Raija Lehtonen / Visit Finland


Pre-congress tour to Northern Sweden and Finland
Period: June 17 – June 22

*Dates and schedules are subject to change.
**Trip confirmation requires a minimum of 20 participants.

Have you ever wondered what happens in the heart of the Boreal during the summertime? This tour will take you to experience the magical parts of Finland and Sweden. While during the wintertime, people visit here to see the aura borealis, during the summer, it is possible to see memorable places under the magical summertime. Starting in Helsinki and finishing in Stockholm, you will visit different cities while doing incredible activities such as canoeing, hiking and much more. This tour has also a focus on sustainability.


Tampere guided tour

This tour starts in Finland in a city known for its saunas. In 2022 for the fifth consecutive year, Finland was placed No 1 in the World Happiness Report. The secret may be seen in their cities like Tampere. It may sound surprising if you come from a big country, but Tampere is the most populated inland city in the Nordic countries. It has a population of more than 346 000 people, and the city is one of the major urban, economic, and cultural hubs in the inland region.

Known as Finnish Manchester ”Manse”, Tampere offers fascinating cultural experiences, and urban city life walks hand in hand with vivid nature. The city was established in 1779 by the King of Sweden, Gustav III. In the 1990s, it started to grow due to industrialization. The town was officially declared the “Sauna Capital of the World” because the city has over 30 public saunas open throughout the year. The summertime draws out locals for boating, swimming, and hiking. Nowadays, the city is one of the best places to experience Finnish culture.


The unique paddlewheel-ship

Sweden and Finland are surrounded by nature and water, making this place a beautiful landscape to appreciate. We started this tour in great style by cruising on a unique paddlewheel-ship called Elias Lönnrot in Lake Keurusselkä. The Keurusselkä is Finland’s first collision crater found by amateur geologists, and it is located on the border of Keuruu and Mänttä-Vilppula. This crater is the only Finnish crater which is only partially under water. The cruise will take you to Elias Lönnrot, where other exciting activities await you.


Hotel Keurusselkä activities

It doesn’t matter which activity you want to do. It can be mini golf, archery, frisbee golf, SUP, tennis or padel, the Hotel Keurusselkä has the best of it to offer.


Canoeing and kayaking

The magnificent natural environment of Keurusselkä will be the scenario for several different sports options. How about exploring the water nature of Keurusselkä by canoe? Here you can quickly learn how to use a canoe, and you can go on kayaking trips to the surrounding area for several hours without having to cross large lake ridges.


Hiking and Nordic walking

Surrounded by mountains, a simple hiking activity around the Keurusselkä is a unique experience. From light hiking on the nature trail to several hours of Nordic walking, this is a must-to-do activity if you love nature. Along the way, we do multiple stops where you get time to enjoy the view, take a nice picture to remember or eat a snack.


Sauna by the lake

After the canoeing trip or a hiking day, it would be nice to go sauna by the lake. This traditional sauna is in the middle of a fantastic landscape surrounded by nature. You can enjoy the excellent combination of the heat from the sauna and the cooling dip in crystal-clear waters. Cooling off as your skin steams on the sauna terrace with refreshments – and soaking your toes in cool water are already an experience! When visiting this part of the world, experiencing the Swedish or Finnish sauna is a must-to-do.


Fishing possibility

Large pike and perch have been caught right on the beach, right next to the hotel. Keurusselkä is known for its large pikes and has been particularly well received by fishermen. A fishing trip with the youngest members of the family is also easy with a traditional worm fishing rod, and at the end of the fishing trip you can even grill sausages in the shed of the hotel area. The hotel rents snare / lure packages / lure sets and rowing boats.


Serlachius Museum Gösta (Mänttä)

A hub for diverse cultural activities, the iconic Serlachius Museums offer a unique combination of art, award-winning architecture, history, good food and beautiful nature. The history of Serlachius Museum Gösta can be traced back to 1945 when pieces from the valuable collection of the fine arts foundation established by paper mill owner Gösta Serlachius began to be displayed in his stately home, Joenniemi Manor.


The sculpture garden around the museum offers a wide range of services, from straightforward lunches to outdoor activities. You can enjoy the beautiful nature during art excursions, borrow bicycles, Nordic walking poles and rowboats from the museum.


