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Although you arrive at the modern but elegant city of Helsinki, don't limit yourself to only seeing the capital. The rest of Finland is a country like no other, just waiting to be explored. The land of Nokia, air-guitar contests, and Santa's supposed "official" residence, also has vast expanses of national parks, pine forests, and over 100,000 islands and lakes. For nature-lovers, Finland is a paradise where you can watch the aurora borealis (Northern Lights), ski cross-country, or ride on a dog-sled across open fields of snow. If it gets too cold, jump into a sauna — the Finns have perfected them!
Way up north lies Lapland, home of the Sámi. As the only Nordic indigenous people, their culture, language, and traditions are not to be encountered anywhere else on earth, so make sure you stop by. On the west coast, visit Rauma, where the perfectly preserved old wooden town is a designated heritage site, or take a boat to any one of Finland's many islands for some peace and quiet.
Finland is bilingual so don't be confused if you see a road with two completely different names — they're just in Finnish and Swedish. If you're there in the winter, deal with the darkness as everyone else does, with rock music and an energetic nightlife. Although alcohol is fairly expensive, most meals have a hearty helping of excellent smoked salmon, and in some places even reindeer meat!
International airports in Finland are located at Helsinki (HEL), Tampere (TMP), Turku (TKU), Oulu (OUL), Vaasa (VAA), and Rovaniemi (RVN). If a direct flight proves to be expensive, you could fly to another European airport and take a connecting flight on a budget airline. Finnair has direct flights from Toronto to Helsinki in the summer. Other airlines flying to Finland include American Airlines, KLM, Swiss International, British Airways, and Air Finland.
Make no mistake –Finland is cold! It can drop as low as -30°C in the south of the country, and to -50°C in the north. But the short summers see temperatures rise as high as 22°C, and even the period between March and April has weather good enough to make a pleasant visit. It's best to avoid the south from October to December when it rains and the arctic night ensures it is dark almost constantly. June to August is the peak season for tourists in the south, while in the north it is September/October, Christmastime, and February/March.