Unusual holidays in Finland
Most people are very lucky if they see a wolverine in Finland. “There are only about 150 in the whole country,” says Christine Cheney, who booked a holiday particularly to see one. Little is known about wolverine life, and these holidays involve a lot of waiting in the quiet of a Finnish forest.
Nature-loving, socially responsible Finns are proud to share their unique wildlife and traditions. The country is a great place for unconventional – and often very progressive – ways of holidaying.
Guests who come wolverine-watching find themselves sharing a ‘pro hide’ – a wildlife watching base in a tiny hidden space equipped with just a bed, heater and toilet.
“Now I know what it is like staring at the forest in front of me for 15 hours,” says Sara Warren, who stayed in a hide on a brown bear watching holiday, “I’m seriously thinking about going back again next year.”
Off the beaten track
Not all holidays in Finland require as much dedication, but peace and quiet is offered in abundance, especially in more remote areas – like the northeast, close to the Russian border.
“This area of Finland is not the forest, there’s not many people, there are no big cities,” says Urpo Heikkinen from our Finland specialist Upitrek. His company, run by just two permanent staff members, offers cross country skiing in the area. “It’s good for activities and it’s definitely off the beaten track. We’re here because this is my home. It’s where we’ve always been; it’s where I grew up.”
It’s a place so unpopulated that they can’t always find local guides, and occasionally bring them in from the south. Your holiday helps keep very small, very local suppliers like this in business.
Out-of-season holidays“Winter is by far the most popular season,” says Urpo, estimating that around 80 percent of his bookings come in at this time, many for skiing. But visit in summer instead and you’ll be able to explore the newly snow-free roads by car, or take to a bike.
Midsummer in Finland is particularly special. The longest day, when the sun stays up all night, is celebrated throughout the country as a great excuse for a party, it’s also a great opportunity to meet and talk to Finns at the side of a summer bonfire lit at midnight.
Foraging comes into its own during the landscape’s sudden, intense growing season in spring, swapping defrosted reindeer meat for ‘glow-fried’ salmon fish cooked at the fireside by the indirect heat of the flames. A cycling and cooking trip will introduce you to Finland’s freshest organic produce.
Our Finland Holidays
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No out-of-season treat gives you quite as much reward as hiking with huskies. Finland’s dogs are put to work in winter months, when hordes descend on Lapland to go sledding. The dogs get a deserved rest in summer, but in autumn, when the weather isn’t too hot, they can be put back into training again. Going hiking with a husky is an excellent way to keep the dogs fit and healthy, whilst you get a real boost as they assist you up the hills on their walking harness. And don’t underestimate the joy that canine companionship will bring to your hike.
Traveller Willhemina Hagenauw went hiking with huskies and recommends that you make sure you’re fit. “The dogs are strong and you walk at a good pace,” she says.
Unusual LaplandDespite the slew of trips on offer in Finland, the majority of people still see Finland holidays as synonymous with Lapland. It’s totally understandable to want to visit this magical place in winter – but be prepared for crowds in Rovaniemi.
“It’s the biggest place in Lapland and gets thousands of visitors in winter,” says one of our Finnish holiday specialists. “Some people don’t like it – they think it is too touristy.”
If you’re prepared for something a little more unusual, head to Oulanka National Park. Here you can hole up in a log cabin, see the Northern Lights, and try all the winter activities you want. Santa Claus might not come knocking – but you could try sending him a message via one of the reindeer at the local farm.
More about Finland
Our Finland travel guide lets you into long and light summer days, for trekking and kayaking, as well as Northern Lights watching, snowshoeing and cross country skiing in the snow covered, darker months of winter.
The best time to visit Finland depends on what you wish to do as winter is ideal for dog sledding and winter sports whereas the arrival of spring in May sees the sun making a return prior to the long hot summer days.
Click on our interactive Finland map and highlights to discover some of the best places to visit in both summer and winter, whether you're seeking wolverines, wild bears, snowshoeing, Santa or Sami hospitality.
If you’re looking to put a bit of colour into the darker depths of winter there’s no better place to start than Finland and if you’re also looking for more info on the best time to go then read as you keep watching the skies.
From snow shoeing and cross country skiing to husky safaris, Northern Lights and warming fires, Finland in the winter abounds with things to do so slip on your woolly socks, grab a glass of Glögi and read on for more info.
There’s no more exhilarating and rewarding way to discover the snowy Finnish wilderness other than on a husky safari, with a team of dogs pulling you through pure white landscapes and across vast frozen lakes.
Finns grow up learning about jokamiehenoikeus: every man’s right to roam. The Finnish landscape is everyone’s, including yours, to explore and forage – so long as you do so carefully.
You don’t need to travel to Alaska to see brown bears; the Wild Taiga region of Finland is home to these fascinating creatures and a supporting cast of other animals, too, from wolves and wolverine to elk and reindeer.
Travelling in Finland with kids is a wonderful experience for families of any age, with snowshoeing and canoeing on the cards for older children, and snowmen, sledging and reindeer-nuzzling delights for younger ones.
If you think that Lapland is just about snow and Santa then think again as summer holidays in Finland help to create a far more accessible and affordable outdoor experience. including self-drive tours and hiking holidays.
Rail holidays in Finland are far more relaxing than driving. They also encourage an element of destination-hopping, so you will be able to visit Oulu and Kemi instead of heading straight to busy Rovaniemi in Lapland.
Although traditionally semi nomadic reindeer herders, the Sámi are adapting to a changing world with responsible tourism playing a role in keeping alive the languages, music and folklore tales from around the Arctic Circle.
The first eSleds have made their debut in Finland, and in the responsible travel stakes, electric beats traditional snowmobiles hands-down, but how can you make sure your snowmobile safari is good for Finnish Lapland?
Finns prize privacy and remoteness above all else, and many choose to holiday in their home country, fleeing to their family cabins in search of solitude. Just like Finns, honeymooners appreciate a bit of alone time – just replace that family cabin with a place for two.
Our specialist holiday companies and travellers have shared their Finland travel advice on everything from cross country skiing and the best time to see wildlife, to packing for the cold and eating locally sourced food.
It's hard to know where to start when planning a trip to Finland but we've picked out our top activities to get you started - from admiring the Aurora to mushing huskies, tracking wolverines and thawing out in a sauna.
If you fancy fat biking in Oulanka National Park, these mountain bikes with big chunky tyres are a great way to enjoy some Arctic exercise and have fun as part of a small guided group without damaging the environment.
When you stay in a log cabin in Finland, you’re often staying in a family’s second home – sauna, open fire and a cupboardful of kayaks and snowshoes included.
Helsinki is the cool capital of Finland – a southerly peninsula city surrounded by lakes, islands and forest parks.
It's hard to go wrong when travelling in this nature loving nation but there are a few things to be aware of including hunting, Sami rights and huskies vs snowmobiles; read our thoughts on responsible tourism in Finland.
Find all our Finland guides in one place, from Husky safaris to the Northern Lights and everything in between.