Kotka

Helsinki’s Art Nouveau
The Magnificence of St. Nicholas’ Cathedral
Sapokka, the Fairytale Garden

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Kotka

The Midnight Sun of Finland

Finland is a magical, fascinating, unexpected place, a land of contrasts with its midnight sun in the summer and only a hint of light during the daytime hours in winter.

An MSC Cruise ship will take you on a discovery of this country, disembarking in Kotka. With its name meaning “eagle”, this port town is not far from Helsinki, accessible on an excursion.
Overlooking the icy Baltic Sea, at first glance, Helsinki may seem like an icy, cold city, but this is not the case. The capital of Finland is a vibrant, active center with trendy restaurants and bars, and has a green soul with its lush parks. Its archipelago consists of over 330 islands which are home to campsites and beaches.
 
To get to know Helsinki, take a walk through the old neighborhoods of Katajanokka, Kruunuhaka, Eira and Kallio, where you can admire the Finnish Art Nouveau of the buildings.
Not to be missed is the Finnish National Theater in gray granite, the Railway Station and the square with the ancient market of Hakaniemi where you can buy vegetables, fruit, bread, and fish, but also jewelry and stamps.
 
St. Nicholas’ Cathedral dominates the city. The imposing white building, in Neoclassical style, was inspired by the Pantheon in Paris and was completed in 1852. Visited by over three hundred thousand people every year, the church overlooks the vast Senaatinori Square, the institutional and cultural heart of the city.
 
Another excursion will take you to Sapokka Water Garden. Admired by thousands of people from all over the world, this green oasis was renovated in the mid-1990s and is located near Kotka. The vegetation is lush and its colors change according to the seasons: in spring, it is a show of blooming azaleas and rhododendrons. The stream that runs through the park is composed of water from the sea.

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    Finland

    Eccentricity and mystery
    Eccentricity and mystery

    Drawing strong cultural influences both from its easterly neighbour, Russia, and from the West, Finland remains one of Northern Europe’s most enigmatic countries.

    It’s a land best known for its laconic, pithy people with a penchant for kicking back in a sauna au naturel, and for its quirky and bizarre annual festivals – indeed its strangeness is a good part of the country’s charm. The Finnish landscape is mostly flat and punctuated by huge forests and lakes, but has wide regional variations. A cruise to Finland will take you to the south whose scenery may be least dramatic, but this is more than compensated by the capital, Helsinki, with its brilliant fin-de-siècle architecture and superb collections of late modern and contemporary artworks, as well as the former capital of Turku, with some great museums and nightlife.

    Stretching from the Russian border in the east to the industrial city of Tampere, the vast waters of the Lake Region provide a natural means of transport for the timber industry – indeed, water here is a more common sight than land, with many towns lying on narrow ridges between lakes. North of here, the gradually rising fells and forests of Lapland are Finland’s most alluring terrain and are home to the Sámi, semi-nomadic reindeer herders.