When you think of spring break, heading to Finland may not be the first place to come to mind, until now. Thanks to Visit Finland, our New York City editor, Carly, was lucky enough to spend a week visiting the gorgeous country of Finland, all inspired by ABC’s “The Bachelor“! If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll know that the last two episodes with Nick and his three final ladies took place in snowy Finland. During her week stay, along with a group of amazing ladies such as Katie, Mackenzie, Blake, Dana, Ashley and Jenn, they experienced everything the gorgeous country has to offer. Today, Carly is sharing her top tips and sights to see when visiting, and why you should make this spot your next big getaway!
What To Do:
Get Active: Even if you don’t find yourself an outdoorsy person, Finland has an activity suited for everyone. We kicked things off right away on our first day in Saariselkä and explored the snowy village by cross-country skiing. Finland has the cleanest air in the world and it was such a refreshing change from the city air in New York. During our visit, we also tried snowmobiling through the snowy woods, snowshoeing, sledding and ice tubing. Our travel guides with Lapland Safaris were very helpful at each activity and also taught us so much about Finland itself. One of the best perks of visiting Finland during the end of winter is that the temperatures outside were much milder than it would have been earlier in the year. While we were still very bundled up, the sun was out shining and we were much more comfortable than expected, especially when staying active.
Holiday Spirit All Year Round: It truly felt like Christmas everywhere you turned in Finland! Reindeer roam around freely in Finland, but also helped contribute to one of the coolest ways to spend an evening under the stars with a reindeer sleigh ride. Finland is also known to be the true home of Santa and while visiting the town of Rovaniemi, we were able to say ‘hello’ to Santa in Santa Claus Village! We also crossed the Arctic Circle, said ‘hello’ to some more reindeer (we couldn’t resist!) and also explored an incredible ice hotel in Snowman World. It truly felt like a magical winter wonderland and I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it was real life!
Dog Sled Rides: My favorite activity during the trip was taking a dog sled ride through the snowy woods. Katie and I shared a sled where we were each able to take turns steering the dogs and then bundle up in the sled to take in the breathtaking views. The best part? Playing with a husky puppy at the end of our ride!
Traditions To Try:
Taste The Local Flavors: Thanks to our incredible hosts, each restaurant and hotel we visited treated us to local delicacies and incredible meals. Reindeer is one of the most popular foods to serve at dinner and we tried it multiple and delicious ways throughout our visit. Finland finds almost all of its food straight from nature, so expect to enjoy eating fresh berries (I loved the warm berry juice served during our outdoor activities!), mushrooms, potatoes, homemade breads and lots of fish to truly experience the local Finnish flavors.
Sauna Polar Plunge: You truly only live once, and that was the motto when trying this traditional Finnish experience! In Finland, gathering in the sauna is a typical pastime. We were pleasantly surprised to find almost all our hotel rooms had one in the room, which was the perfect way to wind down before bed. While visiting Bear’s Den, we all experienced a true Finnish sauna experience, just like Nick and Vanessa did on the show. After sweating it out for about 15 minutes in the sauna, we ran outside and jumped into the freezing lake! We then quickly headed back into the sauna and then repeated the process a few times, which lead to super soft and glowy skin. While it is definitely a shock to the system (as you can see in my face!), I’m so glad we all tried it, even if it took a little liquid courage to make the plunge!
Stay Up Late For The Northern Lights: One of the most surreal experiences was staying up extra late our last night around the bonfire waiting for the Northern Lights to appear. While not always guaranteed, the incredible lights seen near the Arctic Circle, fill up the sky with a range of neon colors. We had been on the lookout every night, whether during our reindeer ride to our nighttime views at dinner, but our last night proved to be the winner. We spotted the faint green light in the distance and thanks to Ashley and Katie‘s camera skills, the incredible photo above was captured!
Where To Stay:
Throughout our stay in Finland, we stayed at different types of hotels to experience all the unique locations the country has to offer, many used in the filming of “The Bachelor.” From cozy ski village apartments at Lapland Hotel Riekonlinna to chalets at Hotel Ounasvaara to cabins in the woods at Hotel Vartiosaari on Aurora Island, all were decorated in traditional minimal Nordic style. All our hotel stays were so relaxing and after busy days of packed activity, it was so relaxing each night to wind down in the saunas and reset for the adventures ahead.