7 Reasons Finland Is A Must-Visit Summer Destination
From huskies to air guitar championships (really), Finland is stunning all year round...
The thing about having a travel bucket list, is that you don't actually know that much about each place until you've actually visited.
Case in point, Finland - a 'must visit' winter destination for many a traveller (especially after a few too many glasses/bottles of wine, and subsequent Instagram deep dive).
And why not!? Snow-dabbled pines, sledding with impossibly fluffy huskies, the northern lights dancing over your woodfire-heated log cabin - it’s the dream winter escape!
But here’s a fun fact that will knock your Etsy-ordered hand-knitted socks off - Finland is just as incredible in the summertime, too. MTV headed north-ward to check out what it was like sans the winter glow, and let us tell you, you won’t want the summer to Finnish (#sorrynotsorry).
You can swap Lapland for Lakeland
Finland has the largest lake district in Europe so there is no shortage of ridonkulously picturesque scenery for you to get snap-happy with. We flew from the Finnish capital Helsinki to to the regional town of Kuusamo, and with our in-flight bird’s eye view, we're pretty confident when we say there's a lake in Finland for every person on the planet.
The waters of Ruka-Kuusamo range from still lakes to rapid streaming rivers, which coincidently are perfect for all the adventurous white water rafters out there. Ruka Safaris had us on the edges of our seats (and sometimes completely off them) on the river Kitkajoki. And for those of you who prefer a more gentle tour of the waters, why not try stand up paddling with Outdoor Passion Finland. So. Soothing.
You can rock out with your (air) c*ck out
We had the absolute pleasure of attending the 21st annual Air Guitar World Championships. And we say that without even a hint of sarcasm. While the initial idea is giggle-worthy, we hadn’t expected the electric kinship that came with the shared love of this musical past-time.
There were hundreds of people packed into Oulu’s town centre, so jubilant and excited to witness the crowning of a new air guitar champion. Not to mention this thing is big on a global scale. Contestants came from all over the world to participate and it was streamed live on the world air guitar website. Rock on.
You can take a hike
Finland has some of the most breathtaking scenery in Europe. And if the thought of breathing in some of the cleanest air in the world or being able to drink fresh water stream from a bubbling brook doesn't float your boat, just think of the Instagram fodder that awaits you.
We were lucky enough to have our city slickin’ butts pulled up the paths of Oulanka National Park by the most photogenic huskies anyone has ever seen from Erä-Susi. These pups are known for pulling city-dwelling, oblivious tourists like us on sleighs around the snow-covered Lapland in winter, but they're also adorably endearing summer hiking buddies.
The Northern Lights aren't just a winter thing
The northern lights are visible roughly 200 nights of the year, so instead of waiting for hours in the cold, dark nights of winter, why not wait for a clear summer’s night to see them? The Aurora Borealis just needs clear skies with no light pollution to be seen, and this way you don’t have to risk losing a few fingers to frostbite just to take in this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.
Most hotels have a “northern lights” wakeup call too, so defo worth mentioning it when you check into your abode.
The wildlife is off the hook
Horses, huskies and bears - oh my!
But the bears - you guys, the bears. These aren’t your 'stuck in a circus' or 'behind a glass wall at the zoo' type of sad bears. These are mother nature-reared, for swiping-fish-from-the-stream kind of bears. Karhu-Kuusamo bear watching got us right up close with these guys and their babies in their natural habitat. That’s right, we said bear cubs.
So fluffy and cute with paws that could tear you in half - WE JUST CAN’T EVEN. And if you’re animal-loving vibes are in full force, why not take a ride on one of the stunning equine specimens at Nurminiemi riding stables. They even throw in snacks and drinks in the quaintest traditional Finnish lean-to. Hashtag adorbs.
Nom nom nom nom ad infinitum nom
The food is basically Pimp My Masterchef. The Finns have an affinity with wild food - locally sourced, naturally produced... you will eat like a king and your waistline will shrink.
Yep, reindeer is on basically every menu you come across, but if tucking into a leg of Rudolph isn’t your thing, why not try a risotto peppered with mushrooms that grow deep within the Finnish forest, collected by scouring locals who also have baskets full of delicious, sweet blueberries, lingonberries and cloudberries for you to chow down on for dessert? Check out Wild Food at Kuusamo Lapland for your taste of Finnish culinary heaven.
You’ll be in spa/sauna heaven
Stop right there. You’re saying it wrong. It’s not saaw-na, you ignorant buffoon. It’s SAWN-a. Hard on the “A”.
And in Finland you’ll be hard pressed to not find one everywhere you go. Most Finn’s have one in their house. They also have some pretty bonkers rituals concerning their sauna time too.
To improve blood circulation and general health, the Finnish way of taking a sauna is to relax in the boiling hot, steamy room full of half naked strangers and then when you think you’re going to pass out, you haul ass outside in the cold and dive bomb into a sub zero, icy lake. But that’s not the most crazy part.
You do it over and over again. Until you love it. And the weird part is, we guarantee you will. Pyhäpiilo will provide you with an unforgettable sauna experience. If you’re not 100% convinced yet, 2017 also happens to be Finland’s centenary of Independence which means there will be festivals and celebrations galore.