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From Saunas to Santa: Things to Do in Finland

With 40 National Parks, intriguing nordic cuisine, and a Santa Claus Village, there is something here for every traveler.

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Snowcapped rooftops glow in Helsinki.


It might feel like the ends of Earth, but Finland is just the beginning of your Scandinavian travels. Start with Helsinki, a city as hot as the saunas that bubble throughout this classic European capital. Once you’ve warmed up, get outdoors and explore the country’s vast wilderness and national parks. Take a deep breath—the air is fresh and full of promise. That’s what adventure smells like, Finnish style.

Sauna Like a King

This is land of the sauna. In Helsinki try it the traditional way at Kotiharjun or Hermanni. Steam in midair at SkySauna or with a Whopper at Burger King Sauna. 

Discover a New Park

For Finland’s centennial this year, the country inaugurated its 40th national park. Near the Russian border, Hossa National Park’s remote location is perfect for fresh-air adventures like canoeing, hiking, mountain biking, and bird-watching.

Get the Maximum Moomin

Opened in June, the Moomin Museum, in Tampere, celebrates the beloved hippo-like cartoon characters the Moomins, dreamed up by illustrator Tove Jansson during WWII.

Enjoy a Blini Bonanza

January means blini time in Helsinki, as locals go on restaurant crawls, sampling as many dinner-plate-size specialty blinis as they can. There’s the usual smoked fish and roe topping, but other inventive fillings that speak to Finland’s unique Russian-influenced Nordic cuisine include slow-cooked Finnish lamb’s neck, cured reindeer, and condensed milk and honey. 

Meet Santa

In Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland, visit year-round Santa Claus Village, an amusement park located on the Arctic Circle, where letters get postmarked with a special Santa Claus stamp. If you come in summer, head over to Rovaniemi Local History Museum to learn about rural life in the late 19th century.

Santa School WATCH: Aspiring Santas learn beard grooming, belly laughs, and how to negotiate contracts at Santa School.

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