Visiting Finland for the First Time? Don’t forget these 15 Practical Tips

In my last article I shared the complete Travel Guide on Finland answering why, when, where and what to explore in the land of thousand lakes and midnight sun. I am sure by now you would have made up your mind to Visit Finland.

Since it is going to be your first visit to Finland, you would be pretty anxious about lot of things. Don’t Worry. Travel See Write is at your service.

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR FIRST THE TIME FINLAND VISITORS

1. Visa

Getting a visa for Finland is not difficult. Just apply for a Schengen visa through VFS and within a week you’ll get it. Check details here – Finland Visa for Indians. However, get prepared to be quizzed for long at the immigration.

2. Connectivity

Buy a local SIM. Preferably a data card that allows unlimited internet and local calls for a limited period. My card was for 7.50 Euros. Wi-Fi in Finland is fast and usually FREE in public spaces

3. Packing

Finland is an Arctic country where temperatures vary from +30 degree to -30 degrees. Hence pack your bag accordingly. Here’s a winter Destination Advisory – Finland

4. Food & Drinks

Heaven for non-vegetarians but not hell for vegetarians. Vegetarian food is readily available. However, if you crave for Indian food visit Samrat, India House, Maharaja and Gandi. Renowned for its berries, you must try cloud-berry. Nov vegetarians must try Reindeer meat and salmon dishes.

90% of the water is potable in Finland whether filled from a tap or lake, therefore don’t waste your money buying bottled water. Like other Nordic countries, Alcohol is expensive but surprisingly expensive wines are not.

Finnish Berries Pic by Riitta Weijola/Vastavalo

Finnish Berries Pic by Riitta Weijola/Vastavalo

5. Self service

Less population and high labour costs have propelled the Finnish service industry into self service mode therefore don’t expect a room service like India. However, restaurant service is like anywhere else.

6. Public Transport

The easiest way to explore Finland is by its public transport. You can choose between trains, trams, buses, cruises or boats. However, if you like driving through the scenic roads then rent a car.

7. Public etiquette

Finns are modest people with a Sahara-dry sense of humour and Finnish Nightmares who give prime importance to personal space. Therefore don’t intimidate them with your over friendly attitude. Maintain a safe distance while talking/sitting/eating with a Fin.

Finnish Nightmares. Pic by Ink Tank Media

8. Never pet a Reindeer

The first emotion that gets evoked after seeing a Reindeer is to cuddle it but refrain from doing so. As reindeers think petting as a sign of danger. Alos, never ask a Sami how many Reindeers he owns. It’s like asking a guy his salary or a girl her her.

Pic by Alli Ohenoja

9. Respect the ‘Honest’ system

The entire country runs on ‘honesty is the best policy’ system where everyone does what they should do by default. There won’t be anyone checking your tram/train ticket. Be like a Finn and respect the system.

10. Don’t litter

Finns have an umbilical connection with nature and green sustainable solutions are a way of living, rather than a gimmick to attract visitors. 90% of bottles and cans are recycled in Finland. So don’t ever litter.

11. Travel VISA-FREE from Finland to Russia

Yes, you heard it right. Take a ferry from Helsinki and visit Russia’s cultural capital St-Petersburg for 2 days. 72 hours to be precise. Click here for more details

12. Adventure Sports

Finland is a winter Wonderland where Fins have devised ways to enjoy winters – whether it is going cross country skiing or snow mobile riding or Husky Safari. The real fun is outdoors. Just make sure you are dressed well.

13. Finnish Sauna

A trip to Finland is incomplete without experiencing the Sauna from the country of its birth. There are more saunas than cars in Finland so you would always find one everywhere. After a day full of adventure it’s great fun to enjoy the warmth of a Finnish Sauna. But ensure to not disturb others and be quiet.

Sauna Finland. Pic by Harri Tarvainen

Sauna Finland. Pic by Harri Tarvainen

14. Take a book leave a book

Get a taste of Finland’s obsession with libraries. Be ready to get surprised – from Open Air Libraries to libraries with Canine Reading Therapy for kids with reading difficulties.

15. Guaranteed Northern Lights sighting

If you really want to see northern Lights at any cost then you can actually ride a plane at one thousand euros for ten minutes that will take you above the clouds and you will definitely sight them.

Northern Lights. Pic by Markus Kiili

Northern Lights. Pic by Markus Kiili

I am sure equipped with these practical tips you will surely have a great trip to Finland.

Do you have anything more to add to this list?

FINLAND WITH CLUB MAHINDRA

Mahindra Holidays is India’s largest leisure hospitality player, providing unique and memorable family holidays for over 20 years. The company is fully committed to provide holistic family holidays experience to its ever-growing community of 211,000 members through its wide network of 77 resorts (46 Club Mahindra Resorts in India and abroad, and 31 Holiday Club Resorts in Finland, Sweden and Spain).

Club Mahindra is committed to provide unique and memorable family Holidays at exotic locations in pocket friendly budget. Taking this philosophy forward, the company recently acquired Holiday Club Resorts Oy, Finland, and made an exotic destination affordable for Indian families. With this acquisition, Mahindra Holidays is now the world’s largest vacation ownership company, outside of US.

All Club Mahindra members can now enjoy Finnish Holidays through their membership. For Club Mahindra members the accommodation cost in Finland per day per person is between 28 euros to 90 Euros in low season and between 38 to 130 euros in peak season. For non-members it costs anywhere between 40 euros to 150 euros in low season and from 60 euros and upwards in peak season.

