Stretching from the Gulf of Finland to the sprawling Finnish Lakeland, Southern Finland is the most populous part of the country. It encompasses the lively capital of Helsinki and its urban sprawl, as well as Finland’s first official tourist attraction, the Imatra Rapids.
Things to do in Southern Finland
Energised cities, medieval towns and rural hiking trails - Southern Finland offers something for everyone.
Sightsee in Helsinki. Helsinki was largely laid out by the Russians in the 19th century, with St. Petersburg as their model. Museum-hop down the central Mannerheimintie boulevard, which is home to the Kiasma contemporary art museum and the impressive National Museum. You can marvel at the whitewashed Neoclassical architecture of the Helsinki Cathedral or experience the inspiring post-war design of the Temppeliaukio Church.
Explore historic Porvoo. Historic Porvoo is considered one of the most attractive towns in Southern Finland and centres around an Old Town clustered with beautifully preserved wooden houses. Wander its pedestrianised medieval streets and visit the 15th-century Porvoo Cathedral, then admire the red-coloured wooden warehouses overlooking the Porvoonjoki.
Visit the Imatra Rapids. Designated as one of Finland’s National Landscapes, the Imatra Rapids have been attracting tourists since the late 18th century when Catherine the Great visited the site. Coincide your visit with the opening of the flood gates to watch as 400 cubic metres of water flow every second down the stream. This impressive spectacle is accompanied by the music of the renowned Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius.
Hike the Salpa Trail. Stretching for 50 kilometres through Virolahti and Miehikkälä, the Salpa Trail follows part of a defence line that was established in Southern Finland during World War II. The route is lined with bunkers, trenches and decades-old cannons while taking in scenic countryside and dense forests.
Getting around Southern Finland
Helsinki Airport is the main aviation gateway to Southern Finland and has flights to destinations across the globe while the smaller Lappeenranta Airport serves European cities. Ferries connect from Stockholm, Tallinn and St. Petersburg to Helsinki. Buses and trains travel from Helsinki to towns and villages throughout Southern Finland.