backpacker budget for your Finland trip has to be a bit higher, because life is not cheap. With a minimum rate of 50 Euro per day you can already manage. So plan on spending more money to be on the safe side. You can save money if you use carpooling opportunities in addition to the classic options.
Hitchhiking is also very popular, especially if you want to go to a place where there will still be trains. Train journeys are cheaper with an Interrail Finland Pass. With a taxi you are very expensive in Finland. The basic prices are between 5,90 Euro and 9 Euro. You pay 1,50 Euro for the driven kilometer.
Reduced day tickets are available for buses, trams and underground trains in larger cities. The prices for an overnight stay are the same as in Germany. Cheaper accommodation is available in huts outside the season. Depending on the season, camping is a cheap alternative. In Finland even wild camping is possible because it gives everyone the right to camp. So you can pitch your tent for free at breathtaking places and enjoy the uniqueness.
Bus travel in Finland
Driving a bus in Finland is a lot of fun if you choose the bus company Onnibus. Translated Onni means luck, and that’s what you get with some busticks, which you can get for 1 Euro. For a distance of 600 kilometres between Helsinki and Oulu you can get tickets from 10 Euro. This is especially interesting if you want to cover longer distances. The buses are well equipped, which makes travelling a pleasant experience.
Domestic fares in Finland
At Norwegian Air you can get flights at low prices at your backpacker trip. So you can enjoy a flight from Helsinki to Lapland to the Santa city of Rovaniemi. You can get it for 39,00 Euro.
Take the train in Finland
You can choose between Intercity, Expess trains, night trains and the Finnish high-speed train Pendolino. The latter will take you to Jyväskylä, Kuopio or Joensuu. They travel at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour and stop only at a few stations. The train tickets are very expensive. Other trains are cheaper, where you can choose between first and second class. The easiest way to book train tickets is online with the Finnish railway VR. You will receive it by e-mail as a PDF file and only need to print it out.
Cycling in Finland
The bicycle is a great means of transport in the larger cities and also quite cheap. You also found a bike rental for backpacking through Finland very quickly. Cycling is fun because the country is flat and equipped with many cycle paths. They sometimes lie off the beaten track and lead through unique nature. The daily rent for a bicycle is 10 Euro. For one week you pay only 40 Euro. In comparison to a bus ride, which costs about 3 Euro, you are much cheaper with a bicycle.
On your backpacker trip in Finland you get a lot of flexibility. So you can look forward to exciting nature experiences, outdoor activities, relaxation, recreation and an exciting nightlife. On your journey through the country you won’t meet many people. Unless you are staying in different, bigger cities.
Experiencing nature up close is possible in Finland. It is so varied and radiates a very special romance. Finland offers you many uniqueness. There are animal road signs, ancient steamships, fairytale forests, bizarre hills, breathtaking northern lights and dreamy lakes that will enchant you with their very own fascination. Which highlights should you not miss on your backpacker trip?
Route 1: The classic (15-20 days)
- 3 days to explore Helsinki, the design capital of the country.
- 3 days to discover Turku, the cultural capital and visit museums and the old castle.
- 3 days exploring Tampere and the two lakes with their unique landscape.
- 2 day in Rauma to wander through the historic, medieval old town.
- 3 days Tyränto in the nature of the lake area immerse.
- 1 day visit the winter sports resort of Lathi and visit the ski jump.
- 2 days enjoying the flair of the picturesque town of Porvoo.
- 3 days in Nuukiso National Park to explore lakes, forests and rugged rocks.
Route 2: Backpacker Intensive Trip (up to 30 days and more)
- 4 days to explore Helsinki, the design capital of the country.
- 3 days to discover Turku, the cultural capital and visit museums and the old castle.
- 3 days Hämeenlinna experience Finnish architecture and discover surrounding lakes.
- 2 days Kuopio swimming, rowing, fishing and relaxing.
- 2 days to experience Kuopio and the island of Pikisaari.
- 3 days in Oulu to immerse yourself in the student city and visit the Jätkänkynttilä bridge.
- 2 day discover Rovaniemi and visit the Artikum museum.
- 2 day Luosto to be enchanted by nature.
- 3 days exploring Kuusamo landscape, rafting and hiking at the Karhunierros.
- 3 days Koli, dive into the most pristine area of Finland.
- 1 day to visit Valamo Monastery in Heinävesi.
