Long cold winters mean that Helsinki, the capital of Finland, comes doubly alive in the summer. The snow melts away from the bike trails linking the city and outdoor cafes spring up everywhere. This is a great time to visit Suomenlinna, a fascinating sea fortress dating to the mid-1700s. Traditional saunas (try cooling off outdoors in the winter for a bracing thrill) are available for a cleansing sweat, perhaps necessary after partying on Helsinki’s islands and peninsulas during one of its yearly festivals like Vappu, a carnival-esque bacchanal. English and Swedish are widely spoken, and the architecture calls for mind a mini St. Petersburg (a role Helsinki has played in more than one film). The Ateneum art museum represents one of the most significant collections in Finland, or check out the Sibelius Monument, a tribute to the native composer, which resembles giant organ pipes fused together. Look for the Market Halls open year round to sample Finnish treats including beaver sausage and smoked fish. European capital which is relatively unassuming but fascinating in its own right, Helsinki has a personality all its own.