To me, no place in the world is out of mind. I will go anywhere because I believe no matter the destination there is something special about every corner of this world. I just returned home from Finland and was blown away by how much I enjoyed this country. I had never really thought about this place or come across it in much of a meaningful way. But when the opportunity presented itself I couldn’t say no!
When most people think of traveling to Scandinavia, Norway or Sweden probably come to their mind first, but Finland should not be overlooked. This country has many things to offer that are worth exploring. From the warmth of the local people to breathtaking scenery, this diverse destination has something for everyone. From the short time I spent there, here are a few of my top reasons you should visit.
This is one of the main reasons I travel in general and tend to return to countries I have already visited. The people are what make up a place and what will keep bringing you back for more. I was not sure what to expect when visiting Finland, but had heard rumors of their quiet and reserved nature that could come across as not really wanting to interact or be bothered. It is true that there is a quiet and reserved feeling here, but the people are warm and friendly and very interested in learning about you. I found that the quiet nature seemed to come more from a respect for peace and from a deep contentment with the world around them. People just seemed to be happy moving about their day and interactions with other people were painted with that calmness as well.
Peace and Quiet
The world is a busy place, and we are always hustling from one thing to the next. It seems at times there is never a quiet moment and life seems to just be a bit frantic. I found in Finland that the sense of calmness that came from the people seemed to permeate the land as well. The landscapes there are vast and are many and the relatively few people make it is easy to get into nature and find peace and quiet. There is a sense of contentment and calmness here that is hard to find in other places.
If you want to understand Finland and its people getting familiar with the sauna is a great starting point. Saunas, in one form or another, have been a part of Finnish life for thousands of years. There it is not just about sitting in a hot room but a deep spiritual experience that cleanses the mind and soul as well as the body. The sauna is regarded “as the most holiest room in the house and the one most closely associated with well being.” Women use them to give birth. They are used for purification rituals before marriages, as well as a place where bodies of the dead are washed and prepared for burial. Today you will find your typical wood-stove sauna, but if you have a chance to try out the traditional smoke sauna you should not pass it up. This sauna has no chimney so the smoke is trapped in keeping the heat and warmth. We had a chance to do this and it was incredible.
The Northern Lights are visible 200 days out of the year in Finnish Lapland, which is in the far North of Finland. So if this has been on your bucket list, chances are good you will see them there. Couple that experience with the incredible landscapes of the Arctic Circle and you really can’t ask for more. We spent our time out in the far Northwestern part of the country and got lucky to catch the Aurora Borealis. It is something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. Watching the green and purple colors dance across the sky was like nothing I had ever seen. Experiences like these don’t have any monetary value and we should feel so lucky that we can still experience what nature has to offer.
Finland known also as the Land Of A Thousand Lakes and offers any nature lover everything they could want. There are 40 National Parks scattered throughout the country giving way to endless landscapes to explore. We spent days hiking and being blown away by the beautify of this place. The landscapes have a different feeling here, it is not about the highest peak, but more about the connection to the land around you. This comes from the people and culture and their intimate relationship with the natural world. From the capital city of Helsinki all the way to the Sami people’s land in the far North, Finland really does feel at one with nature.
Finland is stepped in culture that dates back thousands of years. One of the ways we chose to learn more about this country’s history and people is spending time with the indigenous Sami people of the North. The Sami people have a rich heritage and connection to the land they live on. Most of them make their living from reindeer herding. In the North you can spend time learning about the traditions and practices and how they keep them alive in an ever changing world. If you have a chance don’t miss the local Sami food which is always fresh and local and usually made up from some sort of game, fish, potatoes and local berries. If you are looking to do this, please make sure you do your research and use a company that is ran and owned by a local Sami family. This is a great way to support them and help tourism be positive force for these communities.
So if Finland was not on your list of places to visit I hope it is now! This country has much to offer and is sadly overlooked. Not only will you be able to enjoy all of these things, but Helsinki, the capital city, is nice and fun place to explore as well as boasting some of the cleanest air in the world. You will come home feeling refreshed and yearning to see more of the world.