Top tips for a holiday to Finland; what to do, where to go and how to get around
Finland is a winter wonderland, its cities often dusted with a layer of snow and a chill breeze whispers through miles of rugged landscapes. The sub-zero temperatures and Christmastime ambience create a mysterious vibe to a country bustling with activity, whether you want to keep warm by partaking in snowy sports like sledging or hiking through one of 9 designated routes or spotting bears in the many forests surrounding Finland. Many travel from far and wide for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the eerie, green glow of the Northern Lights in Lapland. Some people even travel to Finland in the warmer months to enjoy music festivals, art exhibitions and lake cruises. It's a breath of clean air everyone needs on their next big break and here’s a few things to help you plan a Finnish adventure.
The Finns are some of the best English speakers in Europe. So, you should be able to avoid those awkward language barriers, with a mix of floundering sign language, poor pronunciation and a clumsy accent. But, the Finns are well known for being a welcoming and friendly bunch, so if you did want to impress the natives with some well-known phrases these are the ones to try:
How are you: Kuinka voit
Please: Ole kiltti
Thank you: Kiitos
What’s your name?: Mikä sinun nimesi on
Do you speak English?: Puhutko englantia
Excuse me, Where’s the toilet?: anteeksi, missä on vessa?
How much is it?: Paljonko se on
Can I have the bill please?: Saisinko laskun Kiitos
The chances are you will land in the major international airport in Helsinki, but if not never fear. Finland may be sparse, with large distances between each point, but public transport is more than reliable. You can travel through the country by air, road, rail or water. But, if your aim is to sit back and enjoy the dizzying displays of natural beauty, the train would be best, many have play areas for fidgety children and sleeper cars for those long, over-night journeys.
The Finnish use the trusty euro for their daily transaction, so if you’re well-travelled in Europe you’re more than likely to be well-versed in paying for items using their currency. However, Finland is not the cheapest place for a holiday, the price of an average beer costs around €5.40, a three-course meal for two is around €60 and a two-hour a husky ride is between €90- €140.
Getting back to nature
A country with such wild and rugged landscape is home to some significant species of wildlife. You could spend a day watching grizzly bears bathe in a tranquil lake, on the edges of Kuusamo, or discover a wild reindeer calmly making its way through one of Finland’s national parks. But, if they don’t take your fancy there’s elks, wolves and wolverines, all native to Finland.
Finnish cuisine combines a classic, hearty feel with a high-class style of cooking. Meat features in a high number of dishes, mostly pork, beef or reindeer. Finnish chefs proudly use wholemeal products including rye, barley, oats, berries and since the 18th century potato has replaced turnips in most traditional dishes.