Helsinki. Saunas, style and midnight sun.

Helsinki, Finland’s capital, is a lesser known European travel destination and so the devouring eyes of hungry tourists have not robbed its authenticity and charm.

It is undeniably Scandinavian, in style, in function and in form.

As a society, Finland leads the world for its all comprehensive and inclusive social services and progressive education system that focuses on learning and equality over competition and test taking.

This aside, there are a few good reasons why Helsinki is a special place for visitors (in the summer).

  1. Midnight sun and white nights in the summer

DSC01725

The trade off for the bitter Nordic winter is endless twilight in the summer. During midsummer in Helsinki, the sun doesn’t sun for about two weeks and you can really see the Finns compensating for the winter vitamin D deficiency. Parks are full of attractive, skimpily dressed bodies, beaches are frequented and the festivals, parties and park sauntering continues day and night.

DSC01882

  1. The Finns have style.

Hands down Helsinki is one of the most stylish cities in Europe I’ve been to. Partly this is an earnest attempt at trying to be so and partly a result of the minimalist, Nordic fusion of simplicity, elegance and function.

DSC01721

Even on a casual walk around the harbour you will notice immaculately groomed people in finely cut clothing, elegant footwear and designer sunglasses.

DSC01729

Practicality does not suffice in Helsinki unless it is subtly blended into a black, grey and white striped colour palette that makes you look like you’ve just stepped off the catwalk. It is not somewhere you can go unnoticed wearing croc sandals or a wide brimmed hat; tourist fashion is seen for the tragedy that it is.

The architecture and landscape are similarly stylish yet simplistic with a balanced blend of trees, open garden spaces and functional urban design that invites you to relax, play and meander effortlessly.

DSC01743

  1. Sauna culture

Saunas are to the Finns what pubs are to the Irish. It’s where people go to unwind, drink and cleanse their pores at the same time. Yes that’s right, I said drink. People can and do drink at Finnish saunas which certainly seems contradictory to the cleansing intent. This was the case at Helsinki’s newest and most modern sauna establishment, Loyly. It is the only sauna in town that is mixed sex so a couple of rule changes apply. Firstly, you wear swimsuits whereas the custom in saunas is to be nude (if you aren’t people will think you’re a pervert). Secondly, rather than getting under a cold shower straight after the sauna you can jump straight into the Baltic sea. By stimulating blood circulation, endorphins and replacing dead skin cells, sauna and sea dipping is a wonderfully healing activity.

DSC01889

While traditionally saunas are a quiet place for reflection and cleansing, if you attend Loyly on the weekend it will be more like a festival with large groups of people chatting, laughing and drinking in and between its two saunas (steam and smoke) and the outdoor patio area. If you are looking for peace and quiet I would suggest going on a weekday. And don’t forget to book ahead, it’s popular.

 

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Helsinki. Saunas, style and midnight sun.

  1. Helsinki is lesser known as You say, but what about the real Finland outside Helsinki? I always wonder why people visiting Helsinki are not interested in Finland. Finland offers for visitor things, which do not exist elsewhere in our world. Finland offers two different worlds, summer Finland and winter Finland.

    We have our own habits, traditions, beautiful nature which invites for a visit, handicrafts and much more.

    Can You imagine that in winter there are things to do, like participate in reindeer driving contest, world’s biggest Snow Castle and the Arctic Circle.

    World’s Biggest Snow Castle.

    Arctic Circle in winter.

    Reindeer driving competition.

    Happy and safe travels!

    1. Hello Sartenada,

      Indeed I am sure that there are many wonderful things to discover in Finland outside of Helsinki. Cities are always only a small section of the cultural wonders of any particular country. I had limited time on this trip and I was also staying with family in Helsinki so I was unable to travel to more regional areas however I would love to return and do this…one day.

      If you have any articles to share about Finnish culture (outside the city) I would love to read them.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share your thoughts.

      Cheers,

      Rachel

      1. Thank You. Culture, well what about traditions?

        Here some examples:

        Traditional carpet washing is tradition in Finland

        Traditional carpet.

        Using national dresses is tradition.

        Airing national costumes .

        Himmeli is tradition. Some of them.

        Himmeli.

        Learning to make Himmeli.

        Himmeli how to make it.

        Bobbin Lace is popular in Finland.

        Bobbin Lace.

        Crochets – of course.

        Crochet tractor.

        Cared animals are found around in Finland. Most popular are bear carvings. Here is a contest of bear carving.

        Bear carving contest1.

        Bear carving contest2.

        Happy weekend!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s