Finland Travel Guide

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Finland is a relatively small Nordic country, a member of the European Union, with a population of 5.3 million people and a land surface of 338,145 square kilometers.

But Finland also makes for a big surprise if you decide to pay it a visit, being a natural wonderland, and check out this cool factoid: in Finland, there are more trees than there are people! Talking about green policies and ecology, Finland is the definition of environmentalism.

Also, Finland has more islands than any other country in the world! Pretty cool, don’t you think? Can you imagine how good the air “tastes” there? How clean a country Finland really is? Pollution there is a myth, mark my words folks.

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Another great advantage of visiting Finland, especially if you’re that kind of lonely-planet guy or girl is the fact that speaking about miles and miles of empty wilderness, Finland is the place you were looking for. Having a population density of only 15 people per square kilometer, most of them being concentrated in two-three big cities, people are scarce throughout the territory.

If you’re looking for peace, quiet, buckets of fresh air and wilderness, Finland is a match made in Heaven for you.

Needless to say, the people of Finland are very much in tune with their natural habitat, Finland being a country in which people skip work, i.e. they actually leave their offices for going foraging for mushrooms in the forest. And I am not talking about “that” kind of mushrooms like in Alice in Wonderland, but what the hobbits-es in Lord of the Rings were eating, right?

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The culture of Finland was spawned and shaped by the perpetual and historic war between Russia and Sweden, their close neighbors, which left enclaves like Karelia, Ostrobothnia or Aland being heavy influenced by Russian or Swedish culture.

Even the Finn language is a weird thing in itself, being more close to Hungarian than any other Nordic language. Indeed, Finns are a peculiar people.

For most travelers, the honey trap while visiting the country is Helsinki, the main city and also the capital of Finland.

Helsinki is a very friendly place, a surprisingly small historic city, filled with crowded markets, old churches, stone wharfs and tidy public squares.

Basically, if you want to imbibe into the Finnish culture and spirit, there’s no other place like Helsinki, especially if you choose to visit it in midsummer, when you can enjoy the magic spectacle of the light nights.

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More than a third of Finland’s territory represents protected national parks, providing the intrepid traveler an incredible-once in a life time opportunity to spot wild life, like reindeer, birds and bears thriving in their natural habitat.

Almost ten percent of Finland is covered by water and, check this out: almost seventy percent of Finland is covered by forests, meaning that if you’re seeking epic natural adventures, i.e. you’re a mountain biker or a die hard trekker, Finland will feel like the Middle Earth .

Also, while in Finland you can enjoy skiing, fishing, dog sledding, visiting Santa’s home-town and lots of water-sports.

As you can easily imagine, Finland is a hard country which spawned hard and brave people, hence sisu is an integral part of the Finnish character. And yes, sisu means hardiness.

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The bustling cities of Finland are starting to lose that sisu though, as the Finnish youth are becoming multicultural and cosmopolitan, unfortunately. Not everything about the modern and “progressive” European civilization is also good for its people…

If you were wondering, Finland is best known for its sauna culture, which may be the country’s greatest contribution to world’s cultural heritage. Sauna is a steam bath, which is the ideal relaxation method after a hard day’s work in the cold, relaxation which is followed by a bracing dip in an ice-cold wilderness lake. I never tried it, but I heard it’s mandatory for tourists!

Food and Drink

Seafood is a national dish in Finland, a nation surrounded by water, together with herring, salmons and other types of fish, which are served pickled or smoked in cold courses. There’s also an abundance of meat in the Finnish diet in various forms, such as meatballs or sausages, including delicacies like  elk, bear or reindeer meet, served with rutabaga, new potatoes, wild mushrooms or fresh peas. There are also myriads of wild berries used for making preserves or jellies.

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Visa Requirements

Finland is a member of the European Union and it signed the Schengen treaty, hence you’ll only require an ID card for visiting if you’re from the EU, US, or Canada. Worst case scenario, a valid passport will be required, but no Visa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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