It was nothing less than a fairy-tale destination. As the descending flight was about to touch down, the view from my window seat was magical. The enchanting spectacle of the snow layered forest made the land look like a winter wonderland. I was hooked at the first sight itself. Located between Russia and Sweden, Finland offers some of the most exotic experiences in the world. Known as a land of contrast, where the sun rises only for a few hours in the extreme winter, making Finland as one of the coldest countries and at the same time Midnight Sun shines for a month in summer. Blessed with four seasons, the country’s wilderness is one of the most celebrated possessions of Finnish people. With 18,800 lakes and around 70% forest, the Finnish term “Everyman’s Right” makes perfect sense when you are free to roam amidst nature anywhere you want. The flaunting Gothic architectures, the recognition of “The Design Capital” of the world, the only place to meet the real Santa Claus, getting lost in the forest with exotic Reindeer, sharing your smile with the Sami people and the dancing Northern lights, you name it and Finland has it.
Why visit Finland?
When the quintessential Eiffel tower in Paris and the Swiss Alps can fulfill your European dream, why go to a Nordic country like Finland at all? This is the most obvious question that will come to your mind whenever you have an option to choose your vacation in Europe. The only reason which can be mapped out here is the ignorance about this spectacular country and its overwhelming culture. Here are the reasons why you need to put Finland on your bucket list immediately….
“A land of thousand lakes”, Finland is the perfect destination for nature admirers. Breathing fresh air, getting lost in the wilderness, daydreaming under a tree, hiking through the sights, smelling nature, simply sitting for hours and fishing or spending the summer weekend in the lake house, the Finnish people know exactly how to enjoy in the lap of nature. The land of untouched, rich and endless, yet contrasting landscapes make it one of the must visit places for those, who celebrate nature like anything.
Explore Design Capital
Finland is the most desired place for designers and artists in the world. The capital city of Finland, Helsinki is considered as the best place for design studios, boutiques, and cafes. One can find the best of the designer brands and products in the “Design District” of Helsinki. Some of the most accomplished and renowned designers come from Finland. No wonder why the Finnish people are considered one of the most stylish and beautiful in the world.
Meet Real Santa Claus in Rovaniemi
Believe it or not, you can meet the real Santa Claus in Lapland. Finland is the only place in the world, where one can visit Santa Claus in his village named Rovaniemi. He welcomes everyone throughout the year. If you can’t meet him in person, you can drop a postcard in Santa’s office as well. As luck would have it, my resort in Saariselka was right in front of Santa’s Office.
Soak in Midnight Sun
One of the top reasons to visit Finland would be watching the never setting Sun in the northern most part of this country. One of the phenomenal natural wonder, the midnight sun makes Finland one of the unique countries to visit in summer. When the world wonders about the dark and cloudy winter days in Finland, the nature surprises everyone with 24 hours sunlight for two months during summer in Lapland. If you are in Lapland during summer, don’t miss the one and only “The Midnight Film Festival” in Sodankyla, Lapland.
Greet the Reindeer
The Reindeer is an icon of Finnish Lapland. One of the most adorable and domesticated animals, reindeer are the true possession of the Sami People. In earlier days, people used reindeer to travel from one place to another in Lapland and considered it the traditional way of travelling in winter season. The best way to enjoy the snowy terrain of Lapland is to go on a Reindeer safari in the forest. A must do activity in Lapland.
Have a Cup of Coffee with a Finn
Don’t be surprised if you come across abundant cafes in Finland. Blame it to the Finns, as they are the biggest coffee lovers in the world. The Finnish people consume more coffee per person than any other country. You can go cafe hopping in Finland. I had a great time spending one evening in a cafe, having coffee with my fellow travelers. Do have a cup of coffee with a Finnish local and indulge in never ending conversation.
Share your smile with the Sami
When in Lapland, meet the Sami people . The only indigenous people of the European Union, Sami people live in the northern part of Finland, Norway and Sweden as well as in parts of North-Eastern Russia. The unique cultural practices, lifestyle and humble nature make them one of the most loved communities in the world. There are only 9000 Sami people in Finland today. I had my best time in Lapland meeting one of the most adorable and hospitable Sami Couple –Mr.Timo and Mrs Armi.
Experience Finnish Sauna
The Finns are the proud inventors of the concept of the Sauna. They have more than 3 million Saunas with over 5 million people in the country. The Sauna is the most essential part of their lifestyle, where they just don’t visit to clean themselves, but this a place for relaxation, to unwind and also meditation. The concept of stepping into a heated room, shedding clothes or being nude is a matter of certain inhibitions for other nationals. The Finns consider Sauna as a place for physical and mental cleansing. Nothing can be more Finnish than experiencing the traditional Sauna in Finland.
Eat like a Finn
Unlike other countries, the food scene in Finland is unique due to its extreme weather condition. The Finnish people literally celebrate food and they are loyal to their traditional culinary roots. One can get plenty of options to relish Finnish delicacies. Though for vegetarians, the options are limited, but a non-vegetarian like me had a feast. From reindeer meat, mushroom soup, rice pies, salmon fish, cloudberry cake, rye bread, to a variety of desserts, I had the best time sampling some of the most authentic delicacies in Finland.
The best place to spot Northern Lights
The Finnish Lapland is considered as one of the best places to see the northern lights. Popularly known as Aurora Borealis, one can spot it only if the sky is clear and you are lucky enough. Most of the tourists visit Lapland during the winter to see the nature’s light show. The traditional way of spotting Northern lights are snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or snowmobile and reindeer safari. Though I was not lucky enough to spot the northern light during my trip, but that did not dishearten me as I knew for a fact that I would be back again.
