It is no secret that Finland is known for its stunning landscapes- deep lakes, roaring rivers, tranquil forests, sunbathed islands, and snow-covered peaks. Finland is not only a paradise for nature lovers but also mesmerizes 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, reindeers, 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.
Animals, birds and plant species that are not found elsewhere are sighted in the parks’ remotest locations. 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 kilometers 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 wetlands. Numerous trails criss-cross the park and offer excellent hiking routes. One can trek through the arctic landscapes on skis and rest on the many wilderness huts found in the park.
Frequently spotted wildlife in Urho are moose, hares, reindeers, and foxes. Wolverine, lynx, wolf, 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 is 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 capture the gorgeous views seen from Koli in many of their paintings and pictures since pre-history. Furthermore, the park offers guests to enjoy a relaxing time surrounded by nature.
The Ukko-Koli hill, inside the national park, has well-marked hiking routes and presents views of the lake and the neighboring parkland. Atop the Ukko-Koli hill provides information about the local culture. To enjoy a multi-day tour, Koli National Park has a 60-kilometer trail around Lake Herajarvi. One can also discover the ancient Finn-Pagan sites while walking the trails of the park.
Koli National Park is characterized by an abundance of flowers, lush green forests, and crystal-clear lakes. More than 4000 species of wildlife are sighted in the park including rare butterflies, colorful 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, gaining its 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, sightings of small and large mammals are seen in certain parts of the park. 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 the magical Lapland. It is here where Arctic fells offer the perfect place to marvel over the Northern Lights. The park is also popular for having the freshest and crisp air as well as snow-coated grounds and panoramic views of the tree-colored hills.
The park has a 55-kilometer trail running between Hetta and Pallas that continues through treeless fells and wild forests. Along the route, there are many wilderness and reservation huts if the hike is planned for days. The park has a rich flora and fauna as well as varied vegetation. Birds and mammals typical of Lapland are spotted 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 are characterized by sandy banks and stunning waterfall, waiting to be discovered. 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 an exhilarating hike starting from the popular Finnish trekking route called the Karhunkierros, stretching almost 80 kilometers. In the park, guests can find numerous camping areas, wooden cabins, and designated fireplaces to rest. Additionally, the park boasts winter trails which can be enjoyed by skis and snowmobiles.
The walkways and suspended bridges offer a great spectacle of the gushing rivers, where kayaking can be undertaken.
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, the dense forests get covered by snow, providing a mesmerizing scenery of Riisitunturi. In the summer months, the same snow melts away and uncovers a pristine landscape, creating a colorful habitat of flora and fauna.
One can explore the park either by 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 grosbeak, 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!
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