Backpacking in Finland: TOP 5 Multi-Day Trails

Backpacking in Finland: A female hiker taking a picture of the scenic sunset in Finland

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Backpacking in Finland offers immense variety for outdoor enthusiasts, from the rugged hills of Finnish Lapland to the thousands of lakes and endless forests, including popular destinations like Nuuksio National Park.

And that’s what this post is all about – backpacking in Finland. We’ll provide tips to help you prepare for backpacking in this diverse country as well as showcase the TOP 5 multi-day trails in Finland.

From the midnight sun of the summer to the northern lights of winter, Finland’s landscapes provide spectacular backpacking opportunities year-round. Whether you’re an experienced thru-hiker or new to backpacking, the tips and trails highlighted in this guide will inspire your next adventure.

Let’s get started.

Key Tips for Backpacking in Finland

  • What to expect: Much of the country is covered by forests like birch and pine, which make for shady trails. The landscape has dramatic changes too, from dramatic fjords in the northwest to flatter lake areas in the east. Multi-day routes traverse rugged nature with campsites spaced just far enough apart for a full day’s hike.
  • Essential gear: It’s important to pack clothing you can layer, like thermal tops and fleece middlayers. You’ll need stuff to keep you warm when wet or dry. Also pack something to clean drinking water from lakes and streams, like a filter or water treatment pills. Pack a headlamp for traveling at night between campsites. Since trails aren’t always easy to follow, bring a map and compass or GPS to navigate the backcountry safely.
  • Wildlife: You may encounter bears, wolves, elk, moose and smaller predators that could pose a threat. Bears roam forests throughout and can become aggressive if surprised or near cubs, while wolves inhabit forests but typically avoid people. Elk and moose, Finland’s largest mammals, can also charge during mating season. Lynx and wolverines range northern areas but tend to avoid contact. You also need to be aware of ticks, which can carry diseases.
  • Wild camping is not generally permitted and designated campsites must be used instead. However, backcountry travelers can often pitch a tent almost anywhere, as long as certain etiquette is followed like camping at least ~500 feet (150 meters) from any roads or homes, not lighting campfires except in established fireplaces, and leaving no trace when departing. Additionally, private property and designated protected natural areas do enforce strict no camping rules.
  • Best times to go are late June through August with reliable summer weather, averaging 60-70°F. Midges are less bothersome, and there’s nearly 20 hours of daylight for covering good distances. Shoulder seasons of May/September have fewer bugs and visitors but more unpredictable rain. Winter offers snow and Northern Lights from November through April with proper extreme cold gear, as temperatures regularly plummet well below freezing.

Top 5 Backpacking Trails in Finland

Discover the most stunning long trails in Finland for amazing adventures:

1. Karhunkierros Trail

A winding river flows through a lush, green forest

Length: 50.9 mi / 81.9 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 6729 ft / 2051 m
Location: Oulanga National Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 12 720 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

The 50-mile Karhunkierros Trail in northern Finland is a rugged hike through wilderness. You’ll walk through green forests and flower meadows, cross wobbly suspension bridges, and see huge waterfalls crashing down cliffs. At night, you can sleep in huts or pitch a tent under the stars. You’ll meet other hikers and backpackers on this popular trail near Oulanka National Park. Get ready for steep climbs up and slippery scrambles down as you take in all the amazing views.

2. Hetta-Pallas Hiking Trail

Tall pine trees stand on brown earth under a bright blue sky

Length: 29.7 mi / 47.8 km
Type: Point to point
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 6102 ft / 1860 m
Location: Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 8200 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Hike 30 miles through Finland’s Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. Follow wooden poles and signs up mountain ridges, from pine forests to bare mountaintops. Pass tranquil lakes and crashing waterfalls as you go from Hetta to Pallas. Spend nights in wilderness huts, listening for reindeer herds. This challenging route is popular with hardy hikers. Take in the stunning views of Lapland’s ancient landscape as you climb up and down the rugged fells. It’s a tough but epic adventure!

3. Birgitta Trail

A glimmering lake peeks through the trees

Length: 36.8 mi / 59.22 km
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 3625 ft / 1105 m
Location: Lempäälä
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 9650 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Hike almost 40 miles on this challenging loop trail through Finland’s Lempäälä forests and lakes. Pass quiet ponds and meet fellow hikers as you wind through scenic Pirkanmaa. Spend nights camping under the stars, listening for wildlife in the brush. Parts of the trail are overgrown and worn. Take in the beautiful views of Finnish countryside. After a long day of hiking, swim in a peaceful lake. You can immerse yourself in natural beauty on this popular backpacking route.

4. Nordkalott Trail (Arctic Trail): Kilpisjärvi – Halti

A sweeping mountain vista rises behind a green field

Length: 61.9 mi / 99.6 km
Type: Out and back
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 9409 ft / m
Location: Käsivarsi Wilderness Area
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 15 600 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Hike 60 miles out-and-back from Kilpisjärvi to the Halti peak in Finland’s Lapland. Follow orange markers over fells and tundra, stopping at wilderness huts to rest. Cross between Finland and Norway as you climb to the summit border. Listen for reindeer and enjoy the quiet of the arctic north. Carry supplies and gear as the scenery changes from forest to bare mountaintop. This challenging trail ascends through breathtaking Lapland landscapes.

