Design Capital to Snow Safaris – Why Finland Has It All
2012 is due to be an exciting year for Finland, and a fantastic time for tourists to visit too. The country that bridges Eastern Europe with Scandinavia has distinct influences from both, along with its own distinct style.
Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is set across bays, peninsulas, and islands. As such, the views from around the city are a combination of grand architecture cut with the green of pine forests, and the blue of the Gulf of Finland. The focal point of the city is the imposing Cathedral, surrounded by cafes, courtyards and parks. The cosmopolitan capital has vintage shops and boutique hotels, plus a history of design and architecture, and is the World Design Capital for 2012. As a part of this recognition, Helsinki is celebrating its city’s design and showcasing its achievements which are hard to miss with the exhibitions and installations starting at the airport!
In the past the cuisine hasn’t been a highlight to Scandinavian and Nordic holidays, but it is fast becoming fashionable and widely served in the UK. Food in Finland typically involves meat or fish, combining traditional local produce with contemporary continental styles of cooking. The huge forested areas of Finland means there are lots of mushrooms and berries also used in local dishes, alongside wholemeal ingredients.
2012 is set to put Finland firmly on the bucket list for other reasons too; the country known as ‘The Land of the Thousand Lakes’ has in fact nearly 200,000 lakes, plus a whopping 86% of its land is covered by forest. Nature is such an integral part of life in Finland, and should be experienced by all who visit. At the far north, Lapland dominates the area within the Arctic Circle (and spreads across Norway and Sweden too).
Lapland holidays are available, taking in the snowy landscapes, plus activities such as dog sledding, skiing, and snowmobiling. Lapland is home not only to Father Christmas, but also the indigenous people to Lapland, the Sami. Tours or excursions can be taken to visit both and their respective reindeer. Reindeer drawn sleigh rides are a romantic way to experience the peaceful silence of a snow covered pine forest, especially when snuggled up under a fur blanket! If you fancy something similar but with a faster pace, try a snow safari on a snowmobile, truly a thrill seekers’ sport!
The Nordic country has been lit up at night by the colourful dancing lights of the Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) over the last few months which are particularly strong for 2012 and 2013. Finland is an ideal location for spotting this magnificent natural wonder as it has very little light pollution, and is far enough to the north. Trips to optimise your chances of seeing the shimmering lights can be arranged, many by cross country ski or dog sled.