As most of you know, I had the opportunity to travel to Finland this month – and while I shared a lot while I was there, I really wanted to sit down and write a post all about it. That way, you’ll easily be able to find all of the information you need when you plan your trip over there!!
To give some context, one of my favorite Chicago PR companies invited me to be a part of a press trip to Finland this month alongside 5 other influencers. I was a little hesitant to say yes because it was my first international trip, but after looking into Finnair’s COVID policies and Finland’s case counts, I realized that I would be crazy to pass this up. And after experiencing it all, I can honestly say that I would have been KICKING myself if I let anxiety win. I honestly forgot how inspiring travel can be! And Finland was the perfect country to visit to light that fire again. I mean, can you believe this Lake Shore Lady moment that Allie Provost captured for me?! I DIE!
Planning a Trip to Finland: Lakeland Region
Okay I know you might think Finland is random. I understand. But it is a WILDLY underrated country. First of all, it’s been named the Happiest Country in the World for the 4 years in a row. I know that might seem surprising considering it gets so cold there – but when I say Finland is beautiful, I mean it is breathtakingly beautiful. Even those who live in the city of Helsinki love to spend their free time outdoors. After all, they have over 180,000 lakes (yes, you read that right) to go visit on the weekends – and they do everything from hiking, skiing, biking, sailing… you name it. This love of nature throughout the seasons also results in a deep appreciation for sustainability and innovation, which I found particularly inspiring. It is an extremely special country.
Also, because convenience is important, Finnair now offers direct flights from Chicago, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. And if you want to wake up in Helsinki feeling fresh as a daisy, splurge on a business class seat. I immediately loved how clean and spaced the seats are, you can make it completely flat when you sleep, and the service is incredible. Highly recommend!
What is the lakeland region?
When most people think of Finland, they only think of Helsinki and Lapland. Helsinki is the capital of Finland and a really fun city to explore. And Lapland is where Rovaniemi is – aka the official hometown of Santa Claus!! If you’ve seen photos of reindeer in picturesque snow and/or the Northern Lights, those were likely taken up north in Rovaniemi.
But the Lakeland Region is the eastern and central part of the country – and it’s where the majority of those 188,000 lakes are located. The best part is that some places we went are only an hour to an hour and a half north of Helsinki. So if you don’t have a ton of time, or if you want to pair a trip to Finland with a trip to another Nordic country, you could visit Helsinki and a small piece of the Lakelands in just a few days.
When is the best time to travel to Finland?
Someone asked me this on Instagram, and I wasn’t sure how to answer it because there’s benefits to going in all seasons! If you hate cold weather, opt for a spring or summer trip and enjoy long hikes, boat rides, sipping cocktails while the sun sets over the lake. Or go during Midsummer when the sun NEVER goes down!
If you don’t mind bundling up, the fall foliage was INCREDIBLE in some of the places we visited. I also think it would be gorgeous covered in fresh white snow! When the lakes freeze over, they go skiing, snow mobiling, and even go from the hot saunas into the freezing cold water. (Seriously, apparently it’s good for your health!)
Where To Go On Your Trip To Finland
Adam and I actually had the opportunity to explore Helsinki on our own back in 2018 and we LOVED it. While a lot of European cities can be intimidating, Helsinki is really manageable and welcoming. We were only there for the first day and last day this time around, so I didn’t have time to add more to my list of favorite restaurants in Helsinki, but we did stay at two great hotels. Hotel Haven was only a block away from the water, the market, and the promenade – and only 2 blocks from Helsinki Cathedral. But my favorite of the two was Scandic Grand Central Hotel. Scandic is brand new and the design elements were GORGEOUS.
Once we left Helsinki, our first stop in the Lakeland region was Lahti. And if you can only go one place in this region, I’d recommend Lahti. Lake Vesijärvi is about an hour and a half drive from Helsinki, and we were able to go on a boat ride that had a sauna ON the boat! But besides that, this lake was surrounded by the most beautiful and lush fall colors from every direction.
Then we drove another half hour to Haasi Mirror Houses, which was absolutely the highlight of the trip for me. I cannot stop telling everyone I know that they need to experience this place because it is pure MAGIC. First of all, the land this property was built on has been in the same family for 16 generations. 16!!! They have previously had farmland, cottages, and saunas – but the owner had a vision for these mirror houses, and he brought it to life in the most incredible way. Sometimes modern structures can take away from nature, but every inch of this was built to highlight and honor the land around it.
Not only did nature reflect off our every surface, but you have unobstructed views of it from inside of our room! I will never ever forget opening my eyes in bed to see the sun rise over the lake right in front of me. Plus the fact that I could see out but no one could see in? MAGIC! I truly cannot recommend this place more. It is so incredibly special.
After Lahti, we drove another 2 hours to get to Jyväskylä, Finland. Even though we were a lot farther north at this point, it still felt like an urban city. They have music festivals, micro breweries, a university – and you can get there via a 3 hour train ride from Helsinki.
And remember that glass igloo I slept in? That was just outside of Jyväskylä at Revontuli Resort. This resort felt like my ideal alternative to camping 😂 The igloos overlook an absolutely gorgeous lake and even when you’re inside, you feel immersed in nature – especially falling asleep under the stars! That being said, you still have a bathroom, shower, sink, and even a mini kitchenette. Woo! The property also has a traditional smoke sauna, tent sauna, and an “American style” bowling alley and diner!
Our last stop in the Lakeland region was Saimma. We had lunch at Tertti Manor, which is an authentic family manor and farm dating back to the 1800s. After that, we checked in to Hotel Punkaharju, which is the oldest hotel in Finland! Saimi Hoyer, a Finnish supermodel, purchased and renovated the historic hotel, adding modern touches and quirky design elements. It was so fun to be able to hear some of her stories over a delicious dinner at their restaurant!
What To Pack For Finland
The answer to “what do I pack for a trip to Finland?” varies GREATLY depending on when and where you’re going. For this trip, the weather was mostly in the 40s, sometimes dipping below 40 or above 50. Based on that, I packed a lot of sweaters, a few coats, and warm walkable shoes!