Are you packed? We're off! Embark with me on a journey to the heart of Finland, a Nordic country of many landscapes where nature blends with culture and a balanced lifestyle. Discover the breathtaking scenery of a thousand lakes, vast forests and the Northern Lights that light up the night sky. Immerse yourself in Finnish traditions, from relaxing saunas to Sami culture.
From local gastronomy to travel tips, this article offers a captivating insight into this Nordic paradise.
Finland is a European country located in Scandinavia. It borders Russia to the east, Sweden to the west and Norway to the north. It's a very large country, stretching 1160 km from north to south, with a small population of approximately 16 inhabitants per m2. By way of comparison, France has 107 inhabitants per m2 and Germany 236 inhabitants per m2.
Finland is often referred to as the land of a thousand lakes, as it boasts no fewer than 188,000 lakes. In fact, seals can be seen in this region. But Finland doesn't just have lakes, it also has forests. It's the most forested country in Europe! 72% of the country is covered in trees. 🌳
Finland abounds in marvellous landscapes and offers its inhabitants and travellers memorable sights such as the Northern Lights.
One thing is clear: when you're out and about in Finland, everyone is respectful, and no one shouts or pushes in the queues. Public transport is extremely clean, and above all, it feels good!
Finland was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples such as the Sami. These nomadic peoples lived by hunting, fishing, gathering and reindeer herding.
From the Middle Ages onwards, Finland was gradually colonized by Sweden, and remained so for six centuries. By this time, Finland had adopted Swedish customs, language, politics and culture.
In 1809, Finland came under the control of Imperial Russia as an autonomous grand duchy. The Tsar of Russia was the Grand Duke of Finland. This enabled Finland to keep its banks, its currency and to create its own army.
After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Finland proclaimed its independence, which led to a civil war in Finland, but gave Finland its independence. Finland is often involved in conflicts between Russia and other countries in the world, such as Sweden. In the end, Finland lost territory, but kept its independence!
After the Second World War, Finland sought to establish good relations with its neighbors. In 1995, it joined the European Union and adopted the euro in 2002. On April 4, 2023, Finland joined NATO to protect itself from Russia.
The Finnish flag, also called "Siniristilippu" in Finnish, represents a blue Scandinavian cross on a white background. The flag was adopted by the Finnish people on May 29, 1918, a year after the country gained independence from Russia.
The flag is a source of pride for Finns, reminding them that they won their independence from Sweden and Russia.
Explore the fascinating regions and landscapes of Finland and discover their traditions and history. By subscribing, you'll receive information about Finland once a week.
In 2002, seven years after Finland joined the European Union, it switched to the euro, the currency common to most EU countries.
The euro replaced the Finnish mark, the currency used in Finland from 1860 to 2002. The changeover to the euro has enabled :
Renowned for its innovative, contemporary design, Helsinki is packed with historic and tourist attractions such as Suomenlinna Fortress, Market Square and Parliament.
Helsinki is known for its warmth, safety and cleanliness, despite its high population density (650,000 in the city center and 1.5 million in Greater Helsinki). Public transport is clean, comfortable and in perfect condition, encouraging people to take the streetcars, metro or bus.
Helsinki is located on a peninsula of around 300 islands in the Baltic Sea. These islands offer a magnificent landscape to explore.
One of the best-known islands is Suomenlinna Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Next up is the island of Santahamina, home to Finland's Grand National Defense School. This military base provides military training (military service, intensive training and diplomas). This military force serves as a reminder to neighboring countries that Finland can defend itself.
Have you ever heard of the Nokia brand? Did you know it's a Finnish company?
Home to Nokia, Finland is one of the pioneers of mobile telephony and the Internet. It's also one of the most connected countries in the world, offering free wifi everywhere (restaurants, bars, parks...).
Founded in 1865 in the town of Espoo, Nokia was the starting point for mobile communication technologies and 3G. It played a key role in the evolution from cell phones to smartphones. Today, Nokia focuses on telecoms networks, 5G and connected objects.
In addition to Nokia, Finland is recognized as a world leader in innovation and new technologies. In fact, the country encourages entrepreneurship and supports the creation of new technologies (artificial intelligence, video games, etc.).
Finland is also very committed to sustainable technologies, and many companies run on green electricity. Kupilka being the first!
