Just head pretty much as far north in Europe as you can, then pretty much as far east as you can, and you’ll get to Finland.
It’s not a country that I know much about, I must confess. Sometimes I think of it as more Scandinavian, sometimes as heavily-influenced by Russia. Perhaps the reality is somewhere in between.
This week I’ll be finding out for myself.
Finland only has a population of about five and a half million. Almost a third of them live in or around the capital, Helsinki, which means large areas of sparse wilderness. It’s famous for its lakes and its islands and the landscapes shaped by glaciers millions of years ago.
Just take a look at this beautiful sunset over Saimaa Lake taken by blogger Antonette Spaan from we12travel!
It’s the outdoors of Finland that I’ll be exploring on my first trip to the country – the forests, the lakes, the beaches and the animals that make the area so special. And I’ll be getting up close and personal with all of it as I travel around by bike, boat, plane, foot and maybe even kayak, like blogger Erik van Erp from Around The Globe did here in the Vuosaari district:
I fly out this afternoon for Helsinki but first thing tomorrow I’ll be going to the Vaasa region for a few days of outdoor activities. This is some of the finest nature in Europe, I’ve been told. It’s a hub of biodiversity and I can’t wait to see some of it for myself.
My main activities over the next few days include:
- A bike tour along the beaches of Vaasa
- The Terranova Nature Centre with its exhibition on local natural science
- The World Heritage Site of Björköby
- The ocean views and sand dunes of Kalajoki
- A boat trip to Maakalla
- Trekking in the Siiponjoki terrain
- The nature centre of Liminganlahti for some birdspotting
Oh, and of course, there’ll be a traditional Finnish sauna or two!
Some of my fellow travel bloggers have been exploring the region over the past few weeks. Seeing their photos on social media has got me in the mood for my adventure over the next few days.
Take this photo from Laurence Norah at Finding the Universe, for instance, of the huts on Hanko beach.
I also love the image of fishing from the perspective of the fishermen that Josh Bender from Travel With Bender captured.
Steve Hänisch from Back-packer.org didn’t even have to go too far from the capital to find some nature on this boat tour around the islands in the canals in Helsinki.
And Becki Enright from Borders of Adventure found the lighthouse of Bengtskär which even has a few rooms you can stay in.
Over the next few days I’ll be sharing some photos of my own on social media as I travel around the western area of Finland near Vaasa. Feel free to follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+.
Or you can use the #outdoorsfinland hashtag on all of those social networks to find my photos and more that other bloggers have been uploading – such as these fantastic ones from DJ Yabis of Dream Euro Trip, Paul Farrugia of Global Help Swap and Sebastian Canaves of Off The Path.
If you’ve ever been to Finland before – particularly this region – I would love to hear your thoughts and your tips. I’m pretty excited and can’t wait to share all the stories I find along the way.