There are countries that are discovered through walking through its cities and buildings and others like Finland , where its great attractions are in nature and how man has adapted to it.
To know Finland , you have to do it through excursions and activities in which you can experience the daily life of a country that lives most of the year under a layer of snow.
In our already several trips to Lapland of Finland in winter we have been able to experience some of the activities that the country offers and for that reason we want to show you which ones you can not miss.
1. See Aurora Borealis
Undoubtedly the quintessential experience is to see the famous northern lights or as they call them there, Northern Lights (northern lights)
See how nebulous waves appear in the starry sky that lights up with a green color, is the dream of many people and an unforgettable memory.
It does not matter which city you go to, since if you travel to Lapland from the end of August to the beginning of April you have the possibility to see them.
And I say possibilities because there are many people who have traveled to the area several times and have not been able to see them.
When traveling in winter and being an area of frequent snowfall, you can give the circumstance that the day you make an excursion to see them, it is snowing or cloudy and you can not see them.
That is why there are people who, when traveling to Lapland, decide to sign up during all the nights of their stay in the country to the excursions known as safaris to hunt northern lights .
2. Visit the Santa Claus house in Finland
One of the emblems of the country and factor that makes decide to travel to Finland especially families with children, is the possibility of visiting the house of Santa Claus .
The city of Rovaniemi is where all the visitors usually go to see Santa Claus . You find it in a large complex focused on tourism, where you can meet and also visit the post office where they arrive and store the letters of the children who send each year.
Santa Claus in Kuusamo
In Rovaniemi they have been doing these visits for more years and it has become too touristy during the high season.
However, in Kuusamo , near the border with Russia, the experience is different and much more personal and individual.
In Rovaniemi you have an audience with Santa Claus of about 5 minutes, while in Kuusamo it depends on what you hire you can get up to two and a half hours with him.
Activities are prepared in addition to the characteristic audience, which means that you can dine with Santa Claus , as we did, sing Christmas songs, make cookies or visit his animals and elves that help him.
After living the two experiences, it seems to me that the visit made in Kuusamo is much more intense and special for the children and also for the elderly.
3. Traditional Finnish sauna
Finland is a country where there are more saunas than cars , in particular, 3 saunas for every 4 people.
It is an authentic passion in a country where in all the hotels you go to you find a sauna, either in small cabins in the woods or in resorts of all styles.
Within the world of saunas, when you visit Finland you realize that there are many variants.
In our recent trip we wanted to live the experience and we met some curious variant.
The most characteristic is the smoke sauna , which is what is considered traditional .
But today even ice saunas are being made , in which the sensation of heat is much less than in a traditional one.
In a summarized way, the experience that is experienced today in travel to Finland consists of several steps:
Previous shower, then you get into the sauna and when you consider that you are very hot (it is a very personal feeling) you go out and either you bathe in a frozen lake or you shake in the snow.
After this you go back into the sauna or you bathe in a jacuzzi .
Obviously you can not bathe in a frozen lake and just take a cold shower, but it’s worth it if you do not have heart problems to live the authentic experience in full.
4. Ice Floating in Kuusamo
Most of Finland’s territory is forests and lakes, so water abounds in the country.
That is why it is not surprising that one of the most special experiences is to enjoy its rivers, but the activities have gone a step further.
You can sign up for excursions in which you wear a thermal suit that allows you to jump into the river, and thus let yourself be carried away by the flow while you enjoy the scenery.
It is without a doubt a unique experience that can not be done anywhere in the world.
But also if you are very lucky, you can get to experience it in a very special way since this excursion is also done at night.
And although we did not have that luck, in this experience you can get to see the northern lights among the starry sky while you let yourself be carried by the river.
Without a doubt something magical, we will try our luck on our own visit.
5. Sampo icebreaker in Kemi
If we made a list of unique experiences in the world , no doubt this icebreaker would be in it.
There are only two tourist icebreaker cruises in the world, one is in Russia and the other is east and leaves from the city of Kemi .
But there is a difference between the two, only on this cruise can you spend 4 hours on the ship, from which you will visit all your stays.
The visit includes a walk through the engine room where they explain how the boat works, a bath in the sea with thermal suits, similar to the ice floating of Kuusamo, and food on board.
