Facts about Finland: 9 Fun Things You Probably Didn’t Know

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I am certainly no expert on Finland, but after spending a few days there I realized how little I knew about the Finns and uncovered these fun facts:

#1 Finland Fun Fact: saunas are really important to Finns

There are approximately 2.2 billion of them in Finland. They are so popular in fact that there is even a sauna inside a Burger King in Helsinki. Not sure how I feel about this… As the sauna experience is such a pivotal part of their lives, they even allow prisoners to use the sauna once a week. Sounds insane right? Well, not so much when you consider that some of the prisons in Finland have an open prison system, which means no gates, no uniformed guards and no locks. This is probably the most jaw-dropping of the Finland facts

Finnish saunas will prevent muscle soreness when cycling
Finnish saunas are great to relax in

#2:  Most food allergy-friendly place I’ve ever visited  

I have a gluten allergy which can make it difficult to find gluten-free food when traveling, but it was incredibly easy in Finland.  Many menus indicated which items were gluten-free, lactose-free and vegetarian, including the restaurant at Helsinki Airport! 

All of the restaurants we visited including Sokeri-Jussin Kievari served me gluten-free bread. This is often not the case in most restaurants in other places in the world (especially in Germany).  Plus it was really good gluten-free bread, which is a rarity. This is probably one of the more useful facts about Finland.

oulu finland reindeer meat
Finland is the most food allergy-friendly country I’ve ever visited!

#3 The Finns are the biggest coffee drinkers in the world

Facts about Finland

While we are on the subject of food, an average person in Finland can drink up to 12kg of coffee a year. That’s double what Italians drink. I suppose it makes sense since Finland is one of the coldest places in Europe and there’s nothing like a cup of coffee to warm you up, well besides hot chocolate.

#4:  Karaoke is very popular in Finland 

I discovered this while staying at Hotel Iso-Syöte. We headed to the hotel’s karaoke bar after dinner.  It turns out karaoke is very popular and karaoke bars are everywhere, so if you want to become a Finn for a day, karaoke should be on your list. I think this is one of the more unexpected facts about Finland

Related Reading: 7 Things To Do In Finland: Summer Activities For Everyone

#4:  Finns Love Black Licorice  

This was a pleasant surprise as I love black licorice and it’s really hard to find in Germany.  An assortment of black licorice candy is readily found and it even shows up in Salmiakki, a Finnish drink that tastes like salty black licorice. Think Sambuca, but stronger. Don’t forget licorice ice cream too!

Licorice Ice cream

#5:  Oulu and Iso-Syöte are great places for adventure holidays in Finland

Before my trip to Finland, I had never heard of Oulu or Iso-Syöte, but they are great places for an adventure or outdoor holiday.  I did everything from dog sledding to snowmobiling, to snowshoeing to ice fishing. In summer canoeing, kayaking and hiking are popular activities.   GoArctic! can arrange these activities for you.  There are also multiple flights a day from Helsinki to Oulu making it very accessible and affordable.

dog sledding iso syote_2 huskies

#6 The Finns love odd sports

If you visit Finland you will probably hear about some very odd sports. These include cell phone throwing, mosquito hunting, swamp football, and my personal favorite, Wife carrying. Wife carrying is so popular that people come from all over the world for the wife-carrying world championship. It seems like the Finns can find something fun to do no matter what.

Related Reading: 7 Must-See Sites on the Iron Curtain Trail in Finland

#7 Finland has many world records

Finland has a whopping 179 584 islands and 187 888 lakes. They hold the world record for the most islands and lakes in the world. The biggest lake in Finland is lake Saimaa which I traveled to in order to spot the endangered Saimaa ringed seal. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see them but they are really elusive and most people living there haven’t seen one either. It’s a small consolation. 

The Saimaa ringed seal is only found in Lake Saimaa in Savonlinna, Finland
Saimaa ringed seal photo courtesy of Teuvo Juvonen. Used with permission of VisitFinland.

#8 Finns have interesting cooking styles

While I was in Finland I visited a reindeer farmer where I saw the most interesting cooking style. For one what I thought was an odd-looking windchime turned out to be dried reindeer hearts. Reindeer hearts are left outside to dry and are supposed to be very nutritious and tasty, something similar to beef jerky. I took their word for it.

reindeer meat and mashed potatoes is a popular Finnish food

Another very interesting cooking method I saw was an old Finnish way of making buttermilk with a frog. Yes, you read that right. They place the frog into a big bucket of milk and let it paddle away. The poor frog has to keep kicking his legs in order not to drown and this is turn churns the milk into buttermilk. Don’t worry, the frog survives and is set free. 

