Finland's Polar Extremes

With the most guaranteed snow in Europe, the awe-inspiring northern lights and the endless summer days, Finland is nothing short of spectacular.

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Visit Finland

Photo By: Visit Finland

Photo By: Visit Finland

Photo By: Visit Finland

Photo By: Timo Newton-Sums, flickr

Photo By: Visit Finland

Photo By: Visit Finland

Photo By: Visit Finland

Photo By: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho, flickr

Photo By: Visit Finland

Photo By: Visit Finland

Photo By: Visit Finland

Olavinlinna Castle

One of Finland’s top attractions, Olavinlinna Castle is a 15th-century three-tower castle located in Savonlinna. It is the northernmost still-standing medieval stone fortress; nowadays the castle's halls and rooms can be rented and used for all kinds of events.

Helsinki

A stunning view of Helsinki -- Finland’s capital and continental Europe’s northernmost city -- can be seen from Atelje Bar, one of the harbor city’s hottest nightlife spots.

Porvoo

Porvoo, Finland's second-oldest town, comes alive in the summer with its charming cafe life and coastal location. Porvoo Cathedral, one of the city's most well-known landmarks, was built in the 15th century and has burned down five times; its most recent renovation was in 2008.

Iso-Syöte Resort

With the Scandinavian climate, skiing is serious business in Finland. The Iso-Syöte Resort  -- with its cozy log cabins and beautiful forested landscapes -- is one of Finland's biggest ski resorts. Plus, in the summer you can ski here with 17 hours of daylight.

Serena Water Park

The Finnish sauna is a place to relax, catch up with daily news, rejuvenate the spirit and, of course, keep warm. So it's no surprise that the Finns love indoor water parks, like the Serena Water Park. The largest water park in the Nordic countries, Serena has a series of pools, Jacuzzis and watersides.

Northern Lights in Lapland

Finland's Lapland is one of the best places in the world to witness the elusive and awe-inspiring northern lights (aurora borealis). The most favorable time to catch them is in late autumn, winter and early spring (September to March), and you'll need sufficient darkness and clear skies. A huge lure for tourists, Lapland offers aurora safaris, glass igloos for watching and busses with panoramic skylights.

Lainio Snow Village

For the truly brave, spend a night in Lainio Snow Village's ice hotel. Choose from ice igloos or more elaborate ice suites that combine luxury lodging in the style of a traditional tepee of the Sami, the Arctic’s indigenous people.

ICIUM Wonderworld of Ice

Located just over 100 miles from the Arctic Circle is the popular frozen tourist attraction ICIUM Wonderworld of Ice. This breathtaking snow and ice sculpture park designed by award-winning Chinese artists is quickly becoming the most popular winter destination in Lapland.

Ice Swimming

We might think that jumping into a frozen lake through a hole cut in the snow is crazy, but for the Finns it's a popular winter custom. Approximately 120,000 Finns go winter swimming, from the first day of October until the end of February.

Lake Saimaa

Saimaa, a labyrinth of blue lakes and green islands that forms the largest lake district in Europe, is particularly stunning in summer, with the long days of sunlight and numerous Finnish cultural celebrations.

Sibelius Monument

One of the first abstract monuments in Finland, created to honor the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, the Sibelius monument in Helsinki showcases the Finns creative spirit and love for the avant garde. Some say it’s the northern lights, some say an organ; it is open for interpretation.

Santa Claus Village

In Finland, the Christmas spirit isn’t just celebrated, but Santa Claus himself can be found alive and well. Visit the Santa Claus Village in Lapland to meet the real Santa Claus and cross the magical Arctic Circle.

Finnish Cuisine

Fish, game, forest mushrooms and wild berries -- pure ingredients with striking flavors -- are typical of Finnish cuisine.

Snow and More Snow

Finland knows how to embrace winter and can pretty much guarantee fresh powder all season long. The Finnish ski resorts boast hills covered with snow for about 200 days a year.