Culture & History
The Finnish culture is a mix of indigenous heritage, Nordic and European influences. Differences in customs and traditions can be observed in the country’s various regions. There are Sami, Romani, Swedish-speaking Finns, Tartar, and the Jews, all of which have maintained their unique cultural identities. This melting pot can be observed in festivals, literature, visual arts, music, cinema, and even cuisine.
Finnish artists and architects have made major contributions to industrial design and sculpture. Finns are also very musical people, with rich folk traditions, such as Sami Music, often used to express beliefs and myths. Locals enjoy classical and opera music, with the country boasting popular works like Kullervo and Finlandia by Jean Sibellus. Pop and heavy metal entered the scene as Finland established closer relations with its Nordic neighbors, which coincided with a surge in musical acts, rock bands, dance music, and hip hop.
Festivities and traditions in Finland are closely tied to the Christian Calendar, as well as to different protestant and pagan holidays. Midsummer and Christmas events are widely celebrated, along with Vappu/May Day, which is as close as you can get to Mardi Gras in Finland. The ubiquitous sauna bath is also a permanent fixture in daily Finnish life.
Thanks to European and Western influences, a rich culinary tradition has begun developing in Finland. Modern Finnish cooking is giving new flavor to usual staples like fish, vegetables, meat, and berries. In Lapland and the Lakeland areas, reindeer and seafood are the most common menu items. Arctic wild berries, harvested from the forests along with rare mushroom species, add unique flavor to dishes. Coffee, tea, milk, and buttermilk are popular beverages, as are local brews like sahti (traditional beer), sima (mead), kilju (sugar wine), and pontikka (moonshine).
Fish plays an important role in the culinary culture of the country. In fact, both saltwater and freshwater fish find their way into many local recipes. In Finland, there are numerous dishes prepared with salmon. One way to enjoy salmon is freshly caught and immediately grilled outdoors. As soon as the fish has been fileted, it's placed on a wooden plank with pegs to hold the fish. The plank is then placed vertically at an angle close to the fire. This style of cooking is called 'ristiin naulittu lohi.' The salmon can be paired with a glass of vodka which helps to bring out the smoky flavors from grilling.
The Finns love salt licorice flavored everything. You can find salmiakki ice cream, cakes, candies, and liquor. In fact, any dessert you find in Finland probably comes in salmiakki. Finns are also quite fond of plain licorice (lakritsi) so check the packaging and make sure it actually says "salmiakki" or you might accidentally end up with the non salty kind (which is also good but not as uniquely Finnish).
Outdoors & Adventure
Take a look at all the amazing destinations we have selected for you and your group, read our experiences and advice in our blog, and check what’s people saying about us too!