6 Reasons Why Finns Love Spending Time at Cottages During Summer

A summer barbecue at a Finnish cottage.
A summer barbecue at a Finnish cottage. | © Timo Tervo / Flickr
Jessica Wood

Nothing is more Finnish than spending summer holidays at a lakeside or island cottage, known in Finnish as a ‘mökki’. Most mökki are constructed from wooden logs on lakesides or beaches and usually contain a sauna, boat dock, outdoor cooker and sometimes even a separate guest house. Most don’t have running water or electricity, and even requires guests to rely upon outside toilets when needed. Around a fifth of Finns own their own cottages, with many more renting one during the summer season. Many people also visit cottages owned by their friends and relatives, particularly just in time for the Midsummer holiday. They are so popular that cities can almost feel deserted during Midsummer weekend. These are some of the top reasons why Finns still love visiting their cottages every summer.

Getting back to nature

Even with more Finns migrating from the countryside to the cities, they still love to spend their free time getting back to their natural roots. Being immersed in nature far away from civilisation allows them to take in the landscape, pick wild berries and mushrooms, cook on a campfire and hopefully even spot some of their country’s elusive wildlife.

A forest path in the Finnish countryside

Spending quality time with loved ones

Finns tend to prefer to socialise in small, intimate groups, hence why a summer cottage is a perfect place for a catch-up in a more relaxed environment. It is almost a staple of Finnish children’s summer holidays to visit their grandparents and relatives at their cottages. They are also a popular place for friends to gather for a weekend of drinking or the Finnish practice of bonding in the sauna.

Friends relax together at a summer cottage

Seclusion and privacy

But staying in a summer cottage does not always have to be a social activity. It can also be a place to get away from the noise and find headspace. The lack of electricity and internet connection makes it easy to cut yourself off from the pressures of work, constant news updates or the obsessive need to check social media. There are very few places where you can sleep in complete silence and wake up without feeling social or work pressures.

Finding peace and seclusion in a summer cottage.

Relaxation

This privacy also allows for total relaxation and a sense of calmness and contentment. Sitting by the water is soothing, and since most cottages are located next to forested areas, Finns can take part in what the Japanese call ‘forest bathing’ – spending time in a forest to improve physical and mental health.

Aquatic birds spotted at a mökki

Preserving a tradition

While Finns are quick to adapt to modern trends, they also like to preserve their traditions. Staying at summer cottages allows them to return to a time when people still lived in the countryside without modern amenities. Most Finns not only spend their Midsummers at a cottage but they also light a bonfire, taking part in a century-old tradition. Most cottages even have traditional log-burning saunas rather than modern electric saunas.

A mökki dock at sunset

Outdoor activities

There is a lot of freedom that comes with staying in a cottage, including the freedom to either relax or partake in a wide range of physical outdoor activities at your own leisure. A few common pastimes include swimming, sailing, and fishing, or simply taking a walk in the open space.

Campfire cooking at a summer cottage.

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