Iceland is so last year. And Finland has everything Iceland’s got . . . and more. Families can do everything when they travel to Finland, from visiting Santa year round at the Arctic Circle to relaxing in a luxury sauna (a must-do) to glamping in an actual igloo. This is a true adventure paradise.
Luxury Travel to Finland Makes Families Happy
On a recent luxurious visit to Finland, I managed to pack about a dozen new experiences into a week, from dipping into a sauna to cooling off in the Baltic Sea to learning about glamping in igloos (no joke). Luxury travel to Finland will be an experience I’ll never forget because it’s so different from any other part of the world.
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Why fly to Finland?
We flew via Finnair, which flies non-stop from most major cities throughout the United States. Like IcelandAir, Finnair has a stopover program, so we could hop from Helsinki to other European countries without paying an extra fee. We didn’t have the time to do that this trip, but would totally consider it for the next one.
We had our first taste of Finland luxury inside Finnair, where the slippers in Business Class are designed by Marimekko, the ice-cream is fresh from Finnish farms (try the pine flavored – trust us!) and the free meal contains meatballs reminiscent of those beloved Ikea meatballs – but better.
Take a dip in a sauna
We were only in Finland for a few minutes when we heard about saunas for the first time. It’s a big topic there. Those Finns love their saunas. There are 5 millions Finnish people and more than 3 million saunas. And kids? They’re welcomed into the saunas (there are no warning signs by them, as there are in the US). More than that, they’re encouraged to sauna (yes, sauna is a verb in Finland) at any age. Pregnant women can and do give birth in them (not at all what we’d want to do, however).
The saunas are heated to around 160 degrees, and when you can’t take the heat any longer, you run screaming (well, we did – but didn’t notice any of the Finns screaming) into the freezing cold, icy sea. Rinse and repeat. It sounds horrific, but it’s so much fun that the Finns do it at least once a week. We did it two times during our week-long visit, and would have done it more often if our itinerary hadn’t been so packed. Try the uber-traditional Rauhaniemi sauna first, and then spend a day at the Loyly sauna, which is a chic urban version, complete with its own fancy restaurant.
Finland fulfills a fantasy
Finland is all about fairytales and fantasy. We visited the MuumiMuseo museum within the Tampere Art Museum, which is dedicated to the Moomins, a troll family created by artist Tove Jansson. The Moomin family have a cult following in Finland and in England – and will have you and your kids obsessing over the adorably shaped creatures once you’re done. Don’t worry, there’s a gift shop where you can buy everything Moomin. We picked up a few mugs so we could be reminded of those cuties daily.
Finland also has its own Santa’s Village (open year-round) in the Arctic Circle in Lapland, where you can visit Santa, take a reindeer ride, walk across the arctic circle line and get a great view of the northern lights. Don’t forget to send a postcard from the North Pole.
The hotels are luxurious
We love Airbnbs as much as the next family, but we would recommend only staying in hotels here. Beyond the fact that they’re absolutely stunningly gorgeous, the hotels in Finland typically come with a complimentary breakfast – and this isn’t one of those “cereal in a box and call it a day” breakfasts.
We went hotel hopping (yes, we have FOMO), staying in Hotel Lilla Roberts, Hotel Clarion and finally, Radisson Blu Grand Hotel Tammer – and at all three, there were sprawling breakfast buffets. These were filled with lavish spreads of Finnish berries, fruits, porridge, eggs, meats, croissants, freshly baked breads, homemade yogurts and essentially anything and everything you could ever imagine. And they take allergies seriously. There was always a gluten-free and a dairy-free section, so you don’t even need to ask about most allergens. Whenever a friend mentioned that she was gluten-free, the restaurants (yes, every restaurant) brought her a gluten-free version of the meal we were eating.
The Finns have a lot of allergies, too, so they know how to deal with them. Allergies to dairy are the most common dietary restriction, though vegetarianism is also a big thing here, and many of the restaurants have become vegetarian or veggie-focused.
Shop and devour design
Art and design is super important to Finland, and they try very hard to make it accessible to everyone. You know how Ikea’s furniture and designs have very clean lines, and when you walk through the store, you want to live in it because it appears to be uncluttered and perfectly organized? That’s basically the Finland theme, taken up a notch with respect to the beauty.
Ittalia and Marimekko are two of the biggest names in Finnish design, and we visited their design centers and outlets there. You’d think these would be adult-focused activities, but kids may enjoy it too, as Ittalia has Moomin trolls all over their children’s collection (which could possibly be the cutest assortment of dishes we’ve ever seen). Marimekko’s designs are bright and colorful, as Marimekko wanted her pieces to make people get a burst of happiness every day. We think she totally succeeded.
Finland takes glamping to a totally new level. You can actually stay in glass igloos during the Northern Lights season, which is the end of August through the end of April. Stay at Kakslauttanen, where two or four people can camp out with a bed and a toilet. Or, if your family is totally adventurous, you can stay in their snow igloo, which will feel like you’re in a snow globe. No, it’s not heated, but they give you a down sleeping bag, and no one has frozen yet.
What can you do with kids in Finland?
Read more about that here: 5 Days in Finland- Best Things to Do with Kids
What should you bring for the kids?