A lot of people don't think to put Finland on their travel list, but this blog post is here to convince you to! I was lucky enough to get to visit the beautiful country of Finland and even more lucky to get to say that I've been to the North Pole! Finland is full of unique and magical cities and in this blog post you can read about my experiences in them!
Day 1-2: Helsinki, Finland
We flew from Oslo into Helsinki early morning on the 22nd and got to spend the entire day there. I actually loved the city of Helsinki. It was one of my favorite cities that I visited and I usually don’t enjoy cities as much as I enjoy nature... but I loved it there. It was just so beautiful, clean, and the colors are so vibrant here. There was a lot to do, and everyone we bumped into was very nice. Helsinki has a bunch of islands nearby that you can take a ferry too as well.
Where I stayed:
I stayed at the Yard Hostel which was in the center of Helsinki. It was in an amazing location, and had a great interior. I recommend this hostel since it’s in the middle of everything as well as in the middle of the night life. It’s a clean hostel with a nice living area where you could hang out and meet others. The only thing is that it's a little pricey for a hostel; but one of the best prices we could find.
Top sights in Helsinki:
-National library ( located next to senate square!)
-Pipers park and kings gate
Suomenlinna Island, Finland
Helsinki was filled with beautiful sights to see and I loved being able to see them all within the day I had here. We didn't get all the sights in since there is a lot to see there, but we did take the ferry to Suomenlinna Island which I definitely recommend! On the island there is a lot to see as well and it is extremely beautiful! It gets even colder here so make sure to bundle up! If you need other sights to see make sure to download the application Gpsmycity.
TIP: Get Helsinki card for all museums, sights, transport for free.
You can also take a day trip to the second largest town of Porvoo
Transportation from Helsinki to Rovaniemi:
We had no idea how to get from Helsinki to Rovaniemi so we ended up taking the Santa Claus Xpress train for the experience. There were other trains as well but we needed to take this one just to say we went on the Santa Claus train and got to sleep on it. It is around a 12 hour journey so we got a sleeper and did an overnight, the train was amazing it was clean there was a restaurant and honestly 10 out of 10 experience.
Day 3-4: Rovaniemi, Finland
We got off the train around seven in the morning, and we weren't ready for the amount of snow that was there! Everything here was already open for Christmas, such as the Santa Claus village and Reindeer farms! We got to meet the real Santa here and the Santa Claus village was beyond my expectations. It felt so surreal being in the Arctic Circle and to actually meet the "real Santa" according to the Internet ha ha. We got to see reindeer running in the streets; in the wild. We unfortunately did not get to see the northern lights since it was too cloudy on the days we were there but they did see it the day before us.
Where I stayed:
I stayed at Arctic Snow Hotels and Glass Igloos.
This was such a cool hotel... probably one of the coolest hotels I ever stayed at. They built it specifically so we could see the northern lights while we sleep. Each igloo even has an alarm to wake you up in case the northern lights turn up. The entire ceiling of the igloo is made of glass which makes everything visible while you sleep. The igloo was warmed up and so cozy. The beds even prop up with a remote!
Top sights to see:
Santa Claus village
Eat sushi Luckiesfun
Luckiesfun is located inside a mall in Rovaniemi! It's a sushi buffet which was amazing! I ate so much there and was filled for the next day too hahah. Everything here is a must see and the entire list can be completed within a day. I fell in love with the Santa Claus Village, it was truly a great experience!
Transportation from Rovaniemi to Ivalo:
We chose to get from Rovaniemi to Ivalo was to rent a car. We couldn’t really find any trains or buses that matched with our schedule since the trains/buses from Ivalo leave three times a day. They weren't the times we needed and so we ended up renting a car to be able to see the nature of Finland as well. It was a great drive, but it was very snowy and so we had to be careful with the ice on the road. It honestly was not that bad. Driving in Finland is very easy... the roads are marked well and we were able to see things pretty clearly. I do recommend renting a car but if you find a bus that fits in with your time schedule than buses are definitely cheaper here. A bus to Ivalo is about €20 while renting a car is around 100$ in total for a day.
Day 5: Ivalo, Finland
Ivalo was a great place in Finland to go to as well. There is so much more up north and so get ready with very warm clothing. There is not too much to see here in Ivalo and one day was enough to do a lot. A lot of people come to Ivalo to be able to go on the famous Husky trips which last around an hour. We got to go on one as well and on our husky trip we were lucky enough to see more than 50 Wild reindeer just running around. They got really close to us and it was very very cool to see. If you do want to see more things and do more, you can go snowmobiling for half a day as well or an hour if you would like. We didn’t get to do this since it was very expensive and we didn’t really want to spend that much money since Scandinavia can be pretty expensive. Finland was definitely less expensive than Norway so I appreciated that a lot haha but the activities are very expensive.
Where I stayed: I stayed at Guesthouse Husky while I was here in Ivalo. I saw someone on another blog talking about staying here and so I decided to stay here as well. They were nice enough to open the entire guest house out of season just for us, which made us the only people staying there... and their volunteers. We got to play with all the huskies and each and every one of them were so sweet to us. They take good care of their huskies and so I did enjoy staying here. They even cooked us breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which was so amazing. They cooked us traditional Finnish meals which I thought was very unique and made me really love staying here. Since we were the only people here, we even got to talk to the owners and ask all the questions we wanted to.
What to do while in Ivalo:
Husky Day trip
Northern Lights Hunting
What to know before traveling to Finland
If you choose to go to Finland during the winter, get ready to be COLD! During the winter months, the temperature is usually -5 or -20 Celsius. There is almost always snow in the North during the winter which is why people choose to go during this time for the winter activities. Winter is also the best time to see the Northern lights. My cousin and I chose to go in October, which is considered off-season but it was still snowing a lot when we went up North. It was also FREEZING in Helsinki, so I can't imagine how it would be in the middle of winter. During the summer, weather can be great, nature can be seen more and it is easier to walk around but it would not be snowing in the North since temperatures would be too high.
What to pack:
If you choose to go during winter, make sure to bring...
-thermal underwear (a life saver)
-multiple jackets to layer
-a warm hat that cover your ears
These things are essential to keep you warm during the winter season.
Finland is ranked one of the safest countries in the world. If you are nervous about traveling there, don't be. In all of Scandinavia I felt so safe, there are almost no crimes committed here; the biggest threat is hitting a reindeer.
When and Where can you see the Northern Lights:
Northern lights can be viewed in Lapland, Finland located in the northern Hemisphere. Finland is actually one of the best locations to view the northern lights and has accommodations to view them. Rovaniemi is the top place to view the Northern lights and is also the most unique place to stay. The months of December to March are the best months to view these since the nights are longer and the days shorter. The Northern lights can disappear fast so make sure to keep your eye to the sky.
Finland is located in Scandinavia which are some of the most expensive countries... Finland actually wasn't as pricey as I thought, just the activities were so be careful about that! Finland uses the Euro currency which makes things much easier to convert and everyone takes Apple Pay.