I’m Going to Finland!

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Toronto, Canada

It may seem like an odd choice for me to travel to Finland as it’s not a Latin country and it will be the dead of winter but I have recently been fascinated with Finland for one reason.

Petri Hasanen


Also known as my best friend’s husband. Petri was born in Finland and moved to Canada when he was young.

But like most first generation immigrants he is still fiercely proud of his country and so I have listened to many stories about Finland. I’ve heard about the saunas, the education system and been exposed to maybe a few too many questionable phrases in Finnish.

When I started talking to Visit Finland about visiting the first person I contacted was Petri.

It’s going to be cold!

I’m still in the midst of planning my trip so I’ve been watching YouTube clips trying to figure out what people do in the winter in Finland that doesn’t involve me on some crazy winter hike or polar bear dip.

Petri admitted to me he had never been there in winter!

Even though I consider myself to have the heart and temperature preference of a Latina, I do still have my hearty Canadian roots and subzero temperatures aren’t terrifying.

Petri assures me it’s a dry cold so not as bad as Canada.

But still I have Canadian friends who warn if I visit Greenland it’s a completely colder kind of cold.

I’m hoping to visit Helsinki and the nearby cities of Tampere and Porvoo.

I found this video early on in my YouTube research and it made me realize that Helsinki is a really modern city.

It was named The World Design Capital in 2012 and I think I may actually want to visit some of the museums and galleries there.

I’m also hoping to spend time in the markets and discover Finnish food.

Porvoo is only 50km out and is most popular in the summer as it is so old it is considered an outdoor museum.

Fortunately for me it is also known for its food with many restaurants and cafes.

I still need to do a bit of digging as I won’t be out sailing the seas in the warm sun.

Tampere is the birthplace of industrialism in Finland, which meant it started off with an usually large blue-collar population and was nicknamed Manchester of the North.

I have never been to Manchester but I have a feeling I’m going to like this city.

It is also the home to blood sausage and you know I’ll be trying that.

As much as I have learned from Petri, I’m still looking for suggestions! I’ve been talking to his uncle in Finland who has been giving me the basics including which saunas I must try, warning me that I should go nude or I’ll look foolish.

I am going to try to do things a bit differently this time and I’ll be posting live on my Facebook Page also I may try to put up some polls and other interactive things.

If you have been to Finland I’d love your advice.

If there’s anything you want to see me do, let me know as I’m still planning!

Join the Conversation

  1. Jealous! Dying to hit up Finland!

  2. David Bennett says:

    I used to work in Tampere.

    There are two lakes separated by a moraine from the last Ice age, so one lake is several metres higher than the other.

    It was the difference in height between the two lakes that powered the water wheels that powered the engines that drove the industrial revolution there.

    In the winter, you can walk out onto the ice of the upper lake (lake Pyhäjärvi) and visit the post office that is on a little stump of rock. And post your letters with a Finnish lake postmark.

    These are big lakes by English standards, hundreds of kilometres long – maybe small by Canadian standards 😉

    When it’s about 20 degrees C and your eyelids get frosted up and your saliva turns thick in your throat and your knees seize up and don’t bend properly as you walk – then you will know what Finland is like in winter.

    Say hello to Tampere for me 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      David such a good tip on the lake!

      Do you have any other little known tips for Tampere?

  3. Dian Emery says:

    I’ve been to Denmark during the winter season, that’s close to Finland right?:)

    My advice, drink lots of glögg!

    BTW the bacon in Denmark was spectacular! Some of the best I’ve ever tasted, it would be interesting to hear your take on the bacon tastings in Finland.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I heard that Denmark actually invented bacon. It could be reason enough to go there!

  4. Kristy Wellwood says:

    Love this posting! Petri did too! Nice pic choice, it catches him in all of his crazy Finnish glory! xoxo

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I can only hope people in Finland are 10% as nice as he is.

  5. I highly recommend Turku as well – it’s so close and really a fantastic university town with a great vibe and a lot of history (we have a lot of posts on our blog from there). Finland is one of my fav countries ever – I learned so much, starting with the fact that it’s not actually part of Scandinavia, which I had not known. Have so much fun!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I wish I could go to Turku but I decided that 3 places would be max for 12 days as I really like a day or two just to wander the streets but I’m loving your posts from there.

