Finland is a mysterious country to a lot of tourists. Many visitors decide to go to Finland in the cold winter months when it is the best time to see the northern lights or take the kids to meet Santa Claus in Lapland. These are obviously great things to do whilst visiting Finland, but there is plenty more on offer from the country with the most lakes in the world.
1. Go to Watch the Northern Lights
From the moment I landed, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Finland. My first night, I went for a long walk along the powerful city river in Espoo, where I was shown the sights and smoked a large hotpot lunch. The next day, I went skiing in small black alpine villages on the banks of the Venfi river, which then turned into the Baltic Sea. On evenings when the evenings were dark and chilly, I went to sit at the open-air market in Espoo and watch the Northern Lights. I watched them from the castle on the outskirts of the city, where a chef served me fresh black cod sashimi and beers, and at a camping spot in Pulmola beach, where I stayed for a week.
2. Sleep in a Glass Igloo
Whilst going to see the aurora borealis you could also tick off another one of our top things to do in Finland, which is staying the night in a glass igloo watching the nature from a cosy cabin.
3. Watch a Local Soccer Match
If you’re a soccer fan and were ever planning to visit Finland, then here’s the perfect tip: check out the stadium in Oulu. It’s a beaut. Granted, you can get even more information from the Finnish team, its official Twitter feed, or your local media, but it’s hard to beat looking at the press that goes with the local stadium. The prime day to see the Finnish team is often European football night, but you can easily check out a game on the main grandstand, that isn’t touristic or sporting in any way. This is important. While the Northern Europeans have always had an inferiority complex about their traditional soccer strength and tradition, the lack of modern amenities and facilities have made traveling outside the region to watch soccer difficult. It is worth seeing a match even if you aren’t a huge soccer fan. Finland has great pitches like the one in the image below (that isn’t Oulu stadium by the way).
4. Watch (or play) a Local Ice Hockey Match
If you’re more into Ice Hockey as a sport then you must go and watch a Finnish match! Ice Hockey is the national sport in Finland and many pros in the NHL have come from Finland over the years. Two of the top Ice Hockey teams in Finland are HIFK and Lahti Pelicans. If you have booked your trip well in advance then you should definitely have the time to try to book a seat at one of these popular events. If you want to go even further then why not put on your skates and join a local game if you find a welcoming group, we advise checking meetup.com if you are interested in this.
5. Explore the Tuulikkiemi National Park
This national park, about two hours north of Helsinki, has natural wonders both man-made and natural. Go biking on (or driving through) the twisty track system that runs through the park, or take a boat trip down the Kafirin River. You may want to try cycling some of the famous goat trails, because they really offer something fresh to your local bike path.
6. Warm your bones with a few Finnish sausages and cold beers
Scandinavian beers and traditional sausages are often found next to each other in Helsinki (the national capital). If you have time and need a little pick-me-up, start your trip in downtown Helsinki at a restaurant specializing in Arctic char and cold beer. You will find lots of places selling Finnish sausages on the grounds, after all that’s what all Finns want.
7. Take a cruise or boat tour
A short ferry or boat ride from the southern port of Urho Kekkonen, across the Gulf of Finland to South Lake Vantaa gives you great views of the city and its surroundings, and is a perfect way to round out a day or two. Prices are flexible, so you can take your pick of destinations.
8. Drop by the local fish market
The locals probably don’t know where it is — they’re more likely to be going to the bar down the street. But you will usually find the local fish market on the waterfront in all Finnish seaside or lakeside cities and towns. What more can you want when visiting this great Scandinavian country.
9. Go snowmobiling
I have snowmobiled all over the world — Austria, Italy, Canada, and the United States. But one of the best places that I’ve done this awesome activity is in the white land of Finland. The speed I’m talking about is not from speeding through the snow, like skiers who occasionally dabble in high speed gliding. If you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie then you should definitely try this when you visit Finland.
10. There are lots of great golf courses in Finland.
When people think of golf the first country that they think generally isn’t Finland. But there are several golf courses that are worth playing – but mainly, check out Hayama in Joalla, and southern Helsinki’s Gaimarka course, which offers a coastal vista that could make you forget that you’re in Finland.