When you hear "road trip", you might think of the USA, Thelma and Louise and the endless desert roads, but Finland is also great for short and long driving adventures. Forest, field and lake landscapes in the summer are a treat for a car ride, and you might bump into all sorts of fun and unique destinations that call for you to explore them more. The best part is that you don't have to visit any destination if you don't want to, and you can spend as much time in them as you wish, from a few hours to several days. Whether you're interested in beach holidays, hikes in nature, shopping or history, there's a destination in Finland you can reach by car. So pack up your bags and snacks, get in a car, drive to the horizon and blast your favourite music. Highways are waiting!

    1

    Enjoy the Atmosphere and Food in Porvoo

    Feel the history in the air and pamper your taste buds in a charming city

    Lovely little alleys, iconic beach granaries, charming museums and delicious food – Porvoo should be on the to-do list of every foodie and history buff with a car. Porvoo is located about 22 miles from Helsinki, on Highway 7, and it's a great place to visit throughout the year. However, this small city is especially pretty in the summer. Park your vehicle in one of the many free parking spots and enjoy a carefree summer day. Walk around the historic streets of Old Porvoo, visit the Porvoo Cathedral that has survived many fires, and take a look at the famous beach granaries near the river. Stop for a coffee or tea every now and then and grab a delicious treat from the Brunberg Chocolate Shop. Then explore the Runeberg Home Museum or release your inner child in the Doll and Toy Museum of Porvoo. If you feel like some sea air, you can take a trip to the Porvoo archipelago. Once you start to feel peckish, you can choose from a whole bunch of restaurants serving either international delicacies or locally produced Finnish food. If you can't bear to leave Porvoo, you can spend the night in a hotel, cabin in the archipelago or in a camping area.

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    2

    Puumala – Home of Magnificent Views and Eskers

    Drive along the prettiest road in the world past amazing lake views of Saimaa

    If you're on a car holiday, you definitely shouldn't miss these unforgettable views of Lake Saimaa! Puumala is located along the main road 62 from Southern Savonia, and its surroundings are part of the uniquely beautiful Finnish Lakeland. The road from Mikkeli to Puumala that crosses Lake Saimaa and winds between tiny islands has been called the most beautiful road in the world. While driving on roads that go over eskers, it's easy to understand why Puumala is one of the most popular summer cottage towns in Finland. Of course there are more lake views once you get to Puumala. Stop by at the lively harbour of this small town; there you can watch people and their boats. Next to the harbour there's a large bridge called Puumalansalmen silta, and you get to admire the view from the top easily by going up on a lift. The bridge even has its own café, where you can have a little break to enjoy refreshments. After that you can check out the Puumala Church, which is painted yellow. If you feel like dancing, there are often traditional Finnish dance events organised at the beach of Pistohiekka, and in the beginning of August there's a famous event in the harbour, called Siltakemmakkat. If you want to stay over in Puumala, you can sleep peacefully in a rental cabin, hotel, hostel or an inn.

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    3

    Sand and Sunshine in Hanko

    Enjoy swimming and looking at beautiful wooden villas in sunny Hanko

    This city with a rich history of spas is filled with an old-time spirit and fresh sea air. Hanko is located at the southernmost point of Finland, between Turku and Helsinki, and you can get there easily via Highway 25. Hanko is a great destination if you like food, boats, hanging out on the beach or shopping. You should start exploring the city from the east harbour; there are usually free parking spaces there. Many cruises to the nearby islands and Bengtkär Lighthouse also leave from there. Admire the yachts in the harbour and enjoy a refreshing lunch in one of the harbour's many restaurants or cafés. Continue your journey eastward and you'll see plenty of sandy beaches where you can cool down on a hot day, cute wooden villas with decorative carvings and the romantic Rakkaudenpolku (which means "path of love"). In the centre of Hanko you'll find loads of small boutiques and pop-up shops that sell cute souvenirs for all tastes. If you don't want to leave this charming city by the beach in the evening, there are plenty of hotels and rental cabins in Hanko where you can spend the night.

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    4

    Magic of the Countryside in Mikkeli

    In Mikkeli the countryside and nature are always near

    In Mikkeli you can enjoy both the services of the city and the greenery and peace of the countryside. You can get to this city in Southern Savonia easily from the directions of Helsinki, Jyväskylä and Kuopio. The first thing you should do is head to the Mikkeli Market Place to people-watch and to look at all the stands and their fresh and tempting produce. Grab a box of yummy peas or strawberries, try some vendace fried in butter or look through the fun and useful craft products people are selling. Climb to the nearby Naisvuori Observation Tower, where you can see all over the city and the surrounding forests and lakes. The cherry on top is coffee and waffles in the café of the tower. Next you should take a look at the old clergy house of Kenkävero; you'll love the wooden villas with carved decorations and the blooming garden. Alternatively you can go on an idyllic cruise in Lake Saimaa and detach completely from city life. There are plenty of hotels, cabins and even villas where you can stay the night in Mikkeli.

