Tranquility, lakes and forests under the Northern Lights
So, wild swimming. Now there’s a thing. Said to improve immunity, increase metabolism, reduce anxiety and boost mood, submersing the body in open water has become a bit of a fad among over-worked, under-nurtured city folk everywhere. But there’s wild swimming and then there’s wild swimming Finnish style. Emerging from a steaming sauna into the cool, tingling, watery surface, you’ve never felt so alive. With some 188,000 lakes to choose from, kick starting the system like this is commonplace, a daily practice typical of the Finns’ pure connection with their virgin environment.
Finland is simply rammed with just such special experiences. Reaching from the Baltic to deep within the Arctic Circle and forming an eastern border with Russian neighbours, this least visited of Nordic nations invites magical opportunities while remaining a safe, reliable, and clean destination. From buzzing Helsinki, you’ll very quickly arrive into a rural paradise, where social distancing has been the norm since long before the rest of us were forced into familiarity with the term. Unique stays in lighthouses, tree tents, lakeside villas, aurora domes, and houseboats make the most of natural surroundings, with luxury as well as rustic offerings, and always with a strong focus on sustainability.
You’re never going to be short of the space and freedom to roam in Finland, but for ultimate tranquillity and best value for your cash, at Low Season Traveller we recommend a visit in April-May or October-November. This way you’ll avoid both the summer crowds celebrating long hours of daylight and the Lapland winter peak when the north becomes busy with Santa’s elves preparing gifts for those important Christmas Eve deliveries. Spring is a beautiful time of year when things start to open up and light and life return to the land, while autumn is ideal for watching the glorious northern lights. Do keep in mind that some traditional activities like husky sledding are only available while the snow lasts, and in May smaller business close for a break before the summer but you’ll still discover many unforgettable authentic experiences to take part in.
Reconnect with the Earth
Covered with pine forests and boasting no fewer than 40 national parks, Finland offers wonderfully accessible opportunities for re-energising and rejuvenation in nature. You may even spot the bears and wolves that share this land. You’re free to wander and hug a few trees, but if you feel unsure about exploring alone, there are experienced guides who can help. Book a session of arctic cocooning in a hammock among the pines; try floating in beautiful waters in a special drysuit, or indulge in ‘Wine in the Woods’ in Nuuksio National Park, the closest of the protected areas to the city of Helsinki.
Live Like a Finn
Who wouldn’t like to share the authentic experiences of a nation named by the UN as the ‘Happiest Country in the World’ for four years running? Take a sauna, an integral way of life in Finland, to the extent that you are practically guaranteed to find one in your hotel, rented accommodation or guest house. In fact, Finnish sauna is observed by UNESCO on their list of Intangible Cultural Heritage practices, and there are more saunas per capita in Finland than in any other country in the world. Find a baking class and learn to make mouth-watering hot cinnamon rolls, join a Finnish family for a superb traditional home-cooked dinner, or try outdoor wild cooking.