Hike the Bears Trail, enjoy your Everyman’s right and sleep under the stars. A not-so-ultimate guide to Finnish wilderness.

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One thing I know for sure. Being a digital nomad in Finland is far from easy. But do we like easy? Finland with its 40 national parks, pure nature lake areas, and archipelagos is a hikers’ and water sports lovers’ paradise. The opportunities for spending time outdoors are limitless. Nature, beautiful scenery and a wilderness feel are all around. So, are you ready for an adventure? Pack your sturdy boots and let’s go!

EVERYMAN’s (and woman’s) RIGHT

Did you know that Finland is one of the few countries that practices every person’s rights? The word in Finnish is “jokamiehenoikeus.” According to it, people have the right to be close to nature without requiring permits on certain public or privately owned land, lakes, and rivers. This includes recreational and exercise activities such as camping, line fishing, lake swimming, trekking, and so on. In Finland, the legal concept of “Everyman’s Right” means enormous freedom to roam but comes with some serious responsibilities. The most fundamental is mutual respect for nature, people, and property. So, the golden rule is to preserve and protect nature’s unspoiled beauty and wonder for future generations to enjoy!

All hikers unite!

In Finland, there is something for every level of walker. Nature trails provide information about the nature and history of the area and are shorter and less difficult, while multi-day or even multi-week backpacking hiking experiences a perfect for anyone searching for a more robust hike.

Sleeping under the stars

Open Wilderness Huts, Laavus, Kotas, and Fireplaces are some of my favorite aspects of the Finnish outdoor experience. It’s just great to be able to plan a backpacking trip and rely on laavus and huts for sleeping, or to know that a fireplace will be available at the halfway point of the hike for a nice lunch break by the fire.

Tulikartta.fi aims to mark all public shelters in one easy-to-use map, from Laavus and Kotas to Wilderness Huts and Fireplaces, making it an excellent tool for planning an overnighter!

Ah, to get you started!: A Laavu is an open shelter, an Autiotupa is a free-to-use Wilderness Hut, a Kota is a native Saami tent made of wood, a Päivätupa is a Day Trip Hut, and a Nuotiopaikka is a Fireplace. The shelters usually have a fireplace and a dry toilet nearby, as well as a woodshed and the obligatory saw and ax. Head out and enjoy Finnish nature now that you know where to find the next shelter and fireplace! They are free to use as long as you leave the area in the same condition that you found it!

If you plan to camp make sure you have adequate supplies to camp safely. Check weather conditions before you plan a hike and research the trail to make sure you can travel there and back responsibly and safely. There are plenty of stories about hikers who get lost in Finnish woods. And they are not urban legends. So in general, solitary hiking isn’t recommended and you should make others aware of exactly where you plan to walk and when you plan to return. But is there anything better than a long hike on your own? 

https://www.nationalparks.fi/destinations MAP with trails and knowledge database

https://www.tulikartta.fi/ MAP with marked free camping huts and fireplaces

Where to go?

With plenty of popular hiking regions and trails, here are some of the best:

NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK

Nuuksio National Park is only 30 kilometers from Finland’s capital, Helsinki, and is easily accessible by car. Because it is so close to the city, it is always busy with visitors. Trails are clearly marked and suitable for families with children, with crystal clear lakes and ponds, steep cliffsides, and magical, ancient forests.

The Maahisenkierros route is a good first choice for novice hikers. There are also numerous places to stop and take in the scenery along the way. With a length of only 2 kilometers, you can explore the park further if you wish.

The Punarinnankierros route, which opens up to ancient forests and swamps, allows you to see endangered flora and fauna. Some species are only found in this area. This 2-kilometer hike can be extended further into the national park if desired.

While the trails in this park are generally easy to hike and trek, there are some steep inclines and slippery downward slopes. If you’re hiking with a family or as a beginner, choose your trail carefully. Visit during the summer or autumn months, when the weather and wildlife are at their best.

As with many of Finland’s trails, there are opportunities to go beyond the trail and create your own walking adventure. Just remember to tell people where you’re going and to dress appropriately. There are also chances to try rock climbing, bouldering, fishing, and cave exploration.

KUUSAMO’S KARHUNKIERROS – OULANKA NATIONAL PARK

This is arguably Finland’s most popular hike, also known as Bears Trail or Bear’s Ring. It goes through some stunning scenery in Oulanka National Park. The views aren’t for the faint of heart, with raging rivers and steep cliffs and canyons, and you should always follow the orange paint that marks the trail. The longer route is 82 kilometers long and could take up to a week to complete.

If you’re not properly equipped, this park can be difficult to navigate, but with the right boots and clothing, your hike will take you through swamps, ancient forests, rocky pathways, and steep, imposing cliffsides. While most trails are easy to walk, some do present challenges such as rivers to cross and uphill climbs.

This region, which has a more continental climate than the rest of Finland, frequently has snow on the ground for up to 200 days of the year. If you plan to visit here, keep this in mind. The winter months see the most snowfall, with temperatures dropping to -25°C.

In June and July, the sun is usually out and shining brightly 24 hours a day. Spring and autumn can be though more tricky.

URHO KEKKONEN NATIONAL PARK 

Nature is truly at its purest in northern Lapland, and this National Park provides hikers with a diverse range of trails to suit all levels of experience and capability. Ahopää (14 km), Iisakkipää (3.7 km), Kirunapolku (6 km), and Luulammi (11 km) are all shorter, circular trails that are ideal for beginners and families with children. 

Take a longer wilderness trail and get off the beaten path for a few days if you want something more challenging. If you’re a seasoned hiker, the Luirojärvi hiking tour (70-80 km) and the Ruijanpolku (35 km) trail may be ideal for experiencing Finland’s true wilderness.

During the winter, skis can be used to explore here, but your feet and a map will be just enough for the rest of the year

Visit any one (or all!) of Finland’s 40 national parks for a truly unforgettable hiking experience. You haven’t experienced the wilderness until you’ve visited Finland.

What’s next?

In the next episode, I would like to tell you about the sauna culture. Sauna is a strong part of the Finnish lifestyle and they have over 2 million saunas in a land with 5.5 million people. So if you are saunakettu and want to discover the utmost importance of löyly… subscribe to our blog.

Also, I will tell you about the beauty of the Saimaa lakeside area, as you won’t find a lake like this anywhere else. It has the world’s longest lake coastline, 14,500 km long, and it boasts 13,710 islands. Just to say that the lake water is so clean in many places that you can drink it. Large natural forests hum with life and remain untouched by man. Many wild animals (the elk, foxes, small predators, the blue hare, and even wolves and bears) feel at home here. Also, you can spot there the ringed seal…

So stay tuned, work 100% remote, and till next time. Pidä hauskaa!

Practicalities

Connectivity – The Finnish government declared internet access a legal right in 2010. (as opposed to a privilege). They were, in fact, the first country to do so. They recognize that the internet has become as important to society as water and electricity. As a result, internet speeds and availability in Helsinki are high and consistent.

Wifi Speeds – Finding free wifi in Helsinki is simple, thanks to Finland’s free public wifi network (Helsinki City Open WLAN). Finland has an average download speed of 38Mbps, according to Ookla’s SpeedTest.

Data Plans – Visitors can purchase a prepaid SIM card from Elisa, Telia, or DNA (all of which have extensive coverage across Finland). These are available at the network’s official stores, R-Kiosks throughout the city, and the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Prices range between €4 and €25. If convenience is your goal, consider Airalo for a local, regional, or global eSIM.

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