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Summers in Finland – the season of light, celebration and tranquillity

The complete guide to Finnish summer

As the land of a thousand lakes, Finland is a place of breathtaking beauty, and when summer arrives, the country comes alive in the most remarkable way. The forests bloom, the lakes shimmer under the golden sun, and the cities buzz with excitement. With the magic of the Midnight Sun, Finland’s summer days stretch on, offering endless opportunities to savour the warmth and enjoy the great outdoors. From their love of saunas to their vibrant festival scene, let’s delve into the unique characteristics of Finnish summers.

When does summer arrive in Finland, and what can you expect from the weather?

Summer in Finland officially starts in June and ends in August, although temperatures begin to warm up as early as May. Finnish summers are characterized by mild weather, with temperatures ranging between 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). However, heatwaves are not uncommon, and temperatures can occasionally soar above 30°C (86°F). The weather during this season can be quite variable, with sun, rain and even thunderstorms all possible within the same day. But don’t let the unpredictability deter you – the magic of a Finnish summer is not just in the weather, but also in the unique experiences it offers.

Evenings in Finland are cool and refreshing, offering a pleasant contrast to the warmth of the day. With the country being surrounded by water bodies, a cool sea breeze often adds to the charm of the Finnish summer, especially in coastal towns and cities. Whether you’re strolling through the city streets or exploring the stunning Finnish countryside, the weather in summer is usually just right for outdoor activities.

What makes Finnish summer days unique?

Finnish summer days are unique for one primary reason – they are extraordinarily long. As you travel further north, daylight hours increase, leading to the surreal phenomenon known as the Midnight Sun. Above the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t set at all for a couple of months, bathing the landscape in a magical, never-ending twilight. This natural phenomenon is one of Finland’s greatest summer spectacles, offering 24 hours of daylight and plenty of opportunities to soak in the summer warmth.

The Nightless Nights, as they are often called, infuse incredible energy into the country. It’s a time when locals and tourists alike are out and about at all hours, enjoying festivals, exploring the outdoors, or simply relishing the extra hours of sunlight. Whether you’re hiking in the wilderness of Lapland at midnight, or enjoying a late-night picnic by a lake, the extended daylight brings a whole new dimension to summer in Finland.

What are some unique ways Finns celebrate summer?

Finnish summer is packed with a variety of celebrations and events. The most prominent among them is Juhannus, or the Midsummer festival. Taking place in late June, Juhannus is a celebration of light, summer and a tribute to the magical Nightless Nights. It’s a time when Finns escape to their summer cottages, light bonfires – kokko – bathe in saunas and enjoy time with friends and family.

Aside from Juhannus, the Finnish summer is marked by a plethora of events and festivals across the country. The Savonlinna Opera Festival, held annually in a medieval castle, is a world-renowned event that draws opera lovers from around the globe. Music is a big part of Finnish summer celebrations, with numerous music festivals catering to every genre, from rock and pop to jazz and folk. Of particular note are the Pori Jazz Festival, one of the oldest and most significant jazz festivals in Europe, and Ruisrock, one of the oldest rock festivals in the world.

What are the must-try summer foods and drinks in Finland?

When it comes to summer cuisine, Finland has plenty to offer. Summer is the season of fresh produce and the Finns celebrate it with a host of traditional dishes. New potatoes with herring is a classic summer meal, enjoyed in homes and restaurants across the country. The new potatoes, often just boiled and served with dill, have a delicate, sweet taste that’s the very essence of Finnish summer.

Another summer favourite is the grillimakkara, a special Finnish sausage made for barbecuing. These thick, savoury sausages are typically enjoyed with a dollop of mustard and washed down with a cold beer. And let’s not forget the fish – whether it’s salmon, whitefish or pike, the Finns know how to prepare it to perfection.