Finland is divided into 19 regions, most of which are concentrated in southern Finland. Lapland is Finland's largest region, located in the very north of the country, north of the Arctic Circle. Finland's 6 main regions are
Lapland is Finland's most northerly region, home to vast stretches of wilderness, forests, lakes, reindeer herds and the Northern Lights.
A region that has often been a source of conflict with Russia, but which abounds in forests and lakes. It's a quiet region, the secret refuge of the Finnish people.
Savonia (North and South) is a very rural region. There are vast lakes and forests as far as the eye can see. A great place to see seals!
Located in central Finland, this region is well known for its popular ski resorts and winter sports activities. Many national parks are also located here.
This region in western Finland boasts numerous archipelagos and islands. The coastal landscape combined with the maritime cultures offer postcard memories.
Region of Finland's capital, Helsinki! This is Finland's most densely populated region, from which the main roads, railways and airlines depart. It is the country's economic and cultural center.
Finland has been and continues to be recognized for its innovative and highly convincing education system. It focuses on condensed learning where everyone can find their place and succeed. Find out more about education.
Finnish people are neutral at first glance, but have a heart of gold. They may not say hello to you in the morning, so as not to disturb your privacy. In 1906, they became the first people in Europe to win the right to vote, regardless of gender.
Finns love nature and their breathtaking landscapes. They will roam their territory summer and winter alike, with scrupulous respect for nature. Vast forests and crystal-clear lakes encourage relaxation and tranquility. Find out more about nature.
There are over 3 million saunas in Finland! Saunas purify the body and help you relax. The aim is to spend 10 minutes in a sauna ranging from 80° to 130°, then jump into the nearest water (shower, frozen lake, Baltic Sea). Find out more about saunas.
Finnish education is the envy of many, because it is excellent and of very high quality.
The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) ranking has repeatedly placed Finland in the top 10 countries. For each country, a panel of 15-year-olds is judged on scientific subjects. In 2005, Finland came first out of 70, in 2016 5th and in 2018 7th.
|Ages 7 to 13||From 14 to 16 years old||After 16 years|
|6 years lower level (ala-aste)||3 years of higher level (ymä-aste)||Choice of vocational training or high school|
In higher education, there are more women than men in Finland (60% versus 40%). Finnish education therefore produces more women with doctorates, who then take a career break to look after their families and return to work.
A little anecdote: Finland pays a "parental salary" to mothers or fathers who stay at home to raise their children.
Art and music are very important to Finns, and many of the great names in music, design and architecture are Finnish.
Blue and white flag forming a blue Scandinavian cross on a white background. The blue recalls the lakes and the white the snow. The flag was created in 1918.
Coat of arms
The coat of arms depicts a golden lion on a red background holding a sword, symbolizing strength and courage, and surrounded by nine silver roses representing Finland's historic provinces. The coat of arms dates back to 1557
The national animal
The brown bear: nicknamed the king of the forest by the Finns. The first peoples of Finland considered the bear a sacred animal and honored it.
The national bird
Whooper swans: this graceful white bird has been nesting in Finland for years. In spring, when the swans return from migration, the Finnish skies are filled with these birds with their distinctive song.
Lily of the valley: the first flower to emerge after the harsh Finnish winters. The lily of the valley is featured in many Finnish poems and music. Lily of the valley is also a traditional feminine name in Finnish, "kielo".
Birch: this tall tree with its white trunk and lush leaves is the king of Finnish forests. The Finns use the birch in many ways: the wood for building houses, the sap as a drink and the bark to make objects.
Perch: the most common and easily identifiable fish in Finnish waters. It is very easy to catch and can be found on every market and table in Finland.
Granite: granite originally covered the entire country. Today, pinkish granite outcrops can be found in every region. Granite has also been used in the construction of many buildings in Finland.
The 7-spotted ladybug: a recognizable animal among the others with its beautiful red color. It's also a totally harmless insect!
Pesäpallo: also known as Finnish baseball. It is played by two teams of nine players, who compete to score points by throwing and hitting a ball with a bat.
Ice hockey remains by far the most popular sport in Finland.
The sauna is an inseparable part of Finnish life, part of their customs and daily routine.
Originally, the sauna was regarded as a temple of nature where we came to recharge our bodies and minds. This is still true today, and you'll soon realize it if you travel to Finland. You'll find them in hotels, guesthouses, in the great outdoors, and even in Helsinki!
