It’s about time that I created a Finland Bucket List – for you, and most of all for myself! Finland is, after all, where I was born and raised. So it’s a bit shameful how little of it I’ve seen and how many of the typical Finnish activities I’ve still got yet to experience for the first time.
But hopefully now that I’ve materialized my Finland Bucket List into this post, perhaps I can push myself to start properly ticking off every. single. item. on this list! Will these items be found on your Finland Bucket List?
- Make a day trip to Porvoo. I went in the winter and found it wonderfully gorgeous during that season, but it’ll be just as magical if you go any other time during the year.
- See the Northern Lights in Lapland. As much as I hate winter and cold weather specifically, Northern Lights are something I do think we should all see once in our lives. At least.
- Go on a reindeer/dog sledding ride. Another Lapland activity that seems like fun enough to embrace the cold for.
- Stay overnight in an igloo. One more wintery Lapland activity that’s an absolute must, though we’ll all probably cry a river’s worth of tears while we make the payment for it. Nevertheless, you’ve definitely got quite a few glass igloo hotels to choose your favorite from.
- Watch an ice hockey game. It’s the sport we’re best at, anyway! It’s the one sport for which we have a big and famous league for, as well.
- Visit the Fazer chocolate factory. If for nothing else but to eat yourself silly with all the free chocolate on offer! I’m seriously in constant shock over the fact that Fazer isn’t more renowned globally, because it’s seriously among the best chocolate in the world!
- Pick berries and mushrooms. The forests in Finland are free for anyone to access, and so are the berries and mushrooms growing in them!
- Whip yourself with a ‘vihta’ while in sauna. At least my family never actually does this, but it is a tradition in Finland, and one fun and quirky enough you’ve got to give it a try! Don’t forget to go out to roll in the snow or swim in the lake in between these whippings!
- Fall in love with the unique Hamina. A coastal city near the Russian border, a Hamina is a unique and gorgeous sight to the eye. It’s conveniently also small enough to be explored in just one day!
- Try reindeer meat. It may sound exotic or even weird to you, but it’s not that uncommon as a meal in the Northern Finland. The taste is also quite delicious – but you’ll only know that if you try it for yourself 😉
- Grilling with the Finns. Because we love grilling, especially during the summer, rain or shine. And because you’ll be guaranteed to have an amazing meal in great company!
- Get drunk and go sing karaoke with the Finns. Have someone record it, too, so you’ll forever have proof of one of the most embarrassing moments of your life. It’ll be fun and worth it, though!
- Eat freshly baked Karelian pies with egg butter on top. I could probably have this for breakfast every day of my life! Oh how deprived I am that we mostly eat this only during Christmas in my family.
- Spend at least a weekend in a cabin or a cottage by a lake. This is a Finn’s favorite summer activity (at least for those of us from the capital area), and for good reason: it’s peaceful, beautiful, serene, and at the same time just a temporary time away from the buzz of the city.
- Discover Finland’s old wooden architecture. You can either see them on your trip to Porvoo, or by visiting Seurasaari’s Open-Air museum. However, you can also see many lovely and old cottages just by leaving Helsinki and going a bit deeper into the country side.
- Take the ferry to Tallinn and back in the same day. If the idea of going on a day trip to somewhere in Finland sounds boring, how about hopping on the ferry from Helsinki taking you to a whole another country and back in the same day? Most Finns do this for the cheap booze, but the Old Town of Tallinn is actually pretty gorgeous, and there are many cute cafes and restaurants to spend your day at, on top of which there are also some nice shopping options.
- Go ice swimming. Sounds terrifyingly cold, doesn’t it? Well, it probably is, but it’s actually far more pleasant to go swim in the lake – or sea – in the middle of the winter than it is in early summer. It’s such a Finnish activity to do, too, that you absolutely got to do it if you are in Finland in winter time!
- Buy some moomin mugs. Simply because they are ADORABLE!
- See the lighthouse on Bengtskär. It is the tallest lighthouse in the Nordic countries, after all!
- Visit Santa Claus in the Santa Claus Village. No matter how old you are, this simply isn’t something you can even think to skip!
- Try quirky Finnish foods. Think the likes of siskonmakkarakeitto (smooth pork sausage soup), mämmi (rye flour pudding), veriohukaiset (blood pancake), mustamakkara (black sausage) and kalakukko (Finnish fish pastry). Of course, absolutely none of that sounds weird or quirky to us, but just like we may be hesitant to try intestines when traveling abroad, many visitors may give us a long look if we were to bring up these foods. Nevertheless, hesitate no more and bravely take a taste of your future new favorite food!
- Visit Ranua Zoo. It’s Finland’s northernmost zoo, better referred to as a wildlife park, located inside the Arctic Circle. From there you can find polar bears, lynx, wolverines, wild boars, and more.
- Hike at least one of Finland’s national parks. And oh boy have we got many of them! As long as you clean up after yourself, it’s perfectly fine to set up a camp site just about anywhere, and you can also pick berries and mushrooms and whatnot along the way! This is a great, challenging, and an affordable way to get some escape from the city for a bit.
- Explore Finland’s castles. Olavinlinna, Turunlinna, and Hämeenlinna, are all famous and interesting as attractions. On top of them, Finland has several other castles and similar fortresses, including Suomenlinna.
- Do also explore Finland’s mansions. The country has many gorgeous and old mansions and you just can’t not spend some of your time on visiting them, for example Brinkhall Mansion is a good one to start from. Many of these mansions have now a purpose as a museum or even as a spa, on top of its historical value.
- Check out Finland’s UNESCO site, Suomenlinna. You can read more about it in this post. In short, it’s a gorgeous island within easy reach from Helsinki, filled with old fortresses, dungeons, and museums. Oh, and picnic spots!
- Go island hopping in Helsinki. A summer time activity, island hopping includes Suomenlinna, as well as two other islands. Of them one, Vallisaari, was only opened to the public in 2016! These islands are full of natural beauty, Finnish history and fun activities to do beyond just walking around. Read the full travel guide here!
And there you have it! For the time being, anyway. Because just like with any bucket list, this Finland Bucket List is also flexible to changes as the country evolves and more incredible activities become available.
How many of these have you already crossed off your list? How many did you add to yours just now? And what’s still missing from my list? Let me know in the comments below!