Related Reading: Why Today is the Best Time to See a Saimaa Ringed Seal

#9 The Finns are gender progressive

The Finns are very unaware of gender strifes. That isn’t because of ignorance, quite the opposite in fact. They are probably the most forward-thinking country on earth. For one they do not have gender-specific pronouns in the language. Everything is gender-neutral, there is no his and hers in a matter of speaking. 

They were the first country in Europe to allow women to work and the first to have a female prime minister and president at the same time. In Finland, it is even common for men to spend more time with children than women. 

Bonus Fact: 

You tell me.  I’ll select the best Finland Fun Fact and add your fun fact here along with a link back to your blog.  Leave your comment below.

Finland is a great place and I had so much fun learning all these quirky facts about Finland.

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18 thoughts on “Facts about Finland: 9 Fun Things You Probably Didn’t Know”

  1. Ooh, jealous – definitely want to visit Finland sometime but my husband is less keen.

    Re: black licorice, I see that everywhere in Germany! Or is there some special kind and all the ones here don’t suffice?

  2. Great list Laurel. You could also have added the screaming men choir, wife carrying race, mosquito slapping competition and other wacky contests Finns organise to lighten up their winter darkness and make us all smile.

  3. Love this list! My fun fact is from Rovaniemi, Finland:

    The Santa Claus’ Main Post Office has received nearly 15 million letters from 198 countries since 1985. At Christmas time, Santa can receive around 32,000 letters daily. The letters are first sorted by country and then opened. Christina Elf made me an honorary elf and we opened some letters from the United States and a very special wish list from a group of school children in Poland.

  4. Hey Laurel, really liked this Finland post. I lived in Finland for a while while studying, and I found it to be a fantastic place full of odd stuff. As for special equipment, on the way to uni every morning, people had reflector pads in their hands or attached to the palm of their gloves. Why? Well, first of all it’s really cold (-35 in Jyväskylä), and very dark for most of the day. When you stand at a bus stop in these cold temperatures, you really don’t want the bus to just pass you by. So you stretch out your hand and wave your reflector!
    You also get these ear clips out of felt and fleece that you can clip directly over your ear to keep them toasty, underneath your regular hat.
    But I guess another fun fact would be that Rovaniemi is where you want to go in the winter – this is where Santa lives, after all, in Lapland.

  5. What really surprised me a few years ago when I visited on a stopover was the price of hotels (ouch!) and the fact that there were vritually no payphones anywhere. Everyone apparently has a Nokia… not so great for travelers who want to check which hotel has rooms available!

  6. WOW! I’m seriously impressed with all the Finland knowledge! Will be tough to choose a winner – there just might have to be more than one!

    @CN Heidelberg – I never see black licorice here. I must be looking in all the wrong places.

  7. My fun thing for Finland was taking a Ferry boat there which was like a cruise book for a 6 or 8 hour trip. Don’t remember the length of time but it was great.

    Well, I wondered about that other comment section tribbrer and then found this normal one here

  8. These are great fun facts. I keep hearing about Finland lately, and am now thinking that I need to plan a trip there sooner rather than later.

    Maybe I’ll discover that not liking black licorice is a misdemeanor crime and they’ll throw me in jail long enough for a sauna and gluten-free bread and water. 🙂

  9. These are great! I think I need to plan a trip there, gluten-free friendly and they love karaoke?! Doesn’t get much better than that. Living in Southern Germany (Stuttgart) I don’t come across these things very often. Thanks for sharing!

  10. i have a cool fun fact it is……. Donald Dock comics were band in Finland because Donald Duck doesn’t wear pants. it is weird i know but true! lol 🙂 pick me i am aweesome!

  11. ha hey @mariel, that’s not true 🙂 we actually have some donald duck artists in finland and pretty much everyone has been ordering the comics for a while in their life, like my family since they first started getting published in 1951 – nudity isn’t a taboo in finland, anyway, and i don’t know any reasons why anything would be banned here for that. We’re a pretty open country, we don’t sencor naked bodies or curse words or alcohol cos it’s pretty much normal for us, church is no longer a big part of our life so our morals are on the level we decide to put them ourself.

  12. I agree with you Laurel. Finland is a great country. I had this opportunity to study in Helsinki as exchange student from Sweden in the autumn of 2014 and found some of the things you say true. Coming from Sweden, I found the Finns more open and blunt about things which I found refreshing as a student.


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