Surviving Finland: The Cold

Hello there! Today I’m back with new post of my Surviving Finland series.

Twelve months of cold weather in year makes Finns experts at surviving extreme weather conditions. For foreigner coming to here in the cold months (read when ever you decide to come…) may be challenging. The next advice will prepare anyone to come and travel around Finland even if the temperature would turn out to be nightmare.

(In this post when we talk about cold it means under zero Celsius. The “cold” that is over zero Celsius is subject on its own.)


Check the Temperature

I can not emphasize this part enough. Before coming to Finland check the temperature and what kind of weather it usually is at that time of year! If you don’t, there will be trouble coming to your way. Taking right clothes is important and knowing how much snow you had to encounter when going outside.


What to do when going out to cold?

  1. Don’t go outside if not necessary. Only exemptions are skiing, skating and sled hill.
  2. Prepare yourself mentally. Whatever you do it’s going to be freezing.
  3. Check the temperature. Knowing it will not help you but at least you can complain about the weather like locals.
  4. It’s time to dress the under layers. Some long pats or tights, socks and long sleeved shirt. Even better if you have special wear for cold weather. It’s made of material that keeps the warm in.
  5. Then put on more clothes. Another shirt, more socks and as much clothes as the weather requires.
  6. Wool socks. Don’t forget this important accessory.
  7. Then the last clothes you will need. Outdoor clothes. Some warm water proof winter pants, jacket and boots. Your boots should have spikes on bottom to survive the ice on road.
  8. Then scarf, hat, gloves and mittens. If you have done them by yourself, don’t forget to mention it to everyone you see. Knitting is like Finnish national pride. We even learn it in school. (And still only a few can do it…)
  9. It’s time to leave. If you are using car don’t forget to leave at least half hour before normally. Your car is going to be buried under snow. If using public transport, leave at least half hour after your bus is meant to come. The drivers never learn and will be late because of the snow and slippery roads.


Ways to survive while outside

If you are feeling brave and have decided to threaten the mother nature by going out, here is some tips to keeping warm. Follow the points above before leaving outside and you have at least small possibility to live through your Finnish experience.

Other than dressing warmly there is six major ways to keep warm:

  1. Share body heat. Finns have a big personal base but when it’s about being warm we can get close to people we already know. Hug your friends and share some heat. Don’t however surprise unaware Finns because they may not appreciate you coming on them.
  2. Rub your hands together. This is one of the best ways of warming your frozen hands. Friction makes heat.
  3. Move your toes and fingers. I don’t know if there is any scientific evidence for this but moving your toes up and down should keep you warm.
  4. Blow hot air to your fingers.
  5. Don’t stay still! Moving in cold weather is important.
  6. Drink something hot. Go to have cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate.


The first aid after returning inside

Finns have many ways to get warm after coming back to home (no I don’t mean intimacy even if that may work…) Next we have list of the best ways to melt the ice freezing you from inside.

  • Water: Widely known secret to save your hands after cold is put them under hot water.
  • Sauna: I already did write about surviving sauna HERE. But this hot room plays important part of surviving Finland and the icy temperatures. After you have froze yourself to the dead going to sauna will melt you.
  • Hot Chocolate: (or coffee, tea) Your motto should be “Warm yourself inside to get warm outside” (I know I’m not good at making mottoes…) But the idea is more important than motto! When you drink something hot, it will warm you starting from inside and spreading to outside.


Finns and Cold

You shouldn’t ask Finn if she/he is cold because there is big probability after that she/he has to play brave and pretend it’s not freezing at all. This also occurs between native Finns. It’s not unusual to see someone walking in t-shirt when temperatures are closing zero Celsius. (Usually those crazy people are teen boys showing off…)

Finns love complaining about the cold but get exited every year when it starts snowing. So best advice how to talk for Finns about cold is complain a lot (but never claim that other countries have more cold problems than Finland), don’t play you know anything about cold weather -because you don’t- and never insult our snow!


When to visit Finland? (AKA when it is not cold?)

Our summer is in June, July or August (or like this year right now in May). You can’t predict the cold and usually the Mother Nature can be quite evil. Last two summers have been like hell or well better said opposite of the hell, sweater weather. No using tops and shorts for Finns…

Basically this question doesn’t have answer. Couple of weeks ago it was snowing and cold but after one week it turned out to be first summer heat (over 20 Celsius). This is just one example of the hard ships we have with the changing conditions. Should or should I not buy new summer clothes for this year? This is the hard question we have to try predict every year…

So come Finland when ever you want! We have always cold and if you are lucky you may even see snow. (Well luck hasn’t anything to do with that… We have more snow than warm months.) Just remember to take warm clothes with you and -I will not promise but- I hope you will be okay.



There was everything I can teach you about the cold and just as reminder: don’t take too seriously anything I say (expect the cold! It’s very real concern here…). Don’t forget to comment below about what subject I should do my next Surviving Finland post. And thanks for Joyce Belfort because she gave me the idea for today’s topic.

Read more Surviving Finland posts from here.

See you next time and welcome to Finland!

Viivi Severina




7 thoughts on “Surviving Finland: The Cold

  1. Oh gosh I felt chilly just reading this! However Finland is definitely on my list of must-go-to-places so it looks like I’m going to have to be constantly buying hot chocolates! Thanks for the heads up! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think (even if my opinion may be biased) that Finland is definitely worth of your visit but we just have a lot of challenges for the people coming here. Like the cold for those who are from warmer countries 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very good. I would love to add my opinion to this: “Check the Temperature”. It is not enough, the most important is to know “real feel”. This means that when windy weather, it feels colder. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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