Find everything women travelers in Finland need to know about healthromancewomen’s rights and safety.

All the information below is provided by Pink Pangea community members based on their experiences abroad. Get involved and add your voice here!

Health

Feminine Hygienic Products

Alexandra says: All feminine products are available, and you can find them in supermarkets, corner shops, and pharmacies. In smaller supermarkets and kiosks you might not find a large selection of brands.

Birth Control

Alexandra says: All forms of contraception are available and legal in Finland. Condoms can be bought from supermarkets, service stations, kiosks and pharmacies.

Oral contraceptives, implants or injections have to be prescribed by a doctor at the health center, family clinic or private gynecologist. Oral contraceptives can be bought from the pharmacy once the prescription is received.

Recommended Gyncologists and Doctors

Alexandra says: I have not been to a gynecologist in Finland, but I believe that they would not be much different than in Australia.

Breastfeeding

Alexandra says: Breastfeeding is allowed in Finland and there are special “baby corners” and nursing rooms where you can breastfeed in a more private setting. People do not comment aloud to breastfeeding mothers in a positive or negative manner.

Many people do not breastfeed in public due to a low breastfeeding rate, and most mothers give their babies bottles. There is also a bit of a mixed attitude about breastfeeding in society, but mothers are not made to feel awkward if they breastfeed in public.

 

Romance

Dating Locals

Alexandra says: Finnish men are shy at approaching women (and strangers in general). So, if you want to talk to them, you will either have to make the first contact or get a mutual friend to introduce you. Once you talk to them they are very friendly.

On the weekends, the young people love to drink A LOT. Unless you know them personally, I would advise against trying to pick up someone from a bar. They will only look for a one-night stand, and sometimes just smiling might give the hint that you want to do more than just talk. This was my experience in Helsinki on a Friday night.

I would advise that if you’re going out with a Finnish man, let him set the pace. Be a bit more reserved. I have experienced that sometimes when I am very open and friendly with guys, they might get the wrong idea about where the night is leading.

I have found that some things that I would do as a friend with an Australian guy are interpreted as sexual by some Finnish men.

Men

Alexandra says: The types that I have spotted around are:

The Musician/ Rock ‘n’ Roller – Since Hard Rock/ Metal is big in Finland, expect to see plenty of men spotting tattoos, dreads/long hair, and lots of black. They love their music and smaller drinking establishments that are out of the way.

The Macho Men – Men who like to work with their hands and can pretty much build/ fix/ make anything from scratch. They love their sports, motocross, rallies, and drinking beer.

The Players – The men who are looking for a one-night stand or to score with some hot chick. There are plenty of these and mostly look like typical nice guys at first.

The Expat – Men who have relocated to Finland for work, or study, or any other reason. They are usually more outgoing and approachable than Finnish men, and will start a conversation with women they like.

Tips for Women Travelers in Finland

LGBTQ Friendly

Alexandra says: Finland is a very equal country, and the LGBTQ community have many of the same rights as in other Western countries. There are some LGBTQ bars and clubs in Helsinki. Discrimination is not allowed based on sexual preference, and, even though there is no same-sex marriage, same sex couples are recognized in relationships.

 

Women's Rights

Women’s Rights

Alexandra says: Finland is one of the most equal countries when it comes to gender. You can tell because women and men are treated the same in the workplace, with the same pay and opportunities.

There is no discrimination on the street, and men treat women equally in everyday situations. There are also women in Parliament and other areas of politics, military and other professions.

Local Women

Alexandra says: Finnish women tend to be more quiet and reserved and take their time when talking. Their fashion is very elegant but minimalist. Most women in Finland wear little to no makeup and their clothes are very simple and stylish. As Rock culture is very big in Finland, you will also see many girls and women wearing Rock fashion like tattoos and piercings. These seem to be accepted and popular.

Women-Specific Environments

Alexandra says: Women and men are not segregated in any place. The only exception to this is the sauna, where usually men and women go separately. But there are many mixed public saunas.

Perception of Foreign Women

Alexandra says: Local men tend to think that I am friendly and cheerful because I am from Australia. I have been told that I act more open and confident, and less aggressive than women they are used to. There is also small number of men who think that if you are friendly, and more outgoing, it also means that you are “easy.” Local women do not react much when hearing that I am a foreigner.

 

Safety

Transportation

Alexandra says: I have not found any transport to be unsafe for women. I have not experienced any harassment on public transport or taxis, at all hours of the day. I think that Finland is a very safe country, and you just need to use the same caution that you would use in your home country.

Shady Areas for Women

Alexandra says: There are no really dangerous areas for women. You do need to be vigilant on the weekend if you are out at night, as there are many drunk people around in Helsinki. And, also I have heard that the area around the Central Station can be dodgy at night.

Otherwise, in the rest of the country, there are no specific areas that are unsafe for women. Usual vigilance has to be kept when walking alone in less crowded places, as you would do back home.

Tips for Women Travelers in Finland

Tips for Women Travelers in Finland

Clothing

Alexandra says: You can wear whatever you wish in Finland. There are no restrictions and people tend to leave you alone on the street. However, if you are wearing something that is revealing in the summer, be prepared to get hit on many times.

I would advise that if you are visiting any churches as a woman, you might want to wear something modest as the clergy might not allow you to enter otherwise.

