Finland's 37 National Parks, managed by Metsähallitus, cover a total area of 9,789 square kilometres, or 2.5% of the country's total land area. In 2007 a total of 1.7 million people visited them.
Each National Park is a protected area of over 1,000 hectares, freely open to all. Although these parks are significant tourist attractions, having within their boundaries national landscapes and other natural sights, the primary purpose of the National Parks is to ensure the diversity of Finnish nature and to protect natural features. Finland's National Parks are of national and international importance, and in addition to providing a wonderful environment for outdoor recreation and being a valuable source of sustainable nature tourism, the parks are also used beneficially for scientific research and amateur nature studies.
Finland's National Parks are found in all parts of the country, the most northerly being Lemmenjoki National Park in Northern Lapland, the most southerly being the Ekenäs Archipelago in the Baltic Sea south-west of Helsinki, one of four National Parks located in Finland's coastal waters. This wide geographical range means that not only do visitors get to experience the wealth of differient landscapes in Finland, but they also get to experience the incredible diversity of Finnish wildlife and flora, from the snowy owls, lemmings, and wolverines of the north, to the bears and wolves of the east, and the incredible number of nesting birds in the archipelagos.
Finland's National Parks are perfect for hiking, cycling, boating, fishing, and birdwatching, and in the winter the same trails are used by skiers, and in many there are campsites in most for those who wish to stay overnight. The best place to begin an excursion is to visit one of the many visitor or nature centres which are located in or near the National Parks. At these centres you'll find exhibitions which introduce the landscape and biotopes, find detailed maps of the parks, get useful tips on how to make the most out of your trip, and meet local guides whose in-depth knowledge of the area is invaluable. Visitors will also be reminded of the rules and regulations there that ensure the impact made on the environment is negligible, and can stock up on whatever supplies they need for their excursion.
The following is a full list of all the National Parks in Finland, in alphabetical order: click on the link for a more detailed introduction to each of the 37 parks.
Eastern Gulf of Finland
Urho Kekkonen National Park