© Visit Finland / Juho Kuva
By Raye Mocioiu
In this Nordic country, all tourism is eco-tourism.
With an abundance of pristine forests and crystal-clear lakes, Finland has so much to share with travellers looking for a post-pandemic adventure in a beautiful, natural environment. The country is known for its nature, room to roam, and the world’s cleanest air.
Perhaps this love of the land is why, according to the UN World Happiness Report, Finland is the happiest country in the world—and has been for four years running! Finland is also one of the safest countries to visit, as rated by the World Economic Forum in 2019, making it a great destination for solo travellers and tourists.
As the seasons change and the temperatures drop, a trip to the Nordics is sure to inspire.
Fall and winter are the perfect seasons to take in the northern lights, nature’s most spectacular light show. Visitors can view the Aurora Borealis in a range of purpose-built spaces, from glass igloos to luxury suites like those in the city of Rovaniemi. Adventure-seekers can go Aurora-spotting by snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or snowmobile and sled dog touring.
December is also the perfect time to indulge in holiday spirit. White landscapes lit by the stars in the sky and ice lanterns on driveways set the mood for a festive and cozy holiday adventure. Santa Claus himself is from Finland, and the jolly fellow is available year-round in his official office, situated on the mysterious Arctic Circle in the city of Rovaniemi. Open each day of the year, children and adults can visit Santa’s office and enjoy a private chat with him.
Despite the cold, winter in Finland has an endless array of activities to excite travellers, from downhill and cross-country skiing, to dogsledding and skimobile safaris, to ice-skating or ice-fishing.
The best skiing season in Lapland starts in February and lasts until May. Experienced skiers seeking a truly unique experience can try skiing under the magical moonlight during the darkest ‘kaamos’ days of December and January.
Winter in Finland is the perfect time to go ice-swimming. Locals share that the experience of dipping into cold water and then visiting the hot sauna is an unforgettable experience that also yields great health benefits.
© Visit Finland / Juho Kuva
A holistic approach to sustainability
At the tapering end of a global pandemic, there is an urgent need for sustainable practices in the travel and hospitality sector. Visit Finland has implemented a Sustainable Travel program that is working to make responsible travel the new norm.
As one of the top 10 most sustainable countries in the world, Finland relies on a lifestyle close to and respectful of nature. The Sustainable Travel Finland initiative focuses on all four dimensions of sustainability: economic, ecological, social, and cultural.
Companies and destinations that undergo the program are given the label so that travellers know that they are supporting local tourism that positively impacts the economy while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. More than 500 companies and destinations have already applied to be a part of the program, including Posio, known as the hidden gem of Lapland.
In Posio, enchanting landscapes inspire travellers to rediscover the essentials. The national parks of Riisitunturi and Syöte, Korouoma canyon, Lake Livojärvi, “the riviera of Lapland,” and Pentik-mäki cultural centre create unique surroundings for nature and culture.
“The local companies have actively nurtured sustainability in their operations for years. As a result of the Sustainable Travel Finland program, companies have adopted new sustainability measures like saving energy and water and they have increased the use of local food,” comments Marja Hannula, Managing Director of Posio Travel.
Hospitality heroes take action
Over the course of the pandemic, Finnish travel companies and the hospitality heroes behind them turned creativity into action, combining health and safety with innovative travel experiences, clearing the path for a new era of health-conscious travel.
© Visit Finland / Fox Igloo / Marko Junttila
A Sustainable Hotel in the Inkoo Archipelago
Located only an hour from Helsinki, the newly-opened Barö archipelago hotel provides incredible experiences and contactless service for safe visits. Located amidst the world’s most magnificent archipelago in the Barösund region of Inkoo, the hotel has 20 rooms with incredible views and the additional options of a private sauna or hot tub. Sustainability has been part of the new hotel from the start; it was even built with eco-friendly natural materials. Visitors can experience the Inkoo region and the history behind it by exploring on their own or signing up for activities organized by the hotel and its partner companies.
Chef Henri Alén’s Charity Dinners
In spring 2021, the restaurants were closed in Finland for six weeks due to the pandemic. Chef and culinary influencer Henri Alén took action, organizing a week-long charity event where thousands of top-notch dishes were provided to people who usually do not get to enjoy fine dining. Alén’s team was able to distribute 2,070 dishes and 10,000 masks through various aid organizations and even inspired other restaurants to join in. What’s more, he also worked together with scientists to discover successful new ways of battling the virus in his restaurants. Alén owns several restaurants in the Helsinki region, including Muru, Pastis, Sue Ellen, Finnjävel, Fiasco by Ultima, and Villa Lillan.
Exploring Helsinki from New Heights
Joonas Nurmi’s Helsinki Citycopter was thought up in lockdown. The company provides sustainable luxury helicopter flights over Helsinki as well as flights to other destinations, including the Archipelago and wildlife watching locations. They also provide transfers to and from Helsinki Airport, meaning you can reach your flight without setting foot inside the airport. Their Fly, Dine, and Sail experience allows an experience of Finland like any other. Travellers will fly over Helsinki and land on a private island near the Helsinki Archipelago, where they will enjoy a traditional Finnish meal made from local ingredients before sailing back to the city on a catamaran sailboat. It’s the perfect way to experience Helsinki from the air, on the land, and on the sea.
“We believe that wellbeing, authenticity and sustainability will continue to trend upwards,” shares Kristiina Hietasaari, Head of Visit Finland at Business Finland. “Our goal is to make Finland the most sustainably growing destination in the Nordics.”
(Source: Visit Finland)