By Andy Symington & Catherine Le Nevez
Lonely Planet – £15.99

It’s sometimes possible to delve into a travel guide and come away with an instinctive feel for the place under investigation. In this instance, Lonely Planet’s Finland has instilled a quintessential feel of what the nation clearly is and what it has to offer. This is immediately made clear in ‘Welcome to Finland’ on page four’s ‘Call of the Wild’: ”The Finland you encounter will depend on the season of your visit, but whatever the month, the call of the wilderness is a siren song not to be resisted.”

The term ‘siren song,’ is a relative and rather pronounced term, as in a round-a-bout kid of way, it implores the reader to not in any way be reticent in packing their bags – as the editors continue: ”There’s something pure in the Finnish air and spirit that’s really vital and exciting; it’s an invitation to get out and active year-round.”

It’s hard to argue with such an acutely, well considered invitation; but then again, we are talking Lonely Planet, a publisher renowned for simply excellent travel guides. This up to date, number one best selling guide to Finland being no exception. Each of its 301 pages (excluding Index) has something enlightening and informative to offer both the casual traveller and the curious investigator.

This is partly due to the book’s instinctive layout: subject, why and when to go?, map, explanation, getting around, activities, festivals and events, sleeping, drinking and night-life, entertainment, shopping and finally, information (which includes numbers, addresses and websites). Once said forthcoming linearity is comfortably embraced, the reader/traveller can forget all/any navigational issues, and get on with not only enjoying this most enjoyable of books, but Finland as a whole. A country, which, as Symington reminds us, is made up of: ”cutting edge urbanity, technology and design meet epic stretches of wilderness in Europe’s deep north. Summers of endless light balance freezing but magical winters, with outdoor activity a must year-round.

From the country’s capital Helsinki to Turku and the South Coast, from Karelia to Lapland, Finland traverses all (travel) areas of the country one essentially needs to know: Finland Today, History, The Sami, Finnish Lifestyle and Culture, Finnish Design, The Arts and of course, Food, Drink and a Survival Guide (which consists of Transport, Language and numerous maps).

Admittedly, a few more photographs wouldn’t have gone amiss, but in all honesty, the book really does stand on it own – without or without a menagerie of photographs.

David Marx


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