15 Finnish Facts You Need To Know Before Visiting!

Finland is the most easterly of the Nordic countries, and with a population of just 5 million in the 10th largest European country, it still has a strong national identity and a rich culture. Find out some fun facts about Finland here!

1. Coffee

Coffee

Finland tops the polls when it comes to drinking coffee, with the average Finn consuming an impressive 12kg of the stuff every year. It’s worth noting that it must be a Nordic thing since 4 other Nordic countries make the top 5 too! Known as kahvi in Finnish, drinking it is practically a national pastime.

2. Sauna

Sauna

Originating from Finland, sauna is part of everyday life with an incredible 2million sauna in a country with a population of 5.3million! An important part of life, saunas are used for cleansing, relaxing, healing and curing and pretty much everything in between, so if you’re visiting make sure that you partake in an authentic Finnish sauna. Beware though – in wintertime you may find yourself taking the traditional roll in the snow afterwards!

3. Ice Swimming

Ice Swimming

Going hand in hand with sauna, ice swimming is actually pretty popular in Finland too. Involving a hole cut in the ice that is kept open by motors, the idea is that you go for a sauna then go for a short swim in the freezing water before hopping back in the sauna. Be brave and you’ll find after you've done it once, that it can be quite addictive.

4. Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing

Since Finland does have lots of lakes and a tendency to be ice-bound for a fair few months, Finns make the most of this with their ice sports, including ice fishing. This involves drilling a hole in the ice and waiting for a fish to bite. It does require a bit of patience, but usually there’ll be some beer involved – just remember to wrap up warm!

5. Nature

Nature

It’s fair to say that Finns like a drink or two, which is part of the reason why the sale of alcohol is so strictly controlled by the government. Beer is the staple everyday drink, but there are also some Finnish alcoholic specialities such as lönkerö (long drink), lakka (cloudberry liquor), and koskenkorva (Finnish vodka). Finland is also known for its Finlandia flavoured vodkas, and is also gaining a bit of a reputation for its award-winning gin these days.

6. Seasons

Seasons

The seasons are also lovely in Finland with dramatic changes between them. Probably most often associated with long cold, snowy winters and the arctic polar night, Finland is also an amazing place to visit during summer when in many parts of the country, the sun doesn’t even set. Whatever the time of year though, Finns tend to make the most of it.

7. Summer Cottage

Summer Cottage

As soon as summer hits, Finns tend to flock to their family summer cottages (mökki) where they can indulge in being once again close to nature. The cities empty as families enjoy berry picking, mushroom gathering, grilling food, fishing, and boating amongst other things in the long northern summer days.

8. Makkara (Sausages)

Makkara (Sausages)

This may seem a bit of a bizarre fact for Finland, but if you are visiting you will notice that Finns love to grill makkara. Whether it is at a summer camp fire, at an ice hockey game or even outside in the Arctic winter cold, they are definitely a part of Finnish life. Usually accompanied by a beer, they are a fun treat.

9. Alcohol

 Alcohol

It’s fair to say that Finns like a drink or two, which is part of the reason why the sale of alcohol is so strictly controlled by the government. Beer is the staple everyday drink, but there are also some Finnish alcoholic specialities such as lönkerö (long drink), lakka (cloudberry liquor), and koskenkorva (Finnish vodka). Finland is also known for its Finlandia flavoured vodkas, and is also gaining a bit of a reputation for its award-winning gin these days.

10. Karaoke

Karaoke

The stereotypical idea of a traditional Finn is that they are stoic and tough, and don’t show emotion, especially the men. However once they’ve had a drink they really open up, and the karaoke booth beckons. Karaoke bars are super poplar in the Nordic country with people of all ages giving it go when the mood is right.

11. Music

Music

Like most European countries, Finland has its fair share of foreign, mainly American, musical imports, but it still has a thriving grown music industry too. This is helped by the country’s popular musical festivals such as RuisRock (Europe’s second oldest rock festival too). In terms of classical music, Finland can also boast the heavyweight composer Jean Sibelius who also wrote the country’s song, ‘Finlandia’.

12. Matti Nykänen

Matti Nykänen

Matti Nykänen is a Finnish former ski jumper who won an incredible five Olympic medals, nine World Championship medals and 22 Finnish Championship medals at the peak of his career. Known as the ‘flying Finn’ (or one of them), he spectacularly fell from grace and has been in prison multiple times, and has had more column inches written about him than anybody else ever in Finland. As a side note, he also released some songs.

13. Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey

While the national sport may officially be Finnish baseball, it is definitely ice hockey that captures the nation’s interests. The most popular sport in Finland, there are many leagues and teams, and the national side is one of the best in the world, frequently coming up against much larger countries such as Canada and Russia, and beating them. They are definitely a source of national pride.

14. Finnish Holidays

Finnish Holidays

Finns love their celebrations, and whilst they celebrate common European holidays, there are also some that they make their own. This includes Finnish Independence Day on the 6th of December which is when Finland finally declared independence from Russia in 1917 and Vappu which celebrates the 1st of May and also the start of spring really. Other big holidays include Midsummer, Easter and of course Christmas, which leads us onto…

15. Joulupukki (Santa Claus)

Joulupukki (Santa Claus)

Everybody knows that Santa Claus lives in Lapland, and it’s the part that it’s Finland! Finns celebrate Christmas in a big way, and in fact the month of December (Joulukuu), translates as ‘Christmas month’. Santa Claus is an integral part of this, and he makes visits to families on Christmas Eve, which is when Finns celebrate the holiday, in order to deliver Christmas presents.