Finland. Just the name summons up images of wild beauty, wintery days and nights and some of the world’s most beguiling natural sights. There is a reason why this country is affectionately referred to as the Land of a Thousand Lakes. It boasts close to 200,000 and it will come as no surprise that this Nordic beauty has excellent hiking, canoeing, and of course, cycling tours. Regardless of the season here, you will be guaranteed one heck of a memorable experience.
However, winter is truly spectacular in Finland and there are few better places to start reveling in the pure air and picture-perfect sites than by grabbing a fat bike with chunky, extra grip tires to tackle the breathtaking Oulanka National Park.
Packed with glorious snowy routes, primordial forests, snow covered-horizons, and majestic frozen lakes, this is the ride of a lifetime. Better yet after every frosty day of riding, you can wrap up warm in remote lodges and enjoy a traditional Finnish sauna.
Riding alongside the Russian border and River Oulanka leads you through a stunning forest while there is a brilliant viewpoint offering a sweeping vista of Lake Paanajärvi on the Russian side. Unsurprisingly, many wild animals call this national park home and there are ample opportunities to spot wild elk, wolves and golden eagles.
Away from cycling, you can also enjoy the landscapes by taking on unique activities such as dog-sledding, chartering a team of reindeers or just losing yourself in the dancing green hues of the Northern Lights.
Back on the bike, a must-ride is the Turku Archipelago. With more than 20,000 islands to choose from, pedaling here offers tranquility, stunning nautical views, plus fascinating festivals such as the Viking Market on the pretty island of Saltvik Kvarnbo. With ancient sites and ruins still remaining from the Viking era, the festival features authentic costumes and crafts in this unique spot on the last weekend of July each year.
Fortunately, if you crave some city comforts then both Turku and Finland’s capital Helsinki offer such delights, plus wonderful architecture and delicious food. Both are also well served by the brilliant 330km (205 mi) King’s Road cycle route that used to connect Sweden and Russia. Largely flat, you can pass through many historic local towns and villages, meet craftsmen and enjoy coastal spots on this fantastic trail.
If you are a hardier, seasoned rider then you can even venture further north to tackle the proper snowy routes in Lapland. And that is what makes the true beauty of Finland - its wonderful natural diversity, clean air and the guarantee of an adventure like none other on the planet.