Camping Outdoors: There are about 350 campsites with some 6,300 camp cabins and holiday cottages. If you have an international camping card (FICC), you don't need a Finnish camping card. Campers can buy a family camping card at the first site at which they intend to stay; it costs 5€ ($6.50) for the whole year. Regional tourist offices can provide information about campsites, or write to the Finnish Campingsite Association, Mäntytie 7, FIN-00270 Helsinki (tel. 09/477-407-40; www.camping.fi). In North America, the card is available from the Family Campers and RVers Association, 4804 Transit Rd., Building 2, Depew, NY 14043 (tel. 800/245-9755; www.fcrv.org).
Experiencing a Finnish Farm: Despite its role as an industrialized nation, Finland's roots extend deep into the soil. Several hundred English-speaking farmers have opened their homes to temporary guests, offering a firsthand view of how the country grows such flavorful produce and vegetables. Local tourist offices have information. A well-respected travel expert, Lomarengas Finnish Country Holidays, Eteläesplanadi 22C, Third Floor, FIN-00130 Helsinki (tel. 358-306-502-502; www.lomarengas.fi), compiles an annual booklet with descriptions, map locations, and photographs of scenic farms, antique and modern cottages, and log cabins. Prices for rooms on farms vary, but even the most expensive generally fall in the budget category. It's also possible to arrange rentals of cabins and cottages suitable for two to eight people.
Panning for Gold: In the Lemmenjoki region (near Inari), in Finnish Lapland, there are all-day gold-panning trips along the River Lemmenjoki between mid-June and mid-September. Participants are shown how to wash gold by sluicing and panning. On the return trip you'll stop at Ravadas waterfall, one of the most spectacular sights in northern Finland. For more information, contact Lemmenjoki Cabins, Ahkun Tupa, FIN-99885 (tel. 016/67-34-35).
Lighthouse-Watching in the Gulf of Bothnia: The waters separating Finland from Sweden are dotted with thousands of islands, some of them forested, some of them wind-scoured and rocky, and most of them uninhabited. Between May and August, when the waters are ice-free and the northern lights shimmer down upon waters, you might opt for lighthouse-watching cruises that last between 1 and 3 days. The most famous of the lighthouses in the archipelago near Vaasa is the Valassaaret Lighthouse, designed by an associate of Gustave Eiffel (Henri Lipart) in the 1890s. Other lighthouses date from the early 1960s. Your exposure to the bird life, marine life, and botany of the Gulf of Bothnia will be unparalleled. For more information, contact Botnia Tourist, Vaasanpuistikko 22, FIN-65100 Vaasa (tel. 06/325-11-25; www.pohjanmaanmatkailu.fi).
Seeing Lapland on a Safari: Borton Overseas (tel. 800/843-0602; www.bortonoverseas.com) will take you on a tour of Finnish Lapland. You experience close encounters with the Sami people and their culture, and get to see one of the last great wildernesses of Europe. You're taken to old village settlements and along lakes, where you can watch herds of reindeer. Summer tours of the tundra are held between May and early September, and in winter it's also possible to traverse the snow-covered tundra on tours between January and April.
Taking a Snowmobile Safari: From the first week of January until mid-April, you can take a 6-day/5-night snowmobile safari; you fly from Helsinki to Ivalo in the north of Finland and back again. At the Saarisellkä Skiing Resort, you first get snowmobile driving lessons and then have the opportunity to go snowmobile trekking through varying winter landscapes. Overnights are sometimes arranged in wilderness huts; safari outfits and all meals are provided. For more information, contact Nordique Tours, 11099 S. La Cienega Blvd., Suite 210, Los Angeles, CA 90045 (tel. 800/995-7997; www.nordiquetours.com).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.