Fodor's To Europe!

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Days 1-3
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A literal meeting point of east and west, Helsinki is sleek, modern, and quiet—pretty much the Finnish ethic. Thanks to that love of design, there are delightful architectural fillips throughout the city, expansive terraces for outdoor drinking in summer, and a high quality of life for visitors and residents alike.
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Experiences

  • An island fortress built in 1748, Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an easy day trip. Early summer, when the lilacs (imported from Versailles) are in bloom, is the best time to visit.
  • Finnish design is justly lauded, and much of it, old and new, can be seen at the Designmuseo. The museum collects everything from furniture to ceramics.
  • Sauna culture is big in Finland; have a schvitz at one of the country's 1.6 million baths. Most hotels have saunas, and you can also heat up at one of the city's public pools.

Festivals

  • Helsinki Day, June 12, celebrates the city's birthday, with free entrance to museums and other attractions.
  • The Savonlinna Opera Festival takes place in late July.

Side Trips

  • Porvoo's stone streets and painted wooden houses are wonderfully anachronistic; it's even accessible by 1950s-style train from Helsinki.
  • Visitors to Fiskars Village, home of the famed orange scissors, can try their hands at glass blowing and tour the factory.

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