JYU Student Ambassadors


Top 10 things to do in Finland

Finland, the nation of 187,888 lakes is strangely not famous for its lakes. The first thing that came to my mind when I thought I’d move to Finland was “Nokia”. Strangely enough, Moomin and Sauna were also Finnish inventions. All my childhood, I thought Moomin were Japanese which is a common misunderstanding.

Filled with natural beauty all around, reflecting what Finland is depends on what time of year you come in, and they have drastic differences. It is highly recommended you come either in the middle of summer, or middle of winter. Trust me, you do not want to be here during the transition phase where everything looks dull, dark and depressing. Almost the whole nation understands English, even though Finnish and Swedish are the official languages. You will have no problem getting yourself around as important information everywhere are posted in at least 3 languages.

So, as someone who has lived in 5 cities in Finland and travelled almost all around Finland in the past 7 years, here are the list of activities I highly recommend you do when you are in Finland.

(Note that I have not listed anything in Jyväskylä because I would like you to go out of Jyväskylä and explore Finland. You will get to know Jyväskylä once you are here, and make friends.)

1. Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi

Your childhood dream will come true when you meet the real Santa Claus and his reindeers. Easily accessible by road or air, Rovaniemi, Lapland is one of the most visited city in Finland. Being inside the arctic circle, you get a certification for that as well! (woo hoo!) People from around the world flock in to meet the main man, and rent a Husky or Reindeer sledge. You can pet/feed them after their hard work and learn about them from their caretakers. Accidentally came in the summer? No worries, Mr. Claus will be happily playing golf or going about his business and you can meet him at that time too.

2. Sleep in a glass Igloo (Ivalo, Lapland)

You are already in Lapland, why not travel just a little further to spend a night in an Igloo where you can witness the Northern Lights? As students, the price comes steep at about €300-450, but hey, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Not like we are going to come to Ivalo every week or so. Something to tick off your bucket list, maybe?

3. Sauna (cold swim)

Pronounced SA-UU-NA (not so-na), one of the ingenious ways to fight the cold, build up your immune system, start a conversation and sit awkwardly NAKED with strangers. Yes, it is common practise in Finland to go to sauna naked. Some places even have signs illustrating no underwear is allowed. It is also common that all households have a sauna in their apartment, and in student apartments, a common sauna is available. Absolutely the best place to make friends!

Sauna experience, in my opinion, is better in the winter next to a lake. Primarily, because you dig a hole in the frozen lake, take a dip in it (or if you are adventurous, take a swim), run back to the sauna, and repeat it over and over.

4. Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square (Helsinki)

One of the first things you find in the web when you search for Helsinki is this white church with green roofs and golden spire. The Lutheran Cathedral is the most iconic monument in Helsinki, which overlooks the Senate Square and the harbor. It is open free to anyone, even to photograph and take videos inside. In winter, the senate square has a setup of Christmas market, and a few minutes towards to harbor are the “tori” markets where vendors sell their goods throughout the year. The senate square is also the main point of all public concerts, occasions, protests, new year celebration (though it happened elsewhere last year). The harbor is also where you can get your ride to Suomenlinna.

5. Suomenlinna (Helsinki)

The fortress island of Suomenlinna is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Suomen meaning “Finnish”, and Linna meaning “Castle”, it was a fortress and has dungeons. One of the most windy places that I’ve been to, I advise proper clothing.

This is also the place from where you can wave goodbye to travellers in ferries going to Stockholm. It is the go-to place for picnic if you don’t want to go too far, but want to have an experience.

6. National Parks

Did you say you came in the summer and are an avid nature lover who loves hiking? Well, I’ve got brilliant news for you! What if I told you there are numerous national parks where you can hike, pick berries, grill your food, swim, boat and camp for free? Nuuksio (Espoo), Urho Kekkonen (Lapland), Repovesi (Kouvola), Archipelago (Åland) are the most visited and the most recommended national parks in Finland. I visit Nuuksio at least once a year to camp out the night, BBQ and boat around peacefully during the summer.

7. Moomin World (Naantali, Turku)

I told you about the famous Moomins and what an amazing experience would it be to see the moomin house in real life? Well, just a few hours west from Helsinki, in the previous capital of Finland, Turku, is where the Moomin World is located in. You will feel like living a fairytale. The house you have been watching in the cartoons in real life! Meet and greet with all the moomin characters and get yourself something to remember by. Why not visit the Turku Castle when you are already there, huh?

8. Amusement Parks (Helsinki, Tampere)

Another of my yearly tradition is Linnamäki. It is a non-profit amusement park in Helsinki. Entrance and 9 of the rides are free, including a panorama of Helsinki and a 4D cinema. You can get a day ticket for €39 which will let you ride all rides unlimited times for the day. There are over 40 rides which includes roller coaster, underground aquarium and water splashes, and I assure you, one day is not going to be enough!

Another alternative closer to Jyväskyä is Särkäniemi amusement park. It is located in Tampere, and features a mini zoo, planetarium, aquarium, museum, observation tower and water activities. The day ticket is €19.90 when purchased online.

9. Oodi and Kamppi Chapel (Helsinki)

Inaugurated on December 5, 2018, Oodi is the newest attraction in Helsinki. It is in the heart of Helsinki, in between the Helsinki Music Centre, Finlandia Hall, Sanoma House, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Parliament Building. Sounds like you can visit all these places at once when you decide to visit here. Oodi is an open space which acts as a library, meeting place, workspace (yes, as an office for the day), repair space or anything really. Interested in 3D printing, laser cutting, sticker printing, heat pressing, sewing, badge machine or handicraft? Oodi has got you covered!

10. Stroll around Helsinki Wooden houses (Vallila, Helsinki)

Something that does not get any praise is the place where I live currently, Vallila. Vallila, Käpylä and Vanha Porvoo are places places where you can witness a different colorful side of Helsinki. Wooden houses that date upto 300 years can be found here. Hidden from the glimmering lights of the central city, Vallila is 20 minutes by tram (or 7 minutes by metro to Sörnainen), where you can stroll through the town. 

A nation covered 70% by forest, wood was the primary construction element, and is still used to completely build a Mökki (cottage) and saunas.

Biplob Bhandari, Student Ambassador

MSc in Information Systems

Top 10 things to do in Finland Top 10 things to do in Finland Reviewed by ambassadors on 19:30 Rating: 5


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