Finland Travel: 7 Things to Pack for Your Next Trip

December 12, 2014
Finland Travel: 7 Things to Pack for Your Next Trip

country-expert-badge-final3Planning a Finland travel adventure? Great choice! Finland is one of my favorite countries. I can’t keep myself away—I’ve been seven times so far! All of my trips to this country with its Nordic sheen yet undeniable quirk have given me some travel wisdom that I would like to share with you. Let’s learn from my mistakes and observations and talk about what to pack.

Finland Travel: 7 Things to Pack for Your Next Trip

1. Layers

The obvious fact is that if you’re traveling to Finland in the winter, you’ll need warm clothes. Less evident is that with Finland weather, it can be chilly in the summer too (even in the south). If you plan on visiting Finland in the summer, definitely have some warm weather clothes, even shorts, but don’t forget light jackets, cardigans, and other cozier layers. If it has been raining or if it is nighttime, it can be chilly. I have been known to wear three layers and gloves during July evenings despite running around in a t-shirt during the daytime.

2. A scarf

Not only is a scarf a good layer to bring, given the temperature fluctuations, but it will also help you fit in! Finns wear scarves, even in the summer. So if you want to be fashionable and functional, stuff one in your pack. Or, plan on buying a couple while in Finland. I picked up some of my favorite scarves during midsummer sales years ago and still wear them today!

3. Quick drying clothes

It is rare that people have dryers in Finland. They prefer to hang dry their clothes, which, I must add, is more environmentally friendly! If you’re planning on staying with a local and think you’ll need to do laundry, be aware that you’ll need the time to let your clothes hang dry. It might not be the best idea to bring anything that will take especially long to do so, especially if you’re in a rush.

4. Sunglasses

I’ve forgotten these on trips before, and it was a mistake. People don’t think of sunny when they think of Finland, but in the summer it really can be very bright—especially when you consider the sun barely sets! And in winter, if there is snow on the ground and the sun is out, your eyes will ache from the glare. So though you’re not going to a tropical island, don’t forget to protect your eyes.

5. Comfortable shoes

You’ll probably walk around a fair bit while exploring Finland, so good shoes will take you far. Obviously if you plan on getting out of the city and hiking, you’ll need them, but even if you plan on staying in Helsinki, expect to walk. Not only are there gorgeous parks to explore, but people rarely drive and taxis are expensive.

The public transit system is quite good, but you’ll at least need to walk to your nearest tram or bus stop. And in general, Helsinki is a very walkable city, so even if you plan on remaining in the city, good shoes will come in handy. It is nice to see the city by foot, besides. The other cities in Finland are similar in this way.

6. A small bag

In Finland, getting bags at the grocery store costs extra. Therefore, people usually bring their own reusable bags when they’re shopping. If you plan on buying any groceries for yourself, a cloth bag that you can load your things in will be useful, and not just for grocery store trips. You won’t look silly—Finns use these all the time, and even use them to carry larger things around town that won’t fit in a purse. It is popular to have cloth bags with band logos, in fact, or at least it is among my set of friends there!

7. A towel

This depends on where you’re staying, but if you don’t think you’ll have free or cheap access to a towel that you can carry around with you, bring one. I’m not considering showering when I say this; I’m thinking about the sauna. If you’re in Finland, it would be sad to miss the sauna, an important part of Finnish national identity. Fun fact: there are more saunas than cars in Finland. Almost every home has one.

The parliament even has a sauna! Here’s the thing: you do not wear clothes in the sauna. You do not wear a bathing suit. Everyone is naked. Though public saunas as usually segregated by gender, if hanging out in your birthday suit makes you uncomfortable, use your towel to wrap around yourself. This would be more acceptable, unlike a bathing suit. And by the way, sauna is awesome.

Finland Travel: 7 Things You Won't Want to Leave Home Without

Finland Travel: 7 Things to Pack

If you forget something, don’t worry. You should be able to easily buy what you forgot. Even so, it is probably better to have what you need to start with, rather than temporarily steal warm clothes and sunglasses from friends, like I’ve done, or pay extra, or develop blisters, or feel uncomfortable. But don’t overthink it, either. Finland is a wonderful place and it will take care of you. Enjoy!


Finland Travel: 7 Things to Pack

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Have you traveled to Finland? What were your impressions? Email us at to share your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Photos by Unsplash and Leah Missik.

About Leah Missik

Leah is a wanderer, an insatiable ponderer, and of a curious sort. When she is not working in the sustainable development field or traveling, you’ll likely find her with her nose in a book, dancing around at a concert, or writing her blog, Went Looking.

6 thoughts on “Finland Travel: 7 Things to Pack for Your Next Trip

  1. April 4, 2018

    Great article! Anyone making the trip to Finland should consider all this. But are there really more cars than saunas in Finland?

  2. Lillithjune
    September 7, 2016

    Since you’ve been to Finland so often, you should know it is Arctic, not Nordic

    • Leah Missik
      September 7, 2016

      Finland is a Nordic country: Nordic and Arctic are not exclusive terms, though only part of Finland is in the Arctic circle.

  3. December 12, 2014

    I’d love to visit Finland one day. Good tip about the towel, I would have never thought of that!

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