For the past four years, Finland has topped the charts in the World Happiness Report. Retaining the title in 2021 was quite some achievement given it was the first report to include the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The reasons? Beautiful landscapes and nature, a chilled out way of life, low crime levels, high standard of living and a superb education system, according to the Helsinki Times.
But is it possible to experience Finnish happiness yourself given that most of the reasons are only really relevant to those living in Finland? Travelers can certainly get a taste of Finnish nature, a key element of Finnish lifestyle year-round.
Finland is now open to all travelers from within the EU and Schengen area and vaccinated travelers from the rest of the world. Here are five reasons for happiness-hunters to visit the country.
Explore Helsinki: Where east meets west
Istanbul is best known as the city where east meets west, but there’s plenty of diversity in Finland’s capital too. The Greater Helsinki region is home to 1.5 million of Finland’s 5.5 million people, so it’s an obvious starting point for any traveler.
There’s plenty of Scandinavian influence in the architecture, notably Swedish—all Finns learn Swedish as a second language in school—but the Russian influence is also apparant along with a notable amount of art nouveau influence. It’s a fascinating mix.
“Genuinely diverse cultural and historical influences can be clearly seen and sensed in this city,” said Lotta Lounasmeri, director of the Master’s Programme in European and Nordic Studies at the University of Helsinki.
Experience the Arctic
Arctic Finland is worth a visit anytime of year. In summer, the sun never sets meaning there are all-day opportunities for outdoor activities including hiking and wildlife spotting.
Children and big kids alike are sure to enjoy the Santa Claus Village of Rovaniemi, open every day of the year even at the height of summer.
See the northern lights
The Arctic region is also a popular choice in the fall, winter and spring. That’s because the northern lights come out to play at night while the spellbinding Arctic landscapes entertain by day.
Northern Finland is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights. It also gets incredibly cold. For a dash of comfort, stay in one of the glass igloos at northern Finland’s Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.
Even if you aren’t lucky with the lights, a winter trip to the Finnish Arctic will still be worthwhile. Husky-pulled sled rides and learning about Sami culture are just some of the daytime activities on offer.
Become at one with nature in Lakeland
Home to tens of thousands of lakes and forested hills, the Lakeland region is popular with city-dwelling Finns keen to reconnect with nature. Whether you want to relax in a lakeside cabin or sample the famous Finnish sauna experience…
Unsure where to start? Consider Lake Saimaa. Europe’s fourth largest natural freshwater lake is home to tens of thousands of vacation cabins, while the local Vendace whitefish is served in most of the region’s restaurants.
Discover the world’s largest archipelago
An alternative outdoor experience can be found all along the west coast of Finland. Around 50,000 islands hide secluded beaches, national parks and quiet spots galore.
The wooden houses of the UNESCO World Heritage site Old Rauma make a great focus point for any itinerary. It’s within walking distance of Rauma itself which has plenty of hotels and restaurants to choose from.
Water buses serve nearby islands while day cruises are available to explore more of the archipelago within the Bothnian Sea National Park.
Farther north, the 19th-century Säppi Lighthouse on the island of the same name is a popular day trip from the town of Pori.