Finland's frosty landscape, toasty saunas, and fractured coastline make it the ideal destination for a campervan road trip, alongside its stunning series of lakes. In fact, over 188,000 lakes across the country provide ample opportunities for fishing, sailing, kayaking, and swimming—which only the bravest do outside of the summer months.
Helsinki is a dynamic capital known for its Nordic architecture, museums, and cultural attractions. The southwesterly Turku is the oldest city in Finland and contains a historic castle and cathedral. Tampere has a rich industrial legacy with several art galleries, such as the Galleria Saskia and Ronga, dedicated to the country's greatest paintings, sculptures, and exhibitions.** Rovaniemi, the gateway to Lapland,** is known for its stunning natural beauty, Northern Lights, and Santa Claus Village. More fascinating places to visit include the wooden Old Town of Porvoo, the artistic Oulu, and the native Sami cultural centers of Inari.
The most commonly rented campervan is the Intermediate or Budget-friendly class, which is the typical bed, lounge, and kitchenette on four wheels that you might picture when you think of a motorhome. If you need more space and have the budget for it, get yourself a Luxury class motorhome and enjoy extra space and amenities. Those who prefer the 'wild' part of wild camping should go for a rugged, compact 4WD Camper.
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Hop in your campervan, start the engine, and get ready to drive headfirst into the great unknown. Finland comprises friendly towns and plentiful lakes that intersperse its expansive and untouched wilderness. The whole country acts as a camper's playground, with opportunities for adventure around every corner.
Here's why a campervan is an ideal choice for a vacation in Finland:
Right to Roam: Wild Camping is legal across most of Finland, meaning there are endless opportunities to escape into nature.
Hotels Cost More than Campgrounds: Hotels in Finland cost, on average, over £100 per night, which is a fraction of the cost of the many friendly countryside campgrounds.
You Need Transportation: If you want to see even a handful of the 41 National Parks in Finland, not to mention the rural towns and villages, you need to be able to drive between locations.
Nothing Gets Left Behind: When you travel vast distances across the Finnish wilderness, nothing gives you more peace of mind than knowing that your belongings (and phone chargers) are in the vehicle.
The Turunmaa Archipelago Trail is a scenic route in southwestern Finland that traverses a network of over 20,000 islands and islets. The trail starts and ends in Turku and covers a distance of about 155 miles. Along the way, you can take in the iconic natural beauty of the Finnish islands, with their craggy shores, sandy beaches, and lush forests. Some of the highlights of the Archipelago Trail include the picturesque town of Naantali, the historic Bengtskär lighthouse, the ancient ruins of Kuusisto Castle, and the idyllic island of Korpo.
The gleaming white Roman-inspired Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square stand in stark contrast to the imposing scarlet walls of the Uspenski Cathedral, but they're all worth a visit to gain an understanding of the city's history. Towards the outskirts lies the island of Seurasaari and its eponymous Open Air Museum, dedicated to preserving Finland's towns as they once were, with small and predominantly wooden structures. The Suomenlinna Fortress sprawls across six islands in the bay of Helsinki. This 18th-century sea fort, now a UNESCO-listed site, has strong outer walls angled in a star shape towards the water.
Himos boasts the best slopes near Helsinki, with over 60 miles of groomed trails. Arching down the side of the Karelides Mountains, the slopes cover a range of difficulties, from kid-friendly to a Double Black Diamond. When you've finished skiing, head into the towns of the Himos-Jämsä region for more activities like dog sledding and snowmobile riding or warm back up in a traditional sauna or heated indoor pool.
The northern town of Inari is home to some of Lapland's natives, called the Sámi. The Sámi have their own distinct culture, which, historically, relied heavily on a nomadic lifestyle based around herding reindeer or 'reindeer husbandry'. The Sámi language has three dialects, and the people have a strong musical heritage, with songs involving drums and harmonics. You can learn more about their traditions by visiting Inari's Siida Sámi Museum and Nature Center.
Lapland is a region located in the northernmost part of Finland, bordering Sweden, Norway, and Russia. Known for its vast wilderness, snowy landscapes, and unique culture, Lapland offers visitors abundant skiing, snowboarding, and sledding opportunities. You can also visit the villages of the indigenous Sami people, like Nellin, Karesuando, and Saariselkä, to experience their arts, customs, and traditions, including reindeer husbandry.
