Ah, Finland! Land of 190,000 lakes, endless empty forests, the occasional moose and really nice cinnamon buns. I made a video of my favourite little adventures from my last trip to this Nordic wonder, and rounded up six of the country’s best outdoor experiences.
Six Finland outdoor adventures
EXPLORE NUUKSIO NATIONAL PARK The vast and unimaginably beautiful swathes of wilderness this country is made up of are the perfect place to escape to, but you don’t need to go far from cosmopolitan hubs to find green space and heavenly silence. Just 35 minutes from Helsinki is Nuuksio National Park. The semi-wilderness stretches for miles – think glassy lakes, springy moss, tiny log huts with open wooden fires, and trees where rumour has it a solitary bear roams. Canoe on the water or swim in one of the glass-clear lakes. Heaven.
TAKE A BOAT TO SUOMENLINNA
A group of islands just off Helsinki, a trip to Suomenlinna archipelago is nevertheless like entering another world. Once a maritime fortress, now the islands are time capsules reminiscent of a simpler era. Tiny, chugging wooden ferries leave from Helsinki and hop from island to island. Some are now uninhabited, just pretty old clapboard houses and wooden jetties remaining, but the largest is still a bustling, picture-perfect little community. Its car-free streets, lined with candy-coloured houses, bakeries and restaurants, rather like somewhere the Moomins might live.
SWIM IN A LAPPISH RIVER Where do Lappish hipsters eat, drink and make merry? The answer is the achingly cool Kesarafla Sauna bar, nestled on the banks of the Kemijoki river outside Rovaniemi, Lapland’s capital. Outside, a reindeer antler-studded terrace looks out over the water, inside is a gorgeous wooden sauna. Steam your cares away and then chill out in the hot tub with a beer. The brave (and the Finnish) can dive off the wooden jetty into the icy waters of the river and then warm up by the crackling fire.
CUDDLE A REINDEER The Sami are traditionally a semi-nomadic people, herding reindeer and moving through the coldest and in some ways loveliest part of Europe – the white, pine-clad land stretching across the roof of Norway, Sweden and Finland. Some Sami still follow in their forefathers footsteps by practising reindeer husbandry, even if they now herd them with snowmobiles. You can get a little insight into their way of life at Konttaniemi Farm, meet and feed the herd and try a traditional (and incredible) Sami meal of reindeer meet with lingonberries.
SLEEP UNDER THE NORDIC LIGHTS Imagine, if you will, falling asleep, warm and cosy, whilst a million stars shine above you and the northern lights cast arcs of colour across the sky. No problem, space kids – Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort‘s glass igloos let you stargaze under the heavens in the middle of a snow-laden fores somewhere north of the Arctic Circle. This has got to be one of the most amazing glamping experiences in the world.
TAKE A SEA SWIM IN THE CITY
Finns LOVE a sauna. Family time, a beer with friends, serious politics… it all takes place in dark, smoky rooms, preferably with a long drink (a Finnish cocktail of gin and grapefruit), and is followed with a jump into cold water to refresh the senses. There’s no need to leave the cosmopolitan hub of Helsinki to get traditional, though – the city’s coolest addition, right on its lovely harbour, is the new Allas Sea Pool and saunas.