Finland is an enchantingly magical country, with picturesque lakes, lush snowy forests and wonderful wildlife. It’s also one of the best locations to see the Northern Lights. This magnificent hidden gem has the third cleanest air in the world and stunning landscapes you will not be able to find elsewhere. If this place isn’t already on your bucket list, then it needs to be. Here are some fantastic reasons why you need to discover this beautiful country.
There are 39 stunning national parks located across Finland, with the 40th being inaugurated this year. At each of these parks you will find picture perfect landscapes of towering forests, beautiful lakes, raging rapids and much more. Amongst the gorgeous scenery there is the opportunity to see amazing wildlife including bears, wolverines, golden eagles and reindeer. Each park offers plenty of trails and well marked routes for you to hike across. There's also handy campfire sites so you can take your time to thoroughly enjoy the unspoilt beauty of these parks.
Finland may be highly associated with snow swept forests and winter activities, but there’s also another side to this diverse country. In the southern area you will find vibrant and youthful cities including Helsinki, the capital of Finland. This modern lively seaside city has a strong focus on cutting edge design and architecture, and features many boutiques, workshops and galleries. Around Helsinki you’ll also notice the flourishing foodie scene. There are 300 beautiful islands to explore which are packed with restaurants offering a unique Finnish dining experience. In addition to this you will find several trendy eateries, coffee roasters, breweries and distilleries dotted around the city. Away from the contemporary side of Helsinki, art-nouveau buildings including the national theatre and national romantic railway station preserve the city’s cultural heritage. There’s also many charming restaurants dating back to the 1930s, whose interior has remain unchanged, as well as their menus, so you can enjoy a truly traditional Finnish experience.
The mesmerising Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are a thrilling natural phenomenon which appear more than 200 nights a year in Lapland. This multicoloured light show is formed from the collision of electronically charged particles which originate from the sun and atmospheric gases. Each night, there is a different performance, as the rainbow of colors softly dance in the sky. This is often a once in a lifetime viewing for those who visit Finland, and many encounter a spiritually uplifting experience from seeing it.
The cheerful and magical Lapland is probably the closest you'll get to experiencing a winter wonderland. This beautiful region of Finland is surrounded by a vast countryside and surprisingly more reindeer than people. There is always plenty of things to see and do in this wonderful region, whether it’s gazing up at the stunning Aurora Borealis or skiing on the slopes. Of course, one of the main reasons people go to Lapland is to visit the region’s most famous resident, Santa Claus. Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa and lies right on the Arctic circle. As you venture through the charming Santa Claus Village you’ll find yourself surrounded by cosy log cabins and miles upon miles of forests delicately dusted with a blanket of snow. The main man himself is there every day, and always happy to have a chat with visitors.
For two months in the summer, Finland experiences the spectacular appearance of ‘The Midnight Sun’. During June and July, the sun amazingly doesn’t set and provides gorgeous sunshine almost 24 hours a day! This is a huge contrast to the cold winter months that are kept in darkness, due to the sun not rising above the horizon. As the nights are almost as light as the day, this gives you the opportunity to stay up and enjoy many activities normally associated with the daytime. Soak up the sunshine and enjoy the surprisingly high temperatures by taking a hike on the beautiful fells. Alternatively, you can try the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Lapland or go to a traditional midsummer party in Seurasaari island in Helsinki.
Finland is a wonderful winter haven which experiences a long snow season from November until May. To warm yourself up during the frosty subzero temperatures, get active by trying out one of the many winter activities on offer. Riding on a snowmobile is a great way to experience the outdoors and take in gorgeous scenery during your journey. There’s also the opportunity to glide through the charming landscapes with a pack of huskies or on a sleigh ride pulled by reindeers. Fun fast activities like skiing and snowboarding are a brilliant way to explore and experience Finland. However if you’re seeking something at a gentler pace you can go for a snowshoe hike. Or you could even try ice fishing, the most traditional form of winter fishing in Finland. It’s very easy to do, but you'll need to have the tools to drill a hole in the top of a frozen lake. Once you’ve drilled down, you’ll see the water and hopefully some fish!
The Sauna is a huge part of Finnish culture. Unlike the saunas you find in your spa, these are not a luxury, but actually a daily experience. If you ever visit Finland, make it your priority to step into one of these dimly lit wood panelled rooms. When you experience a traditional sauna you don’t just shed your clothes, but your cares too. Relax as the steam opens up your pores and makes you sweat from head to toe. Although the sauna is normally a place for silent reflection, it is not unusual for people to conduct business meetings in them too. As part of your sauna experience you will find that people hit themselves with birch branches to aid their circulation. Try this out before embarking on an invigorating dip in the lake or pool afterwards, and returning to the sauna before repeating the process. If you end up in a sauna in winter, get ready for a shock to the system, as you plunge into the icy cold water. You may be apprehensive at first, but afterwards you will feel fully refreshed and energised.