10 Things About Finland That Shock First-time Visitors

What comes to mind when you think about Finland? A dark and cold country with long-haired locals playing metal songs while walking on a snowy forest? You might be a bit right on that (just kidding). Finland is known to be “shy” but it’s just too humble to tell the world the amazing stuff it offers – that’s for you to discover!

If you plan to visit Finland soon, here’s a starter guide to knowing a bit about the country and its people:

1. Saunas

Finnish Saunas have been part of the Finnish culture for centuries. It’s such an essential part of their daily lives that in practically every Finnish home and hotel you’ll find a sauna. A sauna is usually heated to about 70-100 degrees Celsius with a humidity that doesn’t exceed up to 20%, regulated by good fresh air and throwing water on the hot stones.

Males and females are always separated or they take turns when using the sauna, and everyone in the hot room will be naked. The Finns aren’t bothered by going nude so no one here is exempted. (You’ve been warned!) When it gets too hot, you can go out for a cold shower or jump into chilly waters – then back to the sauna. You can do this for 2-4 times.

2. Nordic Walking

There will be chances that you’ll see some Finns walking with their ski poles, but their skis missing. Don’t start laughing because it’s an actual sport that’s called “nordic walking”, which even seasoned skiers do on dry land. Nordic walking is known as one of the most effective cardiovascular workouts.

3. Alcohol

The Finns are known to be heavy alcohol drinkers among the Nordic countries, with most of them consuming an equivalent of slightly ten liters of pure alcohol per person per year. So think twice before daring a Finn in a booze battle. Moreover, Finnish alcoholic drinks can’t just be bought from supermarkets, but in specialty shops they call ALKO.

4. Visiting Rules

If you plan to visit a Finnish friend right now without informing the person in advance, don’t do it. Make sure you’re invited or you’ve told the person about you visiting. If not, expect that no one will open a door for you or things could get awkward. If you made plans with the host, make sure that you arrive on time.

5. Conversations

Small talk isn’t appealing for the Finns and when someone wants to have a serious conversation, expect a Finn to be quiet and attentive to what the other person is saying. For some, interrupting a conversation is fine but doing so will be considered impolite for the Finns. Every word is intended to deliver a message so don’t you dare blabber nonsense just to have something to say.

6. National Pride

Finns value their identity and are concerned about how the world sees them. They take pride in their historical wartime achievements, sporting merits and high-tech expertise. They understand that the world doesn’t know much about them, but they’ll be pleased if you, as a visitor, know more about the Finns’ achievements, like what their fellowmen have accomplished in F1 racing and football. Avoid comparing them to Swedes and to their other neighbor countries.

7. Tipping

As a visitor, you’re not expected to give tips in Finnish shops. if you want to tip to show your appreciation for good service, you can leave the tip by rounding up the amount of the bill’s total. If your bill says 27.10, you can just simply give 30.

8. Metal

You can never forget about metal music whenever someone talks about Finland, and vice versa. Top metal bands like Stratovarius, Nightwish, Children of Bodom, HIM, Amorphis, Korpiklaani, have turned this country into “The Promised Land of Heavy Metal”.

Finnish metal bands often have themes and lyrics connected to Finnish mythology and folklore. Why are there so many Finnish metal bands nowadays? Some say it’s because of their dark and cold yet beautiful land. Hoewver, sociologically, the successful and internationally-known metal bands inspired the next generations to make a name. Thus, the scene continues.

9.  Shy and Reserved

In relation to number 5, Finns are often seen as shy and reserved people, but those words might not be the best to use to describe them. The Finns are people who think well about what to say and what comes from their mouth are genuine words. So when you hear someone say, “Let’s have a beer sometime.” expect that to happen soon. When it’s just all silence, it means that there’s nothing important to say. Silence for the Finns isn’t awkward. It’s golden.

10. Coffee

Besides alcohol, the Finns love their coffee. In fact, Finland is known to be one of the most caffeinated countries  in the world with 12 kilograms of raw coffee per capita consumption each year, while Italy only has 5.7 kilos a year, and Spain with 4.5 kilos.

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