What you must do when you visit Finland
January 1, 1970
by Ann Mari Karhunen
“Finland is a country with the best education in the world and it is always cold there.. and what else I can do there?” That is a most common phrase and a question I have been asked as a Finn. But believe me, there are plenty of things to see and do and that’s why I made this list for you. I hope you can enjoy your trip to it’s fullest!
Tervetuloa, Welcome to this lovely nordic country Finland!
Helsinki might seem a pretty small city to be a capital and yes it is, but besides its minor size, Helsinki is full of thing to see and do. Take a walk in the city centre and visit the market hall and a local food market in Kauppatori. But be aware of seagulls, because they are masters in stealing your food and Kauppatori is full of them! Walk through a beautiful Esplanade park and enjoy the architecture of Helsinki. If you love shopping you should visit Aleksanterinkatu, a street in the city centre and stop by department store Stockmann which is full of branded goods. Also, Helsinki has one of the Scandinavian biggest malls called Itis. If you love eating out I have good news for you, Helsinki has various restaurants from Asian kitchen to urban vegan food places! I do recommend to google out the best ones. And what would be Helsinki without museums and art? Two biggest museums in the centre of Helsinki are Kiasma, contemporary art, and Ateneum, the best pieces of Finnish art.
Lapland is an ethnocultural region located in northern parts of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia. It is a homeland for the only indigenous people of Union Europea: Sámi people. It is highly recommended to visit there for its magnificent Nordic nature. It is quite gold there always even during the summer the average temperature is 10 to 15 °C (50-60°F), and during the winter it’s -16 to 3 °C (3-37°F), so you might wanna pack your warmest jacket for this trip but I assure you, your trip will be worth it!
During the summertime, you can experience the magical midnight sun. If you love hiking and nature this is your place to go! Lapland is full of National parks where you can hike and camp in the heart of the wilderness.
During the winter Lapland turns out to be a true winter wonderland! Visit Santa Claus village (Yes Santa Claus is from Finland), have a Husky or Reindeer ride, skiing in artic hills and if you are lucky you can see one of the best phenomena of Mother Nature; Aurora Borealis. ‘
Eat Local food
You should try the sauteed reindeer because it is delicious. If you are not into eating Santas reindeer try out fish, for example, salmon, northern pike, pike-perch. Summertime food markets are the best place to find berries, mushrooms vegetables and tasty traditional plates made out of local, Finnish food. But also Finnish forests bursts of wild berries waiting to be picked such as cloudberries, wild blueberries, lingonberries and those cute wild strawberries, so why not to pick your own berries?
Here are some of my personal favourites of finish cuisine: Salmon soup, sauteed reindeer, wild blueberries, Finnish strawberries and my absolute favourite is Karelian Pasty. It is a pasty filled with rice in a thin rye crust. Traditionally eaten with chopped up boiled egg and butter. And you can’t leave Finland without having a “pullakahvit”, ‘coffee and cardamom bread, or cinnamon roll break’.
Stay Overnight in a Summer Cottage
Finnish people do love their own space, silence, and peace so that’s why most of the Finns have their own summer cottage nearby a lake. Typical Finn spends his or her summer vacation in his or her summer cottage and I have to admit that this is one must do things for me every summer. Summer ain’t summer if I can’t have a barbecue, bath in the sauna and swim in a lake, listen to the birds and nature and just relax in the woods in my own Summer Cottage. Try it!
Enjoy Finnish Nature
You may already notice that nature is important for Finns. Even in the Helsinki, there are primordial woods where you can walk, play, enjoy and feel the nature. Did you know that Finland has an ‘every man’s right’? It means that everyone in spite of their nationality has a free access and right to roam and enjoy the outdoor pursuits at anyone’s lands. The best of all is that you can pick up mushrooms, wild berries and flowers as long as they are not protected species. In order to make every man’s right to work every one of us needs to respect the nature, others and the property. So as long you clean up your trash after you and do not destroy nature you are free to roam in the woods!
Try the Sauna and Lake
You can’t visit Finland without bathing in the sauna, this is must do in Finland. Yet we have two million saunas in Finland there should be one for you too! Sauna is a place to relax and bath. Best combination with sauna is a swim in a lake and a good Finnish beer. Does not matter if the lake is covered by ice Finn goes there if it is possible, so try out what it feels like to bath in a sauna and dip into a hole in a lake covered by ice.
Eat The Best Candy and Chocolate in the World
Finnish company Fazer makes the best chocolate in the world, you have to taste it! The iconic chocolate bar is called Fazer Blue, because of its blue wrapping paper. I assure you every single candy and chocolate from Fazer is worth to taste. In Finland, we have also Panda and Brumberg which produce tasty chocolates too! And for the brave ones we have a candy called Salmiakki, a salty liquorice.
How about Finnish design Souvenirs?
Instead of buying cheap ‘I love Finland’ T-shirts and key chains, why not buy something high quality and useful products? Finnish design is known for its high quality and functional use. Check out the most known brands:
Marimekko; Timeless Scandinavian Fashion
Iittala: High-Quality Glass Items
Arabia: Practical Ceramics
Pentik: Interior Desing inspired by Northern Beaty
Artek: Revolutaniory innovations by Finnish designer Alvar Aalto
Finlayson: Home Textiles and Desing Since 1820
Aarikka: Nordic Jewellery and Home Decoration
Fiskars: Functional and Sustainable Kitchen Tools. Author of the best scissors in the world, these are made for your hand. Personally, I recommend Fiskars scissors for the best and easiest souvenir ever, because everyone needs a good pair of scissors despite their personal design taste.