- 1 day visiting Savonlinna, the defiant castle and the Saimaa ships.
- 2 days exploring Mikkeli. Museum tour is on the agenda.
Travel times in Finland
Finland has a cold temperate climate. In the summer months there are even temperatures above 30°C, while in the south and west it is rather moderately warm. During the winter months the temperature in the whole country falls below freezing point. Occasionally there are low temperatures down to minus 40°C in the north. The lowest temperatures in the south are minus 25°C. The reason for the low temperatures are the polar nights lasting several weeks, during which the sun does not rise above the horizon and the country lies in the dark.
From June to October there is the most precipitation. In southern Finland, 600 to 700 ml per square metre are collected. In the north and northeast the amount of precipitation is lower. A special climatic feature are the Aland Islands, which spoil you with 1900 hours of sunshine.
The optimal travel time for Finland is from June to August. Winter sports enthusiasts get their money’s worth from January to March. Weatherproof and warm clothing should be in your luggage so that you are prepared for all eventualities.
Since Finland is not a cheap travel destination, you will have to dig deeper into your pockets for accommodation during your backpacker trip. However, you can choose from a wide range of accommodation options. From a 5-star luxury accommodation to a secluded cabin by the lake, there are many other options. For a 4 star luxury hostel you will quickly pay 200 Euros or more for an overnight stay. However, you enjoy a lot of luxury.
A lonely cottage or holiday home can also be worthwhile, especially if you want to stay longer in one place to explore the surroundings. Otherwise, look for cheap hotels, which are also available in Finland. Hostel accommodation is certainly a more economical alternative than hotels. According to Hostelworld, the average prices in Finland in a hostel are as follows:
- Helsinki 35 Euro
- Turku 40 Euro
- Kotka 45 Euro
- Tampere 34 Euro
- Akaslompolo 28 Euro
For an accommodation in a Bed & Breakfast you have to calculate a bit more. Couchsurfing is an inexpensive option. You will also get to know many unique and entertaining people who can tell you a lot about the region. They often also have great insider tips for excursions that are really worthwhile. In addition to the increasingly commercial couchsurfing, Trustroots offers you a great platform when you travel the country as a hitchhiker.
Motels on exit roads and motorways
Motels also offer you a bed to sleep in. But the prices are similar to those in hotels. It’s difficult to spend the night cheaply in order not to strain your budget too much. For a room in a motel you pay 53 Euro at best. There are no upper limits. The accommodations are located at entry and exit roads of the cities or at highways.
Camping in Finland
Besides Couchsurfing camping is probably the cheapest way to spend the night. You will be offered undreamt-of possibilities. Because there is the Everyman’s Right in Finland. This ancient right allows you to pitch your tent almost anywhere in nature where you like it. This also means that you have to be considerate and bear a great responsibility. For the landscape should retain its uniqueness and not be polluted by your dirt. Therefore the places are to be left as you found them.
In national parks, the right of public access is limited. If you don’t want to spend the night in the great outdoors and prefer to use a campsite, you are well served in Finland. Throughout the country there are a number of well-equipped campsites that are beautifully laid out. As there are camping cabins on many sites, you don’t even need to bring a tent with you. They are inexpensive to have. However, the prices increase significantly in the summer months.
In Finland special travel impressions await you. Besides culture and history the country offers unique nature. In Southern Finland and the archipelago of the archipelago you will find an idyll of a special kind. You can immerse yourself in history in the various museums. But also in the nature there are historical places to admire and to marvel at.
The rock piles on Sammallahdenmäki Hill are historic burial sites and show you religious burial rituals and customs from the Nordic Bronze Age. Most of all, you’ll discover it when you’re on the tourist routes. It doesn’t matter whether you start from Oulu or Helsinki. In your search for the Northern Lights, your backpacker trick will take you as far north as Finland, where you have the best chances. Take a little more time for such a trip to observe the dance of the northern lights and experience the uniqueness.
Backpacker Highlights in Finland
The coastal bastion Suomenlinna off Helsinki is a special highlight. It was built on seven rocky islands to better protect Finland from Russia and Sweden. There are numerous buildings and garrison buildings from long ago to admire. Another highlight is Oulu, the student city in the north with its colourful hustle and bustle. Through the many young people, a great party metropolis has developed. One of the compulsory dates is the annual air guitar world championship.
