9 Unique Experiences in Finland  to Add to Your 2024 Travel List 

Written by BSY Editor
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With magical scenery and the title of the happiest country in the world, Finland brims with adventure, history and culture, not to mention the thousands of lakes, millions of saunas, fresh and tasty food, and friendly locals.
We’ve rounded up nine experiences in Finland to add to your travel bucket list this upcoming year.

 

Finland travel

Saimaa, located in Finland’s Lakeland region, will receive the European Region of Gastronomy Award in 2024

1. Dine in Finland’s Saimaa Region – the European Region of Gastronomy 2024

Saimaa, located in Finland’s Lakeland region, is quickly becoming a top international destination for food lovers. In 2024, Saimaa will be awarded the European Region of Gastronomy Award for its commitment to the importance of cultural and culinary uniqueness.
Such dedication is reflected in the region’s beloved  produce grown deep in its forests and freshly caught from one of the largest lakes in Europe, Saimaa. The cuisine is based on seasonal harvests including wild game, mushrooms and berries, local perch and vendace, while producers like the Ollinmäki Winery, fly the flag for Finland’s burgeoning wine industry.
Saimaa is a true treasure – as it remains a hidden gem for international travelers, it is a place where Finns like to spend their holidays in a summer cottage foraging for berries and mushrooms.

2. Watch films for 24 hours above the Arctic Circle 

In mid-June, Sodankylä, a tiny town in Lapland, comes alive. With a population of less than 10,000 people, Sodankylä is the center for world-class cinema and culture.
The Midnight Sun Film Festival was founded in 1986 by Finnish filmmakers, Aki and Mika Kaurismäki, along with the municipality of Sodankylä, and it has grown in popularity ever since. The atmosphere of the Midnight Sun Film Festival is one of the most unique in the world, with plenty of international guests and the programme includes combination of old and new films shown in four lovely venues around town, 24 hours a day.
Finland Travel

Cross-country skiing is a national hobby and a skill that Finns learn at an early age

3. Cross-country ski in the Green Capital of Europe, Lahti

Did you know that cross-country skiing is a national hobby and a skill that Finns learn at an early age in school? The season starts in October, when the most popular cross-country skiing destinations in Finland, such as Levi in Lapland and Imatra City by Saimaa Lake, open the first snow tracks using stored snow from the previous season.
The cross-country skiing season runs as late as May in Finland’s northern most region, Lapland, where you can also ski under Northern lights until spring. The European Green Capital 2021, Lahti has hosted the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships seven times – the region provides world-class 180 kilmetre ski tracks in the forest only an hour train trip from Finland’s capital city, Helsinki.
Thousands of kilometers of well-maintained ski tracks are found around the country, and frozen lakes are considered the best places to enjoy the  sun. Each year in March, Himos Ski Resort hosts a unique bikini skiiing event, Simmarihiihto, which combines skiing and sauna.
Finland Travel

One of the best hikes in Lapland, the Saana hiking trail is easy and rewarding, through typical Lappish landscape 

4. Hike in Three Nordic countries in 10 seconds

In Kilpisjärvi, a small but vibrant village in northern Finland near the Norwegian border, the Midnight Sun lasts for more than two months. The village is home to Finland’s national landscape, the 1029-metre-high Saana fell, which is the Sami people’s sacred sacrificial site.
Travelers must add climbing Saana to their itinerary when visiting Kilpisjärvi. At Midsummer, you can even ski in the heights of the Saana fell, admiring the glory of flowers on the way down, and take a dip in the clear waters of the Kilpisjärvi Lake from the sauna or go canoeing.
In autumn, you can hike amid the paprika and golden-dusted landscape. A 3-kilometre trail begins at the northern end of Lake Kilpisjärvi, leading visitors to the Three-Country Cairn. The Cairn itself is in the middle of water, but a wooden construction has been built around it, making it possible for visitors to go around the Cairn freely, without passports or border controls. You can also hike the neighboring countries of Finland, Sweden and Norway, within 10 seconds!
Finland Travel

Hawkhill Cottage Resort’s top-of-the-line villa has unforgettable views of the lake

