Finnish summers are legendary for a reason. During the summer months, nights are white throughout the country. That's when Finns head to their “mökki” (sommer cottage), heat up the sauna, and spend time swimming, fishing, or boating in the beautiful Finnish lake district. Summer is also a popular season for music festivals, open-air theater, and dance events.
1. There are more than 160 000 lakes
Finland is known as the country of thousand lakes. In reality, the number is much higher: According to an official count done in 2019, Finland has at least 168 000 lakes that are at least 500 square meters in size. Almost one-tenth of the country's total area is occupied by water.
Lake Saimaa is the biggest lake in Finland, the fourth largest in Europe, and the second-largest in the European Union at 1,700 square miles.
2. During summer Finnish cities can be (really!) empty
If you ever visit a Finnish city during Midsummer you might find yourself in a ghost town. Streets are empty and most shops are closed.
While Finland is always pretty peaceful compared to some of the megacities of the world, people literally disappear from cities during Midsummer.
The reason is that most Finns prefer to spend Midsummer (and most of summer) on their own or rented summer cottages - or at least somewhere close to nature and a lake.
3. No celebration without sauna
Finland has more than 2 million saunas. If you compare this number to Finland's population (5,5 mln people) it becomes clear that Finns LOVE bathing in the sauna.
In fact, there's hardly any occasion that doesn´t start or end with a sauna session.
In the summer Finns usually combine a sauna with swimming and a barbecue. Many sauna cottages have a little room that can be used for guests as well during summers.
One typical sauna ritual is whisking. It includes “vihta”, a bundle of fresh birch twigs that is used to gently whip oneself in the sauna. It sounds painful but is actually amazing! It feels more like a refreshing massage that stimulates the blood flow and helps remove dead skin cells. In addition, the essential oils of birch provide a unique fragrance.
4. Finns love ice cream - not only during summer
Finland is among the top 5 countries with the highest consumption of ice cream in the world. Despite the cold winters, the Finnish population consumes around 70 million liters of this sweet delicacy every year.
The most popular ice cream varieties include classics such as chocolate, but also a Finnish specialty: licorice ice cream.
5. Have a drink (or two)
You have probably heard that Finns are famous for drinking. During summer - particularly on Midsummer's eve - there will be plenty of drinks including cold beer, cider or spirits.
Cider is a fermented drink made out of apple or pear juice. Depending on the brand and product it can be dry or sweet.
6. Enjoy Finnish summer food
In the summer season, Finns prefer freshly prepared foods made from seasonal ingredients. Summer is also the peak season for barbecue grills.
A typical Finnish summer menu includes:
New potatoes with sour cream sauce and marinated herring
Grilled meat skewers, sausages and marinated meat with grilled vegetables
Smoked fish and cured salmon
All sorts of mixed salads
Strawberries, with whipped cream or on top of freshly baked pancakes
Ice cream (lots of it)
Fun fact: Finland consumes more ice cream per capita than any other European country. Ice cream consumption in Finland is estimated at 14.2 liters per capita annually.
7. Everyman's right - the right to roam freely
Nature is one of the biggest assets Finland has, not only during summer. That means anyone living in or visiting Finland has the freedom to roam the countryside, forage, fish with a line and rod, pick berries, and spend time in nature for recreational purposes. The only exception are private properties or restricted areas.
In Finland this right is called Jokamiehenoikeus, Everyman's right.