10 Things To Do In Finland During Summer

I get quite often asked for things to do in Finland and especially things to do in Finland during summer. So as promised here is list of 10 things you should do during summer in Finland. Some of these are more specific while others can be done almost anywhere.

Before listing all the things I have in mind I just want to mention that if you have only time to do one thing in Finland you should just walk around the nature and enjoy our fresh aired green forests. These tips are mostly something we locals do during summers. Totally normal for us but something foreigners may not try without encouragement. Enjoy and all Finns feel free to share your own tips on comments!

 

10. Day trip to Suomenlinna

Travel Blog Things To Do In Finland

Suomenlinna (Finland’s castle) is sea fortress and small island that is part of Finland’s capital Helsinki. If you are looking for perfect day trip destination in Finland, Suomenlinna is just perfect in every way. Idyllic small city, historic castle (that isn’t really castle but hey at least it sounds cool!) and of course perfect picnic spots with sea view. Lucky ones may even wave for cruise ships sailing right next to the island or take part to interesting events happening during summer.

Suomenlinna has earned its place on our ’10 Things To Do In Finland During Summer’ list. In addition to beautiful walking trails and cool cafes you can find handful of museums. If history isn’t your thing I recommend visiting toy museums. It’s not too expensive and I live for the small cafe they have. Try their matcha tea, I would die for it!

 

9. Free tours around churches

Travel Blog: Things To Do In Finland

Finland has this thing called Roadside churches that are open every summer. Basically you can enter these churches freely during their opening times. There is usually guide who is ready to tell you about the church, Finnish culture and near by destinations. Even if you are not one to get interested about history, religion or things like that roadside churches are still fun places to take small break from your busy day.

I have myself worked in roadside church and I can tell you that it is definitely interesting place to visit. Finland has a little over 200 churches open every summer and visiting at least one of them is definitely must thing to do in Finland during summer. Because Christianity as religion has been in Finland for quite short time many of the roadside churches have many interesting stories (and not only religious ones) behind them.

 

8. Swim in lakes and visit Finnish sauna

Finland summer, lake, forest, blue sky

You may have heard about Finnish saunas aka hot steamy rooms we go to relax. You should add this experience to your must to do things in Finland during summer list. When during winter we like to visit sauna and roll in snow afterwards, summers are dedicated for days on the beach. Colorful water toys, swimming in the still chilly lake water and then warming up in sauna. What would be better way to spend summer day in Finland?

As visitor in Finland you should look for the closest public sauna you can find. You can find them almost every city in Finland. Go there bravely and if you don’t know what to do you can always ask help from locals. In Helsinki good choice is sauna restaurant Löyly standing next to the ocean.

 

7. Visit outdoor museum

Travel Blog: Finland

If you want short look to the way Finns used to live, local art or even have picnic among statues, find the closest outdoor museum. Because Finns love to spend our limited summer days outside outdoor and open-air museums are popular places to visit. In Helsinki Seurasaari Open-Air Museum is perfect example of traditional Finnish outdoor museum. Old buildings, people dressed in national costumes and of course cute animals. If statue parks are your thing, I have heard many good things about Parikkala’s Sculpture Park.

 

6. Colorful old towns

Travel Blog: Things To Do In Finland

If you have been reading my blog for some time now, you may have realized that I am totally in love with old towns and colorful cities. That’s why my top 10 things to do in Finland during summer list wouldn’t be complete without sunny trip to pastel colored old town. Don’t get me wrong. These are good places to visit even at winter time but during summer Finnish old towns come to life. Small cafes, art galleries and of course locals having fun. My favorite ones are in Kokkola, Naantali and Mariehamn.

 

5. Day trip to Moominworld

Travel Blog: Moomins

Moomins are adorable fairy tale characters from Finland. These cuddly and friendly characters are well known from cartoons and comics. Every Finn knows them but surprisingly in the last few years Moomins have taken over Asia and more specifically Japan. Tourists around the world come to see Moomins in Finland but also locals love these characters. Most of us grew up watching these magical stories.

From pretty Finnish seaside city, Naantali, you can find theme park dedicated for Moomins. Moominworld is popular among local families and tourists. Even if you have never before heard about Moomins it is definitely worth of visit and good place to get know something more of Finnish culture. Remember to take bikinis with you because they also have idyllic beach!

 

4. Hike around national park

camping

Nature and Finland walk hand in hand. There is only under 6 million of us but we have a lot of area. One of the best sides of Finnish national parks: you can go there, hike and use everything freely. Just respect the nature, don’t litter and keep on trails when asked to. All national parks in Finland have good hiking trails that are well taken care of. There is even outdoor toilets, places for campfires and shelters to sleep in.

So, how can you do your perfect overnight trip to Finnish nature? First get tent, or hammock, or just sleeping bag (because like I said there is shelters you can use for sleeping). Step two: go to internet, find the closest or the most interesting national park and get free map. And finally take bus or tax or lift to your destination. Then walk. That’s it. Easy, right?

 

3. Enjoy the sun with cold drink on terrace

drink_summer
Photo from Unsplash

Finns are known for heavy drinking but even if you are not one of those party animals drinking cold beer (or glass of fine wine) on sunny day while watching people passing by is almost perfect moment to have. It is something locals do. When it gets warm and days get longer every place from bars to restaurants and small cafes open their terraces. And at the same time those terraces get full of Finns enjoying our short summer warmth.

 

2. Crazy festivals

Travel Blog: Finland Festival

Because summers in Finland are short we love to enjoy them as well as we can. This is why visiting festival is one of my must to do things in Finland during summer. We have everything from music festivals with world class names to small village happenings with local musicians and events varying from family olympics to dance performances.

Maybe the most popular celebration of summer in Finland is for midsummer (juhannus). Midsummer fest is also event to celebrate our nightless night. Traditional ways to spent midsummer are burning a huge pile of branches, drinking and doing summer magic like try to find out your future husband through dream. Just find out from internet where the closest festival is and go. A little alcohol and warm summer day makes even us Finns friendly and talkative. You will fit in perfectly.

 

1. Enjoy peaceful Finnish summer cottage life

cottage_summer
Photo from Unsplash

Maybe the most Finnish thing you can do here during summer is to spend weekend living in cottage. You will get bonus points if the cottage is next to lake, has wooden sauna and no water toilet. It’s like escape from city to just be peacefully with yourself, your friends and family. You can play traditional Finnish summer games like Mölkky, boot throwing and of course board games. There is nothing as atmospheric as playing game of Uno in candle light chocolate as price while listening radio.

Other important cottage (in Finnish ‘Mökki’) activities are swimming and eating. Barbecues are normal things and especially eating sausages and as dessert traditional Finnish pancakes made on campfire. But in reality there is no rules for cottage life. Just enjoy and have fun with your closest ones.

 

Have you any summery things to do in Finland you would like to recommend? All comments are welcome like always. It’s already June so I just want to wish good summer and happy holiday for everyone! And thank you for 2 000 readers. I don’t know what your are still doing here but you are highly appreciated. This writing thing would be super boring without you. 🙂

With love,

Lost Viivi

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).