  6. A Cook Not Mad (Nat) says:

    Yay! I don’t think I could do it in the winter but I look forward to hearing all about it 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The good news is that I am only going to the South so the weather should be just a tad colder than Toronto…I hope.

  7. Oh man! Have fun…the only way I will go to Finland is if it IS in the middle of winter. Reindeer sleigh rides (and eating Reindeer), photographing wolverines in the wild, enjoying Finnish saunas, seeing the northern lights…yep, high on my list.
    Let me know if you need a travel buddy!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am staying South so it will be mostly eating. I would love to see the Northern Lights but I guess there is always next time…

  8. Matthew Karsten says:

    I know absolutely nothing about Finland, so it will be nice to follow along.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am slowly learning. It will be my first winter travel destination so it should be interesting as I prefer the sun.

  9. Alana - Paper Planes says:

    I have to say, Finland’s never been on my list… I do enjoy hearing why people want to go to specific places. It’s funny how you can hear about just one thing and then have the idea planted in your head…I wanted to go to Vietnam solely because I saw the Top Gear episode where they ride motorcycles throughout the country. I had never thought about/wanted to go there before but while
    I was watching the show I decided I had to make it there.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh you will love Vietnam. Or hate it. It is actually quite polarizing but I really loved it.

  10. When are you in Finland?

    I’ll be in Helsinki in May!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I will miss you! I’m heading there February 10-22. But I will have lots of recommendations for you!

  11. So funny to see this, as I just recently watched Anthony Bourdain in Finland on “No Reservations” and now I’m totally obsessed with going there (though not necessarily in the winter). I’m looking forward to your posts about it. Have fun and stay warm!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I had NO idea he went there. I must download…er…borrow that from the Internet now.

    2. I liked you. 37 years old. :))

  12. Sebastian @ Off-The-Path.com says:

    Been to Finland a couple of times, it’s a beautiful country… but it was cold, very very cold… but you are from Canada so you’ll be ok I guess! 🙂

    Look forward to follow your travels in Suomi!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Finland should be just a touch colder than Canada in February but Petri swears it’s a dry cold. I will hold him to that.

  13. Really looking forward to the cuisine in Finland. And our Canadian roots will definitely be put to the test. Now off to find some wool socks 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well I am the weakest and biggest baby so I think it’s only fitting I stay South where it is relatively warmer.

  14. I have been interested in all of Scandinavia for quite a while. It seems like some kind of cold utopia…so I will be interested to see what your experience is like. Brave of you to go in the winter, but why not?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m sorry I can’t help you. I just learned that Finland isn’t part of Scandinavia! But I will share lots about Finland.

      1. Well, we learn something new every day. I was thinking that those three countries that “hang down” there together were all part of Scandinavia, but I guess it makes sense that Finland isn’t..it is different with its language, culture, etc.

  15. Victoria | Bridges and Balloons says:

    Now you’ve convinced me that I need to go to Finland too. It looks stunning!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am getting really excited to go, my to-do list keeps growing.

  16. Carmie Brogan says:

    It will be interesting to see if a Canadian can “outwinter” Finland.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Especially one that hates the cold!

  17. That’s going to be an awesome trip! I would love to go there in the winter, but I’m afraid it may be too cold for me.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Despite being Canadian I am a total baby about cold weather so I pray Petri is right and it is a dry cold.

  18. Just One Boomer (Suzanne) says:

    I visited Helskinki last June, so it was close to the longest day of the year and not all the way dark until midnight. I think maybe even more than the cold, the short days could take some getting used to. (Nah, the cold too). We were there because my husband had a medical conference. While he was conferring with his science peeps at the University, I wandered around. One of my stops was to see the church carved into the rocks, the Temppeliaukio Kirkko. In the same neighborhood, I wandered into an international bookstore which had just opened at that location. I think an early stop in there (or even an advance email) will provide you with info about what will be happening in Helsinki while you’re there that might be suitable for someone who doesn’t speak Finnish. There’s a tight knit expat community of English speakers married to Finns. A friend of a friend of mine is one of them. She met her Finnish husband during a 30 minute stop at the Helsinki harbor on her way to Estonia, so apparently they do have “love at first sight” in Finland.