What You’ll Want to Know Before Your Trip to Finland by Leah Missik

As a Westerner traveling to another Western country, I sometimes can get slightly lulled by a sense of familiarity. On the very surface, things appear to be similar to my home in the United States. It is easy for me to figure out transportation, use the grocery stores, and even the bathrooms, for example.

In this way, when I visit Finland,  it is much easier than when I travel to non-Western countries. And truthfully, Finland is very tourist-friendly. However, it is also its own unique country, and with that come a few things that would be useful to know before your trip to Finland!

1. Finns seem solemn, but they are far from cold

A popular stereotype of the Finns is that they are stern and quiet. Someone once even joked to me about my Finnish studies, “Wow, it must be hard to learn since Finns never talk!” I wouldn’t go that far, but it is true that, relatively speaking, Finns are not terribly effusive, especially with people they don’t know very well.

When I’m in Finland, I feel more than ever like a bouncy, gregarious, talkative American. In fact, the first few times I visited Finland, I had to remind myself that just because people don’t appear to be as excited as I am, doesn’t mean they hate me!

Far from it in fact—even though Finns seem outwardly reserved, they’re no less kind than people anywhere else. In fact, some of the most caring people I know are Finnish. So don’t be discouraged if people seem standoffish—that’s just how it is. And do note, this aloofness dissipates when Finns drink, which is not infrequently.

2. Finns love to know what people think of their country

I’m not sure if I have ever come across a nationality that is as curious about how people find their country as Finns are. No kidding, almost all of the comments I personally received about my article about Finnish phrases were from Finns!

In order to be a nice visitor, you’d do well to observe as you go and formulate answers to the question, “how do you find Finland?” as you’re traveling beyond, “oh, it’s nice.”

People are genuinely curious, and not only would it be less awkward to have a more substantial answer prepared when you’re asked on the spot, but this is a great way to engage the quiet Finns in conversation!

5 Things to Know Before Your Trip to Finland

5 Things to Know Before Your Trip to Finland

3. Swedish is an official language of Finland

Yes, Sweden is Finland’s neighbor and Finland was under Swedish rule for centuries. However, not only does Finland have its own distinct culture, but Finnish is not at all similar to Swedish or the other Scandinavian languages, Danish and Norwegian. Knowing Swedish would still be a plus in Finland though, because Swedish is recognized as an official language.

A sizeable minority, particularly in the Western part of the country closer to Sweden, speaks Swedish as their mother tongue. Because of Swedish’s official status, signs will be in two languages, Finnish and Swedish.

This can actually be helpful if you speak a Germanic language, as you may be able to guess at some of the Swedish. Things can get a little confusing, though, when it comes to names. Finnish cities have both Finnish and Swedish names. Some, such as Helsinki/Helsingfors are similar.

But Pori/Björneborg? Oulu/Uleåborg? Entirely different names for the same place! Don’t freak out if you’re on a train and see a sign with a name that is not what you expected, or if it seems like there are two cities in the place of one.

4. Finns don’t eat peels

Visit Finland: 5 Things to Know Before Your Trip
Too many preservatives? Photo by Leah Missik

One day, my friend Elina offered me an apple. I gladly took it, rinsed it off, and started chomping. Elina, however, took a peeler, removed the skin from the apple, and then proceeded to eat it whole. I burst out laughing. Turns out Elina thought I was the odd one, though. Generally Finns don’t eat peels because of the chemicals that may be on them. The same goes for things like potato skins.

We had a great laugh when I told Elina that there is a dish called potato skins in the U.S. and this difference was a topic of conversation for quite awhile among our group.

So, you’ve been warned: if you start chowing down on an unpeeled piece of fruit, Finns might look at you slightly askew. That said, my friends told me they’re a bit more lax about Finnish produce, since it has fewer preservatives on it.

5. Nakedness is not something to be shy about

The sauna is a Finnish national institution. Growing up, most Finns have saunas in their homes and the family will go together in groups separated by gender. Thing is, in the sauna, you’re naked, even when you go with other people, which is usual. In fact, bathing suits are somewhat of a taboo—not to mention less physically comfortable in the heat!

Coming from a more body-shy society, public nakedness, especially in front of strangers, can take getting used to. However, I would strongly encourage you to mentally prepare yourself, swallow any embarrassment, bring a towel if you really must, and try the sauna out. Otherwise you’d be missing a huge part of Finnish culture and, if you’re crazy like me, you might even become a bit obsessed with it!

After awhile, you’ll forget about the whole awkward naked thing. In fact, it’s quite freeing and, in my opinion, promotes body acceptance. If you grow up seeing bodies all types and ages in person, rather than only airbrushed photos of the so-called ideal, you may feel less pressure to conform your body to a narrow standard. I didn’t have my first sauna experience until I was in my late teens, but even so, I honestly find it to be liberating and self-affirming.

Armed with this knowledge of Finnish tradition and peculiarities, you should be well prepared for your adventure! Embrace Finland for what it is, try new things, converse with others, and see what happens. You might just fall in love with this sleek yet quirky place like I did.

5 Things to Know Before Your Trip to Finland

Related Reading

5 Activities You Won’t Want to Miss in Finland

Have you traveled to Finland? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Tips for Women Travelers in Finland

Related Reading

All about the Finland Sauna
5 Activities You Won’t Want to Miss in Finland
10 Things You’ll Love about Finland
How to Visit Finland Like a Local

Have you traveled to Finland? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

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