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Discover Finland's Unusual Charms

Updated on October 26, 2012

A short guide to Finnish tourist attractions - Part 1

Most people will know Finland as either a skiing destination or the home of Santa Claus, and while there are excellent skiing resorts in Finland, and quite a few excellent Santa themed holiday spots, there is so much more to discover. Over the course of a half dozen or so lens I hope to introduce fellow Squids to some of the lesser known treats that Finland has to offer. Hyvä Suomi!

Northern Lights over Inari - photo courtesy of MEK Finnish Tourism Board
Northern Lights over Inari - photo courtesy of MEK Finnish Tourism Board

Revonulet: The Northern Lights in Finland

The last Solar Maximum was in 2000 and due to "Sunspot 981", which has been growing since its solar minimum in January 2008, NASA scientists have predicted that Solar Cycle 24's in 2012-2013 will be the greatest since 1958. This means that the coming winter in Finland will be one of the best ever for seeing the Northern Lights!

Aurora Borealis as seen in Kakslauttanen, Saariselkä
Aurora Borealis as seen in Kakslauttanen, Saariselkä

What are the 'revontulet'?

In Finland, people refer to the Aurora Borealis as "Revontulet". This means 'foxes fire' literally, and comes from an ancient Sámi (the Lapp natives of northern Finland) legend which states that the auroras are caused by a fox rushing over the snowy fells, or hills, with the foxes tail sending up trails of sparks and fire into the night skies as it brushes the snowdrifts. The Finns of Karelia, in eastern Finland, have a different legend: according to them the auroras are the result of Thor throwing bolts of lightning at the hero Väinämöinen, who is the main character in the Finnish national epic "The Kalevala".

Discover the Northern Lights in Finland

Here are some of the best links to content about the Northern Lights in Finland. If you can think of any more, post them in the comments section!

LumiLinna in Kemi
LumiLinna in Kemi

Snow Hotels & Igloo Villages in Finland

Sleeping under ice!

There are many available choices of accommodation in Finland, from cozy log cabins by the ski resorts, summer cottages by the lakes, to some of Europe's finest spa hotels in the south. Perhaps the most exotic of all are the many places where visitors can spend a night in a room fashioned from snow and ice. Indeed, this radical option has proven to be one of the winter’s most popular, as can be seen by the increase in the number of beds available, which has been growing steadily since the very first Snow Hotel opened. These Snow Hotels are located in Finnish Lapland, where the external temperatures can drop below -30º Celsius. However cold it is outside, visitors can be assured that their beds are snug and warm, soft reindeer skins (in some of the accommodations) under thick and comfy sleeping bags see to that, and the room temperatures are kept between 0ºC and -5ºC, thanks to the insulating properties of snow. Visitors can be assured of a hot berry drink at bedtime, and in the morning a visit to the sauna, in some cases even a Snow Sauna!

Suomenlinna
Suomenlinna

The Fortress of Suomenlinna - the gem in Helsinki's Harbour

Built on six islands, the island Fortress of Suomenlinna has been recognised by UNESCO as an outstanding example of military architecture of its time, and added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1991. Today, the islands are one of Helsinki's most popular tourist spots, and are particularly beloved of the city's locals who throng there in summer to enjoy picnics, swim and use the sandy beaches. As a World Heritage Site, the islands form a museum of considerable importance; but it is much more than that - it is a living and thriving community, and home to around 850 residents.

In the mid '80s the Nordic Arts Centre was established there, and since then it has garnered a reputation as an avant-garde cultural centre in Helsinki. As part of an ongoing development, several of the old military buildings have been converted into artists studios, which are let out by the islands' administration at reasonable rates. During the summer the island hosts an art school for children, and a summer theatre with open-air performances that play to packed houses. There is also the very popular Viapori Jazz Festivals, held in both summer and winter. In short, Suomenlinna is a recreational haven – there are sandy beaches, parks, and numerous picnic sites: in 2009 alone some 713,000 people visited!

Discover Finland's Island Fortress of Suomenlinna

A collection of links to enable visitors to explore UNESCO World Heritage Site Suomenlinna

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    • FuenecoApp profile image

      FuenecoApp 5 years ago

      For sure I want to go to Suomi (and Lapland as well) and see this wonders of nature.

    • SassyGie profile image

      SassyGie 5 years ago

      I've always wanted to see the Northern Lights!

    • SassyGie profile image

      SassyGie 5 years ago

      I've always wanted to see the Northern Lights!

    • MikeRobbers LM profile image

      MikeRobbers LM 5 years ago

      Wow these Nothern Lights look so fabulous! Quite beautiful presentation of an amazing phenomenon, thanks!

    • TheBLU26 profile image

      TheBLU26 5 years ago

      Love the Aurora Borealis! Great lens by the way!

    • floppypoppygift1 profile image

      floppypoppygift1 5 years ago

      These are beautiful reasons to check out Finland! Thanks for visiting my Rocket Lens and leading me here to see them! Cheers~cb

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I would love to see the Northern Lights.

    • Lemming13 profile image

      Lemming13 5 years ago

      Wonderful places - Finland just went to the top of my must-visit list.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 5 years ago

      Oh my, I'm a big fan of the Aurora Borealis viewing. And I just love the name "foxes fire" and the story of the fox's tail lighting up the night sky. I'll always think of that now when I view the auroras. Thanks

    • Mary Stephenson profile image

      Mary Stephenson 5 years ago from California

      I think I might like the longer days in summer. When I was a little kid in BC Canada they got me out of bed to see the Northern Lights. It was the only time that I ever did see them and even being under 6 years it was pretty spectacular although I realize it wouldn't even compete with being up further north and witnessing them. Seen the ice hotels on TV, but I think I would pass on that, although it is sure pretty.

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 5 years ago

      Snow hotels are very interesting. I wish I can stay on one of those.

    • CrowleysGhost profile image
      Author

      CrowleysGhost 5 years ago

      Thanks to everyone for all the positive encouragement, it's much appreciated. I'm glad that these lenses are providing readers with some insights into my new home, Finland. Hopefully I can keep creating interesting ones! Cheers to all.

    • ViolaSuSi profile image

      ViolaSuSi 5 years ago

      Interesting things about Finland. It must be amazing to see an Aurora Borealis as well as sleeping in a snow hotel.

    • Art Inspired profile image

      Art Inspired 5 years ago

      Welcome to Squidoo! Thanks for the lens. Make it a great day!

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 5 years ago from Johanesburg

      great lens about Finland,welcome to squidoo

    • scrapquilter profile image

      Myreda Johnson 5 years ago from Ohio USA

      Interesting lens. I learned some things about Finland.

    • radhanathswamifan profile image

      radhanathswamifan 5 years ago

      Finland is beautiful!

    • GenWatcher LM profile image

      GenWatcher LM 5 years ago

      Very nice lens!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      I've been traveling a bit in Finland, it's a very beautiful country. But the Northern Lights I experienced while skiing in the north of Sweden. Stunning.

    • CrowleysGhost profile image
      Author

      CrowleysGhost 5 years ago

      @LiteraryMind: Thank you! I'm just getting started here on Squidoo, so the feedback is welcome. I'm not Finnish myself, I've been living here for a little over 2 years now and find the country to be utterly captivating. Hopefully I'll manage to convey some of that in the lenses I create, they'll most likely all be about Finland at first. I write only about what I know.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very beautiful photos and scenery. We have a large Finnish population in my town in Connecticut.