1. Take a cruise on icebreaker Sampo.
Have the brunch of your life on board an icebreaker sailing on the Gulf of Bothnia. For dessert, dive in with the icebergs. Don’t worry, the dry suit should keep you warm and afloat until the second course arrives.
2. Find the best löyly in the World’s biggest Smoke Sauna.
Finns love saunas. But the smoke sauna? Well, that’s like the king of all saunas, and you can find the biggest one in Peurunka Spa Hotel. Not a unique enough experience for you? Here you can cover yourself with nutritious peat and join sauna zumba. Just because.
3. Kick it in the Swamp Soccer World Championship.
If the peat treatment wasn’t enough, sign your team up for the Swamp Soccer World Championship. Scoring goals knee deep in the mud while the opponent keeps face-planting. Playing soccer doesn’t get much better than this!
4. Experience the white nights of the Sodankylä Midnight Sun Film Festival.
Grab a glass of red, kick back on one of the four stages to watch a movie then wander out to face the sunshine. Rinse and repeat for the next 5 days around the clock and you’ve got no idea what time of the day it is by the end of day 3.
5. Get your aim on at the Mölkky World Championship.
This Finnish game where you knock down wooden blocks to gain the right amount of points, has become so popular internationally, the World Championships will be held in France next year. But worry not, you’ll get to practice. Just find a park in the summertime and you’ll be sure to find mölkky too.
6. Live like a Sámi for a day.
Spend a day learning about Sámi culture and reindeer with an indigenous guide. Peaceful spectators are also welcome to watch the annual reindeer separation in Moitakuru, Inari, and if you’re lucky you may get to join in!
7. Aches and pains? Don’t worry, we’ll suck it out of you.
Kuppaus is a traditional healing method and is still used for all kinds of aches and pains. In cupping, the bad blood is sucked out of you though the little cuts in the skin made by a cupping axe. Back in the day, the cupping experience was delivered in a sauna by your local healer. These days you can find it at various beauty salons and healing retreats.
8. Headbang at Tuska Open Air Festival.
You can’t visit Finland without seeing a real metal gig. So why not go big before you go home? Tuska (meaning the suffering) is the biggest metal music festival in the Northern Europe. Don’t let the I-Want-To-Kill-You-All music stylings and the black leather & chain wearing crowd fool you, it’s the most peaceful festival in Finland.
9. Release your inner Viking at the Wife Carrying World Championship.
Pick a girl up, throw her over your shoulder, then charge across the obstacle track and leap the water hole faster than anyone else to win your ‘wife’s’ weight in beer. Simple hey? The best sport ever. And apparently good for your relationship too (if you don’t drop her)!
10. Go with the flow at Vantaanjoki Kaljakellunta.
When it started back in 1997 there were 10 participants. Thanks to social media and word of mouth, last year there were more than 5000 people floating down Vantaa river and getting drunk on beer (cider’s acceptable too). The annual beer floating has no official organiser and the date is decided by the participants voting, so follow the updates here or on Facebook.
11. Party like a Finn on Vappu.
May Day is when you’ll see Finns crawl out of their caves after a long winter and join the Carnival of Labour Day celebrations. The party kicks off on the eve, filling all the bars and parks with festive crowds. On May Day the parks fill with life music, student traditions and picnic crowds popping bubbles and eating traditional funnel cakes. Bad weather and high spirits guaranteed!
12. Spend a day (and night) on a floating sauna.
Want to throw a unique party? Pack up 15 friends and head to Joensuu to the internationally recognised floating sauna built by Santeri Hiltunen. This sauna includes BBQ, hammocks, jumping tower and trampolines, and is available for hire till the lake freezes over. Like I said, Finns love their saunas!
13. Find your inner hipster at Flow Festival.
Flow is the biggest urban music and arts festival held in Finland every August. From 2015 it also runs in Ljubljana, Slovenia. On the Flow weekend, 70 thousand hipsters take over Helsinki, and fill the city space with music, art, food, drink and the trendiest wardrobe choices. Be sure you book your tickets early, they sell out fast!
14. Party Cruise like a Finn to Tallinn / Stockholm.
Cruises are a very popular way for Finns to unwind and get out of the country (*though most never leave the boat). Jump on the cruiser, drop your bag in your cabin and run to the duty-free shop. Buy as much cheap booze you can physically carry, pick your spot and start working on it. Eat too many scampi in the dinner buffet, drink some more, dance a bit, consider just one more nightcap then pass out in someone else’s cabin. Repeat until back in Helsinki, then consider getting off the boat, maybe.
15. Enjoy the slow life of Turku Archipelago.
For the more active crowd, skip the cruise and head down to Turku Archipelago Trail. Designing your own trail for island hopping across the chain is made easy so that you can combine driving, riding, hiking and canoeing to get around. The ring road covers the biggest islands of the archipelago running through the most beautiful scenery that the Finnish wilderness has to offer, and the islands are dotted with little local businesses and slow living island culture.