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    5

    Hiking in Nuuksio National Park (Nuuksion kansallispuisto)

    Stretch your legs and catch a glimpse of the shy flying squirrel

    If you've spent several hours in a car, it's an amazing feeling to get out and have some fresh air in the middle of a forest. Nuuksio National Park is located near Espoo and Helsinki, and it's a great destination for shorter or longer day trips in the woods. The area has parking lots in all directions, but remember that you can't park outside of the marked areas. Once you've parked your car, it's time to get to know the wonders of nature. Explore the gorges, valleys and rugged steep hills of the national park, smell the flowers on the way, walk on the beaches of ponds and lakes, and look at the trees -- maybe you'll spot a shy, cute flying squirrel. Chill out at resting stops and enjoy a classic sausage fried in a firepit or a packed lunch, or treat yourself to roasted marshmallows. If you get sweaty, you can dive in to the ponds and lakes of the national park. If you'd like to hike for several days, you can also stay the night in the national park in a traditional hut, in the camping area or in a rental cabin.

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    Open: You can enjoy the park all year round, although most trails are not kept up in the winter.

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    6

    The Archipelago Trail (Saariston rengastie)

    There's almost nothing better than the archipelago atmosphere

    Who says you can't enjoy the archipelago without a boat? This trail goes through South-West Finland and is about 155 miles long. By following it you get to see the inner archipelago of Turku and its forest and field views, the rugged cliffs of the outer archipelago, the waves of the Baltic Sea and a bunch of creatures like sea eagles, seals and moose. Start your trip from Turku by driving to east towards Parainen or to west towards Naantali or Taivassalo. You'll have plenty of sightseeing to do on the way. For example the Kuusisto Castle ruins, Seili Island, Utö Lighthouse, Naantali Old Town and Louhisaari Manor are worth stopping for. Don't forget to pause between the sights as well to enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous views of the archipelago. There are loads of services on the way, from restaurants and cafés to hotels and B&Bs, so you'll have no trouble finding dinner or a place to stay the night. Each island is connected to the next by a bridge, ferry, cable ferry or commuter ferry. All regular ferries and cable ferries are free, but the commuter ferries are paid. The Archipelago Trail is only open in the summertime and in early autumn because those are the only times the connecting boat M/S Antonia runs.

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    Open: M/S Antonia runs at these times: 1/6–30/8 4–6/9 11–13/9 18–20/9

    7

    Golden Dunes of Yyteri

    The stunning dunes of Yyteri can easily compete with beaches outside Finland

    Beach life doesn't get better than this! The 4-mile-long sandy beach in Yyteri, Pori, is one of the longest in the Nordic countries and offers great possibilities for proper fun in the sun. Drive about 15 minutes north-west from Pori, park in a free parking lot, and walk to the beach from there via duck boards. You can change into your swimwear in the cubicles along the way, if you haven't done that before arriving. Find yourself a nice spot on the golden sand and enjoy a lovely and relaxing day at the beach. Swim in the waves of the Gulf of Bothnia, work on your tan for the summer or snack on the food you packed with you. If you'd like a bit more speed in your day, you can try surfing or SUPing, or you can rent a fatbike. You can also hike the nearby trail of sandflats in Yyteri (Yyterin lietteet). If you have a four-legged friend with you, Yyteri also has a dedicated dog beach. After a sunny day you can get to sleep in a hotel near Yyteri, or in Pori, where you'll have plenty of accommodation options.

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    Open: The swimming season normally lasts from June until the end of August.

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    8

    Idyllic Design Village of Fiskari

    Go shopping in a charming ironworks village

    If you like design or shopping, you should definitely add the small and charming village of Fiskari to the list of stops on your car holiday. Fiskari is located within Raasepori, about an hour's drive from Helsinki, and it's known for the former Fiskars Ironworks, but since then the village has been transformed into a popular destination known for its design shops and cafés. Park your vehicle in the free parking lot of Fiskars Ironworks, and start exploring this leafy village. Pop into the Fiskars Museum or look at the collections of the Kwum Ceramics Museum, and walk along the shore of the picturesque Fiskarinjoki River. Have coffee or lunch in one of the cafés or restaurants in the village. Then it's time to explore the dozens of little shops in the village that sell all sorts of things, from homeware to clothes, candles, flowers, books, jewellery and art. If you book in advance, you can try making a candle or blowing glass, or join in on the guided tours in the museums. In the evening you can retreat to a hotel, inn or a rental cabin.

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    9

    Chasing the Northern Lights in Lapland

    Drive down snowy roads and chase the light show of the sky

    Even though most of us go on a road trip in the summer, a winter car trip in Lapland is a one-of-a-kind experience. White fells, snowy forest views and reindeer trotting in their amusing way are classics of any Lapland trip, but seeing the northern lights is number one on many visitors' lists. If you intend to chase the northern lights with your own car, remember that a successful trip requires two things: darkness and a cloud-free sky. The best time to see the northern lights in Lapland is in the winter around midnight. You can check each evening's northern light forecasts on the Finnish Meteorological Institute's website or by downloading an app that alerts you if there are northern lights visible. When the circumstances are promising, jump in the car and drive somewhere where it's dark and nothing is blocking your view. The best spots are on top of treeless fells or at lake shores, which might be hard to get to by car. That's why you should prepare to walk part of the way with an electric torch in your hand. So dress warm and pack up something hot to drink, snacks and something to sit on, if possible. The Iso-Vietonen Beach in Ylitornio is an especially good place for northern light hunters, because it's located right next to a road.

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    Open: The northern lights season starts at the end of August and continues until spring.

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