You all probably know by now that I was in Finland this month. I haven’t really been trying to hide it, have I? Well, it was a brand new country on my list and it exceeded my expectations – especially beautiful Lapland!
I decided to go and ask what other people think of Finland and what there is to do there – and who is better to ask than my fellow travel blogger colleagues? So here are some amazing things to do in Finland according to travel bloggers.
Husky sledding in Finland
I spent 5 days in the Ruka Kuusamo area of Finnish Lapland earlier this year. It was an incredible experience. There are so many things to do in Ruka Kuusamo and Finland in general, but I’m going to share with you my absolute favourite – HUSKY SLEDDING! I visited Erä-Susi Nature Safaris and was absolutely blown away. The place is owned and run by an incredible man called “Wolf”. They have over 200 dogs and “Wolf” knows all of them by name. I was lucky enough to visit when they had puppies, my heart nearly stopped from cuteness overload. They don’t just have huskies, they have reindeer too.
You can choose to just hang out with the dogs and reindeer, have a hot drink in the cafeteria and browse the gift shop, OR you can go on a husky safari! There are short 35 minute safaris all the way up to 5 days safaris. I basically just spent my day rolling around in the snow petting all the dogs and taking a million photos. On the safari you get to see parts of the landscape that you would never been able to see on foot or by car. It’s serene and exhilarating all at the same time and I 100% recommend it.
Exploring the Cafe Culture in Helsinki
Finland is famous for its scenic outdoors, but its capital, Helsinki is also famous for its diverse and exciting cafe scene. The city’s cafe culture, which dates back to the mid 19th century, is alive and well with a healthy mix of traditional spots and cutting edge, third wave coffee purveyors. Helsinki cafes and coffee shops are busy day and night throughout the year. This should be no surprise since the Finns drink an average of 12 kg of coffee each year, making them the most caffeinated people in the world. Don’t drink coffee? No problem. The best Helsinki cafes serve a variety of pastries like korvapuusti, a Finnish cinnamon bun flavored with cardamom.
Northern Lights in Rovaniemi – The Finnish Lapland
A trip to Finland is not complete without a visit to the Finnish Lapland. Rovaniemi is the address of snow safaris and adventure, home of Santa Claus and also one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Finland. You must face the freezing winter to witness the stunning spectacle, but it is totally worth it. To witness the Aurora Borealis was one of my travel dreams and I was luck enough to see it twice. During our trip to Rovaniemi we monitored the weather forecast hourly for the best time and place to see the Northern Lights.
On our first night we did a group tour to the forest where we did a open fire barbecue and waited for the Aurora Borealis to appear. It was magical, beautiful and unforgettable. But we wanted more, so on our second night we hunted the northern lights by ourselves, checking the weather forecast and waiting for it by the frozen river just outside the town. Double checked on our Finnish bucket list! The Aurora Borealis is one of the top attractions in Lapland but there are so many things to do in Rovaniemi that I suggest you to stay at least 4 days. Bring warm clothes and be prepared to fall in love with this winter wonderland.
Food Tour in Helsinki
You don’t have to spend much time in Finland to realize that there are a lot of unique foods, not only Finnish foods, but Scandinavian foods as well. One of the best things to do in Helsinki when you arrive is to acquaint yourself with the food, and learn some great dining options, on a food tour. We joined a walking tour in Helsinki that took us to seven different speciality shops, plus a huge shopping centre, where we ate things like smoked herring, reindeer soup, and karelian pies. It was a really fun 4 hours and we left the tour with a lot more knowledge about the types of dishes that we wanted to eat during the rest of our trip.
Meeting the Sami people in Finland
If you are going to northern Finland, meeting Sami people must be in your agenda. The Sami people are traditionally known in English as Lapps or Laplanders. They are an indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the Arctic area. They are the only indigenous people of the European Union. In Finland, the Sámi population is approximately 9 000 strong and they are spread in the northern region. Furthermore, they do not speak Finnish but their own language.
The Sámi area of Northern Lapland offers unlimited outdoor and indoor activities. It is great to know about their living style, eating habits etc. They own reindeer and that’s what their prized possession is. Reindeer were the primary means of transportation in the snow till snowmobile dominated the scene.
The Finnish govt. is making all efforts to retain their culture and help them celebrate their uniqueness. During touristy season, they bring reindeer from the wild and use them for tourism purpose. Reindeer are used for safaris and other activities.
The number of reindeer is more than the people in Lapland, so it is obvious that low fat reindeer meat is a strength in the region’s cuisine. Dried reindeer meat is also a Lap delicacy. It is as popular as it was in olden days.
Among activities, you can have a reindeer safari, visit a reindeer park, feed them and have a heart to heart discussions with their owners Sami people (of course there are people to help you with the conversation).
Evan Kristine from Pretty Wild World
Explore the capital city of Helsinki
I often refer to Helsinki as one of the most underrated cities in Europe not only because I’m a local who loves its laid-back vibes but mainly because there’s a lot of things to do in Helsinki people overlook. For instance, for the young creatives, this marvellous city is perfect as it was awarded as the design capital of Europe in 2012 and apart from that, the rise of artists and designers are just going up each year – all of whom contribute massively to the city’s local hip culture.
Despite its high cost of living, Helsinki is still one of the most comfortable place to live thanks to its urban-meet-metropolitan surroundings where nature is within reach without losing the aspects of a modern city. With that said, you’ll enjoy strolling around each corner of Helsinki whereas each intersection will surprise you with an equally stunning mix of old and modern style architectures which leads to what the city is today.
Nevertheless, there are still some places in Helsinki neighborhood you must not miss and here are the following:
– Try the numerous public saunas in the city
– Enjoy good music and craft beers at Helsinki’s hip neighborhood of Kallio
– Visit some of its modern and historical museums
– Try some outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and lake swimming within the city or a day-trip to its neighboring towns
– Don’t forget to visit some of the up and rising independent restaurants owned by some of the city’s most talented chefs. For instance, Chef and Sommelier, Olo, Spis, and Muru to name a few serves seasonal based fusion dishes you’ll certainly love!
– If you’re keen on a traditional setting, head over to Helsinki Market Halls and indulge in some of the country’s local delicacies
Do you have some amazing tips for things to do in Finland? Let me know by leaving a comment.