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You could call Finland Europe's Canada – vast stretches of nature, and innovative and technologically adept people with their own distinct taste in fashion and way of life. This is the land of Santa Claus in snowy Lapland, illuminated in the glow of the Northern Lights.

Finland has advertised and popularised the  joys and delights of the north perhaps better than any other country. Both mountain and cross-country skiing continue until May. Sled dog racing is a popular form of entertainment. There are ice hotels, Northern Lights gazings, organised ice fishing and body- and soul-warming saunas in the cold (and during the winter, perpetually dark) north.

If there is so much to do during the winter, you can imagine how many activities the Finns have thought up to do in the warm and bright summer months, when the sun never sets far below the horizon. The endless naturally joining lakes and forests provide the perfect terrain for lovers of the great outdoors. Northern bird and animal watching, fishing, berry and mushroom picking, the same saunas and summer solstice festivals will all lure you into the northern fairy tale. This is one of the best places in Europe for hiking, competitive kayaking and canoeing. The Finns delight in every single summer day and soak up every last ray of sunlight, before the long and dark nights set in. That's why Finland is worth visiting all year round.

Finnish cities are not among the largest in the world, nor are they exactly among the most beautiful, however you will always meet some interesting people, get acquainted with distinct traditions, and see the northern way of life. Helsinki is the biggest industrial and cultural centre, and is home to car and boat manufacturers, and electronics, textile, food and chemical industries. Helsinki became an important centre in 1812 during the Russian invasion or Finland, and it's from these times that the city has many Neoclassical, Saint-Petersburg-style architectural features. Helsinki became the capital of the independent Finnish republic in 1917. Nowadays it's a city where the pavements are heated during the winter, it's home to many cultural centres, and drinking water is so clean it's exported to other countries over the world. And also, it's one of the world's coldest cities – the average yearly temperature doesn't even exceed 6°C, and the sun will be absent for over 50 days a year.

But on the bright side, this does mean that the Finnish capital is full of fantastic bars, restaurants and cafes where you can cosily hide away from the frost. You're even sure to get a delicious meal – elk steaks with cranberries or freshly boiled crayfish, which just melts in your mouth.

Other larger Finnish cities such as Tampere and Turku can boast their prestigious reputable universities and vibrant student life with plenty of entertainment and night life. What's more, the cities are located in the middle of fairy tale-like surroundings, which can be explored by boat across the numerous naturally joining lakes. In Tampere, many old industrial buildings have been turned into shopping centres, university faculties, cultural areas and restaurants. This is why this northern city is sometimes call the Finland's Manchester.

The far north is home to the Sami people, whose distinct northern elk rearing traditions and culture also attract travellers. Finland is like a giant playing field for your next adventures!

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