The Finns have long been considered to lead one of the happiest lifestyles. Finland has been named the happiest country in the world by the United Nations World Happiness Report* in 2018, 2019, 2020 - and now - 2021.
Finnish happiness can be attributed to a number of factors and many Finns credit it to their connection with nature and the outdoors with over 90% of Finland covered in either forest or water. “Finnish happiness isn’t skin deep and immediately visible – it’s deeply engrained in our being. Sustainable happiness is our superpower, and it means we tend to take life as it comes – a trait that is helping us through these challenging times. We appreciate the small things in our daily lives, such as sitting quietly on a bench and staring at the empty lake after a relaxing sauna session or taking a morning dip in the sea before starting the working day,” explains Heli Jimenez, Senior Director, International Marketing at Business Finland.
Here are four Finnish experiences to make you happy.
1. Reconnecting with mother nature
75% of Finland is covered by forest so nature plays a big part in the Finnish lifestyle. Finns love to escape busy cities and surround themselves with nature to relax, and it has been scientifically proven that spending just 15 minutes amongst the trees can reduce the feelings of stress Finland has 40 national parks and with its ‘Everymans’s Rights’, anyone living or visiting Finland has the freedom to roam in nature and enjoy outdoor pursuits regardless of who owns or occupies an area. During the summer, Finland is perfect for swimming, hiking, biking and camping. IN the winter, visitors can try country skiing and even the new trend of woolsock running.
WHY: Finns love to escape busy cities and surround themselves with nature to relax, and it has been scientifically proven that spending just 15 minutes amongst the trees can reduce the feelings of stress
HOW: Enjoy an adventurous Finland activity holiday in Nuuksio National Park including hiking, cycling and canoeing. This is a four-day trip (excluding flights) and costs from £1,057 per person.
2. Foraging is a state of mind
In summer and autumn, Finland is the perfect spot to explore the nearby forests and waters for fresh, wild food. This includes berries, mushrooms, wild herbs and vegetables. Whilst fishing is a popular year-round activity. Plus, Finland’s burgeoning restaurant scene and use of fresh ingredients and delicious flavours is placing Finland on the gastronomic food map.
WHY: Wandering the forests and fields for food may seem like a simple act but foraging can be peaceful, rewarding, educational and fun. It can also offer a therapeutic focus, helping people to slow down and appreciate the surrounding natural world.
HOW: Experience the Autumn auroras with a five-day tour from £1,195 per person. This includes a guided fat bike excursion, ice swimming and learning how to survive in the wild with a guided day trip into the forest.
3. The healing powers of water 4. Sauna serotonins
Finland is the land of 188,000 beautiful lakes. For active travellers, there is no better way to explore the beauty and serenity of the Finnish landscape than by paddling across the lakes by canoe or kayak. Explore Lake Oulujärvi by steamship or by shore on an Icelandic horse or travel down to the heart of Finland to experience Lake Saimaa, home to the Saimaa Ringed Seal - one of the rarest and most endangered seals in the world.
WHY: Finland’s unlikely national pastime of plunging into ice cold water following a sauna or ice swimming is known to energise the body and improve overall happiness and wellbeing.
HOW: Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Finnish Lakeland on this adventurous summer road trip. This eight-day tailor-made self-drive costs from £1,620 per person, including flights.
The only Finnish word to make it into the everyday English language is ‘sauna’. Finland has 3 million saunas, and it is a ritual that has been performed for thousands of years. The sauna is a beloved way of Finnish life which gathers and connects friends and family of all generations. Plus, Finland’s sauna culture has been added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the first aspect of Finnish culture to make it onto the prestigious list.
WHY: The Finns believe that saunas are great for the mind and boosting happiness. It can also be seen as a meditative space and a place to switch off from the outside world. The best part of the sauna experience is what the Finns fondly refer to as the ‘post-sauna bliss’ –the exhilarating feeling of having cleansed the mind and body.
HOW: Relax and recharge on the shores of Lake Lammasjärvi in Eastern Finland and enjoy winter activities such as a husky safari, snow mobiles and a Finnish sauna. This six-day holiday costs from £1,735 per person.
* Published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a global initiative for the United Nations www.worldhappiness.report