If you’re looking to spend your winter holiday in Europe, you should consider going to Finland. Finland is a fascinating place to visit in wintertime, especially if you love your winters snowy and filled with marvelous adventures. Check out our list of top things to see and do while spending winter in Finland so you’ll have an exciting time on your holiday there.
Watch Saint Lucia’s parade on Saint Lucia’s Day.
Saint Lucia’s Day, held every December 8, marks the start of the Advent season in Scandinavia. In Finland, you’d see little girls dressed as Saint Lucia – in white dresses with red sashes and a wreath with candles around their head – and parading in their schools and towns on December 8. The biggest Saint Lucia Day celebration in Finland, though, is in Helsinki, where the year’s Saint Lucia is crowned at the Helsinki Cathedral. She then parades around Senate Square near the Cathedral.
Visit Santa in Rovaniemi.
For the people of Finland, Santa Claus lives in Rovaniemi, the capital city of Lapland. His house and workshop are located in the city’s Santa Claus Village. When he’s not busy reading mail or supervising his elves at the workshop, Santa Claus is often available for a chat. You can even play with Rudolph and his reindeer gang at the reindeer farm in the Village. And while you’re in Rovaniemi, you can try jumping across the demarcation line of the Arctic Circle.
To experience kaamos firsthand is to experience magic. Kaamos is the term used in Finland to refer to the polar night, when the sun does not rise at all for two months, from December to February. In Finland, you get to experience kaamos in Lapland, a region close to the North Pole. But just because there is no sunrise, it doesn’t mean it’s all night and darkness during kaamos. The hours from 10 AM to 3 PM are twilight hours, a period of glimmering aided by the whiteness of snow. Also, at 2 PM, the sky turns fully blue for 15 minutes before full darkness descends. Kaamos is a magical time when you can bask in the unending night and maybe catch an aurora borealis streak through the sky. It’s something you must not miss when spending winter in Finland. The villages in the municipality of Inari are great places for enjoying kaamos.
Commit to some soul-searching while ice fishing.
Scandinavians consider ice fishing, the act of drilling a hole on the surface of icy water and staying there to catch fish, a form of meditation. When you’re ice fishing, you get to stay still for hours on end, waiting for a catch that may not come. With nothing but snow and a frozen expanse surrounding you, it’s easy to spend that waiting time clearing your head, reflecting on how your life has been so far, and resolving to pursue new goals when you return from your holiday. Anywhere there is water is a great place for ice fishing, but if you don’t want to stray far from Helsinki, you can easily fish in the icy Gulf of Finland or any of the lakes nearby.
Embark on a snowy outdoor adventure.
What’s winter in Finland without traipsing through the snowy wilderness in snowshoes or hiking boots? Or maybe skiing or snowboarding down snowy slopes? Or maybe zooming through snow-blanketed terrain on a snowmobile or on a sled pulled by a team of energetic and adorable dogs? Even if you’re spending most of your winter holiday in Helsinki, you ought to try to reserve a day or two building that adrenaline rush while exploring Finland’s great outdoors.
Get to know Finland through the sauna.
The sauna is an integral part of Finnish culture. There’s more to going to the sauna than sitting and sweating in a hot box. The Finns do a lot of their socializing in the sauna. Finns also believe that if you want a business deal signed, you must do your negotiations in the sauna. In the olden days, the women of Finland give birth inside the sauna. The sauna is also where they used to take their dead for a final washing. So, to understand Finns, their country and their culture, you need to spend time in the sauna. You’ll never know what friends you’ll make while you’re sweating in there, and you’re sure to feel good when you come out.
Winter in Finland is an exciting time. If you’re thinking of going to Europe for your winter holiday, choose Finland.