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Saunas for less than $10 a day, heated glass igloos under the Northern Lights, direct flights from the US and a Marimekko outlet. Finland, voted the happiest country in the world, needs to be on your radar stat. Our prediction? Finland is the next Iceland. Here are 10 ways Finland will wow you now.

RELATED: 11 of the world’s most interesting hotels

Photo courtesy of Business Finland

The world’s only sauna gondola

There are 5 million people in Finland, and there are more than 2 million saunas here. They take their saunas very seriously. Most Finns visit the sauna weekly, and they consider it to be essential for mental and physical health. First, you step into the sauna, which is heated to about 160 degrees (depending on the sauna, you’ll either wear your bathing suit or go naked). Then, step outside and take a dip into the frozen lake. Repeat as needed. Take the experience one step further by trying the Sauna Gondola, which exactly what it sounds like: a sauna in a gondola. The Sauna Gondola is located in a ski resort village in Ylas in Finnish Lapland just north of the Arctic Circle. When in the Arctic Circle . . .

A really good airline

As many other airlines pare down their complimentary perks and services, Finnair is stepping it up. Two complimentary meals per trans-Atlantic flight, including meatballs that rival Ikea’s? Check. Two free bags, plus a gratis carry on? Check. Comfy seats, personal TVs that work, friendly staff? Check, check, check. Indeed, we found our unicorn of the sky.

Photo courtesy of Harri Leppanen

More Marimekko

Remember when you fought your way through Target to get your hands on a Marimekko piece? Or the time you refreshed your server over and over again because Uniqlo was partnering with Marimekko? Try going to the original outlet and factory in its Finnish home. We just might have packed an extra suitcase with all our Marimekko goodies.

Mindblowing breakfast buffets

In Finland, breakfast is traditionally included with your hotel stay (this is one country where you probably don’t want to go the home rental route). To describe them as breakfast buffets would be equivalent to calling Windsor castle “a house.” These spreads include multiple types of handmade yogurts, fresh baked breads, Finnish cheeses, porridge, hand-foraged berries from the local Finland forests, croissants and more. Our fave was the breakfast at Hotel Lilla Roberts, where diners are encouraged to take a sea buckthorn shot (don’t smell it or sip it) before walking through the buffet to get an extra energy boost.

Enchanting forests

When we asked Finns why they were so happy, many of them told us that they loved simply wandering through the forests and enjoying the quiet, clean woods. Here, there’s a law called “The Every Man’s Right.” This gives you the right to wander into any forest and grab berries where you see them, pitch a tent wherever you want or simply wander as you see fit. And they do.

Photo courtesy of Kakslauttanen Glass Igloos

Glass igloo hotels

Get your Instagram ready. You can stay in two-person or four-person glass igloos, which are available during the Northern Lights season (the end of August through the end of April). At Kakslauttanen, the igloos include a toilet and a bed, and are the most romantic things we’ve ever seen. Or, go totally cray, and stay in their snow igloo, which is literally a snow igloo sans heat, but they will provide you with a down sleeping bag, and they promise you won’t freeze.

Strong, strong coffee

Finns take their coffee very seriously (many drink up to 10 cups a day), and it would be difficult to find a street that didn’t have at least one independent coffee shop on it. Although every Finn has their favorite place, and choosing a favorite is akin to selecting a favorite child, Travel & Leisure magazine ranked Cafe Ekberg as having one of the best cups in the world. And unlike most of Europe, Finland does a great brewed coffee—though they also like their lattes and cappuccinos. Since so many Finns have lactose allergies, nearly every coffee shop is prepared with multiple types of milk, and oat milk is a stand-out here.

 

Photo courtesy of Kuva fotoplan ky / Timo Lindholm

Year-round Christmas

Head to the arctic circle (AKA the North Pole, AKA Santa’s Village) in Lapland. Here, you can take a reindeer ride (or eat reindeer, which tastes like a mix of beef and pork), visit Santa year-round and send a postcard stamped from the North Pole. It’s also a fantastic place to spot the Northern Lights, so you could check off two items from your bucket list in one location.

 

Tagged: Destinations, Europe

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Danielle Braff

Danielle Braff

Danielle lives in Chicago with her family, two cats and a dog, but she's constantly researching her next vacation. Check out her other articles at www.Daniellebraff.com
Danielle Braff

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