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




My Dream Trips

After starting my travel blog I planned to continue traveling a lot but bad luck (or evil spirits) have prevented me. I have been quite sick so leaving my home has been no-no. Fortunately I have a lot of memories, advice, thoughts and pictures to share with you! So don’t worry internet (and my bad luck) nothing can’t defeat me.

Due to my sickness I have spent too much time daydreaming and especially planning my future adventures. Today I would like to share my favorite ones with you… Enjoy!



Working on Cruise Ship

I know this is not glamorous job. It’s hard work and many people are complaining about the pay, working conditions and hours. My aim wouldn’t be to fund my future travels but rather have experience beyond compare.

I want to wake up every morning in different place and spend hours after hours looking to the endless sea. Living without internet and phone. Getting to know interesting people around the world, hear their stories and share some of mine.

Only negative side is how I can get shy about speaking in English so I probably would only be able to work as cleaner. However I liked to clean in hostel so I don’t think the job is a lot different in cruise ship…



Seoul, South Korea

First time I heard about South Korea was ten years ago when I had my first encounter with kpop (Korean pop music). It took quite many years before I got interested about the land and not just their music. After visiting Japan last year and hearing there too many times how I should go to Korea I have been dreaming about visiting there soon.

I just happen to love Korean food so this trip may end in bad way (aka me not fitting in the airplane…) but I am ready to risk it. Of course after spending some time there I may stay forever like almost happened with Japan so fitting in airplane will not be my biggest problem.

Ideally I would like to visit Seoul, Busan and Jeju. Seoul is the capital city forming from many smaller cities. Busan is the second largest city and known for its beaches, nature and harbor. Jeju island is full of tourism and there is wide variety thing to do (for me I want to see the nature and go hiking!)



Working Holiday Australia

Work and holiday together. I think it’s perfect way for me to spend one year! Australia has been on my bucket list since forever. In school we got to know its amazing nature and animals. From TV-series (Dance Academy and some other teen series) I fell in love with the settings, cities and culture.

It’s very expensive to go in Australia and I’m scared of the getting job part but it would be adventure. I’m craving for the excitement and danger right now! I need challenges to live peacefully and this would be right one for me.

It takes a lot of work and planning but I may go next year. Or if not then definitely sometime in future.



Hiking E10

European long distance hiking paths (shortened as E-paths) have interested me for long time. How cool would it be to hike through Europe? I decided E10 trail as the one I would do first because it goes thru whole Finland (my home country). Its lengths is about  2,880 km so this would be a long task to do.

The path starts near Finland’s and European Union’s northernmost place. Then it goes through Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, France and Spain. It would be difficult adventure because parts of the trail (mostly in Finland) aren’t officially known. For example in Finland some info is only found in old literature so I should do detective work before the trip.

I have always loved nature and solitude so this one is on the top of my bucket list.



Family Holiday to Paradise

I don’t have specific destination for this one. Somewhere warm with all-inclusive luxury hotel. Adventure trips for me and my sister, being on poolside for my brother and amazing food for all of us to enjoy together.

We had one this kind of trip to Egypt when I was younger. Everyone had fun time and we experienced many new things like seeing dolphins and eating too much free ice cream. I wouldn’t mind doing that again.

I’m still living with my family but moving away soon. This would be perfect thing to do before that.



Maybe I will share more of my dreams some time (trust me I have millions of them!). So what are your dream travel destinations? Or do you have some good tips for me? I would be happy to hear your opinions.

So see you next time!

Viivi Severina


Surviving Finland: Sauna

Sauna is sacred place for Finns. Whatever disorder, trouble or sickness you have sauna will cure you. If you don’t visit sauna while in Finland, we will not let you exit our small but determined country. So you just better give in, get naked and be prepared to get spanked or drown to lake. (Yes that’s literally what we do in sauna…)


So What Is Sauna?

Small warm room where people torture themselves in the heat. Usually over 100 Celsius (about 212 F for my USA followers). People sit on wood stairs that fill the whole small room and throw water to heated metal box full of rocks. The water transforms to steam.


Anatomy of Sauna

Like I already said there is wood stairs for sitting (called laude in Finnish). When you are first timer in sauna I recommend sitting on the lowest stair where it is not so hot.

The most important part of sauna is the heater (called kiuas in Finnish). It’s usually made of metal and has rocks in it. Kiuas either works with electricity or by burning wood.

Then there is metal bucket full of water and scoop in it. (Scoop is called löylykauha and bucket kiulu.) You use these to throw the water to the kiuas and that will cause steam (called löyly).

Pefletti is sheet of paper, fabric or other material and you sit on it in sauna.


How to use Sauna?