Saunas have evolved through the ages, from simple stone-heated holes in slopes to veritable little chalets! There are 3 types of sauna:
Saunas in Finland are practiced in the nude! You need to heat your naked body to temperatures of up to 130°C for at least 10 minutes to induce real sweating. Then get out of the sauna and plunge into cold water (the lake, the Baltic Sea or the shower). The aim is to repeat this cycle two or three times for total body regeneration.
Young birch leaves are often put in bouquets and used to whip the body and stimulate blood circulation (see photo above).
In Finland, the climate is very different depending on where you are. In the north of Finland, in Lapland, the climate is arctic, while in the south it is continental.
Summer in Finland also means longer days and the midnight sun north of the Arctic Circle.
These natural phenomena occur in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. In Finland, these phenomena can be seen in northern Lapland, above the Arctic Circle.
In summer, around the solstice, the sun doesn't sink low enough to create darkness, so it's visible for several hours at a time. The duration of this phenomenon depends on where you are: at the Arctic Circle, it lasts 24 hours, while at the Pole, it lasts 6 months.
The landscape is then illuminated by a yellow-orange light, allowing inhabitants to enjoy an endless day and appreciate nature.
It feels like time stands still and the only thing to do is enjoy what nature has to offer.
In winter, the same phenomenon occurs as in summer, but inverted and shorter in duration. During the polar night, the sun remains below the horizon for several weeks or even months. Towns and cities are in total darkness, with only a flicker of light at dusk.
Polar night has a more intense impact than the midnight sun. Indeed, living in a place without light has an impact on mood, morale, sleep and energy.
The best place to observe the Northern Lights is in the wilderness, far from towns and villages, as you don't need any light pollution in the sky to see them. You also need a dark, cloudless sky.
In Finland, the best months to see the Northern Lights are January and February, when the nights are long and cold. But even if the conditions are right, you can't be sure of seeing any!
It's a bit technical, but to put it simply, the aurora borealis is formed by collisions between solar wind particles and atmospheric particles. This forms green waves in the sky.
The Finnish Meteorological Institute provides forecasts to help you find the right time to see the aurora borealis, but this is unreliable given that it is a natural phenomenon.
Finland offers a wide variety of natural habitats, including forests, lakes, marshes, tundra and archipelagos. This great diversity of habitats means that the country has a highly diversified flora and fauna.
Summer is the best time to appreciate Scandinavian flora. Already on the plane as we approach Helsinki, we realize just how important forests are to the country, even though Helsinki is in the least forested part of the country!
Lakka, or polar blackberry, is a small berry that grows in Lapland. It is easily distinguished from other berries by its bright orange color. It's a slightly sweet, slightly acidic berry used in liqueurs, jams, desserts and jellies.
Every year, around 50 million kilos of berries are harvested, or 10kg per Finn.
Forests are full of animals, some of them pleasant to meet, like squirrels, hares, owls or foxes, but others a little more fearsome, like wolves, bears or lynxes. But don't worry, if you come across one, it's because you really wanted to! These are wild animals that live in forested areas seldom frequented by locals or tourists. The most devastating animal in Finland is the elk. In spring, when they migrate north, they cross roads and hit cars, causing major accidents.
Found on the Russian border and in Lapland, the brown bear emerges from hibernation in March and begins to forage for berries, plants and honey.
Reindeer are free in Finland, even if they belong to a breeding farm. They are loved by all, and seen by children as Santa's reindeer.
A shy, peaceful animal much larger than a reindeer. A bull elk can weigh up to 600kg. It feeds on vegetation and aquatic plants.
"Pusa hispida saimensis"
This seal species is one of the most endangered on Earth, numbering just 400 individuals. It is one of the rare seal species to live in fresh water.
Wolves will do anything to stay away from humans, so it's unlikely you'll come across a wolf in Finland. They live in both western and eastern Finland.
With their highly developed sense of smell and hearing, lynxes are difficult to spot and avoid humans. Their fur is gray in winter and russet in summer.
Owls are very common in Lapland, nesting in the vast forests.
This little bird is not afraid of hikers, as it likes to steal food.
Squirrels change color according to the season, turning white in winter and therefore difficult to see.
Explore the fascinating regions and landscapes of Finland and discover their traditions and history. By subscribing, you'll receive information about Finland once a week.
If you're planning a trip to Finland, it's because you love nature!
Before you leave, you need to know about the Right of Everyone (Joka miehen oikeus). This right entitles you to roam the country without any restrictions other than respect for the environment, nature and wildlife. The fact that there are no fences on the territory will make your task easier! So you can roam freely in natural areas, picking berries or mushrooms, fishing or hunting.
