The AFAR Guide to Finland

Unlike its mountainous Scandinavian neighbors Sweden and Norway, Finland is a land of plains and rolling hills stretching north to the Arctic Circle. Ruled by Sweden for nearly six centuries, Finland is officially bilingual (Finnish/Swedish), but Finnish is used more exclusively inland. Winter can be harsh, but the Gulf Stream provides warmer temperatures in midsummer, with fantastic skiing from the early spring.

Highlights
Sveaborg, Helsingfors, Finland
A popular excursion for both locals and visitors, Suomenlinna, a fortress built across a group of islands in Helsinki’s harbor, is just a short ferry or water-bus ride from the city center. Begun in 1748 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fortress offers numerous events, guided tours in English and six museums as well as a number of restaurants, cafés and hiking trails, both easy and more challenging.
For a primer on Finnish style, head to Helsinki’s Design District and take this three-stop tour.

The Design Forum Finland Shop showcases the best of national design, from mid-century wooden sauna stools to stacking vessels by Finnish-German designer Pia Wüstenberg (above). Erottajankatu 7, designforumshop.fi

Watercolor print dresses and cropped wool sweaters at Ivana Helsinki were inspired by childhood trips to the towns of Tapiola and Kauniainen. Uudenmaankatu 15, ivanahelsinki.com

The Design Museum’s pop-up gallery, Design Gallery 12, highlights established Finnish designers, such as Järvi & Ruoho, through December. Korkeavuorenkatu 23, designmuseum.fi

This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.

Kalevankatu 17, 00100 Helsinki, Finland
New Nordic cuisine has been imported from Finland’s Scandinavian neighbors and adapted to the local palate. At A21 Dining, guests enjoy seasonal dishes such as lamb with meadow herbs and nettles, or fudge with wood sorrel and wild strawberry sorbet. Creative cocktails may include arctic bramble, birch leaves, or chives foraged from nearby forests. 358/(0) 40-171-1117. This appeared in the September, 2012 issue.
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