Strictly speaking, there are countless reasons to plan a trip to Finland in 2020. Bright summer nights, magical auroras in autumn and winter, and the friendly, easy-going Finnish way of life. This is one of the reasons why Finland was voted the happiest country in the world again this year. Five real highlights for which a trip to the far north is definitely worthwhile.
1. Slow Travel in Finnish Nature
70 percent of the total area of Finland consists of forests. The coastline of the Finnish archipelago extends over 1.100 kilometers. There are 14.000 islands in the lake region and around 70.000 islands in the coastal region – no wonder that there are about 40 national parks all over the country, which allow an easy and relaxed life with and in nature, not least due to the Everyman's Right. Finland is the greenest country in Europe and at the forefront when it comes to clean air. "Slow Travel" was already lived in Finland before this term even existed. Because Finns value their nature and draw a lot of strength and energy from the healthy use of their resources.
2. Water sports and culture in the Finnish Lake District
The Finnish lake region is home to more than 188.000 lakes and is a blue labyrinth of lakes, islands, rivers and canals. That means you simply can't get around the water. Whether canoeing or kayaking, fishing or swimming, stand up paddling, boating or staying in a cottage by the lake, Finland is wonderful to enjoy from the water. And there is nothing more Finnish than a summer house by the lake surrounded by emerald green forests.
But nature isn't everything: The city of Savonlinna has applied to become the European Capital of Culture 2026 – and has also been known for years as the venue of the famous opera festival, which takes place in the world's northernmost medieval castle Olavinlinna.
3. The inner strength of the Finns: Sisu
Sisu cannot be described, but it primarily stands for the attitude towards life and inner strength of the Finns – coupled with nature and the sometimes extreme climatic conditions. Swimming in the ice hole, extreme sports and competitions like the Suunto Summit and the Arctic Challenge Winter Edition in Finnish Lapland are definitely among them. But there's no shortage of sisu opportunities in the summer, either: In May, for example, the Northern Ultra Trail Run takes place in Ruka-Kuusamo in Oulanka National Park, and in July the Northern Ultra Trail Run through Pallas-Yllastunturi National Park offers an equally memorable run.
In addition to physical endurance, Sisu also describes mental strength, which is expressed through stoic determination, resistance and willpower, perseverance and stamina. Since a few months the book "Sisu – The Finnish Way to Courage, Endurance and Strength" by Katja Pantzer is also available in German. In a very personal story, the author tells of her search for the secret of sisu and explains how this special Finnish way of life can make you not only healthier, but also happier.
4. Helsinki Biennale 2020 – a cultural "must see"
The Helsinki Biennale is an international event showcasing contemporary art under the theme "The Same Sea" from 12. June to 27. September 2020 will bring to the maritime capital. The curators of the Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) have invited 35 Finnish and international artists to bring international art and culture closer to locals and visitors and to make the cultural scene in their own country more visible. The Biennale is presented by the Helsinki Art Museum under the direction of Maija Tanninen-Mattila. The main venue is the island of Vallisaari off Helsinki. The artworks will be erected on this cultural-historical island, which is a natural connection between nature and architecture.
5. Sauna: sweating like the Finns
The most important sauna rule in Finland is that there are no rules. For every 5.5 million Finns, there are about 3 million saunas. Babies are only a few months old when they make their sauna debut, and they stick with it for the rest of their lives. They sweat in the way that suits them best: in silence or absorbed in conversation, with a cold beer or a dip in the cool water. There are no artificial infusions and certainly no hourglass.
The city of Tampere in the lake district has been declared the sauna capital. Helsinki has designed two extraordinary saunas in recent years, the Allas Sea Pool and Loyly. In the north there are again snow igloo saunas and in the nature you can build a tent sauna almost everywhere. Normally, men and women sauna separately – except within the family or among close friends. Finnish sauna love even goes so far that the former Finnish president received his state guests in the sauna.