The six islands comprising the Fortress of Suomenlinna in Helsinki, Finland, have the kind of forlorn beauty that one would expect in this pocket of Scandinavia -- and a quirky, varied culture all their own.
Allow me to explain what Finland seems to be to me. In one word: design. Think ice, sleek and shiny like steel. Snowflakes, each one perfectly unique in its crystalline lattice. And darkness, the absorption of all light and the undying fashion statement of "artists" around the globe.
I was lucky enough to spend an idyllic August exploring -- by foot, train, plane, and bikes (free in cities such as Helsinki with a deposit). But if you only have a week, there's still a trove of highlights that can be enjoyed.