There are many reasons to love Nordic countries, that’s for sure, and to pick one favourite destination in Scandinavia is a difficult task. But if I had to pick one, I would say Finland. Here are some of the reasons why I think Finland is the best Nordic country!
What is it about Scandinavian countries that we all love so much? Is it the breathtaking scenery? Is it their past, i.e. marauding vikings? The modern, cool and minimalist design? The daily coffee and cake breaks, ie. fika? The hearty food? Their charming accents? Or is it the Nordic lifestyle, that hygge feeling of cozy and charming? It is fair to say that I love everything about Scandinavian culture and natural beauty!
Having had the chance to travel to Finland a few times though, I am inclined to say that it is probably Finland that is top.
To the cathedral
One of the first things I did when I was planning my 2-day trip to the Finnish capital, Helsinki, was to make a list of all the must-visit landmarks. Without a doubt, the most famous and important building in Finland is Helsinki Cathedral. The Evangelical Lutheran church stands tall overlooking Senate Square, in the charming district of Torikorttelit. The cathedral looks like something out of Moscow, with its pristine white exterior and three turquoise blue three domes. The grand style used here is neoclassical, which is unusual for a European cathedral (neoclassical architecture was popular in government buildings across Europe and United States in the 18th century). The inside is sublime. I loved the detail that was present in both the stone sculptures and in the paintings. The saints and Jesus at the front, were spectacular. Embossed in gold frames, painted in a unique style, it was quite a sight. The inside appears to be like an Orthodox style, meaning you could see this in places like Greece, Russia and Poland. All of which makes Helsinki Cathedral even more special and worth a visit!
Going to market
The Market Square is located near the south harbour and Esplanadi. There, you will often find charming market stands – and a cute Christmas Market in December – selling food products and local arts and crafts! Popular with tourists, but also plenty of locals who visit the market regularly. Nearby you will also find the Old Market Hall of Helsinki, where you can buy, among other things, fresh fish. Finland is a cold water nation, so you have some very fatty fish swimming about in the rivers and lakes. If you haven’t tried it yet, North Sea salmon is going to make your eyes roll! One of the must-try dishes in Finnish cuisine is Salmon Soup, lohikeitto, with rye bread. The one at Herkku Bistro is considered the best in Helsinki! Very rich but you can tell, it’s very healthy too.
I went around and looked at the different stalls. Many of them were showcasing fresh fruit and some classic wooden items. They had handmade wooden bowls, spoons and forks. This was very popular among the crowd that looked like travelers. It appears they use a special varnish on their wooden items so that the cold and water won’t get in. The ladies that were selling them said, if kept right, these spoons and plates can last a camper or hunter, about 20 years or more!
One of 40
As recommended in the Top travel ideas for 2021 I went to one of Finland’s off the beaten track points. Nuuksio National Park is just one of Finland’s 40 national parks and when I went to see it, I wondered if all of them would be this beautiful? It’s an unusual name to pronounce because the ‘k’ is silent. Many of the people I heard say it, said it like ‘nuuh-sioh’. The end is pronounced with an open ‘O’ sound. The word;’s meaning is ‘swan’ and we can see why. The lake had some exotic birds, with a couple swans swimming off in the distance. The ducks were happy to see me as they flocked at the edge of the ater, waiting for some bread or something. Unfortunately, all I had was my cellphone to take some snaps, not much else. But the landscape soon took me away. If you have ever been to FInland you will notice they have some very tall trees here. Many of them are birch trees and pine as well. Pine is used to make the canoes and even knife handles for the locals. The serenity and peace on that lakeside, I will never forget!
Finland is a country that is incredibly overlooked. Its serene nature and beautiful architecture is worth the trip alone. And the food! Often underrated compared to other European cuisines, Finnish gastronomy is rich, delicious and sophisticated. The culinary scene in Helsinki in particular is incredible. I hope you will seriously consider booking your next holiday in Finland, you will be amazed by it!
Don’t let the winter stop you from planning a holiday to Finland and in particular its beautiful capital! The vibrant, cool and young capital of Finland has a lot to offer to visitors all year round. Read my list of all my favourite activities to do Helsinki in the colder months.
Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post.