Aside from being a stunning expanse of unblemished natural beauty, Lemmenjoki National Park also hides a rich underground source of gold. Gold panning, or sifting for gold near rivers, has led to some sizable finds and a new regional tourism industry. A proper permit is required to mine in the area, so the easiest way to test your luck is by joining a gold panning day trip. Find these online in advance or at local visitor centers.
The spectacular Aurora Borealis light show can be seen in Finland during the winter months, typically from late August to early April. However, the best time to see the Northern Lights is from December to February, when the nights are long and dark. They can be seen throughout the country, but you can find the best views in northern towns and villages like Inari, Rovaniemi, Ylläs, and Kilpisjärvi.
Rovaniemi, the Finnish capital of Lapland, is the ultimate winter wonderland and the best place to visit on a family trip. The city's highlight is the Santa Claus Village, a year-round Christmas-themed resort with a 'Letters to Santa' Post Office, shops run by elves, and Santa himself. Reindeer farms can also be found in the village and throughout the region, as well as husky-sled rides. Rovaniemi even has spectacular views of the Northern Lights if you come during the winter.
Turku is a port city that stands guard over the entryway into the Gulf of Bothnia. With a long history dating back 800 years, the town blends weathered cobblestone streets with both old and contemporary architecture. Turku Castle and Turku Cathedral represent the utilitarian medieval Finnish styles, while the open-air Luostarinmäki Artisan Museum brings you back to a time when the locals lived in low wooden houses. The Botanic Garden of Turku shows the future of design with a collection of arched glass greenhouses.
Finland has several historic towns with one unique peculiarity: all original buildings are constructed of wood. Rauma, located on the west coast of Finland, boasts a UNESCO-listed Old Town with over 600 well-preserved wooden houses. Porvoo, a charming town near Helsinki, combines colorful wooden houses, narrow cobblestone streets, and a beautiful riverfront. Other notable wooden towns in Finland include Naantali, Jakobstad, Kokkola, and Kaskinen.
Here are the 10 best camper van-friendly campgrounds in Finland:
near Rovaniemi: Running from June to August, this peaceful riverside campsite has waterfront pitches with electric hookups for £37 per day. Guests can also cook in the summer kitchen and make use of the restroom facilities.
in Tampere: This central campground has it all: a sauna, a pizzeria, a kiosk, mini golf, pedal cars, and rental bikes and kayaks. A night in a grassy electric hookup site goes for around £34.
in Inari: A small, rural campground in the heart of Inari, home to an indigenous Sami population. Stay here in an electric pitch for £31 per day. Camp facilities include a lake-view sauna, washers and dryers, a summer kitchen, and bike and canoe rentals.
in Lappeenranta: This idyllic lakeside camp, complete with a sauna, offers quick access to the town while still embracing its natural side. An overnight stay on a grassy pitch with an electric connection starts from $21.
near Turku: Located between Turku and its archipelagos, Naantali opens its RV sites, sauna, and café for campers between April and August. A night at an electric site costs £34.
in Sodankylä: If you want a convenient stopover on your drive north, look no further than the sprawling Nilimella Campsite. For £28 a night, you can stay on a large grassy pitch with an electric connection and use the maintenance building and sauna.
near Helsinki: Sleep under the shade of a pine forest near a private sandy beach at this peaceful campsite, which has easy access to the center of Helsinki. Spacious spots with electric hookups start at £32 per night.
near Kuopio: Another friendly campsite perched on the edge of one of Finland's many inland lakes, Rauhalahti offers kitchen and laundry services alongside kayak rentals and a collection of nature hikes. A pitch with electric and water hookups costs around $32 a day.
in Vaasa: Operating from May to August, this farm-style camp is the perfect summer spot for families, with a sauna, playground, laundry facilities, and pub. A connected pitch costs $26 per night.
near Oulu: This rustic natural campground offers meadow spots with electric connections for £26 per night. Restrooms are located around the site, and guests can cook up a meal in the BBQ hut.
To drive a motorhome in Finland, you must hold a valid Standard Type B Driving License.
The minimum age requirement to rent a campervan can range from 19 to 25, contingent on the rental company's policy. As a general rule, you should be no younger than 21 and have at least a year's worth of driving experience under your belt.