    Here’s a link to the bookstore website:
    http://www.arkadiabookshop.fi/ The owner’s name is Ian Bourgeot. I had a nice chat with him in English and Spanish. He was born in England to a French father and Guatamalan/German mother. (I might be off on some of that, but he speaks Latin American Spanish).

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thank you so much, I will definitely check it out!

  19. Black sausage! It was my favourite. Matt Long said to my sausage photo as “it looks like a crime scene” and it sort of does. : http://runawayjuno.com/2012/08/20/mustamakkara-the-black-sausage-finland-tampere/

    Happy for ya!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I am SO eating that!

  20. Brr. That is all.

    That and I’m jealous. In a good way. Have a blast lady! xoxo

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m bringing lots of layers!

  21. Awesome! I just love seeing people going to places I know absolutely nothing about. Looking forward to hearing your stories and I have a feeling this will be a VERY photogenic country!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      This should be different than anywhere I have travelled before which is really appealing.

  22. Camels & Chocolate says:

    The only thing I can tell you about Finland is that I went to Helsinki, got hit by a cab and then promptly left for Estonia. So…you know, look both ways when you cross the street 😉

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh. My. I hope I have much better luck!

  23. YAY! I’m so excited to read about this. One of my best friends here in Thailand is from Finland, and she is the most stunning person I know. So mostly I want to go to Finland because I picture it as a bunch of tall, blonde, beautiful people. Don’t prove me wrong….

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Then I will stand out like a sore thumb being short and dark!

  24. Giselle and Cody says:

    That’s awesome. We hope to one day make it to Finland. We have a friend who is Finnish and we would love to head there with her. HAVE FUN!!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It would be great to go with a local. I am hoping to connect with some through couchsurfing or asking friends of friends of friends…

  25. Diana Edelman says:

    I am SO jealous! Finland is on my list. And the winter? It must be magical there! I would love to go so will be checking back a lot to read about your experiences. Enjoy!!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s been tough to find out what people do in the winter as so many go in the summer but we’ll see!

  26. Mika Latvala says:

    Finland is a beautiful country, you’re very welcome here! If you like to see the nature, you can see Nuuksio National park very close to our capital (Helsinki). You can also check my photos at Google Plus.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Mike, what else do you recommend in Helsinki?

      1. Mika Latvala says:

        Well, there’s a lot to see in Helsinki, depending on what you WANT to see. Websites have a lot of good information about Helsinki area since it’s our capital so I won’t start repeating that.

  27. I went to Finland last year in March and really enjoyed it. We went snowshoeing on the Baltic Sea, ice fishing, dog sledding, snow mobiling and did a steam sauna which the Finns are known for. A great adventure. I also recommend checking out a karaoke bar, turns out Finns love karaoke…and black liquorice.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Is it weird that I have never done karaoke before?

  28. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen) says:

    I’ve never been to Finland, but have always wanted to go cross country skiing there in winter! I know that’s maybe a bit extreme, but perhaps you’d end up enjoying it as much as the mountain biking in Montana?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Maybe….I’m not sure if I should push it. Montana was pretty special.

  29. Have fun! It sounds like a great trip, definitely a country I’d like to get to one of these days. But I doubt I’ll be going in the winter since I hate the cold!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I don’t mind it as long as snow doesn’t get slushy. It can get pretty gross in Toronto.

  30. Colder than Toronto? I am nervous about going to NYC next month. It looks absolutely gorgeous. Can’t wait to see your photos!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Right now it looks to be 10C colder than Toronto, which isn’t TOO bad.

  31. I’ve lived in Porvoo all my life (which would be 28 years now) so just tell me what kind of things/places you’re interested in and I’ll tell you more..

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Jenny Porvoo is the one place I need lots of recommendations for:
      – where to eat
      – what traditional food to eat
      – where do locals go
      – anything interesting that tourists never see?

  32. Katie (@wandertooth) says:

    Amazing! We were in Helsinki in the summer and did a few posts on it – I loved Helsinki and the WDC thing was really cool – so much going on in the way of arts and culture! And I second the advice to drink some gloog! I would love to check out more of the country, and sauna-ing in the winter will be really cool (pun intended). And yes, you have to go naked! When are you heading off and for how long?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am going to go have a look at your posts now.

