Finland has 40 national parks all over the country
Finland is known for its pure nature and great hiking possibilities. We have plenty of national parks for keeping our countryside pristine and making the outdoor experiences authentic. On top of the 40 national parks, Finland also has plenty of other nature reserve areas such as swamps and bogs, old-growth forest protected areas, wilderness areas and national hiking areas.
The most southern national park is Ekenäs Archipelago national park in the Finnish archipelago. The most northern location for a national park is Lemmenjoki national park, over 1 200 km north from the archipelago. The other 38 national parks are located between these two and are spread all over Finland. All our national parks are free of charge. (nationalparks.fi)
The first group of national parks was established in 1938 and the most recent, Hossa national park was established in 2017 for Finland's 100-year birthday.
There are multiple national parks located in Southern Finland, not far away from our capital city, Helsinki. You can easily visit a national park from Helsinki for a day trip. Although some may be visited by public transportation, most will require a car to access.
National parks are great for ensuring biodiversity and allowing people to relax and enjoy nature
Every national park has its unique features and is meant to preserve biodiversity and landscapes that represent Finland. With hundreds of different trails and lakes, national parks provide the perfect setting for you to enjoy pristine Finnish nature.
Inside of every park, you will find marked hiking routes, nature trails, and campfire sites. You can stay overnight at designated camping sites or shelters and huts. Camping with your tent or in a lean-to shelter is free of charge and you don't have to make any reservation beforehand. There are often free wilderness cabins and cabins for rent. (nationalparks.fi)
National parks are also home to over 20, 000 species of mammals, birds, insects, plants and mushrooms... When visiting a national park keep your eyes and ears open and you might spot some wildlife! Most commonly you will see and hear the birds and the most common mammal to be seen will be a white-tail or roe deer. Don't be afraid though as they are quite harmless and will most likely be more afraid of you..
Some parks have nature centers available which will provide you with more information on the area and its services. Our government based Metsähallitus (Finnish parks & wildlife) takes care of every national park. They provide firewood, saws and axes, clean the dry toilets, maintains the paths etc. Thanks to Metsähallitus one can enjoy national parks all year-round and use their facilities
What kind of nature can you expect to see while visiting a national park?
72% of Finland's land is covered by forest making us the most densely forested country in the EU and #10 worldwide. Paths and trails in the national parks go mainly through the coniferous forest which covers 80% of all our forests. These forests are often referred to as evergreens since the forest will be green year-round - except when the snow is covering it up. The evergreen forest provides us with beautiful surroundings in national parks year-round! You can visit national parks in November before snowfall and still be amazed by its beauty. Once the snow has fallen you will get to experience a real "Winter wonderland".
In addition to the coniferous forests, you will find many deciduous trees. The most common being the birch tree. This white tree with black stripes is like the zebra of trees. My personal favourite – such a beautiful and unique tree. From our variety of deciduous trees, Finland has very beautiful autumn colours. If you are visiting Finland in the autumn time, especially October you will see how the forest changes into its autumn coat of reds, yellows, oranges and browns. One of the best times of the year to visit a Finnish national park!
Lakes, islands and swamps
You might have heard the saying that Finland is the country of a thousand lakes. Well, it is true: we are a country of over one hundred thousand lakes. 168,000 lakes to be exact... There is a very good chance that while visiting a Finnish national park, you too can enjoy a lakeside view. Just imagine sitting by a lakeside campfire after your morning hike! There is no better way to enjoy your lunch than in the peace of nature. If you are staying overnight, the morning coffee will never have tasted so good. Did I mention there will be birds giving you your morning serenade? Lake fact number two thousand and six; in the European Union area, there are 93 lakes with over 100 square kilometer surface and 47 of them are located in Finland (Saaristoasiain neuvottelukunta). If you're in love with lakes – Finland is your top destination!
In and around Finland's biggest lake area Saimaa, you will find national parks, nature reserves, and great hiking opportunities all-around. Also, the Saimaa ringed seal, which lives only in Finland, can be spotted sunbathing on the rocky islands and shores of Saimaa lake. Our second biggest lake – Päijänne – has its very own Päijänne national park where you can make most of your adventures by boat. If you are a waterbug, I highly recommend visiting either lake Saimaa or lake Päijänne.
If you are visiting a national park in the archipelago you won't see any lakes but will instead enjoy the seaside vistas. We are also a country of a thousand islands, in total, there are 187 000 islands (tilastokeskus).I have spent a lot of my childhood around lakes, and still do. In the last few years, I have been spending more and more time on the coast and archipelago areas. There are some seriously incredible spots. Even within the capital city area, you have places like Porkkala peninsula which is not officially a national park (it was one of the first national parks in Finland but was leased to the Soviet Union. After the leasing period, it was never returned into a national park) it remains as a nature reserve area nowadays and has all the same facilities you might find in a national park e.g. firepits, firewood, dry toilets, marked trails etc. It is a great place to explore the Finnish forests and see the rocky shores of the Baltic sea.
I have heard once that our country name "Suomi" (Engl. Finland) comes from the words "Suo" (Engl. swamp) and "Maa" (Engl. land) because we are land of swamps as well. It has never been officially stated as true but I can see the connection. 28% of the total land area in Finland is covered by swamps, (luonnontila.fi) so watch your step! National parks often have duckboards and the reason is there are swamps in the area. So, remember to walk on the duckboards if possible. More than a few times I have missed my step and dropped one foot into a swamp… When you walk off-path should always look for higher ground and or sturdy roots of the trees to avoid stepping into any hidden swamp grounds.
Our favourite national park in Southern Finland is Liesjärvi national park
We would like to take our guests to one of our favourite national parks: Liesjärvi national park which is located in Southern Finland, only 100 km from the central Helsinki. It is one of Finland's oldest national parks and its rich nature provides us with a lot of diversity while hiking. Lakes, swamps, and wildlife create a very pure Finnish environment in the national park. You can visit the park year-round and, in every season, it has something new and unique to offer. There are different trails and campsites that we prefer depending on the season as well as what we would like to experience while in the national park. Also, Liesjärvi national park is foraging paradise!
During the autumn time, you can find are plenty of wild lingonberries, blueberries, cranberries, and even cloudberries in Liesjärvi national park. Yummy! It is truly one of the best spots for superfood foraging near Helsinki. And of course, plenty of different mushrooms which create the perfect environment for a mushroom hunt.
Our day trips to Liesjärvi national park starts from Helsinki. We always provide roundtrip transportation, tasty Finnish lunch cooked over the campfire in the national park and raincoats in case of rain. Of course, every excursion is guided by a professional wilderness guide. It is not very convenient to go to the Liesjärvi national park with public transportation. With us, you can discover the hidden gem near Helsinki for a day.