5. Land of Giants Circuit

Rocky outcroppings stand near the shimmering waters

Length: 54.8 mi / 88.19 km
Type: Loop
Difficulty: Hard
Elevation Gain: 8645 ft / 2635 m
Location: Kilpisjärvi
Estimated Hiking Calorie Burn: 13 300 calories
More Details: See on AllTrails

Trek nearly 55 miles on this challenging Lapland loop crossing between Finland, Norway and Sweden. Traverse snow-capped mountains and pass through green valleys with streams. Walk through yellow birch forests and watch for reindeer grazing on the tundra. See the northern lights overhead at night. Stop to rest in basic wilderness huts along the remote route. Follow the orange Nordkalott trail markers as the scenery changes from barren tundra to forest. Completing the multi-day hike through diverse landscapes takes endurance and navigational skills.

Annual Weather Averages

Finland experiences variable weather patterns throughout the year that backpackers need to prepare for:

Spring (March to May):

  • March and April can still be quite cold with temperatures often hovering around freezing, especially in the northern parts of Finland. Snow is still common.
  • By May, temperatures start to rise, and the snow begins to melt, making it a transitional period for outdoor activities. However, weather can still be unpredictable with occasional snowfall or cold spells.

Summer (June to August):

  • Summer is generally the best time for backpacking in Finland. Days are long, with the Midnight Sun occurring in the northernmost parts of the country.
  • Temperatures during the day can range from comfortable to warm, typically between 59°F to 77°F (15°C to 25°C), but occasionally reaching higher.

Autumn (September to November):

  • Autumn brings cooler temperatures and shorter days. September can still be pleasant for hiking, with temperatures gradually dropping.
  • By October, temperatures begin to decrease significantly, and nights become cold. Autumn foliage is stunning, but trails might be muddy due to rain.
  • November marks the transition to winter, with temperatures dropping below freezing, especially in the northern parts. Snowfall becomes more frequent.

Winter (December to February):

  • Winter in Finland is cold and snowy, especially in Lapland and other northern regions.
  • Temperatures can drop well below freezing, sometimes reaching as low as -22°F (-30°C) or even lower, particularly in the far north.

Before you grab your backpack and head outdoors, take a look at the weather statistics for Finland (Kuusamo):

High °F161827374960656049372619
Low °F241021334450453828177
Rain/Snow (D*)6457101113119876
Note: This table is approximate; weather can change with altitude.
D* – Days of rain or snow.

Alternative Backpacking Destinations

Not sure if Finland is right for you?

Don’t forget to check out our backpacking guides for Sweden and Norway.


Can I have a campfire while camping in Finland?

Campfires are something to think about when camping in Finland’s forests. Fires are only allowed in special fireplace areas found at campgrounds. You can’t have open fires anywhere else to prevent wildfires. Also check if burn bans are in place if it’s very dry out. Smoking in the woods is against the rules too. If you do have a fire, you need to be really careful. Make sure to put the fire all the way out before leaving it. Never leave a fire unattended. It’s smarter to cook with things like portable camp stoves instead of risks from fires. 

Do U.S. citizens need a visa to visit Finland?

If you’re a US citizen and want to visit Finland, you usually don’t need a visa. For trips less than 90 days, Americans can enter Finland without applying for a visa ahead of time. This allows tourists to enjoy exploring places like Helsinki, Lapland, and Finland’s beautiful nature. Just be sure to bring your valid US passport that is good for at least 3 months past your trip. Visitors also need to prove they have enough money and a return flight to another country. Make sure to check carefully if your plans might go past 90 days. In that case, you would need a visa from a Finnish embassy before arriving. 

What are some safety tips for backpackers in Finland?

Backpackers venturing into Finland’s vast wilderness areas have much to see, from rugged Scandinavian forests to isolated Nordic landscapes perfect for exploration. Some safety measures can ensure travelers fully enjoy their time in the great outdoors. Be sure to research trails before heading out to stay on marked routes. Also file a plan with someone back home. When in more remote stretches, pack emergency gear like a first aid kit, map, compass, and shelter. Finland’s weather can quickly change, so come prepared for various conditions. To avoid dangerous wildlife encounters, make noise on trails and store food securely at campsites. With proper preparation and by following leave no trace principles, backpackers can safely experience the undiscovered beauty of Finland’s epic natural scenery.

What are the most popular national parks in Finland?

Finland has many awesome national parks that are great for multi-day trips. One of the most well-known is Lapland National Park near Rovaniemi. Lapland has tons of hiking trails among its forests and fells. You might spot Sámi reindeer herds or northern lights dancing in the sky. Another popular one is Archipelago National Park, made up of over 180 rocky island coasts. It’s beautiful for boating in summer. Hikers also love Nuuksio National Park near Helsinki which has lakes, bogs and woods. It’s easy to access for exploring right from the capital city. No matter which park you visit, you’ll encounter Finland’s amazing nature up close.

How to prepare for backpacking in Scandinavia?

When planning a backpacking trek in Scandinavia, prepare for unpredictable weather by packing versatile layers and waterproof gear. Research permits, right-to-roam laws, and any restrictions in parks or protected areas along your route. Choose a well-marked trail and download maps for navigation when cell service is spotty. Pack a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, and camping stove if relying on free huts or shelters. Carry plenty of food that doesn’t require refrigeration, as villages and shops are scarce in remote areas. Finally, budget extra time and be ready to adjust your itinerary to account for challenging terrain or slower progress with a heavy backpack. With flexibility and the right gear, you’ll be equipped for an epic Nordic adventure.

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