6. Snowcastle in Kemi
Every year in the city of Kemi, when winter arrives, an ice castle is built that includes several rooms and attractions.
Known as Snowcastle , the interior decoration includes every year a different theme when it comes to sculpting the ice, so you can see different sculptures covering their walls of ice , which are already an incentive in itself to visit.
But Kemi’s Snowcastle does not end here.
In addition, it is an ice hotel with several rooms where you can live the experience of sleeping below zero , and like many hotels, it also has its own restaurant and ice bar .
In the Snowcastle you also find slides for the little ones, since you can visit without the need to sit down to eat in their restaurant or to stay at the hotel.
And like almost all the castles, it has its own chapel and defense towers.
When spring arrives, in mid-April, the thaw causes this ice castle to melt until the following year when it will rise again in the face of its opening in December
7. Snowmobile (Snowmobile)
Personally, this is the activity that I enjoy the most every time I visit a Nordic country.
In Finland there is a phrase that is sacred, “joka miehen oikeus” , which is the right of every man to walk freely in nature anywhere you wish.
This reflects the freedom with which the Finns relate to their surroundings and the snowmobile is a clear example of this.
Few sensations give more freedom than going through the forests and frozen lakes at your own pace on a snowmobile .
In all cities you can make snowmobile trips , but it is true that in more tourist cities such as Rovaniemi the excursions are a little more limited.
To be honest, where we have most enjoyed the snowmobile has been in the woods around the ski resort of Ruka , near the Russian border where you almost do not cross with tourists.
The trips snowmobile , usually they are linked to other activities.
Almost all of these excursions always include a lunch in a typical cabin where the Sami were formerly sheltered .
In Rovaniemi we went on snowmobiles to see northern lights , in Kemi and Kuusamo we went to fish in the ice and in Ruka we went to a village where we rode in reindeer.
Important!!! It is necessary to have an approved driver’s license to be able to drive them.
In short, if you visit Finland in winter, the snowmobile is an almost more common means of transport than the car.
8. Dog sledges and reindeer
And if we talk about means of transport, the most traditional are the sleds pulled by huskies or reindeer.
It is very characteristic the image of a sled carried by these beautiful and hyperactive dogs through the huge snowy landscapes.
Before getting motor vehicles, these sledges were the only means of transport that could be used when winter came, and this has created a huge culture around it.
The most common and those that usually include all the tours and travel agencies are the husky sledges .
These excursions also usually include a small lunch and the possibility of spending time with the animals.
The visit of a huskies farm is usually very demanded by the little ones, since you can see the puppies of the new litters.
That is, there is usually much difference in these trips depending on where you hire them.
In some cities more tourist like in Rovaniemi it is not possible to take the sledge yourself, but you simply go as a passenger.
While in others, like the excursion we did in Ruka , you take the sledge yourself, which makes the experience more intense.
9. Snowshoeing through a national park in Ruka
Obviously the most common excursion are snowshoes , since you can simply walk with a pair of snowshoes.
But in Ruka you can do it by crossing a natural park , which gives it a very special charm.
When you go through a natural park of these characteristics, there are many sensations that you perceive as the silence of the forest or the sound of the river.
In Finland’s natural parks, the air is so pure that special and unique lichens grow on its trees.
These so characteristic lichens are very sensitive and only grow in environments where there is no pollution and the air is completely pure.
A brutal experience to fill your lungs with clean air walking with snowshoes on the beautiful trails of snowy landscapes .
10. Sleep in a Crystal Villa or in a traditional cabin
And as not a tourist trip includes accommodation, and in Finland there are some simply impressive that make up an experience in themselves.
And we are going to highlight two that really are magical.
In the first place, the traditional huts that are built with solid wood logs, which, as the materials have evolved, were left to build because of their high cost.
But little by little in some parts of Finland you try to go back to that type of construction.
These accommodations are being built in the forests in areas where there are no large cities.
For example, in the surroundings of ski resorts such as Ruka in Kuusamo , so it is very common to see football players or other celebrities visiting these destinations with their families.
On the other hand, in addition to its aforementioned ice hotel , in the grounds of Snowcastle Kemi , you can stay in a very comfortable villas whose walls are glass.
There you can see northern lights while you are lying comfortably in your room.
The Villas de Cristal are probably the most special hotel we have ever been to.