The Forest – a Finnish Favourite
Around 65 per cent of Finland’s total land area is covered in forest. Pine, fir and birch trees are significant features of the landscape. Forests are like water in Finland: ever-present, including in the major cities. Even in the capital city of Helsinki there are sizeable forested areas, some of which are designated nature reserves.
There is something magical about the forest. The Finnish soul has always been linked with the forest. The green colour is calming; the gentle rustling of the leaves and pine needles is like music. Finns feel good in the forest. Not alone, not lost – the forest provides protection and peace.
Hiking in summer, cross-country skiing in winter, gathering berries and mushrooms or simply a gentle walk in the woods: these are popular leisure activities in Finland. The forest is simply a part of everyday life in Finland.
Hiking on marked trails
There are short walking routes throughout the country, as well as national parks with places to stay overnight on longer hikes. If you want to go on a proper hike with your backpack and tent, then Lapland and eastern Finland are perfect. Finland has a total of 37 national parks. The largest of these, Lemmenjoki National Park and Urho Kekkonen National Park, are located way up north in Lapland.
It’s a good idea to prepare adequately for a long hike in Finland, because there are few inhabitants along the way and hikers need to take along everything they will need for their time in the woods. Familiarise yourself with the Finnish concept of ‘Everyman’s Right’: your right to go anywhere in the forest doesn’t mean you are entitled to do anything you want. Nature belongs to us all – that is clear in Finland, and that’s what Everyman’s Right is for.
Pick your own berries along the way
Autumn is probably the loveliest season in the forest. That’s when nature offers us mushrooms, berries and wonderful fresh air as we gather the gifts of the forest. Everyman’s Right provides that everyone can access some of the treasures of the forest and ensures that there is plenty left over in the vast forests. Nature rewards us with healthy and tasty delights.
Many regard berry-picking as an outdoor activity and a hobby that continues at home with jam-making and preserving, with delicious results to be stored in the cellar or freezer. It’s something you can continue to enjoy all winter long. Finns are berry enthusiasts and woodland gourmets. And everything’s completely organic and environmentally friendly – the natural way.
In the rush and crush of modern life, the rarities are what we value most, such as space, quiet and time. The space to breathe, a time to dream… you can find these treasures in Finland, where the lakes are many and the people are few.