The question of when to go to Finland is a personal choice, although it's a beautiful country whatever the season. Here are a few tips, depending on the season.
Summer in Finland is hard to predict, with temperatures ranging from 14°C to 28°C! It's best to bring rain gear and a sweater. Life in Finland is very expensive, and Finnish taste in clothing is atypical. So, if you don't want to add to your holiday budget, it's best to pack light!
In winter, getting around is a little more complicated because of the snow, but the roads are very well maintained, so you can drive safely with the right vehicle.
As far as clothing is concerned, you'll need to pack clothes for skiing, bearing in mind that your clothes won't be warm enough if you go up to Lapland. With this in mind, you can be sure you won't be cold when you arrive.
As you travel around Finland, you'll realize that Finns are not very expressive at first glance, but they have a heart as big as the world. They are a very hospitable people who will welcome you and help you.
Wherever you are in Finland, you'll always find a place to sleep. Finnish accommodation is carefully insulated against cold and noise. They're also beautifully decorated (Scandinavian furnishings and decor are a must!) and most have a sauna. And, if you come in summer, you can always pitch your tent wherever you like.
To get from city to city in Finland, you can travel by car, train or plane. However, overland journeys can be very long, as Finland is a very large country. It is therefore advisable to take the plane, which is cheap in Finland.
A small example: to reach Lapland from the capital, it's 900km to Rovaniemi and 1300km to Ivalo!
As I've just told you, flying is convenient because it's fast, but what about crossing the country from south to north by train? In Finland, you can take the train from the capital to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland and the official Santa Claus village. This journey, which takes an average of 10 hours, is perfect for an overnight trip. You leave Helsinki at 6pm and arrive in Lapland at 8am the next morning. The slowness of the trains is ideal for overnight journeys, where silence is king and you can get a good night's sleep (especially if you have a couchette). For a few extra euros, you can have a berth with a private shower and toilet!
Arctic tundra is a biome found in polar climatic zones. It is home to grasses, lichen and moss. It's an important place for reindeer herders, who drive their reindeer here every summer.
Rovaniemi is the starting point for anyone wishing to visit Lapland. From Helsinki or Oulu, you can reach Rovaniemi by plane, train or car!
Before we tell you about Santa's village, let's take a look at the wonderful things this town has to offer:
Santa's village is located in Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland. It's open all year round, and believe me, no matter what season you go, the Christmas spirit will always be present! Find out what you can do at Santa's Village:
In Finland, dietetics has long been part of the family diet, and sugar has a bad reputation!
Finns love ice cream! In fact, they're so good, you've got to try them! 🍦
It's worth noting that the Baltic Sea is so low in salt that freshwater fish can also be found here.
It's worth noting that the Finns are huge coffee drinkers, at any time of day! They're the world's biggest coffee drinkers! Their coffee is really excellent.
The classic but exquisite spinach pancakes, as beautiful as they are delicious.
Surprisingly delicious fish in a rye bread crust. A specialty from the east of the country.
A gratin layered with thin slices of potato and herring simmered in cream. Western specialty.
This raw, cured salmon is sprinkled with dill and eaten with a mustard sauce, rye bread and potatoes.
It doesn't get much greedier than these cinnamon rolls sprinkled with sugar!
Steamed reindeer stew with mashed potatoes and cranberries.
Finland's many activities offer locals and tourists alike an unforgettable experience and a reconnection with nature.
For the lucky few, sleeping in a glass igloo can be the experience of a lifetime! That's because glass igloos are strategically positioned for viewing the northern lights.
The glass igloo gives you a change of scene, as you sleep in the middle of nature, and can see a reindeer or a hare pass by when you wake up. You lie down on the bed, look up and see a magnificent starry sky free of clouds and pollution. Back to basics.
The glass igloos are heated with a wood-burning stove, and are very cozy and comfortable.
A visit to a reindeer farm allows you to discover the Sami culture, immerse yourself in their daily lives as reindeer herders and learn about their ancestral way of life.
Reindeer are the symbol of Lapland, and to come and see them in their natural state will enable you to see them up close, feed them and understand their role in the local culture and economy.
The reindeer herders will be delighted to explain their trade, the challenges they face and the migration of their reindeer, as well as inviting you to their table to sample a traditional dish.
