Fascinating Finland is one of the most essential destinations in Northern Europe, and offers a host of winning attractions. Here you can see the Northern Lights, jump in a sauna; ski or snowboard at resorts like Levi, Ruka and Saariselkä or visit ancient fortresses like Turku Castle; trek in the Riisitunturi National Park or simply kick back at one of Helsinki's many excellent cafés and dig into one of the best coffee scenes in Europe.
With vast tracts of unspoiled wilderness and a unique mix of European and Russian culture, Finland is a place with plenty to interest all comers. Read on for our pick of the top 5 Finland travel essentials.
Marvel at the iconic Sagrada Familla in Barcelona.
Gaudi’s majestic creation has been wowing crowds since it first began construction in 1882. Since then, multiple architects have taken up the reins on the project, some honouring Gaudi’s original designs, other’s redefining the creation completely. The multiple and varied facades of the building, plus its sheer size and majesty, make it a must do for any traveller visiting Barcelona.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Indulge in traditional Andalusian delicacies in Seville.
Seville is renowned for its gastronomic offerings, and whilst the traditional dishes may be simple to prepare, they’re bursting with fresh regional flavours. Gazpacho, Pescaito frito and Huevos a la Flamenca are all famed Andalusian specialities, or for those preferring traditional tapas, Seville has around 4,000 tapas bars to choose from – take your pick!See all trips that visit Seville
Live like a King in the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Get a glimpse of life as the other half live with a guided tour of the Royal Palace in Madrid. The largest palace in Europe, the Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, though is only used formally for state ceremonies. Gorge your eyes on the many works of art by famed Spanish painters as you delve a little deeper into Spain’s rich history.See all trips that visit Madrid
Party till dawn in the clubbing mecca of Ibiza.
Nowhere on Earth will you experience clubbing quite like Ibiza. Home to some of the world’s most infamous clubs, come and join the party as night after night revered world class DJ’s play their hearts out to adoring crowds. Get into the mood with sunset cocktails at Café Del Mar then party till sunrise at Space, DC-10 or Ibiza Rocks.See all trips that visit Ibiza
Bask in sunlight on Barceloneta Beach.
Some cities are fortunate enough to have the perfect city/beach balance, and Barcelona is one of them. Whilst Barceloneta Beach may be man-made, the water is clear and refreshing and the beach is alive with travellers and locals alike chatting, swimming and generally loving life. Spend long leisurely lunches in the surrounding cafes and restaurants, hire bikes or rollerblades or just relax in the sunshine.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Explore the Islamic inspired fortress of Alhambra.
Rising from woods of cypress and elm, the Alhambra reigns supreme on the hillside of Gibraltar. Born in the 11th Century and then further developed over the 14th and 15th century’s, the fortress holds an extensive network of lavishly decorated palaces and irrigated gardens and gives those who visit it a glimpse into the rich history of the Spanish empire and the influence both Islam and Catholicism had on the Alhambra’s design.See all trips that visit Gibraltar
1. Funky Elephant Festival, Helsinki – This fixture of the Finnish festival scene is held each April at select venues around Helsinki. It features a program of live music from top-level Finnish and international artists.
For more information on the Funky Elephant Festival, click here.
2. Turku Music Festival – Finland's longest running music festival takes place each August, with a winning program of concerts covering everything from orchestral performances to chamber music and modern jazz. It hosted by several excellent venues including the famous Turku Cathedral.
For more information on the Turku Music Festival, click here.
3. Flow Festival, Helsinki – What better setting for a festival of urban music than a disused power station in the city outskirts? Held annually in August and known simply as 'Flow', it's one of the most keenly anticipated festivals in Helsinki.
For more information on Flow Festival, click here.
4. Helsinki Festival – Finland's largest festival of culture takes place at various venues around Helsinki, featuring a diverse program of music, dance, theatre and art. Many of the performances are free, and legendary names like Hermeto Pascoal and Steve Reich have entertained the crowds.
For more information on the Helsinki Festival, click here.
5. Turku Jazz – Finland has a buzzing jazz scene, and Turku Jazz festival is perhaps the best place to immerse yourself in it. Held annually in August, it features performances from the cream of Finland's contemporary jazz musicians.
