One of the most iconic sights in Finland is its beautiful country villages; remote, peaceful, and still practising traditional ways of life that have lasted for hundreds of years. Some village residents in Finland still live in wooden huts, hunt for their dinner, and heat their homes with wood-burning stoves. However, the remoteness and old-fashioned attitudes of these villages is also why people are moving away from them, and many of them could vanish entirely within the next generation.
For centuries, Finnish people primarily lived in the countryside and made a living from farming, fishing, and logging. This began to change after the Second World War, when Finland paid off its war reparations and began to modernise. Life in the cities became increasingly more attractive and there was a mass migration from the countryside to the cities. Some villages that once had several hundred occupants now have less than 50, the majority of which are senior citizens. This trend has been especially prominent in Lapland, where villages are even more secluded, summers are incredibly short, and winter temperatures can drop as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
What is causing rural decline in Finland?
The main cause of the decline in rural areas is that Finland has one of the most rapidly ageing populations in Europe, with nearly 20% of the population aged over 65. This trend is only set to increase as Finland also has a declining birth rate and low numbers of immigrants.
Traditional ways of life in country villages are highly attractive to the elderly who have lived a certain way their entire lives, but this way of living isn’t as attractive to their children or grandchildren. The poor economy means that the rural industries, such as fishing and logging, are almost non-existent in some areas, so younger people have no choice but to move to cities to find work.
Essential services such as schools, hospitals, and supermarkets are difficult to reach – over 90km away in some villages – so it makes sense that people, especially those with young children, would want to live elsewhere. Remote living is impossible without a vehicle, but owning a car is incredibly expensive in Finland, and still not within the budget of many younger Finns who are struggling in a challenging job market.
This urban migration has a knock-on effect; fewer inhabitants means fewer activities and services in the country villages, which makes them even less attractive to live in, and causes even more people to move away. The government can do little to help, as they prefer to spend their limited budget on urban areas with higher populations.
How can the villages be saved?
While the future of Finland’s rural villages doesn’t look bright, there are a few initiatives already being put forward in an attempt to save them. For all the people looking to move to the cities, there are just as many who find urban living too stressful and expensive, and prefer the peace and cheaper cost of living in the countryside. Even the increased fuel costs can be significantly less than the cost of rent in a major city. Rapid changes to technology and Finland’s all-inclusive internet access policy makes it easier for people to earn a living from anywhere, even in the most remote locations.
A few small towns in Finland are rebranding themselves in an attempt to attract new residents and tourists and revitalise their economies. Fiskars in southern Finland, for example, experienced mass unemployment after the closure of its knife-making factories, but has since transformed itself into an artistic community with a full calendar of cultural events. Wildlife tourism, such as bear watching holidays, has also been a huge economical boost in some of Finland’s remote areas, and is increasing interest in Finland’s wilderness and wildlife conservation.
Lapland is also becoming an increasingly trendy holiday destination, as visitors are spellbound by the natural winter landscapes and cultural traditions. Some Lapland residents are jumping on this bandwagon by renting out their homes to tourists and showing them traditional Finnish ways of living, both to earn additional revenue and draw more tourists to their towns, increasing people’s appreciation of them.
While the age-old customs and community spirit of Finland’s country villages may not survive another generation, the villages can still stay alive in the future by becoming peaceful havens in the busy modern world.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.