You can experience untouched nature in almost 40 national parks spread all over the country. The Lemmenjoki National Park, with a size of almost 3000 square kilometres, is located in the far north of Finland at the border to Norway. For the most part you will find untouched, unspoilt nature, ideal for trekking tours. You will meet moose, reindeer, many brown bears and eagles. You can explore the national park on foot or from the rivers.
A highlight in Finland is the Finnish sauna, which you shouldn’t miss. For Finns, taking a sauna is a ritual that is part of life. A special attraction is the feeling when your body is whipped with a tassel of soft birch twigs in the hot, steamy sauna. The subsequent cooling in a cold lake rounds off the experience in a special way.
Backpacker insider tips in Finland
A real historical jewel in the southwestern region of Satakunta is the old town of Rauma, where you can walk through medieval lanes along well-preserved buildings. In addition to idyllic wooden houses, the Old Town boasts the old Church of the Holy Cross with its medieval paintings. In addition to small shops and artists’ studios, there are cosy restaurants and cafés to linger in.
The old church of Petäjävesi is an insider tip of the Nordic timber construction tradition. It is situated on an isthmus between Jämsänvesi Lake and Petäjävesi Lake. The Gothic, Renaissance and Finnish wooden elements that merge in this church are impressive. The interior has been preserved in its original state.
Going out is very expensive in Finland. On your backpacker trip you can hardly get a warm meal in a restaurant for less than 12 Euros. In order to save money, you should take provisions for the day with you in the morning. You can shop cheaply at Lidl, where you can also get lots of local products.
If you want to eat in a restaurant, you’ll often come across buffet food. Finns love buffets! Non-alcoholic drinks such as water are always free with a meal. You don’t have to worry about tips because they are already included in the price. A dinner in a hotel is already available for 16 Euro. This is a reasonable price for regional food and local drinks that you won’t get anywhere else.
The Finns have a passion for good food and are true connoisseurs. Culinary they have always remained true to their roots, so that many local foods are processed into delicious dishes. Freshly caught fish, home-picked berries and seasonal products tastefully round off the local delicacies.
Food in Finland
There are a number of Finnish specialities that you will not be able to avoid and that you must try. Karjalanpiirakka or Karelian Piroggen comes from the landscape of Karelia in eastern Finland. Traditionally they are made from rye flour and filled with potatoes, carrots or rice. They are particularly delicious when covered with egg butter. The larger varieties filled with fish are called Kalakukko. The herring like fish Muikku is used for the fish filling.
A Finnish summer is not complete without Grillimakkara. The thick, large sausages are fried on the grill and eaten with mustard. A delicious beer completes the delicious meal perfectly. Rapu or Kraftskiva are a highlight of Finnish cuisine. The small freshwater crayfish are considered a gourmet delight. This is why such a meal is not simply eaten, but celebrated.
Drinking in Finland
The Finns like to drink a lot. Above all on weekends alcohol is drunk. Today, wine and beer are the main drinks instead of high-proof drinks. The reputation that precedes the Finns is much more cultivated. When schnapps is served, there is always ordinary mineral water, sometimes even beer.
A traditional drink on 1 May is Sima. It consists of brown and white sugar, water, lemon, yeast and possibly beet syrup. The fermentation control is produced by raisins. Sima has a very low alcohol content. Kotikalja, a local beer, belongs to every celebration. It is a mixture of malt, yeast and sugar and has a low alcohol content. You should definitely try it.
Kahvi (coffee) is drunk a lot in Finland, preferably with milk and sugar. If you’re asked if you’d rather have oikea kerma (real cream) in your coffee instead of Kerma (cream), it’s not about dairy products, but about high-proof products, for which the term oikea kerma is used as an alias.
You don’t need a visa for your backpacker trip through Finland. Nevertheless you should have valid identification documents. The entry regulations according to the Foreign Office are as follows:
- Passport: Yes
- Provisional passport: Yes
- Identity card: Yes
- Temporary identity card: Yes
- Passport for children: Yes, with photograph
Also you should always keep an eye on the entry regulations to Finland, because every now and then it can come to short-term changes.
Medical advice & vaccinations for Finland
When backpacking in Finland you don’t have to reckon with tropical and unusual diseases. Make sure that your standard vaccinations of the Robert Koch Institute are up to date. Finland is up to date in the medical field, so you can get very good medical care if you need it.