Why we love Finland

Reflecting on Finland’s 101 years of independence, I asked 5 Finnish friends what they love about their home country. I then added a list of 15 of my favourite things that I love about living in Finland.

Last week was Finland’s 101st anniversary of independence. The capital celebrated by gifting it’s citizens a brand new state of the art library and I decided to reflect on the things I love about my adopted home. I also asked some of my Finnish friends what they loved about their country. Here are some of their thoughts and some of my favourite things.

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I love the nature and the way the seasons change, I think all seasons have their moments: the light in summer, the way the leaves sound when you walk through a pile of them in autumn, the snow in winter and the sound of melting ice and the first flowers in the spring. 

I love that we value honesty and modesty, as well as that when someone asks you how you are doing you are expected and allowed to answer honestly. And sauna in all seasons of course!   ~ Nicole

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I love the vast, untouched and unique nature of Finland with all it’s four varying seasons and seasonal celebrations, thousands of lakes, forests in South and wilderness in Lapland. I love the great transport opportunities to get out there, as well as the whole welfare state taking care of everyone. It feels secure and privileged to live in Finland. 

My favorite place is our summer cottage on a warm evening at sunset, with a pink and blue sky, calm lake, nothing other than bird sounds and the relaxed feeling after sauna.  ~Sara

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I love how much nature there is in Finland, even in cities like Helsinki. And the fact that you can walk, pitch a tent, and pick berries and mushrooms for free due to Everyman’s Rights. And I love snow, the extremely beautiful and light evenings in the summer, and sauna! And of course the free education. 

I absolutely love cross-country skiing and going to a wood burning sauna after that. In the summertime going to a summer cottage by a lake and swimming and rowing there is the best.  ~ Oona


I love the nature, especially the awesome rock climbing at Kustavi in the Archipelago. Warm and light summer nights, and sauna followed by swimming in clear lakes. ~ Suvi

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I love the nature! Forests, lakes, summer cottage and the archipelago. Sailing, camping, cross country skiing and the clean air and water. 

I love that Finnish people are renowned for their honesty, trust, reliability, modesty and sisu- a determination to overcome adversity. Everything in the country works so well, and our social service system looks after us. ~ Jade

 

A few of my favourite things

Tradition: Midsummer bonfires during Juhannus

Food: Karelian pie- traditional pastries made with rice pudding

Drink: Finnish gin (of which there are many delicious varieties) and glögi- Finnish mulled wine

Cafe: Art Cafe Taideterassi overlooking Töölönlahti

Bar: Ateljee Bar- amazing views over the city

Activity: cross country skiing- I tried this for the first time when I visited Lapland and fell in love with it!

Past-time: Sauna! It didn’t take me long to see why Fins are crazy about sauna. It’s such a relaxing activity, that I now try and enjoy one a few times a week.

Natural aspect: lakes surrounded by thick wild forests. When it comes to bodies of water I’m normally an ocean person, but there’s something about lakes in Finland that is enchanting.

City aspect: the stunning architecture in Helsinki. I adore the variety of colours, detailed designs and turrets embellishing many city buildings.

Daily life: the public transport network in Helsinki astounds me. It. is. So. Good. And cheap. In winter I use a combination of buses, trams, trains and metro, and in summer the city is smaller enough and flat enough to bike or walk.

Practicality as a tourist: As mentioned above- Helsinki is very walk-able so you can see a lot of the city in a short time. Also, pretty much EVERYONE in Helsinki speaks near perfect English.

Finnish personality trait: Sisu. This video perfectly explains the concept. “Life is hard, but so am I.”

Museum: Amos Rex. Mind-blowingly beautiful.

Time of year: Christmas- the country lights up with festive flair.

Public holiday: Vappu- what’s not to love about donning white caps and bizzare overalls and getting pissing in the park?

 

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5 unique off-the-beaten-track cafes in Helsinki

If you saw my post yesterday about quitting coffee, you’ll know that Finland holds the bragging rights to the nation that drinks the most coffee! So it’s not surprising that in Finland’s capital you’ll find a huge range of cafes, which (luckily for me) also offer many other delicious drinks and snacks aside from coffee. If you want to branch out a little from the mainstream downtown cafes then try one of my favourite 5 cafes below. All are located in neighbourhoods surrounding the city center, but also far enough away to feel like you’ve stumbled into a hidden haven. Oh, each cafe also has ridiculously cool decor & vibes.

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1. Regatta: a nautical themed cafe open 365 days a year

This place is an institution and it’s not hard to see why. With an incredibly cute (but tiny) interior, complete with all sorts of vintage nautical decor, outdoor seating with post-card worthy water views, and an open fire where you can cook sausages, this place has it all. They have delicious (and very well priced) sweet and savoury snacks and a great range of hot drinks including coffee, several types of hot chocolate, warm juice and glogi. But possibly the thing I love most about this cafe is that it’s open every day of the year. This is particularly noteworthy in Helsinki where many cafes open late on weekends and often not at all on Sundays.

Hours: 8am-9pm daily

Location: Merikannontie 8

 

 

 

2. Relove: cakes, coffee & second hand shopping

This is one of my favourite cafes in Helsinki, not only because they serve beautiful cakes and one whole wall is dedicated to plants, but also because most of the space is a second-hand store. The racks are divided into slots for people to sell their no longer wanted clothes and shoes, and you can often find great bargains. A section of the store is also dedicated to beautiful homewares and body products.

Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12pm-5pm

Location: Sandelsinkatu 6

 

 

 

3. Bon Temps: French vibes in Meilahti

This cafe is the perfect place to relax with a hot drink and freshly baked pulla, amidst good music and chic decor. As well as their delicious home-made pastries, there’s also hot and cold daily lunches (with vegetarian options) for around 10€.

Hours:  Mon-Fri 8am-7pm, Sat 9am-4.30pm

Location: Mannerheimintie 132

 

 

 

4. Roots: environmentally friendly food & decor

This vegan cafe does a perfect sized, delicious and healthy breakfast set and also serves pretty cakes, smoothies and hot drinks. But it’s the upcycled decor that I love most about the place. There’s also a yoga studio attached to the cafe.

Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-9pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 10am-7pm

Location: Vaasankatu 14

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5. Helsinki Coffee roasters (Helsingin Kahvipaahtimo): the best coffee in a creative setting

If you’re looking for excellent coffee with inspiring upcycled decor you can’t go past this place. Love, love, love!

Hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm

Location: Päijänteentie 29