Travel & Destinations

Experience the Beauty of Finland

It’s now easier than ever to get there from North Texas.

Now that Nordic airline Finnair flies from DFW to Helsinki, you have no excuse to travel to Northern Europe!   

Unsure where to go first?

Well, Finland has the cleanest air and the best water. And, for the fifth year in a row, it’s ranked as the happiest country on Earth.

I spent a week experiencing a magical winter adventure in Finland — and I would spend another week or two in a heartbeat!

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Uunisaari Island in Helsinki | Photo by Sharon Kurtz

Finland is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It was a part of Sweden until 1809, when it fell under Russian control. By 1919, it became an independent republic.

Finland’s scenic beauty is incomparable to most nations in Europe. It’s called the land of 1,000 lakes — though at last count, there were more than 1,880 of them!

Once in Finland, you’re never more than a short walk from nature. Whether you want lush forests, the Arctic wilderness, or open coasts, this friendly country has plenty of space for everyone to explore. It’s like nowhere else on Earth, especially when viewed under the spectacular Northern Lights.

Finns are mad about saunas. There are around 2 million saunas for a population of 5.3 million. After your sauna, enjoy a frigid dip in the sea. This relaxes your muscles, improves circulation, and stimulates the release of endorphins. Despite my trepidation, one Finn told me: “Don’t think, just go. It’s like a rush.”

He was right; I took the plunge three times!

Helsinki, the capital city, is said to be the world’s most livable city with a perfect combination of urban and outdoors. It’s lively and laid-back. Nature trails and city life are never more than a stone’s throw away. The city overflows with good food, great design, fascinating museums, and unique architecture.

Take in the view in a glass roofed igloo in Lapland

Lapland’s Nordic Magic

It was the Finnish Lapland that captured my heart. We flew from Helsinki to Kittila, some 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It thrives during winter, transforming the entire region into a picturesque wonderland. It is home to the Northern Lights in winter and the midnight sun in summer.

Our small group of writers formed a tight-knit pod, ready to discover all we could about Lapland. We experienced magical white scenery and excursions in the snow.

We stayed in glass igloos in Levi, the largest year-round resort in Lapland. They rested on the fell slope, offering luxury on the edge of the wilderness with a view of the northern sky and surrounding landscape. I saw the Northern Lights from my cozy bed. I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.

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Sharon, dogsledding in Lapland

Another incredible highlight of my visit was dogsledding. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get to drive a dogsled through a snowy Lapland Forest.

The huskies love to run — and their safety and happiness are the top priority — at All Huskies Sleddog Safaris.

Then there is the Sammuntupa Reindeer Farm, family-run since 1860. There, we learned about the reindeer and the culture of the Sami people.

We got up-close and personal with the reindeer that have been a part of Lapland culture for centuries.

Finland is more than 70% forests, and nature is of primary importance to the Finnish People.

We visited the Halipuu Forest, where we experienced Arctic Hammock cocooning in peace and silence. Halipuu translates to “tree hug.” Naturally, we had to do just that. Hugging a tree is very cathartic.

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Halipuu Forest Arctic Cocooning

So, take the plunge and fly off to Finland for a vacation you will not forget.

Check out these helpful resources when planning your trip.


Sharon Kurtz

Sharon Kurtz is a freelance writer and photographer. Her passion is travel, telling stories, and tussling with her four-legged friends. As a baby boomer who loves adventure, she welcomes opportunities to share stories of people, places, food, and flavors around the corner or around the world. A regular contributor to fyi50+ Magazine, she's published 200 articles in various digital and print publications. Austin, Texas, is home with her husband and three spoiled dogs when not searching out new adventures. You can follow her travels on Instagram and Facebook.

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