1. The Northern Lights
The famed lights have always been a top draw for tourists, but now, you can gaze in awe at them without freezing in the cold. These recently opened hotels allow travellers to view the lights from a warm room and comfortable bed. Arctic TreeHouse Hotel in Rovaniemi features suites with a wooden interior and panoramic windows; Aurora Dome (below) in Muonio offers round, insulated igloo-shaped tents with a transparent wall that faces north; and the standalone Seaside Glass Villas in Kemi have glass roofs and front walls that open to an incredible view of the Bay of Bothnia.
2. The Finnish sauna
Sauna (below) is a big part of Finnish culture – for centuries, it has been a sanctuary for physical and spiritual cleansing. While most saunas are private, and can be found at swimming pools, hotels and gyms, there are a few public ones in the larger cities. Ponder on the meaning of life while opening your pores at Sauna Arla or Sauna Hermanni, two of three remaining public saunas in Helsinki.
3. The local delicacies
With its long coastline and more than 150,000 lakes, all kinds of fish are eaten across the country, so do try unfamiliar ones such as the vendace or Arctic char. A staple of the Finnish diet is ruisleipa (rye bread), while other iconic food items include reindeer meat; karjalanpiirakka, a traditional crusty pie filled with potatoes or carrots; and dishes with wild berries (below) such as bilberries, cloudberries and lingonberries.
4. The verdant national parks
There are 39 national parks in Finland, and aside from being havens of biodiversity, they are ideal for recreational pursuits such as hiking, canoeing and climbing. In celebration of its centennial, the country inaugurated its 40th park on June 17, 2017. The 11,000ha Hossa (below is situated in north-eastern Finland, and features spruce-pine esker forests, the rugged canyon lake Julma-Ölkky and rock paintings that date back 4,000 years.
5. The whitewashed landscape
Heed the call of the wild and go dog sledding (below) or reindeer riding. Learn to handle a team of enthusiastic huskies and mush your way through the breathtaking Finnish wilderness, or follow in the footsteps of the Sami people and hitch a more peaceful ride through the magical forests in a sleigh pulled by reindeers.