Crossing of the Bothnian bay with a ferry Vasa–Umeå

One of the fastest ways to travel between Finland and Sweden by ship is taking the Wasaline ferry. This ferry is the world’s northernmost shipping line, transporting passengers and goods daily between Vasa in Finland and Umeå in Sweden. The company’s new ferry, Aurora Botnia, is the world’s most environmentally friendly passenger ferry. This 4.5-hour trip offers different possibilities to enjoy the ride. They have places for kids to play, a business lounge, restaurants, a shopping area, and other activities to entertain you during the trip. Moreover, you can enjoy the splendid landscapes of the two countries from the sea.


Meeting the untamed Vindeln river

The unregulated Vindel River is one of the four national rivers of Sweden. It runs from the alpine area, in the mountains of Vindelfjällen, by the border of Norway, all the way down to the coast through the entire municipality of Sorsele, covering over 8000 square kilometres. The river is the southernmost unregulated alpine river in Sweden, and has as such a unique character. The river has calm stretches of waters, large river lakes as well as wild rapids jumping with joy. The many villages along the river tells the story that the Vindel River has been important. Many of the villages in the Vindel River valley are engaged in their community, and as a visitor here, you could for example take part in one of the happenings and festivals arranged by the villages.

During the 1960’s, there were plans to regulate the Vindel River. This led to a large protest, rallying artists, researchers and politicians from all over Sweden. In the early 70’s it was decided that the Vindel River was safe from regulation.

The river valley of Vindel River is a candidate for the UNESCO Man and the biosphere program. A biosphere reserve is an area with valuable cultural and biological resources, and serves as a model for ecosystem management and sustainable development.

Lunch and SLU presentation at the Hotel Forsen

The hotel is located next to the wildly springing Vindel River and with the rushing rapids as background noise, it is easy to find peace. The Vindelälven Nature Center is located in the hotel which brings the nature, culture and outdoor life of the national river to life.

Skellefteå green credentials

No doubt Skellefteå has developed ways to bring sustainability to our reality. The town’s green credentials are easy to spot when you visit the city. Already from the air, when arriving by flight, it is possible to see the vast pine and spruce forests encircling the town. The city has one of the world’s first fossil-free airports and a wooden air traffic control tower to present evidence of the town’s fondness for constructing in wood. Furthermore, 100 per cent of renewable energy powering the city comes from hydropower and wind. During this tour, you will have the chance to visit and hear about two excellent examples, The Wood Hotel and the Sara Cultural House.


Guided tour at The Wood Hotel, Skellefteå

It may not be surprising that Sweden has a long tradition of building wood houses, but how about a hotel all designed in wood? Welcome to the guided tour at The Wood Hotel, one of the world’s tallest wooden buildings – located in central Skellefteå, Sweden. This hotel also has a rooftop spa with an impressive panoramic view of the city and its green forests.

You will discover northern Sweden in the borderland between nature and innovation at The Wood Hotel by Elite. Built of wood from the local forests, here you will embark on an adventure in a unique environment where nature, design and innovation go hand in hand. The Wood Hotel by Elite was named the best architecture of the year by The Guardian in 2021.


Guided tour at Sara Cultural House

At this place, sustainability is not just a discussion topic; it is a reality! A climate-smart house- Sara kulturhus is a 20-storey building constructed from wood from the forests surrounding Skellefteå. It follows in Skellefteå’s long tradition of constructing buildings in wood. Also, using solar cells and an efficient energy strategy help minimize the building’s carbon footprint.

Here, regular activities are interspersed with different types of performances and meetings with everything from non-profit associations and amateurs to professional actors. The house also houses a brand-new hotel with a spa, a restaurant with panoramic views and first-class accommodations. This guided tour will show you how this Swedish town combines modern technology with local traditions to bring sustainability to our reality.


Midsummer’s Eve Celebration in Bonnstan

a lovely celebration along the river
The Swedish midsummer is famous for its traditional songs, food, maypole dancing and flower wreath. This activity will allow you to celebrate it live, just like a typical Swede in the city described by Carl von Linné as “a polite town”, the Bonnstan.
In 1732, when Carl von Linné visited the town, he described his visit to Skellefteå in the following way: a countless hoop of houses, as well as a polite town, with white chimneys, built in two streets, with cross street consisting of 350 to 400 houses.
The polite town grows after years, and during midsummer celebrations, open markets of various kinds are held here annually. At the same time, the worn facades of the houses are a popular background for photography.

