Finland is a beautiful Northern European country. The land is still covered with many pristine natural areas, including innumerable lakes and islands. It is one of the few countries in the world where the Northern Lights can be seen during the winter months, and the midnight sun appears during the summer.
Many people are discovering the unspoilt splendour of Finland, and each year, more and more visitors come.
Since little is known about Finland and the Finnish people, we have compiled a list of 7 things that first time visitors will be surprised to know about Finland. Do your own little research before you go to avoid some negative surprises, and take out travel insurance to have peace of mind on the go.
- Finland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish
Since Sweden and Finland are Nordic neighbours, Swedish is an official language, appearing in major road signs along with Finnish. Finnish is spoken and understood by 90% of the country. Finns also understand and speak English. In the Lapland area, the Sámi dialect is spoken.
- Finns are reserved and quiet people.
Finns have a reputation of being standoffish and stern, but they really are really just generally quiet and reserved people. If they don’t feel the need to talk, they won’t. Finns love their personal space, and it is considered rude for them to talk in public places. If you are in a public transport all you will hear is complete silence. They are especially reserved with people they hardly know. Despite of this, the Finns are the kindest and politest people on Earth. They genuinely love to know how their country is perceived by the rest of the world.
- Kemi Snow Castle
Every winter, a snow castle is rebuilt in the small town of Kemi, and then it turns to sludge when spring comes. It takes about five weeks to build the castle, along with a hotel, a chapel where one can get married, and an art gallery. Every year the configuration of the castle is a bit different, and people look forward to the changes. Visitors come and stay at the ice hotel, and some of them come back every year.
- Finns are not shy about being naked in saunas
As much as the Finns are quiet and reserved people, they certainly are not reserved when it comes to their nakedness. For the Finns, sharing a sauna with other naked people is normal. The sauna is a national institution in Finland. Families have them installed in their homes. In fact, if you go sit in a public sauna wearing your bathing suit, it will be frowned upon.
- You can rent a glass igloo
At the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, visitors can rent a glass igloo and watch the Northern Lights. The unique accommodation features a field of glass domes amidst the wilderness where visitors have an unobstructed view of the sky.
- Visit Santa’s Reindeer
See reindeer in their natural habitat at Salla Reindeer Park, located above the Arctic Circle in Lapland. Visitors can ride on reindeer sleds at midnight to go ice fishing, or hike through marshland and forest.
- Visit the Silent People
In Suomussalmi, Finland, there stand over a thousand scarecrows, standing silently on a field, all facing in one direction. Finnish artist Reijo Kela conceptualized and built this installation. It is perplexing and fascinating at the same time. Many people get curious and attempt to interpret its meaning.
Aside from relatively well-known cities Helsinki and Rovaniemi, there is a lot more to be discovered about this fascinating country. This article gave us a small glimpse of what to expect when you visit Finland, but experiencing it for yourself may be a lot better.