The pitfalls of family holidays tend to involve activities that only please part of the family at a time. Why not try something different this time? Rent a car at the Gulf of Bothnia and drive it across Finland to the Russian border. There’s a score of things for the whole bunch to see and do on the way.
Things to do in Finland with kids:
VÄSKI ADVENTURE ISLAND, NAANTALI
Moored by the entrance to Moomin World is pirate ship Rosita, which takes adventurers to the island of Väski, located 1.5 kilometres from the mainland. On Väski, the adventure trail keeps madcaps busy with an archery range, an obstacle course, rock climbing and gold panning, among other things.
The historic fishing village, complete with resident animals, is the perfect place for a picnic and coffee made over open fire. The goats roam the island freely, much to the children’s delight.
MOOMIN WORLD, NAANTALI
On the Finnish west coast, just outside Turku, lies the idyllic small town of Naantali, known as the home of the world-famous Moomins. With their timeless philosophy, the characters created by writer Tove Jansson in the 1940’s continue to appeal to people of all ages.
As in the stories themselves, nature and the countryside play a central role at Moomin World. While the attractions are mainly designed with the smallest members of the family in mind, adults enjoy the beautiful island location just off the coast.
SÄRKÄNNIEMI ADVENTURE PARK, TAMPERE
Head a couple of hundred kilometres inland from Naantali and you’ll reach Tampere, Finland’s third largest town. In the summer, Särkänniemi is undoubtedly Tampere’s biggest attraction.
Enjoying a fantastic location on the shore of Lake Näsijärvi, this amusement park is packed with entertainment, with lots to do besides spinning upside down on the crazy rides. Fancy popping into the world’s northernmost dolphinarium or eating in Finland’s highest restaurant at 124 metres?
Särkänniemi’s location provides impressive views across Lake Näsijärvi as you enjoy the amusement park’s range of rides. The Särkänniemi adventure park is second only to Linnanmäki in Helsinki as Finland’s most popular tourist destination.
Finns are one of the world’s largest consumers of ice cream per capita, a fact kids always seem happy to reinforce through the summer.
Overnight in a cottage
In Finland, renting a cottage is an excellent alternative to a hotel. Having your own cottage in the peace and quiet of the countryside means you can enjoy a family holiday entirely on your own terms.
There are hundreds of thousands of cottages in Finland, and the most popular area for cottage holidays is Lakeland that covers all of Central and Eastern Finland. Head east from Tampere and you’ll find a a range of cottages to rent in every town and village.
With nearly 200 000 lakes, Finland certainly isn’t short of places to fish. Catching one is often the high point of the kids’ summer.
Enjoy the spas of the East
Eastern Finland is known for its spas, and there are a number of them within a small radius – for example, the drive between Lappeenranta and Imatra is only about half an hour. At spas, all services are easily at hand so the whole family can concentrate on splashing in the pools and relaxing in the jacuzzis.
In Imatra, the stately Valtionhotelli, built in 1903, is a great place to stay. Also comprising a spa nowadays, the aristocracy of imperial St. Petersburg often favoured this place as a retreat. Just a stone’s throw away lies Finland’s oldest tourist sight, the rapids of Imatra. When the dam is opened, the water thunders down the river, leaving no witness less than awestruck.
Imatran Valtionhotelli, built in 1903, wasn’t intended to be a family hotel but the ‘fairy tale castle’ is worth a visit, if only for discovering why it was once popular with the aristocracy of imperial St. Petersburg.
Go for a Reindeer Ride
Reindeer sleigh rides are a popular way to get close to the fabled animal. Eco-friendly holiday activity at its best, the sleigh ride is not a tourism industry innovation, but an ancient Sámi way of getting around. Rides usually last from 10 minutes to a few hours. Speeds stay moderate, which makes them suitable for all ages. A reindeer ride is rather something of a spiritual journey; gliding through a snowy forest in a wooden sleigh IS that magical experience travel agents keep trying to sell you.
The reindeer is an icon of Finnish Lapland, and there’s a good reason for that: the number of reindeer in the province roughly equals that of people. So, when in Rome… jump on a sleigh and ride them like Santa!
Checkout this slay video of CEO of Tiska London on a Sleigh ride with her family.