Finland is known for its beautiful snowy landscapes, the incredible Northern Lights and Santa Claus, but it is so much more than that. Finland in the summer is just as exciting and there's plenty to do for all the family to enjoy. Here are just a few things that can be enjoyed in the warmer months...
Summertime by the lakes
Summer is the time to escape the cities for Finland’s wonderful lakes where little red wooden cottages sit on the banks with a sauna nearby, and families splash around in the warm waters.
Join in the simple, life-enhancing pleasures the Finns take in this glorious season and push a little rowing boat out onto the still lake, rod ready to catch the odd fish to take back and cook on a sizzling barbecue. Then laze away the hours reading by the northern sun that in high summer never really sets.
Sailing into the Åland Archipelago
The Baltic Sea beckons on the west coast of Finland, so make sure you take a trip from one of the towns on the mainland coast out into the Åland archipelago in the Baltic Sea where over 20,000 thousand islands and islets separate Finland from Sweden.
Of all these thousands of islands, only 6,700 are named and just 60 of them are inhabited, but with bridges and little ferries connecting many of them, deserted or inhabited, you can spend a day cycling from island to island. Or just take a boat trip to see the birds swooping over the waters and the little yachts with their brightly coloured sails scudding across the sea.
Foraging in the Wild
Take a basket and go foraging in the Finnish wilderness. There’s an ‘Everyman’s Right to Forage’ in the country where nature is generous with her gifts. Berries cover the bushes: bright red lingonberries; dark purple bilberries and glowing orange cloudberries.
And in the forests you’ll find a cornucopia of mushrooms from chanterelles to ceps, from different kinds of boletes to a mushroom we shudder at in the UK, the strangely named slippery Jack. Make sure you know your mushrooms, or take a guided tour!
Hiking in a National Park
The Finns respect nature and preserve the wilderness in their 37 national parks the length and breadth of the country. Go first to the information centre for maps, guides and advice on where to go. Then, equipped with Nordic walking sticks, stride off on the well-marked paths.
In summer, look out for otters, wetland birds and if you’re lucky, for golden eagles. In the winter you walk on skis, snowshoes or take a snowmobile through the white-shrouded landscape, keeping your eyes open for the likes of the ermine which drops its autumn colours to take on its white winter coat.
Eat Local Foods
Nordic cooking is very different from that in southern Europe and you must try the local specialties. Order the universal potatoes with dill; comforting pea and ham soup; Karelian pies with a crust made of rye flour filled with creamy potatoes and egg butter on top; herrings smoked and prepared in so many different ways; fat sausages on sticks that you grill outside over an open fire; salmon and perch-pike; black sausage in the southern city of Tampere and reindeer served with creamy mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam.
And if you’re in Helsinki, you must stroll through the large open-air market down by the harbour where in summer, whole stalls groan with pea-pods, strawberries and mushrooms piled high; and in winter you can enjoy fish soup and hot coffee and buns in the little heated marquees while the snowflakes fall softly outside.
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