Finnish summer is also the time for berries – strawberries, blueberries, cloudberries and lingonberries are ripe for the picking, and you’ll find them in everything from cakes and pies to ice cream and juices. Indeed, Finnish summer cuisine is a celebration of fresh, simple and hearty flavours, designed to be savoured in the long, lazy days of summer.

What sports get Finns moving during the summer months?

When summer arrives, the Finns can’t wait to get moving. Thanks to the mild weather and the extended daylight hours, outdoor activities are a major part of Finnish summer. Cycling is particularly popular – whether it’s a leisurely ride along the city streets or a challenging mountain bike trail in the countryside, the Finns love to explore their surroundings on two wheels.

Boating is another favoured summer pastime, thanks to the numerous lakes and sea channels crisscrossing the country. Whether it’s rowing, canoeing or sailing, spending time on the water is a quintessential part of Finnish summer.

And let’s not forget pesäpallo, the Finnish version of baseball. It’s a game that’s uniquely Finnish and a favourite summer sport. On a warm summer evening, there’s nothing quite like a game of pesäpallo to work up a sweat and have some fun.

Even in the heat of summer, some Finns can’t resist the call of the slopes. Summer skiing is popular in Finnish Lapland, where the ski resorts often stay open until June. Some places even offer skiing on glaciers, offering a thrilling twist to the traditional summer experience.

Tampere Finland

What are the top geographic locations favoured by locals during summer?

Finland’s stunning natural beauty comes to the fore in summer, and there are several locations that the Finns particularly love. The numerous lakes that dot the Finnish landscape offer idyllic settings for summer activities. Whether it’s swimming, fishing, boating or simply enjoying a picnic by the water, the Finnish lakes are a summer favourite.

The Finnish archipelago, with its thousands of islands, is another top summer destination. Whether it’s the Åland Islands with their unique Swedish heritage, or the Turku Archipelago with its beautiful summer cottages, these islands offer a unique mix of culture, history and natural beauty.

Finland’s national parks are another popular summer hangout. With 40 national parks spread across the country, there’s plenty to explore. The Koli National Park, with its iconic cliff views, and the Lemmenjoki National Park, home to the Sámi people and a vast wilderness area, are just a couple of the many fantastic outdoor destinations.

What is the mökki summer cottage culture in Finland?

At the heart of the Finnish summer experience is the mökki, or summer cottage. Almost every family in Finland owns a mökki, typically located by a lake or the sea. These cottages are where the Finns escape to enjoy the long summer days in peace and solitude. The mökki culture is deeply ingrained in Finnish life, representing a time for relaxation, reconnection with nature and enjoyment of simple pleasures.

The mökki is not just a place to sleep – it’s a way of life. Here, days are filled with swimming, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms and taking saunas. Sauna is a beloved Finnish tradition, and the summer cottage experience is not complete without a session in the wood-fired sauna, followed by a refreshing dip in the cool waters of a nearby lake.

Despite their simple and rustic charm, Finnish summer cottages are increasingly becoming comfortable retreats with modern amenities. However, the core idea remains the same: to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse oneself in the serenity of nature.

Oodi Helsinki Uusimaa Finland library
Espoo Uusimaa Finland

How do locals enjoy summer in the cities?

While the countryside shines in its summer splendour, Finnish cities have their own charm. Helsinki, the capital, turns into a vibrant hub of activity, with festivals, concerts, and open-air events. City parks become popular gathering spots, where locals enjoy picnics, play games and bask in the sun.

The city beaches are another highlight, such as the Hietaniemi Beach in Helsinki, offering a perfect escape on hot summer days. And when the sun shines, the outdoor terraces of cafes and restaurants are filled with people enjoying the summer vibes.

Turku, the oldest city in Finland, also has a unique summer atmosphere. With its historical sites, the Aura River, and its proximity to the archipelago, Turku offers a variety of summer activities.

And let’s not forget Tampere, known as the “Sauna Capital”, where you can enjoy a sauna session in one of the many public saunas, followed by a dive into the refreshing waters of the Näsijärvi or Pyhäjärvi lakes.

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