Finland was one of the most anticipated destinations on my travel wish list. The Finnish Lapland experience was filled with pure wilderness, polar lights, and Husky rides.
We go skiing in the snow at night, go hunting in the north-east, celebrate Christmas in the Lapland style, live in a rustic snow lodge, look at reindeer shepherds over the shoulder, crash with a ship over ice floes, swim in a dry suit through the icy Baltic Sea, spend the night in the footsteps of a husky guide, climb over icy waterfalls, camp in the cold snow desert, and slip across a frozen lake. For me, the most spectacular event was diving under the ice.
Before my departure, I spent few days at Berlin. After a short stopover in Cologne, I took the flight to Helsinki in Finland. The temperatures at my destination Levi was around the freezing point. Finland, however, always felt like -20 degrees, with frozen breath, stiff fingers and deaf ears. There is also snow-wear for rent. To keep myself warm enough in Finland, I carried winter clothes, jackets, and sheepskin boots.
I stayed at apartments. In the mornings, five kinds of herring always awaited me at breakfast buffet, with juniper berries, dill or mustard sauce. The fish tasted very good, but I needed a chewing gum every time for fresh breath.
When I leave the hotel for Lapland a weak winter sun was hovering over us. The air was cold and clear. During the flight, the landscape changes to more and more snow. Lapland from above is white, with frozen lakes and rivers, in between pines and spruces.
In Lapland, 200 days of the year is winter, and it is not bright in the polar areas. The height of the winter is slightly over three months in the period from December to March. And just in this phase, you can be lucky enough to experience the Scandinavian outdoor winter adventure par excellence. The northern lights and the stars are the only sources of light. When we arrive, however, there was the sun and the temperature was around 4 degrees.
I was looking forward to the sleigh ride with huskies, a snowmobile safari, Finnish sauna, the ice bath, local food and the cute reindeer.
What to do in Finland summer
Finland is also a true summer destination with what Korvapuusti, Moomins, and Mökki have to offer. Do you remember Moomin and all the other beings from the Mum Valley? Do you remember where the Mum Valley is? Do not worry, after seeing the beautiful, snow-capped winter landscapes of Finland, what now follows are my memories of unforgettable, endless summer holidays in Finland, which give the small country in the far north a chance as a summer destination.
The starting point of my Finnish summer nights was Tampere. Should you spend a little time in Tampere, the following points of interest are a kind of mandatory in the itinerary:
There is a photo of the fan outside the entrance of The Moomin Museum, with Moomin himself. The little one stands there in the form of a statue and welcomes every visitor in a very personal way. Through the museum, you can then move at your own pace, armed with a booklet containing all the important information and available in different languages. There are miniature figures showing the adventures of the Moomin and much more. In the adjacent Moomin shop you can buy souvenirs as you wish.
From the observation tower, you can have a view over the whole city and the Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi lakes. The Särkänniemi amusement park, which is definitely worth a visit, is situated on the peninsula on which the tower rises.
And for dinner then go for a heavenly Burger in the Finlayson area. If you want to try reindeer, elk, bear or fish, there are lots of restaurants in Hämeenkatu, which convinces by really excellent, delicious food. There is much more to explore in Tampere and you will discover something new at every visit, but I would like to take you to the absolute experience of Finland to the Mökki.
So the Finns call their summer house and there is hardly a better way to spend your holiday in Finland than with a stay in a Mökki or better on a Mökki. Mökki is a basic pillar of Finnish culture. When I first went with my friends to a Mökki, I did not get out of the astonishment. After a somewhat longer drive on the buttery streets of Finland, a dirt road led across the fields and forests until we finally ended on a lake shore.
A glaring view from the car, no house far and wide, only two boats, one with the engine, the other with paddles. The answer to my silent question came promptly. We must take the boat now. The boat then went from the lake shore to a small island, which was located in the middle of a beautiful blue lake and on which there are a few smaller cottages, of course, all painted in the typical Scandinavian red and surrounded by firs and birches.
In such a Mökki there is everything you need for a successful summer holiday with the main house, storage cubicle, cold room, summer kitchen and finally the sauna. For a weekend in the Mökki, which is hardly ever dark, what cannot be missing, is the sauna. While the sauna oven warms the room slowly to the desired temperature, it was time to play with a card game with a cider or beer preparing the body for the imminent liquid loss.
The sauna experience itself is then different. While some consider an infusion to be cruel, I consider it to be soothing and effective. Once the temperature limit has been reached, the only thing that has to be done is to get into the water. In this case, the boat bridge again proved to be very useful to disappear gracefully like a ski jumper or with a loud splash in the lake.
Once the body temperature is adjusted again, just let yourself be carried away on your back and enjoy the nightly summer sky of Finland and watch a sudden sunset suddenly turn into a dawning sunrise. It is a truly unique sight. And yet, the quiet, deep, Finnish waters offer you the highest form of peace and relaxation that you can imagine.
So a stay in the Mökki is not only suitable for a weekend but you can spend a week or more there to explore the area or just enjoy this unique tranquility. If this is not for you, because you want to see more of Finland, just get on a train.
By train, it takes about 10 hours from Tampere to Rovaniemi. You can easily get into Tampere at night, make it comfortable in a normal train compartment or in a sleeping car, and in the morning you will be in Rovaniemi.
In Rovaniemi, there is a lot to discover. Rovaniemi is not only the home of the Eurovision Song Contest winners Lordi, who even set a monument on the market square, which is now called Lordi Square. Rovaniemi is also home to Santa Claus. While you are there, you can transfer your Christmas wishes in person at pleasant temperatures around 15 ° C and in a bright blue sky.
Things to do in Finland Helsinki
So you want to go to the South? Do you want beach and sea? Finland also has something to offer with a holiday in Helsinki. There is just so much to see, and you should definitely stay there for a few days if you really want to see everything and enjoy this city and get to know it. Visit the Havis Amanda and the adjacent Kauppatori (market), where there are fresh vegetables, fruit, and fish, as well as souvenirs and crafts.
Climb the stairs to the Tuomiokirkko (Dom) and take a break in the middle of the valley, while enjoying the fresh berries brought along by the market. Linnanmäki, a small but fine amusement park, is a great place to enjoy the park. The Dustbin even sings a thank you for the fact that you have disposed of your garbage properly. The entrance to the park is by the way free of charge.
Take a boat trip to the Suomenlinna fortress to learn about the history of the fortress or to take the opportunity to inspect a submarine from the inside. Enjoy a delicious piece of cake in the Café and then grasp the world's best chocolate. Order a cup of coffee and a Korvapuusti, a Finnish pastry with cardamom and watch the street performers or a concert on the outdoor stage.
There is so much more to report from all over Finland. There are the many festivals that are scattered throughout the summer. You should make a stop at Pori and Rauma when driving reverse along the west coast by car from Tampere to Helsinki. From the port city of Turku, you can take an overnight boat to Stockholm. There are the ski jumping opportunities at Lahti.
What I liked most was the Finns themselves, their way of life, the friendliness and openness towards other cultures and languages. You see, I can still, fill pages on pages with experiences and impressions from Finland. But still, so many words can simply not convey what you experience when you travel this beautiful country. So give the little Scandinavian country a chance and discover the diversity of Finland.
Oh, and if you want to try to learn a few words in the country language before going on holiday, Kiitos means thank you.