Midsommarfirande i Dalarna. Foto Anna Hållams

Typical midsummer food for this period is smörgåsbord with lax (salmon), färskpotatis (fresh potatoes), sill (herring), strömming (Baltic herring), köttbullar (meatballs), and for desert jordgubbar (strawberries) with glass (ice cream) or jordgubbstårta (strawberry cake). Everything is followed by dance and drinks.


Hyytiälä station sites

Hyytiälä is a historical forestry station that has become a centre of international cutting-edge multidisciplinary research. Current topics cover many aspects of the Earth’s system ranging from soil depths to atmospheric processes. The station is in the middle of state-owned forests and peatlands, approximately a one-hour north-east drive from Tampere, and hosts year-round facilities for field work, education and meetings. Summer field courses for forestry students have been held at Hyytiälä for more than 120 years, and on the site, you will see old wooden houses from the year 1909, as well as modern wooden houses, finished in 2023.

SMEAR II – station’s presentation and measurement activities.
Agenda: history of teaching in forestry in Finland, the role of stations in teaching and research, soil-vegetation-atmosphere relations of forests, the significance of Hyytlälä SMEAR station, results achieved at Hyytiälä.

The SMEAR site (Station for Measuring Ecosystem-Atmosphere Relations) is situated in the Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station of the University of Helsinki. The site consists of a managed, 60-yr old Scots pine forest stand, two open oligotrophic fen sites and a humic lake with forested catchment. The main idea of SMEAR-type infrastructures is continuous, comprehensive measurements of fluxes, storages and concentrations in the land ecosystem–atmosphere continuum. The forest measurements have been operated continuously since 1996. It includes, e.g. leaf, stand and ecosystem scale measurements of greenhouse gases, volatile organic compounds, pollutants (e.g. O3, SO2, NOx) and aerosols, in addition to a full suite of meteorological measurements. The biogeochemical cycles and vegetation–soil–atmosphere interactions are studied experimentally and with long-term observations. The site has full carbon, water and nitrogen budgets made over 10 years and is a complete ICOS ecosystem and atmospheric station.

Siikaneva mire – presentation of the measuring station Siikaneva.
Agenda: Understand the peatlands in Finland, C cycling in peatlands, measurements and results achieved at Siikaneva.
Siikaneva is a large pristine peatland complex (1560 ha) situated in Ruovesi circa 5 km from Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station. The two study sites in Siikaneva represent an open sedge-dominated minerotrophic fen (Siikaneva 1, established 2004) and an open shrub-dominated ombrotrophic bog (Siikaneva 2, established 2011), enabling comparison of the main boreal peatland types. Spatial and temporal variation in the vegetation and greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4 and H2O) are studied in both sites on plots that include a variety of different plant community types as well as vegetation removal experiments.

Siikaneva 1 has been an official part of the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) since 2017. It has ongoing ecosystem-level measurements of greenhouse gases (CO2 since 2004 and CH4 since 2005) with eddy covariance technique and meteorology. Long-term studies on vegetation in Siikaneva include measurements of species-specific cover estimation, leaf area index, above-ground biomass and nutrient analyses of vascular plants, and annual growth and biomass production of Sphagnum mosses.


Jaakkoinsuo forest drainage experimental area

Agenda: learn about the history of forest drainage in Finland, peat subsidence, growth and field studies, and regeneration of peatland forests.

Jaakkoinsuo forest drainage experimental area was established in 1909 on the state forest in Vilppula. The main idea was to increase practical experiences on drainage to improve tree growth in wet areas was initiated during the last decade of the 19th century, both on state and company forests. On the other hand, drainage on private land areas started in 1929. However, a common factor between private, state or forest company lands is that peatland forests’ silviculture has always been based on solid research of mires and drained peatlands. As a result of this process, the forest land area of Finland and the yield of peatland forest stands have increased clearly after forest drainage.