  1. You probably get asked to come someone’s sauna or you will visit public sauna so you don’t need to wonder how to start it. Let’s just skip this part.
  2. Take towel, swimming suit, pefletti, clean clothes and soap/shampoo with you. If you are visiting someone’s sauna they probably have pefletti and soap/shampoo for you (sometimes even towel, you should ask what to take with you). In public sauna they may have pefletti for you but if they don’t you can use your towel.
  3. When arriving at sauna first thing to do is get naked. Usually it’s men’s and women’s saunas in different time or place but sometimes it will be mixed sauna. If you feel uncomfortable feel free to use swimsuit.
  4. After getting naked you can use the shower. Some people don’t shower before sauna and some do so feel free to decide.
  5. Go inside of the sauna. Sit where ever you want but be sure to not be in anyone’s way. (Finns are shy and may not be able to ask you move when they want to leave.) If the sauna is full of Finns I recommend sitting on the bottom seat. It’s going to get hot.
  6. Someone will throw water to the kiuas(heater). If you are alone, throw water from the bucket to the metal box full of rocks. There will be steam and it’s going to be hot. You can leave anytime you want. Don’t feel embarrassed.
  7. At winter time you can go out and swim in frozen lake or play in the snow (after that come back to sauna to get warm). At summer you can beat yourself gently with branches or swim in lake (the water is still cold so run quickly back to sauna).
  8. After exiting sauna go to shower, dress up and feel freshened.


How to survive Sauna with Finns?

  1. If you feel uncomfortable, just say it out loud. Sometimes Finns don’t remember everyone haven’t got used to being in sauna.
  2. Don’t be scared of being naked. It’s traditional thing and everyone does it. However it’s okay to use swimming suit or towel if you feel shy (expect in some swimming halls’ saunas swimsuits are banned.)
  3. If you want to make Finn open up for you, sauna is good place to make friends.
  4. Do Finns have sex in the sauna? Well I can’t answer that… It’s national secret.
  5. Don’t forget to use pefletti. (It’s sheet of paper, fabric or other material and you sit on it.) Never sit on the sauna’s food stairs without pefletti.
  6. If you don’t know what to talk about, speaking about weather is good bet. Usually saunas’ have window so you can even check if it’s snowing or raining.
  7. My last advice is what happens in sauna also stays in sauna


Sauna Traditions

When visiting Finnish sauna at summer time you may get shocked. When Finn starts to beat you up with birch boughs (usually called vihta or vasta) he/she isn’t angry at you neither does he/she want to murder you or hurt you. It’s traditions that we do in sauna. Gently beat yourself or the others with it. However almost every time Finns will explain this to you and not try to scare you away beating you up out of nowhere.

Winter isn’t any calmer time for Finns being at sauna. It’s totally normal to go out and roll in snow or swim in hole made to frozen lake (the hole in lake is called avanto). Don’t however expect all Finns to swim in frozen lakes. There is many people (like me) who have never tried it. You however can find public sauna with avanto almost anywhere in Finland.


Mixed Sauna (aka let’s be naked together)

Every time I end up talking with someone about Finnish culture and sauna they get shocked when I tell them that yes I have been in sauna with twenty people all naked. I get afraid that they will faint that I continue quietly that there were men and women.

For someone abroad it may be hard to distinguish when it’s appropriate for men and women go to sauna together. It’s even hard for me to explain that. You should just ask from someone if you should be naked or dressed they will not judge you (probably).

Mixed saunas may be naked or not naked happenings. Usually young adults, university students, friends, families etc. may go to sauna naked. Even then there may be some Finns in swimsuits. My advice is go with the flow and spy what the locals are doing.

You shouldn’t tress too much. Sauna is meant to be relaxing place and whatever you do Finns will probably forgive you. So enjoy and welcome to Finland!


This is my new blog post series of my home country Finland and how to survive visiting here. Feel free to ask anything and tell me about what I should write my Surviving Finland posts. Follow me for more info of Finland and my travel stories! (And don’t take too seriously anything I write.)

Next time the subject is surviving cold weather and I have a lot of things to tell you about that. You can find more Surviving Finland (guide by Finn) HERE


With love and Finnish spirit,

Viivi Severina

PS. Fun fact, the image of sauna is from small flat. We have saunas everywhere (even in student dormitories).

Surviving Finland: My odd crazy home

Even if I love traveling and have constant need of running away and exploring the world, coming back to Finland always amazes me. My home, my country, my people. I have yet to find another place as interesting and odd.

We Finns may seem shy, lonely and cold but believe me we are able to be the craziest people on earth. And that’s why I thought it would be useful to write guide for those being scared to death of visiting Finland. (Or for those who are coming here without knowing the terrifying truth…)

Surviving Finland will be about places to visit, traditions, nature, the Finns, sauna and answering your questions. So if you want to know something about Finland or know what this one particular Finn thinks, don’t be afraid to ask anytime anything!

Oh and I almost forget to mention that you shouldn’t take anything I write too seriously. We Finns may seem scary and gloomy natured but what ever you do we will probably forgive you. And when visiting Finland don’t be scared to ask help!


Go and check out all my future Surviving Finland posts HERE