Helsinki, the conveniently pocket-sized capital of Finland, has a surprisingly offbeat charm. The city is full of unique experiences just waiting to be discovered. It’s also enveloped in an eerie beauty during the long white winter.
Winter weather in Finland can actually vary quite a lot. Some days the temperature can drop waaaay below zero (-35°C/-30°F to be exact) with excessive snowfall, while the next day can bring a moderately warm and sunny winter day, perfect for strolling the snowy streets and exploring the city.
If the weather gets too cold for outdoor fun, head indoors. Helsinki has an abundance of excellent museums and art galleries including The Design Museum and Kiasma, the museum of contemporary art. The city center’s lively department stores, malls and market halls are also a great way to spend a cold day.
Food in Finland
Helsinki’s Old Market Hall is the perfect place to try some local delicacies in a warm indoor setting. You should definitely try poronkäristys, sautéed reindeer traditionally served with mashed potatoes and lingonberry sauce. Karelian pies (savory rice porridge in a rye crust) are also a great window into Finnish cuisine!
Winter Activities in Helsinki
The Finnish winter can be cold and cruel, but Finns rarely choose to wither away indoors. Instead they’ve developed a flurry of odd and potentially insane ways to spend the cold winter days.
Ice swimming is extremely popular in Finland. It supposedly does wonders to your circulation and digestion. I personally think it’s insanity, but I’m sure it’s also memorable.
The cold dips into the frozen sea are followed by a steaming hot sauna. If jumping into frozen water and sweating next to naked locals makes you nervous, just try some local vodka beforehand.
For less extreme activities, try Nordic Walking or skating – either on artificial ice or (weather permitting) on the frozen Baltic Sea!
Daylight is a somewhat rare occurrence in Finland during the winter months. With less than six hours of daylight in the darkest time during late December and early January, the city seems to always be in the middle of a colorful sunset or that blue moment just before the dark.
Heavy snowfall is especially common in January and February
You can’t always expect to sit down on a park bench in Finland
Helsinki’s parks and forests are magically beautiful when covered in a blanket of snow
Helsinki is filled with wonderfully colorful and unique architecture