BETA: Finland

61.9241° N, 25.7482° E

Way up north in Scandinavia sits an outdoor adventurers paradise. Finland. Otherwise known as the Land of a Thousand Lakes (which isn't exactly an exaggeration), this Nordic country is home to national parks, a long coastline, an intense coffee culture and some of the happiest people on the planet. Curious? Here are some fun (and unexpected) things to know about Finland - and why you should add it to your Adventure Bucketlist.


Canoe on lake in Finland
Summer boat ride in Finland.

Fast Facts

  • Finland is a Nordic country located in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, and Norway to the north and is defined by the Gulf of Bothnia to the west and the Gulf of Finland to the south (both are part of the Baltic Sea).

  • Finland is the eighth-largest country in Europe, but also the most sparsely populated country in the European Union.

  • It can be considered to have a mainly boreal forest biome, and is home to more than 180,000 lakes, which is why it is internationally called "the land of a thousand lakes."

  • In 1906, Finland became the first European state to grant all adult citizens the right to vote, and the first in the world to give all adult citizens the right to run for public office. In the same vein, Finland was the first country in Europe to give all women the right to vote.

  • The country is a top performer in numerous metrics of national performance, including education, economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life, and human development.

  • It was also ranked first on the World Happiness Report for 2018, 2019, and 2020.

All facts from here.



Fun Facts

  • The average Finn consumes 12 kilos of coffee each year (that is 24 POUNDS!). Like we said, they have an INTENSE coffee culture

  • There are more Heavy Metal bands per capita here than anywhere else in the world.

  • Also, there are more saunas than cars (we mean when it's that cold...)

  • One of the things Finns really pride themselves on is the fact that they offer free education for all students, even at the university level.

  • Just like their neighboring Scandinavian countries (Sweden and Norway), you can enjoy the freedom to roam and have the right to public access, which basically means that you can forage mushrooms, berries, and flowers, camp, walk and enjoy nature as long as you don’t litter - anywhere in the country. Hello adventure.

  • The coldest temperature ever measured in Finland was back in 1999 in the town of Kittilä. The temperature went all the way down to -51.5 degrees Celsius (−60.7 °F). Burrr.

  • Finland is one of the world's northernmost countries. Of world capitals, only Reykjavík (the capital of Iceland) lies more to the north than Helsinki.

  • Thanks to it having been compressed under the enormous weight of glaciers, the terrain in Finland is rising due to the post-glacial rebound. This effect is strongest around the Gulf of Bothnia, where land steadily rises about 1 cm (0.4 in) a year. As a result, the old sea bottom turns little by little into dry land: the surface area of the country is expanding by about 7 square kilometers (2.7 square miles) annually(!).

More fun facts here.


Snow covered road in Finland
Winter roadway.

Adventures

Finland might often be overlooked by its more well-known neighbors - especially Norway with its drop-dead beautiful fjords (dang you Norway). But if you are looking for real, authentic, and awe-inspiring nature and adventure - and truly off-the-beaten-path exploration - then Finland is definitely the place for you.


Most people will want to enjoy the great outdoors in the summer - and for good reason. Because in the north the sun is above the horizon in the middle of summer for a long time, it is possible to enjoy sunlight on clear days for 18 – 19 hours in southern Finland and 24 hours in Lapland (the northern area)! That is a lot of time to get a gorgeous hike in. But don't overlook the winters. While it is cold (very cold) and dark, the country has some world-class skiing - especially cross-country skiing. If you can brave the temperatures, then this might be the time to journey up north.


| Go backpacking in Lemmenjoki National Park, the country’s largest national park, or head out on the Lemmenjoki River for a 2-3 day canoeing trip. Or journey out to Koli National Park, and hike out on the stunning Sataman polku ("the Harbour trail"), the oldest nature trail in Finland. While it is only 4.2 kilometers long, the hike will take you through old-growth forest and aspen groves.


| As one of the highest-rated national parks in Finland (it also frequently appears on ‘best national parks in Europe’ lists) Oulanka is definitely worth heading out of Helsinki for. Located on the northeastern border, this national park earns that title thanks to its range of rivers, cliffs, forests, and waterfalls. You can cross hanging bridges, go canoeing through the rapids, and snowshoeing in the winter. Oulanka is one of the best national parks for adventure lovers and provides some of the best nature photography in Finland.


One of the best trails in Oulanka National Park is Karhunkierros Trail (the Bear Trail), a 4-day long backpacking trip that takes you through some of the most stunning landscapes the country has to offer. Many people say this is the most "bucket list" worthy hike in the whole country, and a true rite of passage for outdoor adventurers.


| One of Finland’s northernmost, oldest, and most popular national parks, Pallas-Yllästunturi is known for having the freshest air in Europe (the area is frequently used by researchers to learn how to improve global air quality). There are also fells, mountain peaks, and Lappish villages, all of which make for particularly good skiing - and exploring. In addition, the park provides some rare chances to see Arctic species such as reindeer, bear, lynx, weasels, and foxes.


Pallas-Yllästunturi covers 1,020 square kilometers and is covered with tons of trails for hiking, mountain biking, paddling, skiing, and snowshoeing. The Hetta-Pallas Trail is the best-known trail in the national park – and the oldest marked hiking trail in Finland. It was marked in 1934 and is 50 kilometers long.



More Information:

More information on adventures and outdoor areas in Finland: https://www.visitfinland.com/article/outdoor-adventures-finland/#83368ff7

Learn more about Finland today, and the goings-on in the country on their website: https://finland.fi/

More information on their National Parks, and the adventures to be had there: https://www.nationalparks.fi/web/outdoors.fi

A more in-depth history of Finland: https://www.britannica.com/place/Finland