5. Travel Regeneratively and Build an Insect Hotel

Regenerative traveling encourages visitors to travel in a more meaningful way to help the well-being of the community. Haltia Lake Lodge, awarded Visit Finland’s Sustainable Travel Finland award  and the Best Sustainable Hotel in Europe 2022, is helping travelers fight biodiversity loss.
In summer 2024, Haltia Lake Lodge will offer planet-positive conservation holidays for groups for the first time. These holidays involve actions such as combating the spread of invasive plants and rejuvenating meadows.
Hawkhill Cottage Resort, a pioneer of regenerative travel, has been able to increase their revenue while decreasing CO2, by allowing guests to engage in building insect hotels.
Lapland-based company, Wild Out, is dedicated to taking everyone into the woods to have lunch on a fire and build a birdhouse, helping the local community.

Saunas are ubiquitous around Finland

6. Small Talk in the Heat of a Sauna

Finland has a population of 5.6 million people, but it has over 3 million saunas. Finnish sauna culture is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.  The sauna is one of the few places left in the world where mobile phones are not welcome, allowing visitors to enjoy tranquility and deep relaxation. The most public saunas are in Tampere, the sauna capital of the world. In Mänttä, one-hour from Tampere, is the only prestigious  Art Sauna in the world. The Lonna Sauna, handcrafted by a wooden log structure, is on a nearby island in front of the city center of Helsinki – it can be reached by a public boat and is only open during the summer season. The northernmost public sauna, Arctic Sauna World is located above the Arctic Circle by the holy Jerisjärvi Lake and offers blissful moments after a hike in the Ylläs-Pallas National Park.
Finland Travel

Finland’s capital is one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the world

7. Celebrate love in Finland’s Capital, Helsinki

Helsinki is one of the world’s most LGBTQ+-friendly cities in the world. If you visit the capital city, you might even find famous erotic artist Tom of Finland’s hunky imagery on your Finlayson hotel bed linens – or buy them as a souvenir.
The capital’s pride festival makes the whole city come to life with the colors of the rainbow at the end of June. Helsinki Gay Pride attracts more than 100,000 visitors and is celebrated across the city through a week-long series of cultural events, parties, demonstrations, and exhibitions.
Activities for LGBTQ+ visitors are not solely limited to the once-a-year pride festivals. Recently re-opened DTM, the biggest gay club in the Nordics, is an institution of all things queer at night in the capital. It has been running since 1992, originally known as “Don’t Tell Mama,” and it is now located in the city’s former meatpacking district, Teurastamo.
Finland Travel

 Finland’s pristine wilderness is paradise for wildlife photographers

8. Photograph Wildlife in the Last Wilderness of Europe

Reindeer are the most common inhabitant of Lapland. In summertime, these cute animals roam freely and cause the only traffic jams in Lapland by crossing empty roads. Bear watching season starts at the beginning of May and runs until September.
The pristine and picturesque landscapes of Finland are also home to many wild animals and birds, including wolves, lynxes, eagles, cranes, and swans. While traditional photography tours in the wild are widely available, one unique way to experience the local wildlife is from the heat of a sauna.
Hossan Karhut’s Bear Sauna Safari welcomes you to the only “hide sauna” in the world, giving visitors the chance to watch bears and other wildlife through a window while relaxing in the sauna.

 

Finland Travel

Get cozy at the Arctic Snow Hotel Rovaniemi

9.  Ice Fish, Ice Cruise, and Sleep in an Ice Hotel

The Nordic latitudes typically guarantee a snow-filled season, especially in the central and northern parts of the country. The Lakeland region, with thousands of frozen lakes, provides great conditions for ice fishing from January to March. For example, the European Gastronomy Capital, Lake Saimaa has plenty of fish even during the frosty winter months. The legendary and world’s only icebreaker cruise, Sampo in Kemi, takes you to the frozen sea where the scenery is one of a kind. Finish the “cold exposure” with a once-in-a-lifetime experience by night in the Arctic SnowHotel. If you dare to take it to the next level, take a dip in the frozen lake or sea like locals love to do to boost the happy hormones and improve your health.
Read more about  travel to Finland at BeSeeingYou
Photos courtesy of Visit Finland
BSY Editor

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