Where to go?
I love to be surprised on my trips. Turning new pages everyday with a bundle of secrets, customs, traditions and the lifestyle of any place simply makes it worthwhile. Finland left me awestruck with almost everything. Though you can’t complete this vast country in one trip.It has four prominent regions – Lapland, Lakeland, Coast & Archipelago, and Helsinki. The best part is that all the regions have contrasting landscapes.
Located at the northern most side of the country, Lapland is the most picturesque destination I have ever traveled to. The snow laden trees, winding roads, vast forest and those colorful wooden houses, you will possibly not see a landscape like this anywhere in the world. It appeared like a dream to me . It’s magical, mythical and mystical. Lapland is possibly the best place to see the Northern lights in Finland. They say that it appears on more than 200 nights a year in Finnish Lapland. Most of the tourists visit Finland to spot the northern lights. To add here, Lapland is also home of the real Santa Claus, adorable Reindeer and the indigenous Sami people. I spent the maximum time in Lapland during my trip to Finland, where from indulging in Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, Reindeer safari in the forest, meeting Sami people, sampling local food to spending a considerable time exploring the surrounding in the weird time zone, I did it all.
The capital city of Finland, Helsinki is the buzzing city with a lot of happening in each corner. The very first thing that I noticed in Helsinki was the stunning architectural designs of their buildings. Like any cosmopolitan cities in Europe, Helsinki blends seamlessly with rich history and its tradition. The vibrant seaside city can be easily explored on foot or one can try taking a tram ride within the city. Interestingly, one can find trams or subway trains only in the capital city of Finland. What attracted me in Helsinki was undoubtedly the design district, Gothic architectures and numerous cafes. The food and music scene in Helsinki is cutting edge and vibrant. The Finns love to party and attending music festivals. You can find numerous music festivals in summer in Helsinki.
Lakeland is the largest Lake District in Europe. A land of a thousand lakes, Finland flaunts its crystal clear lakes, deep green forests and rolling hills. In fact visiting Lakeland is like taking a trip to the heart of Finnish identity. The Finnish people love to spend most of their time outdoors, indulging in various activities like boating, canoeing, fishing or daydreaming under the trees. Most of the people have their own lake house where they spend their breezy summer vacation with family and friends. The numerous national parks in this region become one of the attractions for tourists. The great way to explore Lakeland is to rent a boat and board one of the many steamers that will take you far away from the hustle and bustle of the city to a journey of serenity to appreciate the earthy fragrance around.
In winter, the lakes become giant skating rinks where you will see the Finns enjoying skating totally. I went to the biggest lake of Finland called Saimaa. The experience of walking on a frozen lake and doing ice fishing was undoubtedly the best take away from Lakeland.
Coast & Archipelago
One of the most beautiful parts of Finland is its coastline towns and archipelago areas. Finland flaunts world’s largest archipelago and a strong maritime culture. Old wooden towns, lighthouses, stone churches, national park spread across land and sea, beaches and cafes literally sum up life on an island in Finland. Don’t forget to go on an island hopping, kayaking, fishing and most importantly spending a night on a lighthouse island.
Finland with Club Mahindra
Mahindra Holidays is India’s largest leisure, hospitality player, having a total of 77 resorts across the length & breadth of the country and abroad. The company is reputed to provide unique and memorable family holidays for over 20 years. Bringing together families and providing space to create the bond has been a motto for Club Mahindra. Today, it is the most preferred leisure family holiday company for delivering a holistic experience to the growing community of 2,11,000 members through its wide network of resorts (46 Club Mahindra Resorts in India and abroad and 31 Holiday Club Resorts in Finland, Sweden and Spain).
Having upscale resorts across exotic locations is another selling point of Club Mahindra. The company acquired Club Resorts Oy, Finland and it allows Indians to have their family vacation possible in Europe through their membership. With this acquisition, Mahindra Holidays is now the largest vacation ownership company in the world, outside of US. With Mahindra Holiday resorts in foreign soil, it will not only provide a luxurious vacation with the much needed homely environment & warm hospitality, entertainment, cultural experiences, but it makes your vacation budget friendly as well.
How does it work with membership or without it?
Well, the Club Mahindra membership makes a considerable amount of difference on your budget. All Club Mahindra members now enjoy a Finnish holiday in the most exotic locations in Finland. The accommodation cost per day per person during low season is anywhere between 28 Euros to 90 Euros depending on the size of accommodation booked (Spa Hotels or Villas) for membership holders. In peak seasons, the cost ranges from 38 to 130 Euros per day per person. This includes accommodation and breakfast for an individual.
For non-members (Club Mahindra), this cost ranges from 40 to 150 Euros per person for various accommodation sizes during low season. Duringpeak season, it starts from 60 Euros per person.
For More Information, Visit Finland with Club Mahindra
How to reach Finland
You can fly to Finland with Finnair, which has direct flights to Helsinki from Delhi thrice a week. It takes 7 and half hours to reach Helsinki. There are other airlines like Air France, Air India, Aeroflot Russian, and Lufthansa.
Visit Finland has introduced “StopOver Finland” for en-route travelers to Europe, which provides a great opportunity to explore this Nordic country from 5 hours to 5 days. While considering Helsinki as a layover destination, travelers can actually book a Finland StopOver Tours for up to 5 nights on your way to or from your final destination.
I was invited by Club Mahindra on a press trip to Finland .
- All the used Non Watermarked photos have been provided by Visit Finland and have been used with permission.
- The Watermarked photographs are owned by the writer and are copyright protected. Reproduction of any of the contents, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the writer is strictly prohibited and a violation of the same will attract legal action.
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