I recently had a fab little holiday to Finland and it got me to thinking. Why haven’t more people visited Finland? Maybe because they just don’t consider it. So, here are my reasons you should consider visiting Finland, plus some photos for added incentive!
1. It’s easy and safe
English is the official business language for the Finnish, so you’re not going to have too much trouble communicating. They use the euro, so that removes another potential layer of complexity and actually makes it a bit cheaper than other Nordic countries. Their airports are large and well served by numerous airlines, including budget airlines such as Norwegian.
It’s also very safe with low crime rates. Finland’s capital, Helsinki, was named second safest city in the world.
2. Lots of outdoor activities
Finnish Lapland is home to 200,000 reindeer (and only 183,000 people), 6 national parks and a vast and sprawling wilderness of natural beauty. In winter it is blanketed in snow, creating an enticing Arctic playground for snow mobile-ing, skiing, snow shoeing, dog sledding and reindeer sledging.
We stayed in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland, where all these sports were on offer.
As an added bonus, Rovaniemi boasts the “official” home of Santa Claus himself, which is fun to visit.
Also fun to visit is the Arctic Snow Hotel just outside Rovaniemi. You can book tours through the hotel website throughout winter.
You can reach Rovaniemi by taking an overnight train (“the santa claus express”) from Helsinki, which we found to be quite comfortable.
With some 188,000 lakes, there is also plenty of fishing and water sports to enjoy in the summer time. Sailing is very popular, and it’s a must to visit the islands surrounding Helsinki. We visited Suomenlinna, one of the biggest sea fortresses in the world situated on a series of 6 islands just off Helsinki.
Check out that amazing light!
A ferry service runs from the Helsinki Market Square to Suomenlinna throughout the year and takes 15–20 minutes.
3. Experience the polar night or the midnight sun
Both are unique natural phenomena which everyone should aim to experience at least once in their life. Yeah, you might not love it, but it’s amazing to see!
Although the midnight sun only shines above the Arctic Circle, nights are white all over the country. Late at night, the sun only briefly dips below the horizon before rising again.
Fun fact, an old popular belief is that when a young maiden collects seven flowers under her pillow on Midsummer night – the longest day of the year – her future fiancée will show up in her dreams.
The opposite is the polar night which, in the arctic circle, can mean the sun doesn’t rise at all for up to 3 months during winter. However, it is not as dire as it may sound – during the polar nights, the landscape is covered in snow, reflecting the light of the stars above – the Finns call this soft blue light the ‘kaamos’, and it’s beautiful for taking unique photographs of the natural scenery.
4. See the northern lights
Speaking of unique natural phenomena, the northern lights can be seen from Finnish Lapland for about 200 nights in the year! Who wouldn’t love the chance to see that? The best times are from August to April, and of course there are no guarantees but it’s worth a shot. Seeing them requires clear skies and a bit of luck. Chances of catching them get better the further north you go.
The northern lights are the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are the most common.
You can go out hunting them on your own – you’ll need a car to drive away from city lights. There are also many guided tours you can join, with the bonus they will have insider information on the best places to go.
You could even gaze up at the skies from the comfort of your own glass igloo!
We didn’t get to see any northern lights, but it was still fun being on the hunt and we got to huddle around a campfire eating reindeer sausages.
5. The kudos
Who doesn’t love to be able to say they’ve been to a place that few other travellers have visited? Finland is known for quite chilly temperatures during the winter, but as long as you’re prepared with appropriate outdoor clothing this doesn’t have to affect your enjoyment of the natural beauty the country has to offer.
Complete your experience
Jack London’s The Call of the Wild – yes, I know it’s not set in Finland but it will still get you in the right mood and it’s a classic that everyone should read.
In the same vein as above, Eight Below – because it’s a Disney movie featuring a dog sledding team and Paul Walker!
Reindeer and glögi (mulled wine). In a sauna which, trust me, will be easy to find because they are everywhere.
Nightless Night by Husky Rescue because of course. Also, they are from Helsinki.