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Finding Time in Finland: A Summer-Scape Into Serenity

09/08/2016 15:56

The sun was setting on the vibrant skyline of Helsinki when I arrived.

Finland's buzzing capital is every bit the diverse and design-orientated hub its proud locals would have you believe.

The perfect balance between concrete bustle and soothing greenery, the urban jungle was as immediately welcoming as it was inspiring to be in.

After the first meal at Bronda there was no question as to why Helsinki has been dubbed the new foodie capital of the Nordic countries.

The restaurant is the fifth created by the capital's culinary duo Tomi Björck and Matti Wikberg. Like the rest of the food-impassioned country, the menu is based on the best ingredients available and entirely handmade.

Once completely full from the irresistible and exceptionally well-priced tasting menu, we viewed the sunset from best vantage point: the terrace of Sokos Hotel Torni.

Boasting panoramic views of the picturesque skyline, the Sokos Hotel is the best place to watch the skyline turn to a grey silhouette in contrast with the pink and orange-striped sky.

A photo posted by Lizzie Mulherin 🇦🇺 |📍Amsterdam (@lookingforlizzie_) on

Thankfully, it wouldn't be the last time we'd experience Finland at dusk.

The days to follow would see us soak up the land of the midnight sun from some of the most remote and stunning locations in the country.

If you find yourself in Finland, make sure you pay a visit to these picture-perfect spots. Preferably with a healthy appetite and empty stomach.

KIMITO ISLANDS COASTAL TRAIL

Located just a short two-hour drive from Helsinki, the Kokkila ferry will take you from the mainland to the beginnings of the region's Coastal Trail route.

Stretching 100 km along scenic coastline from the city of Salo, the cycling route is well worth blocking out the day for.

A photo posted by Lizzie Mulherin 🇦🇺 |📍Amsterdam (@lookingforlizzie_) on

Be sure to stop at Westers Garden to refuel en route. The impossibly charming garden restaurant has its roots in the old kitchen plots of farmers and seafarers.

The mouth-watering menu is made fresh by the couple that run the garden, using the flowers herbs and vegetables growing side-by-side on their beautiful piece of land.

BENGTSKÄR LIGHTHOUSE ISLAND

A simple and scenic boat transfer through the Archipelago National Park will land you on Bengtskär lighthouse island.

With a history dating back to 1953, the impressive structure has withstood some of the most iconic moments in Finland's history.

A photo posted by Lizzie Mulherin 🇦🇺 |📍Amsterdam (@lookingforlizzie_) on

Standing 52m above sea level, the lighthouse is the only thing on the entire island and a truly serene experience.

The rooms, which once housed families who lived there, have been converted into hotel rooms for a holiday stay you certainly won't forget.

HÖGSÅRA ISLAND

If your time in the Finnish Archipelago is limited, a stopover in the stunning Högsåra island is an absolute must.

Boasting quaint houses, stretches of green fields and panoramic views of the Baltic Sea, visitors can explore the island on foot or by quad bike.

If water sports take your fancy, kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards are available to hire. The idyllic island provides a perfect taste of the relaxed and authentic Finnish lifestyle that explains why its locals are so youthful and friendly.

A photo posted by Lizzie Mulherin 🇦🇺 |📍Amsterdam (@lookingforlizzie_) on

But that's not the only perfect thing you'll taste.

Ensure you save your appetite for Farmors Café, a cottage café in the village that is internationally renowned for its delicacies made entirely locally. Its food is so popular it draws people from Helsinki just for lunch.

STORFINNHOVA FOREST VILLAGE

This place is every bit as enchanting as the name would suggest.

Nestled in lush green forest of Storfinnhova Gård, the village boasts a series of wooden treehouses perched among the leaves.

At the heart of the village is a granite-smoke-sauna, which has been built underground. Fins are known for their love of saunas, and this astounding feature is certainly a credit to their expertise.

The enormous sauna includes a spa fuelled by the natural warm springs and two floors. Coming out of the sauna and climbing into your treehouse to curl up for the night is experiential travel at its most relaxing.

A photo posted by Lizzie Mulherin 🇦🇺 |📍Amsterdam (@lookingforlizzie_) on

TEIJO NATIONAL PARK AND THE MAGIC OF MATHILDADEL

If you continue along the Coastal Trail you'll find yourself in yet another awe-inspiring piece of landscape: Teijo National Park.

With vibrant green hills rolling into picture-perfect lakes, the area is an outdoor photographer's dream. Those who love activities can also indulge, with a choice between canoeing, fishing or wild swimming.

For the foodies, there are two must-do's in this region. The bakery run by an 18-year-old masterchef named Ada at Matlida's Magic in Meri-Teijo will leave you certain you'll never taste a cake so good again. Whilst there, be sure to wander around the Mathildedal ironworks village, where the factory dates back to the 1800s.

But be sure to leave room for some beer and bread from the village brewery - Kyla Panimo. The brand was started by a couple who left Helsinki after falling in love with the region. Both the bread and the beer are made locally, with each brew named after the region.

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