Huge sweeping landscapes, ancient forests, deep lakes, gushing rivers and snow-coated peaks make the outdoors in Finland utterly magical and completely unforgettable. The Finnish national parks are a haven for nature-lovers and visitors who want to experience life in the rugged wilderness of Europe. Located close to the Arctic Circle, the parks are home to an extensive array of wildlife who live among the snowy plains and crystal clear streams.
Bears and rare birds that are not found elsewhere call the parks home. Visitors to many of the parks are attracted by the remote settings in order to experience the awesome spectacle that is the northern lights. Their remote location makes the national parks close to the Arctic Circle perfect for catching a glimpse of the colorful lights dancing in the night sky.
The parks are free to the public and very popular with locals who like to spend time in nature – hiking through the hills, canoeing over rapids or camping out under the stars. The diverse and stunningly beautiful Finnish landscape comes alive within the boundaries of the many different parks.
The Finnish even believe that Urho Kekkonen National Park is home to Father Christmas himself. The majestic, awe-inspiring landscapes of Finland are hard to deny, so here is a selection of the most beautiful national parks that Finland has to offer.
Map of National Parks in Finland
10. Pallas-Yllastunturi National Park
This national park is not only stunningly beautiful, but also located in the magical area of Lapland, where Arctic fells provide the perfect setting to view the northern lights. Treks along the tree-covered hills offer panoramic views across the landscape that, in winter months, almost look as though you are inside a Christmas card.
The pure alpine air is incredibly fresh and crisp, and the snow-coated grounds are ideal for cross-country skiing. Trek from hilltop to hilltop and spend the night in the warmth and comfort of the park’s wilderness lodges. Visitor centers can help guide you to the best spots for aurora-viewing.
On a clear night, Pallas-yllästunturi is one of the best places in the country to see the illuminations. An overnight stay also brings increased chances of spotting the wildlife that calls the area home – including bears!
9. Nuuksio National Park
Like an image from an old storybook, Nuuksio is a slice of scenic serenity that is classically Finnish. In easy reach of the Finnish capital, Helsinki, the wilds of the park attract many day-trippers wanting to escape city life and spend time among the beauty of the forests and lakes. In winter, Nuuksio is blanketed in thick snow falls, which is more than inviting for keen skiers and winter hiking enthusiasts.
Less of a remote wilderness than other national parks in the country, the park’s lakes are popular with groups of people. In the warmer months visitors enjoy spending time by the water’s edge sunbathing and sharing picnics. Camping is also popular in the summer, and is a fantastic chance to experience the wildlife that lives here. Nuuksio is home to the Siberian flying squirrel and wood larks, which are threatened species, so make sure to keep an eye out for them if you visit.
8. Repovesi National Park
Just a few hours north of Helsinki is Repovesi National Park, a pristine landscape that has successfully recovered from years of logging. The park is now a haven for the animals that live among the pine and birch trees thriving here.
Streams and lakes flow steadily through Repovesi and provide drinking water for the abundance of wildlife, including deer and bears, who live in the park’s boundaries. The lakes and rivers provide the perfect spot for keen hikers and climbers, but for a less strenuous activity, take some time out on the observation decks, or go for a stroll along the suspension bridge.
7. Hossa National Park
Labelled Europe’s most unspoiled wilderness, visiting Hossa is almost like stepping back in time. The magnificence of the landscape is completely captivating – crystal clear lakes, pine forests and a wealth of wildlife make it a truly special destination.
The park was shaped by the last ice age, and with three waterways and 130 ponds, the area is ideal for activities such as rock-climbing and canoeing. Many ancient rock paintings have been found in Hossa, dating back thousands of years – the images depict bears that can still be spotted in the park today.
The park is easily accessible with well-maintained cycling and walking trails ideal for families with small children.
6. Archipelago National Park
The massive expanse of the Archipelago National Park is rich in biodiversity and traditional Finnish culture. The area of the park covers islands and the mainland, where many villages are home to local residents.
