Finland goes through four decidedly different seasons. Depending on the season and region, you can engage in different types of recreation.
More information about Finnish seasons is available on the InfoFinland page Finnish Climate.
Hiking and trekking
Hiking and trekking are hobbies that are suitable for all seasons. If you have no prior experience, you should begin with short and easy routes located close to residential areas. You can embark on short hiking trips without any special equipment. However, you should bring along something to drink, a phone and a map. It is advisable to start off with hiking on marked trails. Hiking and trekking maps are sold in bookshops and online. Longer hiking trips and treks require more planning and preparation.
Rules for hiking
Before going hiking, it is important to learn the rules for recreation and travel in nature. The rules are about respecting nature, travelling in nature, camping, making fires and litter-free hiking.
Finland is one of the best places in the world for spotting northern lights (aurora borealis). Most often you can see them in the skies of Northern Lapland between September and March. Sometimes auroras also appear in Southern Finland. A clear and dark night away from the lights of population centres provides the optimal conditions for sightings. Remember to dress warmly as the night is often cold. In summer, the nights are too bright for viewing auroras.
Cross-country skiing is one of the most popular winter sports in Finland. It is a healthy and very inexpensive form of exercise. Information on skiing lessons, equipment rentals and ski trails is available, for example, on the website of the Finnish Central Association for Recreational Sports and Outdoor Activities, Suomen Latu ry, in Finnish.
Recreation and Travel on Water
Finns travel on water quite frequently. Paddling and sailing are also popular activities in Finland. Safety is extremely important when travelling on water. Pay attention to weather forecasts, and always use a life jacket of the correct size.
Recreation and Travel on Ice
In winter, the majority of the Finnish water areas are covered in ice. The activities you can engage in on ice include walking, skating, skiing and ice fishing. There are always risks involved with ice activities, and safety is an important concern. Always find out the thickness and durability of the ice before getting on the ice.
Important reminders for safety on ice:
- When water freezes into ice, the ice is not sufficiently strong right away.
- Ice hardness can vary even within short distances.
- In the spring, ice strength is extremely difficult to estimate, which is why it is wise to stay off the ice.
- Ice picks are the most important tool to have with you when travelling on ice. Without them, it is very difficult to get out of the water if you fall through the ice.
- If you are not sure about the ice strength, do not go on ice.
With a few exceptions, angling and ice fishing are covered by the everyman’s rights, so they do not require a fishing permit. For other types of fishing and crayfishing, a permit is needed: State fishing management fee (valtion kalastuksenhoitomaksu)
For other types of fishing and crayfishing, you need the permission of the owner of the water area.
Everyman’s rights refer to everyone’s right to move freely in nature in Finland. Everyman’s rights (jokamiehenoikeudet) are an integral part of Finnish culture and legislation.
Everyman’s rights in brief
- walk, ski or cycle in nature, for example in forests, natural meadows and water systems
- stay temporarily in areas where access is otherwise allowed (for example, put up a tent at a sufficient distance from people’s homes)
- pick wild berries, mushrooms and plants that are not protected
- fish with a rod and line and ice-fish (these are prohibited in some water systems)
- boat, swim and walk on ice
You may not:
- disturb or cause harm to others or the environment
- pass through yard areas, plantations or cultivated fields
- disturb animals or cause damage to birds’ nests or their young
- cut down or damage living trees
- collect dried or fallen wood, twigs, moss or or lichen
- light an open fire
- disturb the privacy of people’s homes by camping too close or by making too much noise
- leave litter
- drive motor vehicles off road
- fish or hunt
Ministry of the EnvironmentBrochure on everyman's rightsLink redirects to another website
National Parks and Conservation Areas
There are 41 national parks in Finland. A national park is a large conservation area spanning over 1,000 hectares. The primary function of national parks is to secure natural diversity, but they are also sights accessible to everyone.
The beautiful landscapes of the national parks are excellent travel destinations. In the largest parks, it is possible to stay overnight and embark on longer treks. National parks often include nature centres, which are maintained by the state-owned enterprise Metsähallitus and which provide up-to-date information on the local environment and travelling safely in it. It is a good idea to start your visit there.
Everyman’s Rights are restricted in national parks. You can study the instructions and rules in advance on the national park’s website.