As you might have red, February 2020 was the start of a European Tour a friend and I went on. In his converted Toyota Corolla from 1998, we went on what is for now the adventure of a lifetime and Finland was the second country on the list. (Check out the article on Norway to see how it all started).Jeetees
Officially the Republic of Finland is a European country located in between Sweeden, Norway and Russia and is the 8th largest country in Europe as well as the most sparsely populated. My friend and I spent seven days driving through this desert of snow and experiencing as much as we could. In this article you’ll be able to find a summary of this journey as well as links towards more detailed articles. Enjoy!
From Norway to Finland
As you know, my friend and I were parked at the Northernmost point of our trip when we learned we would not be able to drive further due to sudden changes of the weather, so we decided to drive to Finland a day earlier
Leaving Norway for Finland was a change in the scenery as well. We were abandoning mountain fjords and vertiginous cliffs for a desert of snow and almost a no man’s land. It was as impressive as the temperature drop: From zero degrees we experiences minus twenty-one.
We arrived in the evening in the small town of Inarin where we decided to stop for the night. Hungry and cold, we got attracted by the delicious smell of pizza boxes leaving a cosy pub and decided to treat ourselves for the first time since the beginning of the trip and eat out.
It felt good to relax and be warm before finding a nice parking spot to spend the night in an outside temperature of minus nineteen degrees.
Day 2: Urho Kekkonen National Park
What a day! We woke up under a magnificent sun hold by a light blue sky After a slow morning we drove to Urho Kekkonen National Park, one of my favourite life experience ever. Check out here my top 4 of Finland’s National parks!
After one of my favourite hike of the trip, we finished our pizza leftovers before finding a nice warm shower and then drove South.
The landscape made out of deserts of snow is breath taking all the way. The larger than usual sun and the endless nature scenery really takes you away from reality.
We decided to spend the night on a parking on top of a hill, far from any urbanisation in order to maybe be lucky enough to see Northern Lights. Cooking outside at minus eleven was an unforgettable challenge and I’m pretty sure my fingers still remember it!
Reindeers and Oulanka national park
Waking up, we realized that we had spent the night on the parking of a reindeer experience and decided to give it a go: the Kopara Reindeer Experience is a respectful reindeer park where for 7€ you can walk around their facilities, feed the reindeers and enjoy their hunter cabins.
It was a fun and enjoyable morning. After that we went to do a couple of groceries before heading towards the Oulanka National Park and bear watching. Check out our time there here!
It was unforgettable, check them out!
After this lovely afternoon, night was around the corner and we drove to Kuusamo in order to spend the night on a snowy parking next to their small harbor. The temperature was around one degree and I must say cooking outside became easier.
Day 5: Koli National Park
After waking up on the parking of Sauna World and picking up our clothes they kindly let to dry in their locker rooms, we went back on the road, still towards the South, in order to visit Koli National Park and do a quick hike.
After this, we hit the road again in order to find a parking spot for the night and settled on a resting area in between trees with the perfect facilities to build a fire and eat out next to the warm flames.
The stars were gorgeous above us, and so clear it felt magical.
The Russian Border
We woke under a lovely blue sky in between the trees and went back on the road. My friend and I are curious people,(especially him) and as we realized how close the Russian border was from our itinerary, we decided to go check it out. Why? Why not?
As we drove closer to it, we started to witness the presence of some bright yellow signs indicating it as well as video cameras. We finally arrived where it all was supposed to end: the border zone sign indicating to stop. We stood there, unsure what to do next before deciding to go backwards. On our way to the main roads we got stop by two vans driven by border guards officers ordering us to follow them to the main station in order to pay our fine for being where we shouldn’t have been. Once there, we answered questions, explained the situation and waited a while before the officer decided to let us go without paying the fine, explaining the deal to never do it again.
Relieved, we jumped back in our car and headed towards Ripovesi National Park in order to spend the night on the large parking lot in between trees.Jeetees
Day 7: Ripovesi National Park
We woke up around 9AM under a fantastic blue sky and shinning sun. Check out our day here! We then went back on the road towards Helsinki, the capital to spend the night close by.
Day 8: A day in Helsinki
As usual during this trip, we dedicated an entire day to visit the capital of the country we were in. Helsinki was a modern and walkable city where we had an amazing time enjoying its architecture.