5 Activities You Won’t Want to Miss in Finland
I love Finland for many reasons, many of which relate back to some of my favorite Finnish activities. I’m lucky to have spent long periods of time living with Finnish friends who have introduced me to all sorts of Finnish customs. When you visit Finland, make sure to try the following activities in order to enhance your bound-to-be-wonderful experience!
5 Activities You Won’t Want to Miss in Finland
1. Attend a music festival
In the summer, Finland is crowded with music festivals, ranging from small and focused on one genre to larger festivals that draw international artists across a variety of styles. If you’re headed to a festival, don’t be tempted to stick to the artists you are familiar with. There are many talented Finnish musicians—and, counter to the stereotype, many that are not heavy metal artists—that deserve to be checked out. Some sing in Finnish, and some in English.
I’ve discovered some of my favorite musicians by watching the performances of random Finnish bands. It is also worth camping at a festival that allows it if you want to get a taste of Finnish partying. Since the sun hardly sets during the summer, there is the added bonus of longer days, meaning more music and fun in an energized atmosphere.
2. Pick mushrooms and berries
Finland is home to a plethora of types of mushrooms and berries, and many Finns love to pick them in the summer and autumn. Finland has public access rights, which means everyone can enjoy the outdoors regardless of who owns an area as long as the environment is not harmed and others aren’t disturbed.
Not only is foraging a fairly popular activity that can have tasty results, but you’ll also have an excuse to get into Finland’s beautiful nature. Of course, do not pick mushrooms and berries if you don’t have adequate knowledge about Finnish species. Some mushrooms and berries can be deadly. Go with locals who are experienced, or take an educational tour.
3. Spend time at a summer cottage
If you visit Finland in the summer, you’ll notice that Finns love going to their cottages. Many families have them and they are often situated by a lake, and almost always include a sauna. They are great places to go to relax, cook, eat, drink, sauna, swim, and enjoy the outdoors. Of course, to get to a summer cottage you’ll need a Finnish friend. If you don’t know anyone, try reaching out to friends-of-friends, or use a hospitality exchange website such as BeWelcome or Couchsurfing.
4. Go see a pesäpallo match
Alright, this isn’t the most popular activity ever, but I think it is enjoyable to experience at least once. What is pesäpallo? Finnish baseball, which is different from American baseball. I honestly don’t understand the rules, but it involves the pitcher tossing the ball vertically up in the air for the batter to hit and is surprisingly fast-paced. If you enjoy going to sports matches, you ought to look into this Finnish game. You can watch hockey elsewhere, but probably not pesäpallo!
5. Go to the sauna
The stereotypes you’ve heard about the sauna and Finland are probably true, and then some! From an American perspective, hanging out naked with a bunch of others probably sounds uncomfortable. However in Finland, it is totally natural. In Finland, nakedness is not solely associated with sex. The sauna is in fact a totally non-sexual space. While some saunas are segregated by gender, this is not always the case.
For example, groups of close university friends may go all at once—men and women. Even after years of visiting the sauna I thought it was awkward when my friend told me her group went all together. I then tried it and it was absolutely fine and absent of any awkward sexual tension.
In terms of the actual sauna experience, you sit in a steamy room and gently beat yourself with birch branches. When you start feeling too hot, you step outside and, if available, jump in a lake or hang out in the snow. After this, it’s back into the heat! This process is repeated until you want to stop. The sauna takes a little getting used to and is probably not for everyone, but to skip this experience would be to miss out on a significant part of Finnish culture. Personally, I find the sauna very relaxing, and once I emerge, I feel very fresh!
Visit Finland: 5 Activities You Won’t Want to Miss in Finland
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Visit Finland: 5 Activities You Won’t Want to Miss in Finland photo credits: Leah Missik