The grand tour of Finland
THE GRAND TOUR OF FINLAND
The country of the Thousand lakes and the Midnight sun welcomes you to an interesting cross-section tour. The route brings you through changing scenery of flat landscapes, along numerous lakes, rivers and vast forests to Europeґs last wilderness areas with fells and wooded hills, free-flowing rapids and via Europeґs biggest lake area, Saimaa, to Finlandґs capital.
1st Day Helsinki - Hämeenlinna 105 km
Arrival in Helsinki, where your bus is waiting to bring you to Hämeenlinna, Finland´s oldest inland city, beautifully located on the lake Vanajavesi. The main attractions in Hämeenlinna are the 13th century castle, the house where the composer Jean Sibelius was born and the Aulanko leisure centre. Accommodation.
2nd Day Hämeenlinna - Seinäjoki 275 km
Breakfast at hotel. Before noon you go onboard a ship of the Silver Line and enjoy a journey through a beautiful lake landscape to Visavuori. In Visavuori stands the studio-home of the sculptor Emil Wikström. The house was designed by Wikström himself and is now a very lively museum. There is also an exhibition pavilion for the work of Kari Suomalainen, one of the most famous Finnish cartoonists. Your bus is waiting here and you continue by bus to Tampere, the largest inland city in the Nordic countries, located in a beautiful environment and surrounded by nearly 200 lakes and further to Seinäjoki for accommodation.
3rd Day Seinäjoki - Oulu 345 km
After breakfast your Finland route follows the coastline northwards to Oulu, a town that was an important depot for wood tar in the Middle Ages. Today Oulu is an active university town with a bustling pedestrian precinct where you may hear street musicians playing in summer as well as eager salesman shouting their offers to passers-by. Oulu is also known as a science town. Oulu Technology Park and the University are often in the news because of their new inventions. Accommodation.
4th Day Oulu - Rovaniemi 225 km
Today you continue your journey to Rovaniemi. The town of Rovaniemi is the administrative and commercial centre of all Lapland. Two major rivers combine at Rovaniemi, the Kemijoki and Ounasjoki, and looming over the town is the 200 meter high Ounasvaara peak, a natural viewing platform and all-year playground for sports and keep-fit folk. Rovaniemi´s newest architectural spectacle is the Arctic centre, Arktikum, opened in 1992. The Arktikum building provides a vivid picture of life and nature in the Arctic Circle. It also houses the Lapland Provincial Museum of Lappish culture and life. On the Arctic Circle is the Santa Clausґ workshop, with his own post office, receiving mail and sending it off with Santaґs special stamp. Today you have also a ceremonial crossing of the Arctic Circle. The initiation ceremony of crossing this magic line will be performed by reindeer herders in a kota - a Lapp tepee- or in a pine branch lean-to. Sitting around the campfire on reindeer skin covered benches you will listen to the tales of old Lapland and understand the old customs and superstitions while having a sip of the magic drink made of reindeer milk. As a proof of the crossing you will receive an Arctic Circle Certificate with your name. Accommodation in the city centre.
5th Day Rovaniemi - Kuusamo 195 km
Before leaving Rovaniemi there is time for further visits and sights. The tour continues to Kuusamo. You pass the municipality of Posio, situated amid the southern east uplands of Lapland. It still abounds in lakes and rivers, vast forests, friendly people and unspoilt countryside. On the way you may see some of the 10.000 reindeers of Kuusamo area warming themselves on the highways. Kuusamo, your todayґs destination is located close to the Russian border. Kuusamo is one of Europe’s last wilderness areas with fells and wooded hills, free-flowing rapids, steep-sided canyons, tranquil waters of rivers, thousands of lakes and deep-green spruce forests. Accommodation.
6th Day Kuusamo - Nurmes 350 km
Breakfast at hotel. You leave Kuusamo and drive through Finland’s easternmost region, Karelia. The rugged landscapes with the vast forests are just as fascinating as the culture of the region. The Karelians have a reputation for warmth, merriment and love of song. You pass Kajaani and Suomussalmi and come to Nurmes, known as the town of birches. Accommodation.
7th Day Nurmes - Lappeenranta 365 km
The next stage of the tour takes you close to the Russian border around the Saimaa-lake to Lappeenranta. Many sights are located here, including Finlandґs oldest Orthodox Church, the South Karelian museum, the Cavalry Museum, and fortified walls dating from the 18th century. The fortress houses two potteries and other handicrafts workshops, which are open all year. Thanks to the 50km long Saimaa Canal which joins Lake Saimaa to the Gulf of Finland, Lappeenranta has developed into Finlandґs biggest inland port. Accommodation.
8th Day Lappeenranta - Helsinki 225 km
Breakfast and departure for Helsinki where our local guide is waiting to conduct you on sightseeing tour of the city. The west and east meet in Helsinki. The neoclassical Senate Square is the home of the Helsinki Cathedral, the University of Helsinki and the Government Palace. These were built in the 19th century when Finland was an autonomous part of tsarist Russia. The Uspensky Cathedral is the biggest Orthodox Church in Scandinavia. Modern architecture is exemplified by buildings such as the Finnish National Opera, the Temppeliaukio church, built into solid rock, and the Finlandia Hall congress and concert centre, designed by Alvar Aalto, the best known Finnish architect. Accommodation.
Breakfast and transfer to the apt/harbor. End of services.