No new mires are drained anymore, but ditch cleaning is still done, especially after final cuttings. A continuous cuttings process is done to decrease the need for ditch cleaning and keep a continuous coverage on the site (e.g. partial cuttings, strip cuttings).

The area of Jaakkoinsuo is nowadays appr. 100 ha, and a marked path with more than 20 long-term experiments exist. The length of the path is appr. 2.5 km, but there are several shortcuts for those with a time shortage.


Visit to the Västerbotten museum in Umeå

Västerbotten museum is responsible for the entire county’s cultural history. The museum’s tasks are to preserve, nurture and bring alive the cultural heritage for present and future.

Forestry exhibitions:
• Timber floating
• How Many Trees Are There in the Forest?


The Joy of Wood – Wood Workshop

Possibility for anyone who wants to create something with their own hands. Why not to carve in fresh birch your own butter knife or olive fork?

Motiv från skogslandet, Mårten Andersson

The art collection at SLU campus in Umeå

SLU in Umeå shares campus with Umeå University. The activities in SLU Umeå are mainly related to departments of the Faculty of Forest Sciences.

SLU has one of Sweden’s largest public art collections. The collection consists of contemporary Swedish art from the 1970’s and 1980’s. The total amount of artwork within the collection is 2 500, to been seen in Ultuna, Alnarp, Umeå, Skara and Skinnskatteberg.

Art should evoke emotions! But art and decoration also have important functions to entertain employees and students at SLU. According to the SLU website on art and decoration art should […] encourage us in our work, stimulate discussion and make us reflect. These features fit well into a university where reflection and questioning should be a natural part of everyday life. […]

Drone view over the Svartberget research station.

Visit the Svartberget Experimental Station, part of the Swedish Infrastructure for Ecosystem Science (SITES) infrastructure

Svartberget is a research station within SLU established in one of the two experimental forests in the area both established on state-owned land already in 1923. The station is located in the Vindeln community, approximately a one-hour drive north of Umeå and today host year-round facilities for fieldwork, education and meetings. The experimental forests, in total 2 500 ha, represents typical boreal forests with pine and spruce stands, mires, lakes, and running waters. The research at the station has evolved over time from mainly forest production studies, to include the international cutting-edge multidisciplinary research. The research topics cover many aspects of forest research, such as assessment of long-term forest production trials to forest ecosystem studies and climate research. The research station at Svartberget was built in 1979. The oldest building in the area is the so-called Flakastugan built in 1923 in the experimental forest where research on the nearby Degerö mire started in 1909.

Automatic chambers for gas flux measurements and the instrument igloo.

The Degerö Stormyr

has a long history of scientific research. The first scientific investigations started in 1911. The main reason for the early research activities was the belief that bog moss (Sphagnum spp.) was about to spread from mires into surrounding upland forests, thus threatening the Swedish forestry industry. The first PhD-thesis from the site was published in 1923 showing that the fears of moss invasion were unfounded. Today Degerö Stormyr is one of the most intensively studied mire ecosystems in the northern hemisphere. The longest time series analysis in the world of carbon and greenhouse gas balance in a mire is being conducted here.


a tributary to the Vindeln River, and the catchment area with the same name is a unique research site for studying the relationships between hydrological, biogeochemical, and ecological processes in the same ecosystem. Krycklan is a 6780 hectare catchment composed of a mosaic of wetlands. The research started in 1980 and has over time developed to become one of the most instrumented and monitored watersheds in the world.

Swedish Infrastructure for Ecosystem Science (SITES)

is a national research infrastructure established 2012 for terrestrial and limnological field research open to all scientists. SITES extends via its nine research stations throughout Sweden and offers research opportunities in a variety of ecosystems and climates. Five of the stations belong to SLU and the research station at Svartberget is one of them. SITES runs three thematic programmes: Water, Spectral, and AquaNet. All data produced within SITES is openly available.


ICOS Sweden (Integrated Carbon Observation System)

The Svartberget atmospheric and ecosystem station, and the Degerös ecosystem station, measures since 2012 the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the gas exchange between the atmosphere and forest ecosystems. The station location represents the conditions in Scandinavian boreal forests and is part of a European research infrastructure with a network of stations established to quantify and understand the greenhouse gas balance of the European continent and of adjacent regions.

Photos by J. Aalto and M. Loponen