If you want to immerse yourself as fully as possible in the winter and polar environment, this is the best experience.
Cold weather alert! The whole hotel is made of ice, including the beds, restaurant and bar! It offers an incredible blend of luxurious comfort and the beauty of ice.
The beds are equipped with insulating mattresses and thermal sleeping bags for even greater comfort.
Ice hotels are true works of art that are rebuilt every year. Each year, the hotel chooses a theme and decorates the hotel accordingly. The ice sculpture work is incredibly beautiful and meticulous.
Ice fishing is a fun activity for young and old alike! You find yourself on a frozen lake, cutting a hole in the ice to try and catch a fish.
It's an extraordinary experience for fishing enthusiasts, because you never know which fish will swim under your feet, or what your catch will be!
Ice fishing offers breathtaking scenery, with snow and snow-covered forests as far as the eye can see, and no noise. You just need to be well covered, as it's around -15°C outside.
Dog sledding is an unforgettable and rather noisy activity!
Before setting off into the wilds of Lapland, you'll learn about dog breeding (mostly Siberian huskies) and, above all, how to steer the sled.
Just before you set off, you'll meet the pack who will steer your sled. This is not the time to pet them, as they're too excited to run! Save your petting for the end of the ride, to thank and congratulate them.
This activity is a real connection with the animal, as you have to help the dogs pull the sled uphill, but also brake the sled downhill. You need to watch and understand your dogs, so that, for example, you can stop the sled when one of them is relieving itself.
Dog sledding can be done alone or in pairs! The driver sits at the back of the sled, and the passenger sits in the sled under a reindeer skin to keep out the cold.
Driving a snowmobile is an extraordinary experience, whether you're experienced or not! It can be scary at first, because snowmobiles are so powerful, but once you've got the hang of it, it's great to ride, and the adrenaline rush gets to you very quickly.
And if you're worried about getting cold, don't worry - we've got full wetsuits and heated grips!
A snowmobile safari allows you to visit remote areas inaccessible by car, with breathtaking views.
When you return from Lapland, there are a few must-haves to bring back with you, such as :
Finnish design is at once aesthetic, functional and highly ergonomic. There are three well-known Finnish brands for tableware and home textiles:
Moomins are hippopotamus-like cartoon characters. This Finnish cartoon has conquered the world with its gentle, lovable characters and adaptations in books, comics, TV series and films. The story of the Moomins is about friendship, tolerance, nature and self-discovery.
This cartoon has an important place in Finnish culture. Many derivative products are available, including clothing, crockery, cuddly toys and decorations.
Even if you come to Finland by plane, there are some things you can bring back to eat at home:
Too short on time or your suitcase already too full, you couldn't bring back any souvenirs? Our Kuksa Shop offers you wooden tableware hand-carved in Lapland. You'll find a wide choice of traditional kuksa, cutlery, bowls and the full range of Kupilka products.
Finnish is not an easy language to learn, pronounce or write. But when you're planning a trip to Finland, it's a good idea to know a few Finnish words.
English is widely spoken in Finland, so you'll have no trouble making yourself understood if you speak English.
A few tips :
|Hello||Hei / Terve||Goodbye||Hei hei|
|Do you speak english ?||Puhutteko englantia?||I don't speak finnish||En puhu suomea|
|I don't understand||En ymmärrä||Help||Apua|
|What is your name ?||Mikä nimenne||My name is Anne-Laure||Olen Anne-Laure|
|How are you ?||Miten menee?||Have a good day||Hyvää päivänjatkoa|
Come and discover our wooden tableware from Finland. Handmade tableware that will accompany young and old alike for years to come!
Authentic birch burl wood cup handmade in Finnish Lapland 🇫🇮
Authentic birch burl and reindeer antler cup handmade in Lapland 🇫🇮
100% natural Karelin* mug made in Finland 🇫🇮 (available in 5 colors)
Authentic Karelian curly birch wood mug handmade in Lapland 🇫🇮
Traditional birch wood cup handmade in Finnish Lapland 🇫🇮
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CHRISTMASHow is Christmas celebrated in Finland?
Find out how Christmas is celebrated in Finland, what we eat, how we decorate and where to go to buy presents! I also give you my secret recipes to cook typical Finnish dishes.
KUKSA CREATORSWhat are the origins of kuksa?
We talk about the original creators of the kuksa : the Sami people, the native people of northern Scandinavia.
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