Finland — The Basics
Another Baltic beauty, Finland is a fantastic choice for daring gourmands, architecture-junkies, backpackers, lake-lovers, and everyone in between. While the nation may be tucked away in the northeast corner of Europe, Finland is unforgettable! An enticing land of rich cultural heritage and wonder, traveling to Finland is something that everyone should do at least once!
Sights and Attractions
The capital is the place to be. Luckily, Helsinki travel is super convenient. Since the main airport is located in the capital, almost any tourists traveling to Finland by air will land in Helsinki. Europe is known for its vast, ornate, opulent churches and cathedrals. You probably remain unfazed when hearing of a grand religious church in a European city.
All European tours include these fancy old structures. After all, in Europe, they’re practically everywhere. That is true, but how many are carved into a rock? Not made of carved rock but actually carved into one solid chunk of stone. Well, two brothers must have been pretty bored in the late 1960s. Or maybe they just wanted to make a name for themselves.
Either way, they decided that a rock in the middle of Helsinki was the perfect spot for a Lutheran house of worship. That’s how Finland got the Temppeliaukio Church . This architectural feat is aptly nicknamed the Rock Church, which is much less of a mouthful. The Rock Church is supremely unique, inside and out. Make sense. There aren’t many structures in the world that are carved from a solid piece of rock. This has to be one of the most incredibly bizarre, one-of-a-kind landmarks in the entire continent of Europe.
A tough act to follow, but more conventional architecture can still be impressive. The Senate Square , Sibelius Monument , and the Helsinki Cathedral should be a part of any adventurers Helsinki travel checklist. After trotting around all day in the capital, don’t forget to fill up on local food and drink. Mustamakkara, Lapland bread cheese, and even reindeer meat are but a few of the unique dishes you’ll find when traveling to Finland. Don’t forget to wash it down with some local schnapps or Lakka liqueur.
In the northeast, Oulanka National Park is an excellent spot for lovers of kayaking and difficult trails. In the south, Nuuksio National Park offers vast, lush forests, an expansive trail network, and even prehistoric hunting grounds! In the west, the Kvarken Archipelago is a must-see for ocean-lovers. The fish are abundant if you live by the hook. Beautiful birds roam around of those with interest in ornithology. Boaters are welcome to enjoy the serene Baltic waters. It seems as though there’s another national park at every stop. Backpackers and nature lovers won’t have a shortage of activities in this gloriously green haven.
Finland Travel Tips
Finland Currency Considerations
Before traveling to Finland, make sure you stock up on Euros! Like much of Europe, Finland relies on the Euro for financial transactions. This is great for people who backpack across Europe and visit many European countries. Furthermore, the Euro does not undergo high inflation like other countries. Some leftover Euros won’t depreciate in value as quickly as some other currencies.
Before determining how much Finland currency you need, you’ll want to budget. Be realistic with your numbers, and try to take most expenses into account. After you’ve budgeted, you’ll want to exchange for some Euros. It’s best to do this at home, as you’re likely to get a better rate. An online currency exchange platform is a savvy option to get the most out of your money.
If you wait until you go to Finland to exchange, you may not get the best rate. Airport kiosks and tourist hotspots are the worst. Your Helsinki travel itinerary will be less fun with a bad exchange rate. Make sure that you plan ahead, and don’t pay too much for your own money!
Finland is one of the safest places in the world, but like anywhere else, you should be alert. If you carry too much cash on you, you’re liable to lose it or have it stolen. No one wants to be 500 euros light because they accidentally dumped their wallet while kayaking. Know where your money is at all times, and keep a reserve hidden elsewhere just in case you lose your wallet or purse.
Hotels in Finland are not cheap. Before you stay in an expensive city hotel, look online for deals and discounts. Every dollar adds up. If you’re a budget minded traveler planning to visit this country, work through your options, and do your research. Hostels and homestays can be much more affordable than your standard hotel. Outside the general tourist season, some homestays are massively discounted as property owners are desperate to fill their rooms.
If you’re there to hike anyway, then campsites can be much cheaper than any other options. It’s not as practical when it’s cold, but it’s a pretty budget-savvy choice during the summer. European tours are all about saving where you can, so you can spend where you want to.
Flights and Transportation
Most international flights land in Helsinki. If you plan to leave the capital, a number of clean, decently-priced, fast railways connect most urban centers. Tourist-heavy rural areas will have adequate public transportation as well.
The Finnish language is extremely complicated, and its closest relative is Estonian. Because of this, the people of Finland don’t generally expect outsiders to learn their language. About 70 percent of the Finnish population can speak English, so you should not have too much trouble getting around. In the case of a language barrier, translation apps, pictures, and meaningful gesticulation are your friends.
Finland Rules and Courtesy
Take your shoes off when you’re invited into someone’s home. Everyone in Finland does it, and they expect you to abide. Make sure your socks are presentable.
Don’t compare Finland too much to its neighbors. Russia has tried to invade Finland multiple times over its history, to varying degrees of success. Finland was often ruled by the Swedes until rather recently. As a full-blown nation-state, Finland is pretty young. The people of Finland are proud of their unique culture and heritage, so please show it some respect.
Finnish people place much value in taking turns. If someone is speaking, let them finish before jumping in with your own thoughts. It is considered very rude to interrupt a Finnish person as they talk. They will get the impression that you don’t care what they have to say. You don’t want to be seen as someone who’s obsessed with the sound of her own voice, do you?
Another conversational tip — don’t boast too much. By and large, Finnish people are very humble. They don’t need to tell the world how great they are. They don’t care to hear a long string of your triumphs and accomplishments. If you want to talk about your own personal experiences, frame it in a non-self-aggrandizing way.
Finnish saunas are usually separated by sex. You shouldn’t wear any clothes in the sauna. That’s just the way it is. Luckily, a towel is permissible, so you needn’t show off your full glory.
Determine your Finland currency needs. Don’t wear shorts in the saunas. Take turns when speaking, and enjoy all the natural surprises you’ll come across in this country. Many European tours don’t compare to a trip to Finland. Schedule those vacation days and book your flight. The terminals in Helsinki are waiting for you to step off that plane!
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