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National parks of Lapland

Finland is home to an incredible 35 national parks, seven of which are found in the northern region of Lapland. In fact, more than 70% of Finland is made up of forests, while there are a further 188,000 lakes. That's a whole lot of wilderness.

Thanks to Everyman's Right, which, in Finland, gives everyone the freedom to roam across land so long as it doesn't harm the environment, exploring this vast landscape is easier than ever. Here's a list of Lapland's national parks so you can start dreaming of your next adventure in Finland's great outdoors.

Lemmenjoki National Park

The Lemmenjoki National Park is the largest in all of Finland and one of the biggest in Europe.

Running through it is the Lemmenjoki River, on which you can take a guided boat cruises to help you explore. The park is crisscrossed with around 60 kilometres of trails, but panning for gold is one of the most popular activities here. One of the best-known sites in the park is the Ravadas Falls, a mid-sized cascade carved into rock.

Urho Kekkonen National Park

The Urho Kekkonen is a vast stretch of land that extends all the way from Saariselka in northern Finland to Lapland and the Russian border. It has 200 kilometres of marked trails, some of which are appropriate for leisurely hikes while others suit more intensive camping trips. The park is also popular for cross-country ski trips during the winter and early spring, when the snow is at its heaviest. A number of huts stocked with firewood are available in the park, located about a day's journey from one another.

Pallas-Yllastunturi National Park

This big park is a major conservation area for some of Finland's fells and their surroundings. It's rumoured to have the freshest air in Finland, along with the country's very first hiking trail. Hiking and cross-country skiing are among the most popular activities here, as there are more than 350 kilometres of marked trails, though skiing inevitably involves forging your own path. The most visited area – although still remote – is the 55 kilometre-long trail that connects the villages of Hetta and Pallastunturi. You'll find a nature centre and hotel along the way.

Pyha-Luosto National Park

After having been joined with Finland's first national park, the Pyhatunturi National Park, in 2005, the Pyha-Luosto National Park is both the oldest and the newest national park in the country. The park's two most famous fells – Pyha and Luosto – are connected by a highly-scenic trail. The landscape here is incredibly varied, at times cut by deep ravines and peaks of the tunturi, then evening out to sweeping fells and ancient sites of the Sami people.

Bothnian Bay National Park

Though the Bothnian Bay National Park encompasses 157 square kilometres, only 2.5 kilometres of that space is actually on land. Instead, the park is composed of a number of islands, so in reality it's only reachable by boat, and recommended only for experienced boaters. Come wintertime, the bay is covered by ice and trekkable only by skis or snowmobile.

Riisitunturi National Park

The Riisitunturi National Park is known for its abundance of swamps and snow-covered trees that look like upside-down icicles. Though there aren't many facilities here, the most popular activities are hiking and cross-country skiing, not to mention pausing for sweeping views of the fells, especially from the top of the Riisitunturi Fell. However, because of the change in altitude, the trails here can be demanding.

Oulanka National Park

Because of its strict protection by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Oulanka National Park is an incredible place to view Finland's animal and plant species. The park is made up of vast pine forests and river valleys, and is speckled with cabins that are free for hikers to use. The most popular route in Oulanka – and arguably all of Finland – is the Karhunkierros trail, which extends for 80 kilometres and is open year-round.

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