      I’m going February 10-22 and really looking forward to a winter destination for once.

  33. Kristin Addis says:

    That sounds awesome! Have met plenty of Finnish people on my travels and they’ve been such a good time. I can only imagine the country is that much more awesome!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I certainly hope so. I think Petri and his family are great so I am hoping it will be a country full of people just like that.

  34. Emily in Chile says:

    I hope you don’t freeze! But the cold sounds like a great excuse to stay indoors and eat and drink even more than usual.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      That’s what sweaters are for!

  35. Terve or moi or heippa (as we say in Finnish),

    I am German, but live and work in Helsinki. Let me know when you are coming and I can take you around a bit; I love to show everybody around who dares to come here, especially in winter;-). It is only -10 C now, very bearable, houses are warm and most people are smart enough to invest in good winter clothes and shoes, so it is actually a pleasure to go out for walks, even if it`s freezing cold.
    I live in Kallio, the hip Bohemian type former working neighborhood, now the preferred are aof artists and anybody who wants to be considered as cool;-).
    I am a chef and can also recommend some nice places to eat and if you are here on February 17th, that is the restaurant day where anybody can open up a pop up restaurant, you can walk around and sample ALL kinds of food, and yes, most is outside;-). The Finns are tough and cool, I love them.
    Connect on FB or couchsurfing, I have seen your message there.
    Cheers for now

    1. Ayngelina Author says:


      I just asked the tourism board to make sure my schedule includes February 17th in Helsinki, thank you!

      I would love to hang out with you while in Helsinki – I’ll send you an email!

  36. I think Finland will be amazing in winter – dogsledding, Northern Lights, saunas and I hear you can eat reindeer heart – a delicacy of sorts. This is one country I would love to visit.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I am definitely eating reindeer, you can count on that.

  37. Hi there! Two of my best friends live in Finland, so I have been a number of times to visit. In 2012 I made it there for the first time in the winter! I was there in February and my friends decided to take me skiing in the Arctic Circle. We rented an apartment in Levi (right at the foot of the ski hills) and it was absolutely amazing! We went on a husky safari and a reindeer safari as well, which was an interesting experience. I definitely recommend hitting up the North. Helsinki is a really cool city. It is quiet in the winter, but worth a wander. If you like shopping you should check out Globe Hope (www.globehope.com) and Marimekko shops. Helsinki is also just an overnight cruise to Russia, Sweden and Estonia – well worth the trip! I am quite envious of your trip, as Finland has become one of my favourite destinations!

    Have a great time!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Globe Hope looks dangerous to visit, everything is so nice on the site.

      Where else do you friends take you in Helsinki?

  38. Usually we walk around the city. I find it really interesting to see all of the Russian architecture – there are two really nice cathedrals (one Russian design, the other Scandinavian design). Not sure about how nice it is in the Winter, but we’ve gone to visit Suomenlinna Island, which is the military base/fortress. There is a great Finnish restaurant on the street directly across from the Russian cathedral (it’s in a main square) and down the road from the Globe Hope shop. I have done more outdoor activities (like cross country skiing and skating) while there in the Winter. Have fun!

  39. Can’t wait to read about your adventures in Finland! You definitely have to try the sauna. 🙂

    Hope you enjoy your time there.

  40. One of my best friend’s boyfriends is from Finland! (Moved to the States with his mom when he was young). I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to go to Finland someday, especially in the Spring… I’ve heard it’s beautiful. Can’t wait to read all about your trip!!

  41. I have been watching your posts to see if you were in Finland yet. I hope you have a fantastic time. It’s good you’re from Canada, you’ll be able to handle the cold.

  42. Lauren @ roamingtheworld says:

    I was thinking about FInland for February since I have 10 days off from work but after checking out visit finland and that it can be -30 I decided I’d wait till June!

    Definitely brave!

    Happy planning!

  43. It’s a mammoth playground built of mountains, hills, lakes, rivers, valleys, woodlands,and beaches. gbbkebaeadbe

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