When you think about Finland, the first things that come to mind are probably cold, snow, reindeers and Santa Claus. However, there is much more to discover about this country than those stereotypes. Sometimes Finland and its people may really surprise you. Here are a few of such unique Finnish things you really want to experience:
Salmiakki is salty liquorice and Finns love it. Foreigners on the other hand – not so much. If you spend some time with Finnish people, it is very likely that they will eventually attempt to talk you into trying salmiakki in order to watch your reaction. The less you know about this treat, the bigger the surprise. It is an acquired taste but if you like it, Finland will be a true salmiakki paradise. In Finnish shops you can find all kinds of salmiakki candies, chocolates, ice creams, and even salmiakki flavoured alcohol! Salty liquorice is definitely a thing to try – worst case scenario would be gaining an unusual experience but if you like it, you probably gain a new favourite flavour.
You’re in Helsinki, it’s evening and you would like to buy a can of beer, a bottle of wine or your favourite salmiakki liquor. Sounds nice? Then you better check if you can get it at all. In Finland there are restrictions when it comes to buying alcohol and they regulate when, where, and what kind of alcohol you can buy. In a supermarket, it is possible to buy alcohol such as beer or cider and only until a certain hour. Stronger kinds of alcohol are available only in Alko stores – a state owned monopoly – and their opening hours are also limited. Of course, you need to be at least 18 to buy beverages containing up to 22% of alcohol. Age limit for all kinds of alcohol is 20.
Berries, mushrooms and every man’s right
Fancy for some fresh blueberries? Or maybe cloudberries? If there is a forest nearby, you don’t even need to go to the shop, you can pick them yourself! In Finland it is every man’s right to go into a forest to pick berries and mushrooms, even if the forest is privately owned. You get to spend some time in the nature and get some berries! Is this cool or is this cool? What is more, forests cover almost 75% of the country so there is a lot of forest goods to pick. Just make sure you know what you’re picking.
When you think about coffee, Finland isn’t really a thing that comes to mind, right? Well, it’s time to recognise Finland’s contribution to the world’s coffee consumption because it usually occupies the first place in the top coffee consuming nations lists. Reports from 2018 show that statistically, one Finn drinks 12 kg of coffee per year. The love for kahvi is so strong that coffee breaks for employees are guaranteed by the law. Need more reasons to love Finland? I don’t think so but if the answer is still “yes”, then keep reading.
Coffee on its own is perfectly fine but sometimes you just need a little extra. Finland has it covered. It will offer you a pulla, sweet cardamom or cinnamon bun that goes along with your Finnish coffee better than anything. Cardamom is one of the most popular spices in Finland so you may find it in sweets quite often. Not in a mood for sweets? Then maybe karjalanpiirakka will interest you – this Karelian pie is usually a rye crust filled with porridge. It is often served with egg butter and various toppings or it can be eaten with milk or buttermilk for example. Ready to try something more unusual? If you have not been discouraged by salmiakki, then give mämmi a try. It’s a traditional Easter dessert, kind of a pudding made from water, rye flour, powdered rye malt, salt and powdered orange peel, served with milk or cream. Oh, and it’s black. It is definitely an interesting taste and definitely a thing to try while in Finland. If you are a meat lover looking for new meaty adventures, there is reindeer meat for you to try.
Finns are thought to be rather quiet people and as much as it may be considered as another stereotype, there is something to it. You know this awful moment when you talk with someone, you are done discussing one thing and there is nothing but uncomfortable silence now? You are desperately trying to find something, anything to say? In Finland, you don’t have to stress over it too much. Sitting together and not talking seems to be much more common there than in other countries. Do not think Finnish people are rude or don’t want to talk with you, these lovely people are just comfortable with silence. This is not something you can easily get used to but it’s good to know to avoid misunderstandings resulting from not being familiar with the culture. If you are tired of the world that never stops talking, Finland may be a place for you.
It would not be a good list of Finnish things to experience if it didn’t include sauna. Obvious for people who know a thing or two about Finland, not necessarily obvious for the others. Sauna is a part of Finnish culture, many Finns own their own sauna. It has been estimated that there are approximately 2 mln saunas in this country, which is quite impressive for the population of 5,5 mln. Before you enter a Finnish sauna, you better read about it a little to avoid surprises, for example when you will be asked to go in completely naked.
If you would like to experience those and other unique Finnish things yourself, check out our Baltic cruise offer! We will take you to Helsinki where you will have a chance to see if you can stand the taste of salmiakki and drink liters of Finnish coffee with the locals. Write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org.