1. Land of a Thousand lakes – well actually way more
You might have heard this nickname for Finland and thought “oh wow that is a big number for a small country”. Well, actually it is a major understatement because Finland has 187 888 lakes. Now, it might not come as a surprise that Finns feel a certain closeness to water and that it is a source of livelihood for many.
The biggest and greatest lake in Finland is called Saimaa and the surrounding area (in Eastern Finland where the lake is located) is called Lakeland. Lakeland is actually the largest Lake District in Europe and the home to vast clear lakes scattered with islands and green spits.
There are plenty of hostels to choose from if you decide to spend your vacation in the magical Lakeland. If you’re heading to the eastern side of Finland, perhaps to Savonlinna, we recommend you stay in AnnaCatharina or Hostel Rantakatti. If your plans take you to Joensuu, you should consider staying in Finnhostel Joensuu or in the Scout’s Youth Hostel. In Imatra you can stay in Hostel Ukonlinna that actually is on the shore of Lake Saimaa!
2. The right to roam
If you thought the lakes were a lot, well sit down because this is going to be huge: 73% of this small country is covered by forests. The forests are also free for anyone to enjoy, respectfully. We call this general public right Jokamiehen oikeudet or “The Everyman’s Rights”. The rights allow anyone living or visiting Finland the freedom to roam, explore the countryside, forage, fish with a line and rod, and enjoy the recreational use of natural areas.
But freedom comes with responsibility. The Arctic nature, particularly Lapland, is very fragile. So please be respectful and leave no trace, don’t go near someone’s private property and keep out of restricted areas which are there to protect the vulnerable nature and wildlife. Otherwise, enjoy your time!
Experience the right to roam and enjoy nature by staying in the Linnansaari Eco Hostel. The hostel is located on an island in the Linnansaari National Park. The island has 5 huts, a small cafeteria, some campfire places, sauna, and dry toilets. The island doesn’t have any electricity and camping is only accessible by boat or canoe.
Another great option for hike-enthusiasts is the Finnish Lapland. Hostel Lemmenjoen Lumo is right next to the Lemmenjoki National Park. In Lemmenjoki you can experience the unique and clean nature of Lapland. The hostel organizes hiking and boat trips as well!
3. Land of the Polar Night and Midnight Sun
Kaamos is the phenomenon that happens only above the Arctic Circle when the night lasts more than 24 hours. During this time the sun won’t show itself above the horizon. The darkest period in Northern Finland can last up to 52 days! Kaamos is rarely pitch black though. In Finnish Lapland, although the sun stays below the horizon, some ambient light gets through creating a ‘blue twilight’. Kaamos is also the best time to see the magical Aurora Borealis!
Now, you might have known about the darkness that shadows our land during winter, but did you know about the endless lightness during summer? The Midnight Sun aka the most iconic Finnish natural phenomena is literally what it sounds like and never arrives a day too early. If you are planning on going to the north side of the Arctic Circle, make sure to pack a sleeping mask with you because the sun won’t set at all from May to August!
As you might guess, public spaces really come to life during the summer. This magical and spectacular time is spent outside with friends and family enjoying the short but sweet season. The classic way to enjoy the Midnight Sun is at a cabin.
To experience these magical seasons of the Finnish Lapland, we recommend you stay in Kuerkievari KuerHostel in Ylläs fell or Hostel Ahopää in Inari. Both are great destinations for active people who enjoy skiing in winter and hiking in summer.
4. Coffee lovers
Everyone knows the world really loves coffee. Turns out that Finns love it the most. According to the stats from the International Coffee Organization, the average Finn drinks 12kg of coffee per year. And you forget about the fancy cappuccinos and flat whites, Finns do java.
Now, one might wonder why someone would enjoy this unflattering beverage. You wouldn’t be wondering that if you experienced the cold and extremely dark winter Finns have to go through every year. For some, it’s purely just about survival and we can’t judge them. When the daylight gets longer and spring finally arrives, the nature and the people wake up from hibernation. This is also the time when people go out with their friends to drink… coffee.
If you’re planning a trip to Finland AND you love coffee, Helsinki and Porvoo might be the best stops for you. The capital naturally has the most cafés and something for everyone. We would recommend you avoid the chain cafés and head to the smaller ones.
Helsinki has a great variety of hostels as well. Head to Eurohostel if you like smaller shareable rooms and a great location. Both Helsinki is a great choice for you if you can’t choose between social and private; you can choose Both. Myö Hostel is great for someone who is looking for charming boutique-hostels. CheapSleep Helsinki is the perfect choice for someone looking for a very social experience 10 minutes away from the central. CheapSleep has a lot of events, such as pub crawls, planned for their customers.
Porvoo is a city located on the southern coast of Finland, approximately an hour away from Helsinki. The idyllic Old Porvoo is a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee. In Porvoo we recommend you stay in the idyllic Porvoo Hostel, only a kilometer away from the Old Town.
5. The World’s Largest Archipelago
Finland’s coast has the most island’s in the world and the most sunshine in Finland. The coast is full of old charming wooden towns, lighthouses, historical stone churches, and vast national parks. The coast has a very laid-back islander lifestyle and a strong maritime culture. The capital, Helsinki, is also part of this charming maritime culture and lifestyle. The archipelago is especially lively during summer with their beaches, cafés and small-town events and shops. Seven of Finland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites can be experienced in the coastal area!
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Finland. It is located in the coastal area of Helsinki and built on six islands. This historically important site is very popular with tourists who usually enjoy it as a picturesque picnic site. If you’re planning a trip to Helsinki and want to really experience a historical sea fortress, we recommend you stay in Hostel Suomenlinna. The hostel is actually the only accommodation service on the island!
Another great location to stay is Tankar Inn in Kokkola. Kokkola is a coastal city a little over 500km from Helsinki. This hostel is actually on the Tankar lighthouse island and a former pilot station. Here you can experience the real archipelago lifestyle.
If you want to experience the coast but Tankar island sounds a bit too hardcore, head to Turku. The old capital of Finland is a great destination for a summer day trip or two and luckily you have a couple of great options for affordable accommodation. If you’re looking for a peaceful hostel surrounded by nature, Hostel Linnasmäki is a great choice for you. The hostel is located only 4km away from the city center! On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more unique experience, Laivahostel S/S Bore is for you. This hostel is actually a former steamship that now works as a museum ship and hostel and is permanently anchored on the bank of river Aura.