Read more here: Finland with Club Mahindra or check this post on Lapland

Disclaimers:
  1. I was in Finland on Club Mahindra invitation. Everything expressed above is based on my personal experience and conversations I had in the country
  2. Images used are either shot by me or provided by Visit Finland with due permissions

29 Comments

  • Nisha says:

    I am looking forward to visiting Norway and Finland next year, Thanks for the tips. By they way, what was your favorite thing to fo in Finland?

    • Hey Nisha,

      Norway and Finland would be wonderful to visit next year. If possible, do visit Finland this year since it’s their centenary of Independence and thus they’ll have lot of festive celebrations in 2017.

      My favourite place in Finland was Lapland. I indulged in lot of adventure activities like Midnight Reindeer Safari, Cross Country Skiing, Snow Mobile riding, Husky Safari, Snow shoeing etc. That was super fun.

      Finland is an adventure land and you must do all that 🙂

      Cheers!

  • I ve never been in Finland. It always seemed too cold for me. But if I go someday I will definitely apply your tips 😉

    • Once my German friend told me, “It’s never too cold. You are just underdressed.”

      I have stuck to that phrase like a glue and have always had a great time in cold places.

      Do give it a try. You’ll love Finland. And I am so glad you liked the tips I shared.

      Thanks a lot!

  • joi says:

    this post was very helpful for anyone wanting to visit Finland! I appreciate to have read this today since I’m studying for a Geography test and I have to know all about Finland.

  • I haven’t read some of these tips anywhere else so it was very refreshing to learn about them especially not asking how many reindeer one owns and the ‘honesty is the best policy’ rule. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Lydia,

      I am so glad you liked what I shared. As I always say, Google doesn’t have all the answers. It’s always a good idea to visit a place and talk to locals 🙂

      Cheers!

  • I wish I could go to finland! I know people who have gone in Winter and said it was so cold but so beautiful as well! Well def remember these tips if I do go one day! 🙂

    • Hi Carlinn,

      True Finland is very cold and that’s why all the adventure activities are so fun to indulge in. They warm you up and you don’t feel like returning.

      Best,
      Archana

  • Michelle d says:

    I love that you described the Visa process – something that can be so tedious and difficult to navigate. Thanks!

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thanks a lot for your feedback. Visa is the first thing a person thinks about when visiting a new country. So I had to share about the process.

      Cheers!

  • Halef says:

    I’ve been only to Aland Island, which is technically Finland, but I have been wanting to go to the Mainland. Thank you for all your helpful tips! I just learn from you that we do not need a visa to go to Russia from Finland (up to 72hrs).
    Keep blogging and travel safe!

    • Hey Halef,

      Thanks for sharing your feedback.

      Even I didn’t know about the Cruise thing. My local friend told me about it.

      Hope you get to travel soon to Finland.

      Cheers!

  • Ami Bhat says:

    Very practical and useful tips. I am beginnng to love Finland with all their clean environment – clean in both the senses – metaphorically as well as literally. 🙂 The Reindeers look really cute. Did you get to meet Rudolph? 😉

    • Hi Ami,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      Santa Claus was on leave after overworking during the Christmas season and so was Rudolph 😛

      Hope you get to travel soon to Finland.

      Cheers!

  • Jean says:

    Oh such a handy list. I so agree with the getting a local sim card. Thankfully as an Australian I didn’t need a visa and got through customs in about 2 mins!

    Next time I return to Finland I’ll be sure to come back and check this list

  • These are all helpful tips. I want to apply for a Schengen visa after reading this post. Finland looks amazing. There are so much to see and enjoy. I have seen a lot of Northern lights photos online and I am so eager to see the real deal.

  • David says:

    Im dying to go to Finland so this article is amazing for me! I love how they run on ‘honesty is the best policy’ that truely is amazing! To see the Northern Lights would be spectacular! Thankd you for sharing these tips!

  • Raghav says:

    One of the best friends is Finnish and although I have not been to Finland as yet, I am aware of some of their thinking. This list though is quite helpful and although I was aware of their fascination with saunas I didn’t know they were so big on libraries too which is of a huge interest to me. Thanks

  • Lisa says:

    I never knew about not petting a reindeer, they seem so pettable! I’m also surprised about the ‘expensive wine not being expensive’ can you give an example of this? All in all, this is one place I’ve yet to see, but your post will be useful when I do finally go!

  • Stacey says:

    These tips for Finland are great! I’d never know a lot of this, like petting reindeer or the honesty system. I’m ready to go and try some of the wine!

  • I thought I knew Finland, but I learnt a lot! Finland is on my wishlist as it is my dream to go on a tour with the reindeers 😉

  • Zinara says:

    Thank you so much for all these tips. Since not many of us travel to Finland from South Asia, it kinda remains as a secret destination for us. But it’s a lot affordable than what it seems. I’d love to go to Finland during autumn to see all the colours. I went and read your guide too cause I got a little excited reading this post.

  • I’m just happy to see that you’ve mentioned that its not hell for vegetarians!
    Whoa! Sahara dry sense of humour??? That’s weird!!!
    What??? €1000 for a 10 min flight??? No, thanks!!!

  • I would love to visit Finland one day. This is such a helpful post. So true about the personal space thing. All of my finish friends are very quiet and calm people and I love that about them.

  • Emily says:

    Great tips. Good to know that there’s veggie food there as that’s something I wouldn’t have expected. I also didn’t know you could get to St Petersburg visa free – that would be a side trip worth taking! Finland does look beautiful and I’d love to go to see the Northern Lights.

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