It is no secret that Finland is known for its stunning landscapes, deep lakes, roaring rivers, tranquil forests, sunbathed islands, and snow-covered peaks. One of the highlights of Finland is that it has the highest percentage of forest cover in the world. Finland is not only a paradise for nature lovers but also mesmerises those visiting casually. It is one of the best places to experience the rugged wilderness of Europe. While Finland is often closely associated with saunas, reindeer, and the Santa Claus village, the biodiversity found here is incredible. As the country sits close to the Arctic Circle, its national parks present an array of topography and wildlife.
With distinct natural features and protected areas, visiting a Finnish national park is an unforgettable adventure. Here is a selection of Finland’s top six national parks that should be on your list:
Urho Kekkonen National Park
Covering an area of 2550 square kilometres of pristine wilderness, Urho Kekkonen National Park is one of the most popular outdoor destinations for locals and tourists alike. The park showcases a variety of landscapes, from clear streams to alpine valleys and even forests and wetlands. Numerous trails crisscross the park and offer excellent hiking routes. One can trek through the arctic landscapes on skis and rest in the many wilderness huts found in the park.
Frequently spotted wildlife in Urho are Moose, Hares, Reindeer, and Foxes. Wolverines, Lynx, Wolves, and Brown Bears are found in the remote parts of the park. Near watercourses, it is common to spot otters, who often leave their tracks behind after a fishing expedition. Golden Eagles gliding over the park are an unforgettable sight.
Guests can enjoy various activities in Urho Kekkonen National Park, such as cross-country skiing, trekking, bird watching, fishing, and canoeing.
Koli National Park
Koli is a beautiful national park in Finland and has a rich cultural heritage. It boasts spectacular landscapes of the striking Lake Pielinen from its highest peak. The national park is also famous for attracting Finnish artists and photographers, who have captured the gorgeous views seen from Koli in many of their paintings and pictures since prehistory. Moreover, the park provides visitors with a tranquil experience amidst the beauty of nature.
The Ukko-Koli hill, inside the national park, has well-marked hiking routes and presents views of the lake and the neighbouring parkland. Atop the Ukko-Koli hill, information about the local culture is available. To enjoy a multi-day tour, Koli National Park has a 60-kilometre trail around Lake Herajarvi. One can also discover the ancient Finno-Pagan sites while walking the trails of the park.
Koli National Park features an abundance of flowers, lush green forests, and crystal-clear lakes. The park sighted more than 4000 species of wildlife, including rare butterflies, colourful birds, and other mammals. During the summer, Koli is a famous location for renting summer cabins for fishing, while in the winter, it transforms into a ski resort.
Hossa National Park
Situated near the Russian border, Hossa National Park boasts Europe’s most unspoiled wilderness. It is also Finland’s newest national park, having gained designated park status in 2017. Hossa is covered with pristine lakes, dry pine forests, and a wealth of wildlife. The park was shaped by the last ice age, consequently having more than 100 ponds and numerous waterways. Various ancient rock paintings found in Hossa date back thousands of years and depict images of bears.
The area around the park is ideal for rock climbing and canoeing. The extensive network of trails in the park connects to wilderness huts and lean-to shelters. Occasionally, certain parts of the park witness sightings of small and large mammals. Hossa offers the best opportunities for fishing as well as other adventurous activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking.
Pallas-Yllastunturi National Park
Pallas-Yllastunturi National Park is located in magical Lapland. It is here that the Arctic Mountains offer the perfect place to marvel at the Northern Lights. The park is also popular for having the freshest and crispest air, snow-coated grounds, and panoramic views of the tree-coloured hills.
The park has a 55-kilometre trail running between Hetta and Pallas that continues through treeless falls and wild forests. Along the route, there are many wilderness and reservation huts if the hike is planned for days. The park has rich flora and fauna as well as varied vegetation. Visitors spot birds and mammals typical of Lapland in the park. Guests can enjoy biking and hiking trails, mountain biking, canoeing, and fishing.
Oulanka National Park
Thanks to its spectacular viewpoints, rushing rapids, pine forests, and huge mires, Oulanka is often known for being a famous national park in Finland. Oulanka’s arctic ecosystem is versatile and offers a unique experience in a seemingly untouched area. The unique rivers of the park, with their sandy banks and stunning waterfalls, await discovery. The unlogged boreal forest found in Oulanka sits close to the Arctic Circle and is home to rich animal and plant species.
Guests can enjoy a thrilling hike starting from the popular Finnish trekking route called the Karhunkierros, stretching almost 80 kilometres. In the park, guests can find numerous camping areas, wooden cabins, and designated fireplaces to rest. Furthermore, the park offers winter trails suitable for skiing and snowmobiling, providing enjoyable experiences for visitors.
Kayakers can undertake kayaking while enjoying a great spectacle of the gushing rivers from the walkways and suspended bridges.
Riisitunturi National Park
Located in Lapland, Riisitunturi is a gorgeous national park that showcases miles of spruce-covered land. During the winter, when snowfall becomes thick, snow covers the dense forests, creating a mesmerizing scenery of Riisitunturi. In the summer months, the same snow melts away and uncovers a pristine landscape, creating a colourful habitat of flora and fauna.
One can explore the park either on foot, on snowmobiles, or even on cross-country skis. Many splendid hiking routes go through the park. Some hikes even lead onto hills that provide an excellent opportunity to explore the Iso-Karitunturi Reserve. The views of Lake Kitkajarvi from the hills are also breathtaking.
The natural inhabitants of the park are bears and lynx, as well as birds including Siberian jays, intrepid pine grosbeaks, and three-toed woodpeckers. Riisitunturi is perfect for snowshoeing, especially at night when one can see the park’s nocturnal wildlife.
Visiting Finland’s national parks is one of the best ways to enjoy and appreciate the country’s beautiful landscape. If you are planning to visit Finland anytime soon, do include the above-listed national parks for an amazing start!
If you loved reading this story, then subscribe to our blog here (it will ask to verify your email) to get inspiring travel stories and trivia delivered to your email. Stories about wildlife trivia, cultural experiences, curated luxury hotel lists, underrated places to travel, polar journeys and much more.
The content team at Wild Voyager. We are passionate to bring you travel stories and unique experiences from around the world. Spread the love and feel free to share these stories.