Finland’s biggest draw is also its greatest source of pride. Over 75% of the country is covered in forest, the largest amount in Europe (which covers an area greater than the entire UK). Finland also has more than 180,000 lakes, which are among the cleanest in the world. This and the ‘right of access’ laws creates thousands of miles of countryside to explore and a feeling of total immersion in nature far away from the troubles of the rest of the world.
The Nordic winter can be a pain at times, but it creates some unforgettable landscapes and exhilarating winter sports. While a single snowfall might bring other nations to a screeching halt, Finns embrace their winters and don’t let it stop them from going about their daily business. Even if you prefer to stay in, it doesn’t get much better than reading a good book with a cup of Finnish coffee while watching the snow falling.
Where else in the world can you go on holiday to watch bears in the wild? Or ride in a sleigh with real reindeer? There is a reason why Finns work so hard to protect their wildlife. With enough care and patience, you might spot animals in Finland which are hard to see in the wild anywhere else.
Finns may take a while to come out of their shells, but once you get to know them, their quiet, unassuming attitude makes them great friends – and their natural good looks makes them highly sought after as dates. People in Finland are very friendly, trustworthy, and hospitable. So long as you call ahead, they will always welcome you into their home with a pot of coffee and a slice of cake.
While the practice of getting naked and sweating with other people may seem bizarre to foreigners at first, those who delve into Finland’s sauna culture soon find they can’t go without their weekly sauna. Finland has the most saunas per capita in the world, an average of one per household, and those looking to find a Finnish-quality sauna abroad often find themselves disappointed.
As difficult as it is to learn, the Finnish language is pleasing to the ear and enjoyable to practice. Finnish words are fun to pronounce and concepts such as ‘sisu’ (guts) don’t have a direct translation into English, but form a strong cultural attitude.
Late sunsets and early sunrises can cause some insomnia at first, but once you become accustomed to them, it is amazing to step outside at midnight to a near-bright sky. It means that you can go for a walk anywhere during the summer in the middle of the night and still feel safe, or adjust your sleep schedule to whatever hours you prefer.
Finnish food may not be that highly regarded overseas, but the clean environment and high standards for food create some delicious dishes. There is fish caught fresh from the local river or lake, coffee pastries, unique salty liquorice candies, berries eaten straight from the bush, and rare meats such as reindeer. It is near impossible to find most of these abroad.
Those who come to Finland for work frequently find that the working culture is one of the best they have ever experienced. Like most things, Finns set their standards for work and hiring high, but still treat their employees well and pay them a deserving wage to result in their best quality work. Regular coffee breaks are all but required and free childcare makes things easier for working parents. Teachers especially love working in Finland as the country has a huge amount of respect for the profession.
Despite this, Finns also know to hang up their work hats once they get home and relax. There is nothing they enjoy more than a good meal followed by a bike ride or walk with the dog. This attitude is also why so many Finns spend their weekends, or sometimes even whole summers, at their lakeside cabins. Even schools give their students regular breaks and little if any homework.
Finland has the most heavy metal bands per capita than anywhere else in the world, and greatly enjoy similar genres such as rock and punk. This allows for a much greater diversity of songs on the radio than the same old pop songs, and a lot of creativity from metal bands, such as Lordi’s iconic monster-movie outfits.