For more information on Turku Jazz, click here.
1. Mannerheim Museum, Helsinki – This popular Helsinki museum is dedicated to Baron Gustaf Mannerheim, a famed Finnish military leader and President. It's located in his former residence and features a collection of exhibits documenting his life and times.
For more information on the Mannerheim Museum, click here.
2. Seurasaari Island and Open-Air Museum, Helsinki – Located right by Wenceslas Square, this museum documents the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia, covering everything from propaganda and censorship to labour camps and the various details of everyday life.
For more information on Seurasaari Island and Open-Air Museum, click here.
3. Luonnontieteellinen Museo, Helsinki – Also known as Luomus, Finland's natural history museum is located in downtown Helsinki. It's housed in a former Russian gymnasium and features a vast collection of exhibits ranging from fossils and minerals to dinosaur skeletons and taxidermied animals.
For more information on the Luonnontieteellinen Museo, click here.
4. Kiasma, Helsinki – This contemporary art museum is part of the larger Finnish National Gallery. It's housed in a strikingly modern building in central Helsinki and features upwards of 8500 works by predominantly Finnish artists.
For more information on the Kiasma gallery, click here.
5. Kansallismuseo, Helsinki – Kansallismuseo is Finland's premier museum of archaeology and ethnography. It opened its doors to the public in 1916, and features a vast collection of exhibits documenting Finland's history from the Stone Age through to the present day.
For more information on Kansallismuseo (the National Museum of Finland), click here.
Finnish cuisine is typically Nordic, featuring a tantalising variety of preserved ingredients. Classics include smoked reindeer, a traditional food of the Sami people, as well as much-loved national favourites like smoked salmon and pickled herring. Finland is a land of many lakes, so it's no surprise that freshwater fish - pike, perch and vendace - are popular. Delicious dairy products, potatoes and dark, heavy rye breads make up the rest of the culinary picture.
Karelian pasty – Finland's favourite snack is made from a thin crust of rye pastry with a delicious rice-based filling. You'll find them at bakeries throughout the country and trying one is an essential Finland travel 2015 activity.
Best eaten at –Konditoria Hopia, Pohjoinen Hesperiankatu 9, Helsinki
Lohikeitto – This creamy fish soup originated in Lapland, but is popular all over the country. Simple and hearty, it's made from chunks of salmon with potatoes and leeks, delicately flavoured with a generous helping of dill.
Best eaten at –: Ravintola AinoPohjoisesplanadi 21, Helsinki
Lihapyörykät – Meatballs are a standard feature of Scandinavian cuisine, but the Finnish take are bigger and heartier than most. They can be made from beef, pork or reindeer and are commonly served with potatoes, lingonberry jam and creamy gravy.
Best eaten at – Kahvila Suomi, Pursimiehenkatu 12, Helsinki
Fried Baltic herring – If there's one thing the Finns love it's a herring. Smoked, salted, baked or pickled, it's a Finnish favourite and is enthusiastically consumed throughout the country. Try it fried, with plenty of potatoes on the side - definitely a Finland travel 2016 must!
Best eaten at – Kosmos, Kalevankatu 3, Helsinki
Poronkäristys – Sautéed reindeer is a typical food of the Sami people, and can be readily found in Helsinki restaurants. It's thinly sliced then fried, and is usually served with mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam and pickled cucumber.
Best eaten at –Lappi RavintolaAnnankatu 22, Helsinki
Sunglasses - A good pair of shades is absolutely essential accessory in a land where the sun doesn't set for a good portion of the year.
An eye mask - The midnight sun can wreak havoc on your sleeping patterns. In the event that your room doesn't have blackout curtains, an eye mask just might save your bacon!
A raincoat - There are countries with unpredictable weather, then there's Finland. Conditions change from hour to hour and showers are a common occurrence even in summer!
An adapter plug - Finland uses European-style 2-pin plug sockets, with a voltage of 230V. Bring a step-down transformer if you want to use appliances that run on 110V.
Sensible footwear - Whether you're pounding the streets of Helsinki, exploring the Fortress of Suomenlinna or checking out Ranua Zoo, you'll be dong a lot of walking here so a pair of comfy shoes is a must.