The archipelago consists of more islands than any other in the world, and its windswept and rocky isles and islets sit alongside farmland and meadows. There are ferries that run between the islands, shuttling residents and visitors to their destinations all year round.
A big draw to the national park is watersports; many people come to canoe around the arresting islands, while others enjoy sailing excursions. In the winter months some daring visitors even ski on the frozen sea!
5. Riisitunturi National Park
Located in Finnish Lapland, this national park is jawdroppingly gorgeous. In the winter, thick snowfall covers the dense forest and strange snowy structures hang from the trees. During the summer months, the snow melts to reveal a lush and pristine landscape, where bogs feed the flora and fauna, creating a vibrant and colorful habitat.
There are some breathtaking hiking routes that wind through the park. Hikes into the hills are great for exploring the Iso-Karitunturi Mire Reserve and from up high, views of Lake Kitkajärvi are glorious. The park is perfect for snowshoeing, which is particularity magical during a moonlit night, when visitors can catch glimpses of nocturnal wildlife.
4. Pyha-Luosto National Park
This national park is home to ancient forests, craggy hills, and bottomless gorges that cut through the landscape. The ridge that runs through Pyhä-Luosto is the remains of one of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet.
Beloved by winter sports enthusiasts, tourists visit Pyhä-Luosto to enjoy the amazing downhill skiing during the winter; the villages that surround the ski resorts are the ideal spot to spend a few nights.
The summer months bring hikers who are keen to walk the 120-miles of pathways snaking through the park – especially the legendary trail between two famous fells, Pyhä and Luosto. Nature-lovers also come here in an attempt to catch sight of the many animals who live in the park. Otters, brown bear, moose and reindeer can all be spotted at different times of the year, as well as the 128 different bird species that live inside Pyhä-Luosto.
3. Oulanka National Park
Rugged and versatile, the Oulanka’s arctic ecosystem is centered around rushing river valleys, pine forests and huge mires. The park’s forests are completely untouched; no logging has ever taken place here.
Along with its unique rivers with their sandy banks and powerful rapids, the park is a haven for wildlife. Leaping brown trout attract many tourists – as do the most impressive waterfalls in the country. Suspended bridges and walkways welcome visitors to enjoy the spectacle of the rivers, or there is the option to hire a kayak.
Well-maintained hiking routes are ideal for nature-lovers, and there are great walls for rock climbers to challenge themselves on too.
2. Koli National Park
Rich in cultural heritage, Koli National Park has a lot to offer. The park’s enchanting scenery offers visitors the opportunity to spend some time relaxing among nature. It’s easily reached by day-trippers, but there are lodgings for those who choose to stay overnight.
Home to the strikingly beautiful Lake Pielinen, the park has captivated many Finnish artists and photographers, who come to try and capture the sheer beauty of the surrounding landscape – resulting in many famous paintings of the iconic Finnish countryside.
Ukko-Koli hill – accessible by the well-marked hiking route – offers alluring views across the lake and surrounding parkland. One of the main aims of the park is to protect local culture; the visitor center at the top of Ukko-Koli hill provides information about the local culture and farming techniques.
The slash and burn of the local agricultural culture has shaped the landscape, creating clearings and grazing land for Finnish cows and sheep, who live in green meadows beside babbling brooks.
1. Urho Kekkonen National Park
The Suomujoki river runs through this park, cutting through the landscape and creating a diverse habitat that is endlessly pretty. There are some captivating hiking routes that crisscross the park and are easily accessible for visitors who want to experience the enchanting wilderness.
Many guests choose to trek through the arctic landscape on skis and lodge in the safety of the wilderness huts overnight. In the winter months, sunsets over the top of the snow-capped trees are an unmissable experience as the light changes.
Nighttime brings the chance to catch sight of the aurora borealis. During summer, the midnight sun is a strange spectacle for many, and is an eerie yet unmissable experience.