Cross that Finnish line
For the fifth year in a row, Finland, has been ranked as the happiest nation in the world! So, why is it that we don’t hear much about this Nordic country of breathtaking forests, unspoiled nature and majestic mountains? One reason could be that the Finnish people are naturally shy and unassuming – they like to keep to themselves! Finland is just now realizing how successful its beautiful country could be in attracting tourists on a global scale. Compared to Iceland, a country with very similar attractions and activities, Finland’s tourism industry contributes less than 3% to the country’s GDP. Iceland’s is more than 3 times that!
If you think Finland is just an edgy alternative to Iceland, you’re wrong. Here are some of the top reasons why you should visit Finland now!
Many believe that Finnish happiness is a result of saunas. Just how sauna crazy are the Finnish people? With a population of around 5.5 million people, Finland is home to over 3 million saunas! Saunas are an everyday part of Finnish lifestyle and culture.
Normally, a Finnish sauna will be in a wooden structure near a lake, looking over the breathtaking scenery. The traditional sauna is powered by throwing water over white-hot rocks in order to create a dry, intense heat that relaxes both body and mind. Temperatures can hit 194 degrees Fahrenheit. Saunas have health benefits such as boosting heart health, clearing pores, relaxing and repairing muscles, improving skin quality and just generally helping you to relax. Sauna is a place for quiet reflection and contemplation.
It is a place to meet your life partner. It is the social outlet, similar to a pub in many countries. Historically, sauna was the cleanest room in the house, so it was where many women gave birth. Some older people even chose to die in sauna. It truly is ingrained in every aspect of Finnish culture and goes back thousands of years. When you do visit Finland, be sure to get a ‘sauna treatment’ to learn about the deep history and incredible folklore of sauna and fully immerse yourself in this UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
When people think of the Northern lights, typically Iceland and Norway will be the first locations that spring to mind. Did you know, Finland also has many great locations to see these vivid displays of light in the night sky? The northern lights are created when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the earth’s atmosphere and are best seen from the northern most countries. Lapland is Finland’s most northern territory bordering Russia, Sweden, Norway and the Baltic Sea. Lapland offers one of the best views of the northern lights between late August and early April. The stunning light display will leave you in awe as the different colors (Green/White/Pink/Purple) and shapes dance across the night sky. In order to see this wonderful spectacle, you must be located in the Artic circle. This is the most northern point where the Sun appears above the horizon during the Winter solstice.
Fun fact: Did you know you can visit Santa Claus in the village of Rovaniemi in Lapland?
Finland is home to a staggering 187,888 lakes (to be exact). Finland has the most lakes in the world in relation to size of country. Many of these lakes may be the size of a tennis court, but they all contribute to Finland’s flourishing ecosystem. Lakes are a massive part of everyday life in Finland. In the summer, the locals swim, fish and boat. During the winter they ski, skate, snowmobile and kicksled.
So, why does Finland have so many lakes? Over 1000 years ago, the majority of Finland was covered in glaciers. Overtime, as these started to melt due to climate change, they left behind vast amounts of physical evidence. These glaciers created craters and gouges that eventually filled up with the melted glacier water that make up Finland’s lakes today.
Finland is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to sustainability. Finland provides an excellent example to the rest of the world through their environmental policies implemented by its government. For example Finland will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050. The country and its people have realized the very danger that lies ahead of them due to the location of the country. Being in the Artic circle is probably the last place you want to be now that global warming is causing the melting of the ice caps.
Another example of how the Finnish Government promotes sustainability projects is the Päijänne tunnel. The Päijänne tunnel is one example of how the Finnish people solved a problem while keeping the solution in the interest of the environment. The tunnel supplies water to the capital city of Helsinki by travelling downhill from a lake a whole 75 miles away! This funnel of water passes through the Kalliomäki hydroelectric power plant where it helps produce over 7 million kilowatts of energy per year. This can then be used to create electricity and heat.
Fun fact: Helsinki has 13 piers built especially for carpet washing. The Finns have a tradition of using pine oil soap which is biodegradable to wash their carpets and sometimes even their clothing. This small act means less electricity is used yearly due to the natural way of washing.
Finland has an unlimited number of adventures that are not to be missed out on. From Winter to Summer, snow to sun, Finland has adventures for all seasons.
While Finland is covered in snow during the winter, there is plenty to do. Winter activities include:
- Hunting for the Northern lights by snowmobile.
- Skiing in one of its many resorts.
- Visiting Santa in his village in Lapland.
- Enjoying a husky sled adventure.
- Ice Fishing – The kind where you cut a hole in the lake.
Finland also has a great selection of activities in the summer months while the sun is shining! Summer activities include:
- Sailing, kayaking and canoeing across Finland’s vast lakes.
- Hiking along the mountainous trails.
- Golf in one of many lakeside courses.
- Fish for mackerel on a rental boat.
- Wildlife watching in the Finnish woodland. (Bears, Moose, Wolves, Reindeer)
The Finnish people understand more than most that the key to success and happiness in life isn’t materialistic, but idealistic. Many Finns are content with life once they can have a summer house on a lake (with a sauna) to partake in activities and provide for their families. The Finnish people don’t measure life’s successes through sports cars and designer handbags but alternatively through one’s quality of life and spending time with family and friends. In Finland, to be classified as living a good life, your aspirations don’t have to be sky high. Like its neighboring countries, Finland shares this Nordic ethos that money doesn’t buy you happiness. Many will agree with the Finnish way of life while others will disagree.
What do you think? Would a cabin by a Finnish lake bring you happiness? Would you subscribe to the religion of sauna?