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Family holiday in Finland
Are you looking for an activity-packed holiday full of outdoor adventures? Or perhaps a quieter time spent together exploring museums or browsing books? Finland, voted the world’s happiest country three years on a row in the annual United Nations World Happiness Report, offers endless options for the perfect child-friendly family vacation year-round.
Land of the Moomins
The Moomins, those loveable fairytale characters created by the famous Finnish artist Tove Jansson are just about everywhere in Finland. You can find them emblazoned on coffee mugs and home textiles, or in dedicated theme parks and museums. Originally a popular children’s book series, the Moomins then became a popular comic strip in 1948. The adventures of these beloved characters have since been adapted into cartoons, movies, and TV series, including the new Moominvalley TV series which features Hollywood-stars as the English-speaking voice actors.
The popular Moominworld theme park is located on the island of Kailo in the charming seaside town of Naantali, 2 hours west of Helsinki. Here, visitors experience what it would be like to live in the magical land of the Moomins, complete with an authentic five-story blue house right out of the pages of a Moomin tale. The world’s first – and only! – Moomin museum in the city of Tampere offers visitors the opportunity to explore the endearing stories of the Moomins from the Great Flood to the Puzzle of the Lighthouse.
Step into the pages of a story
As one of the world’s most literate countries, Finland showcases a range of spectacular public libraries worth travelling for. Among the newest, the Oodi Central Library in Helsinki doubles as the city’s unofficial living room, as there are much more than just books in this architecturally stunning building. It also houses a large play area for kids, a recording studio, movie theater, a café, and a restaurant. Oodi hosts numerous activities for children, including an open meeting space for families with young kids.
Take a medieval adventure in a castle
Finland has lots of castles to explore. On the bucket list of ‘must-see’ castles is the fortress of Turku, in the city that once served as the capital of Finland. The Turku Castle introduces visitors of all ages to its rich treasures and history, which dates back to the 1280’s. In addition to exploring the halls and chambers, it is possible for kids to dress up as a princess or a knight and step into a medieval court as well as visit a medieval market that recreates trading in former times.
Another great destination for a medieval adventure is the Olavinlinna Castle, also known for hosting the famous Savonlinna Opera Festival every summer. Built in 1475, the castle stands spectacularly on an island on the shores of the iconic Lake Saimaa. There are guided tours around this magnificent building that will entertain all members of the family. Hämeenlinna, a short train ride north of Helsinki, is another great day trip destination for families. It is the home of the historic Häme Castle and the Aulanko Nature Reserve. At the Åland Islands in the Finnish Archipelago, the medieval Kastelholm Castle is popular with kids for its pirate tour, which recreates bygone times.
Visit the animal kingdoms
Located on an island, Helsinki’s Korkeasaari Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world, as it was founded back in 1889. Home to 150 animal species and almost 1,000 plant species, the zoo houses a range of interesting residents from Amur tigers and snow leopards to unique Finnish species, such as forest reindeer. Korkeasaari, open year round, can be reach easily by public transport or alternatively by a short boat ride from the city center.
Further up north, at Ähtäri Zoo in Southern Ostrobothnia, the snow pandas are one of the most popular attractions on the 150-acre grounds. Even further up north, Ranua Wildlife Park in Lapland introduces visitors to more than 50 Arctic and other animals, including Finland’s only polar bears. Ranua also focuses strongly on animal protection, as well as nursing and taking care of lost and hurt animals. In Lapland it is possible to also visit reindeer farms and meet the reindeer.
Meet Santa Claus
Every child dreams of visiting the real Father Christmas, who lives in Finland, of course. The exact location is in Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland just above the Arctic Circle. At Santa Claus Village, which is open every day of the year, you can tour Santa Claus’s workshop, where Mrs. Claus and the elves work year-round, and meet Santa himself. During the winter months, it’s possible to go for reindeer and husky rides, marvel at ice and snow castles, or stay in a snow hotel. One of the most popular activities 365 days a year is sending a postcard from the Santa Claus Main Post Office to anywhere in the world.