Visitor numbers: the popularity of national parks continues to be strong

 Last year, national parks received 3.6 million visits.  The number of visits increased by one per cent from the previous year, and the economic impacts of the spending of national park visitors on regional economies increased by four per cent. Based on the collected feedback, visitors are very satisfied with their trips to nature sites. 

Interest in Finland's national parks has grown throughout the 2000s, and it does not seem that exploring Finland's magnificent nature was just a phenomenon of the corona years. Since 2019, the number of visits to national parks has increased by 12 per cent.   

“It is good that the increase in the number of visits has stabilised. In this way, we can better ensure that the service facilities of national parks and other destinations correspond to the number of visits. Our goal is that visitors stay on the trails and that protected nature does not erode”, says Henrik Jansson, Executive Director of Parks & Wildlife Finland at Metsähallitus.   

National Parks are nature reserves whose management and use is the responsibility of National Parks Finland of Metsähallitus. During the past four years, Parks & Wildlife Finland has been able to make the popular routes more sustainable in relation to the number of visitors, as separate funds have been allocated for renovating duckboards and rest sites and for paving trails with gravel.   

"We hope that our visitors will actively start using these renovated trails and rest sites. The number of visits indicates that this is already the case”, Jansson says.  

Funding for national parks will decrease this year  

Parks & Wildlife Finland is funded from the state budget. This year, EUR 11 million less will be available than in the previous year.   

“To balance finances, we have had to make staff cuts. We have also made our organisational structure more efficient and sought savings in many ways. Our aim is to minimise the impact on the services for visitors in national parks and other areas under our responsibility,” says Jansson.  

List of the most popular national parks still the same  

Finland's five most popular national parks had the same number of visits last year as in 2022. Nine national parks exceeded 100,000 visits last year:  

  1. Pallas–Yllästunturi National Park – 584,000 visits   
  2. Urho Kekkonen National Park – 417,600 visits  
  3. Nuuksio National Park – 274,400 visits  
  4. Koli National Park – 249,100 visits  
  5. Pyhä–Luosto National Park – 217,400 visits  
  6. Oulanka National Park – 175,800 visits  
  7. Sipoonkorpi National Park – 172,500 visits  
  8. Repovesi National Park – 132,400 visits  
  9. Syöte National Park – 106,100 visits  
  10. Teijo National Park – 93,000 visits  

For example, Sipoonkorpi National Park grew popular in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, while the number of visitors to Nuuksio declined slightly. The number of visitors to the popular national parks in Lapland increased, for example, in Pyhä–Luosto National Park and Urho Kekkonen National Park. Pyhä–Luosto National Park drew in visitors through a new attraction, a scenic hut at the top of the Luosto Fell.   

“It is worth remembering that national parks are an attraction, especially in Eastern and Northern Finland, and important drivers for the local economy.  Even though Finns are moving to live in cities, many want to spend their free time in Finland's most magnificent nature in more remote areas”, says Jansson.  

Last year, the impact of spending on the local economy by visitors to national parks was EUR 285 million.  

“Last year, the impacts increased by about EUR 10 million, or four per cent from the previous year. This indicates that visitors spend money on local services,” Jansson says.   

Visitors to nature destinations are also satisfied with their trips. Based on visitor surveys and feedback collected at the visitor centres, the customers gave the visit an average of 4.5 (on a scale of 1–5). This is an increase to 2022, when the grade was 4.4.   

Highlights of services that were restored or improved in national parks in 2023  

  • In Pallas–Yllästunturi National Park, Finland's most popular national park by visitor numbers, the Varkaankuru Trail was made more sustainable. The route to the popular hiking trail on Yllästunturi Fell was widened, and wooden duckboards that were in poor condition were replaced with steel grates.  
  • In Finland's newest national park Salla National Park, several day huts and the new Pahanojankuru open wilderness hut have been opened for visitors.   
  • Visitors coming to Urho Kekkonen National Park from Saariselkä will get current information from the new, impressive entrance gate. The busy Niilanpää–Rautulampi section was also paved with gravel to be more sustainable and safe. There are many hikers and mountain bikers on the trail.  
  • Old trails were restored in Sipoonkorpi National Park and a viewing platform was built on the shore of the Bisajärvi campfire site. New routes (e.g. Fiskträsk and Bakunkärr), campfire sites and more parking areas have been built in previous years.  
  • In Koli National Park, guidance has been improved in the upper courtyard of Ukko-Koli, new parking areas have been finished and the Honkapirtti rental hut has been opened.  
  • In Oulanka National Park, trails and campfire constructions were improved in many places, in Syöte National Park roofs of buildings at campfire sites and in Hossa National Park bridges along the trails. 

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