Why summers in Finland are magical

Midsummer, midnight sun and a fresh mindset. Finland provides students with the perfect setting for summer relaxation
People sitting in front of a cottage after a sauna
Photo: Visit Finland

The Mystique of Midsummer 

Opposing the winter darkness is the bright summer sun. Finnish summers have something southern countries only dream of — a sun that (almost) never sets. Under the midnight sun, Finland celebrates the longest day of summer all wrapped up into one weekend — Juhannus (The Midsummer Festival). Dating back to pagan times, Juhannus is a moment to envision love, celebrate renewal and hope for a good harvest. In modern times, Midsummer marks the beginning of the holiday high-season, and thus reminds its participants to grab some friends, find a lakeside cottage and let loose in fours: grill, sauna, lake, bonfire. The summer cottage plays a key role in the celebration, being the traditional place to hang for the weekend. The cities quiet down as people leave to their cottages for an extended holiday.

Sauna like a Finn, Midsummer edition: gather a bunch of fresh birch leaves and tie them together, known as ‘vihta.’ Beat yourself senseless in the sauna. The birch whip is a Midsummer staple that helps increase blood flow and exfoliate skin — some even consider this self-inflicted beating the only true way to welcome summer! 

Aalto Birch / Photo: Unto Rautio
Photo: Unto Rautio

Air for the masses 

All hail everything outdoors. It's nice to stay out in the open air after 6+ months of layering yourself in wool. All over the country you'll find outdoor festivals celebrating something magnificent. There are outdoor markets that sell summer goods, district festivals (or block parties) that provide free music and entertainment for the crowds, art events, sporting events and other events promoting culture, food and wellbeing. Find something for everyone in Helsinki and Espoo.

Island hopping 

Finland’s islands aren’t exactly tropical, but during the summer months you just may be fooled! The sun is out, it’s humid and hot and everything is in colour. Close enough! The southern metropolis has over 300 islands that are all part of an incredible network of archipelagos. There are affordable day trips to local islands like Helsinki’s Suomenlinna (fortress island) and Vartiosaari (guard island), as well as Espoo’s vast camping islands. Archipelago boats leave from Otaniemi all summer, you can check the schedules here. Find out more about Helsinki’s islands here.

Photo: Julia Kivelä / Visit Finland
Photo: Julia Kivelä / Visit Finland

Wild berry picking and the green machine

Science shows that daily exposure to greenery can reduce stress levels up to 30%, so you have up to 3 months to ditch the study stress. 

Which brings us to wild berry picking.

Signed into Finnish law is something called “everyman’s right” to the land, making it possible for everyone to forage wherever they choose — without a permit. From July onward, you can find an assortment of wild berries (blueberries, raspberries, cloudberries and more ) growing all over the country. You’ll just need some stamina and the hottest getup this side of the Baltic: a mesh mosquito hat and a bucket. Thus, combining two summer fan favourites — being surrounded by nature and picking delicious berries!

If you can’t seem to find a fresh fall perspective, then you might have to just sit back, chill and drink a cold beverage in the sun. Luckily the Finnish language has a word for that — ‘pussikalja.’ This word technically means “beer in a bag” but it can be interpreted to mean “picnic in a public space with food & drinks of your choice.” Everybody picnics, and so can you! Either way, spending a hard-earned summer in Finland will surely do your battery life good. 

Text: Michele Lawrence

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