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10 Unique Experiences that will make you want to visit Finland now!


| 6 mins read

by Joseph Francis

In a land of roaming reindeer and Sámi herders, ice fishermen and swamp footballers, this list of Finland’s top unique activities should hardly come as a surprise. Yes sir, travellers looking for a real taste of the Scandinavian country this year should be sure to ask their Finland tour guide about the following unique pursuits that range from gazing at the Aurora Borealis to swimming in sub-zero temperatures in Helsinki.

Ice fishing in the Arctic Circle

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Opt to whiz through the frozen landscapes of the Arctic Circle around the town of Rovaniemi and join a local Finland tour guide on an ice fishing trip. This traditional method of catching fish during the colder months of the year, when the various lakes and rivers of Lapland are frozen over, is still one of the most skilful hunting methods known to man. Travellers can learn all about what makes the Finns so good at it while enjoying the isolation afforded by the region, surrounded by rolling hills of snow and the occasional sprouting fir tree dressed in white.

Do a Lapland Safari 

Forget the usual big five that’s more regularly associated with safari going because there are certainly no Cape buffalos or plains lions in store here for travellers. Wildlife guides in Finland exhibit animals of the arctic variety, with oodles of Lapland tour guide services offering safari excursions into the wilds of the north. Travellers attending can expect to see the likes Siberian jays, Artic wolves and lynxes, eagles and great grey owls, not to mention to the pack of husky dogs that take them along for the ride!

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Meet Santa Claus

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Situated near the northern town of Rovaniemi in the overtly festive region of Lapland, Santa Claus Village affords travellers the opportunity to meet the man himself. On-site, visitors will discover Santa Claus’s office and a postal room, where all mail directed to the present-giver is processed and marked with a special stamp. There is also a collection of Christmassy boutiques and emporiums touting festive decorations and souvenirs, along with a line marking the very start of the Arctic Circle.

Gaze at the Northern Lights

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Illuminating the skies of central and northern Finland most nights during the winter, the Northern Lights remain one of the country’s biggest draws. Poking its way high into the Arctic Circle, the northernmost region of Lapland is the best place for viewing the famous Aurora Borealis as they dance across the sky; take your pick from amongst oodles of Finland tour guides offering everything from luxury trips that see travellers bedding down in hearty wood cabins in the forest to wilder excursions complete with campsites shrouded by snow.

Ice swimming in Helsinki

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While summertime sees the sauna complexes empty and the swimming pools packed in the capital at Helsinki, winter gives rise the curious practice of ice swimming that is a favourite of many a Finn. This involves plunging into an open water hole that’s been cut into the ice on the surface of one of the city’s many lakes or outdoor swimming pools. Supposedly, the shiver-inducing dip counteracts the effects of aging and helps the circulation; the locals here have been doing it for millennia and swear by its medicinal powers!

Attend the curious Wife Carrying World Championships

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Doing pretty much what it says on the tin, the weird and wonderful Wife Carrying World Championships are now several decades old and attracting larger crowds than ever. But this isn’t just a casual country competition. No sir, professional wife carriers from right across the Baltic descent on the town of Sonkajärvi each year for the tournament, all of whom have perfected their own method of transporting their female teammate through the rocky course laden with water obstacles. The prize? Beer measured to the weight of your wife!

Meet the Sámi reindeer herders of the north

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It was the Roman historian Tacitus who first reported the presence of curious reindeer herding folk in the depths of the Scandinavian north back in the first century AD. However it’s thought that these rustic and hardy folk have been occupying Lapland for much longer. Today, and the traditions of reindeer herding and farming in this far-flung region of the country lives on, and travellers can head north to meet the Sámi and discover more about their rural way of life, the animals they keep, their place in the modern world and more.

Swamp soccer in Hyrynsalmi

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While it may not attract the bigger names of the footballing world, Finland’s Swamp Soccer World Championships are still a real sight to behold. Since 1998 crowds have been flocking to the wetlands that cluster around the town of Hyrynsalmi each year to watch the hard-fought competition, which sees teams compete in traditional football with a bit of a twist: the pitch is replaced by a deep, muddy bog that makes scoring, running and tackling a whole load harder. Expect copious amounts of mud and some pretty intense physical battles along the way!

Ski in the fells of Lapland

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With guaranteed snow, some of the finest cross-country routes in the world and majestic views over the Arctic forests and rolling fells of the north, the ski resort of Ylläs hails in as one of the best in all of Europe. Given the sculpted terrain of the landscape, riders can expect a mix of easy-going red and blue runs, many of which weave their way through the spruce forests and down to the icicle-dressed town roofs below. There’s also a fine après scene, with refined, al fresco bars set to the backdrop of the Northern Lights.

Go beer floating in Keravanjoki

Situated just a short jaunt from the busy streets of the capital, the waterways of Keravanjoki now play host to what is something like Finland’s answer to Southeast Asia’s tubing. Crowds gather with an eclectic mix of inflatable toys, lilos, rubber rings and home-made rafts - not to mention a hefty supply of beer - and drift their way down the meanders of the river chatting and drinking the day away. The event is annual and swells in size most years.

‘Rich’ as he’s known to most was born in not-so-sunny Swansea, South Wales, where he grew up loving sea, sand and surf. He has since moved to Poland in an attempt to fulfil his insatiable wanderlust for everything Eastern Europe. He’s travelled extensively in Asia and Europe and now runs a local travel portal.

Image Details and Licenses: (Visit Lakeland, CC BY-ND 2.0), (Visit Finland, CC BY-NC 2.0), (Em and Ernie, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), (Timo Newton-Syms, CC BY-SA 2.0), (richardoyork, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), (Visit Lakeland, CC BY-ND 2.0), (dutchbaby, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), (joan!ta, CC BY-SA 2.0), (Leo-setä, CC BY 2.0)