Finland is a Nordic paradise that offers a serene backdrop of lakes and forests punctuated by vibrant cities filled with culture. It is a perfect place for seniors to explore and enjoy during their retirement
Below is our senior travel guide to Finland, helping you see why it is worth the visit.
- 1 Why Visit Finland
- 2 Senior Travel Guide to Finland Seasons
- 3 Senior Friendly Travel Guide to Finnish Locations
- 4 Dos and Don’ts in Finland
- 5 Finnish Cuisine
- 6 Conclusion
Why Visit Finland
So you’re considering where to spend your well-earned retirement vacation, huh? Well, Finland should be on top of your list. First off, imagine seeing the Northern Lights dance across the sky as you sip on a warm cup of coffee. It’s not just for young adventurers; it’s a serene experience that folks of any age can appreciate.
But it’s not all snow and winter. Finland is a land of contrasts. You’ve got the midnight sun during summer, where you can take leisurely lakeside strolls at 10 p.m., and it’s still bright. And speaking of lakes, there are more than 188,000 of them! It’s ideal for a peaceful boat ride or even a fishing session if that’s your thing.
The Finnish people take relaxation seriously. Their sauna culture is famous for a reason. Imagine ending your day by unwinding in a steamy room, taking in the warmth as you soothe those muscles. Best part? Sauna culture is real in Finland, with so many around the country.
Another reason to spend your retirement vacation in Finland is the friendly locals. They’re known for their hospitality and community-focused lifestyle. If making a few new friends while abroad sounds good, Finland should be on your radar.
You can see why the country is worth adding to your bucket list. From the incredible natural attractions to the friendly Finns, you will love your stay here.
Senior Travel Guide to Finland Seasons
Timing is everything, especially when planning the vacation of a lifetime. In Finland, each season offers its unique attractions and experiences. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect throughout the year.
When to Catch the Northern Lights
If seeing the Northern Lights is on your bucket list, aim for a visit between September and March. The skies are dark enough to see this natural wonder during these months. The winter chill makes for a cozy setting to enjoy the spectacle.
Just grab a warm drink, wrap up in a blanket, and look up. Many hotels and resorts even offer Northern Lights alerts so you won’t miss the show.
When to Experience the Midnight Sun
Have you ever wanted a day that never ends? In Finland, you can experience just that! Head north of the Arctic Circle between late May and July; the sun barely sets. The never-ending daylight gives you plenty of time to enjoy outdoor activities, no rush.
From relaxed garden walks to late-night golfing, the midnight sun makes every day feel like the longest day of the year.
Spring Blooms and City Escapes
Spring in Finland usually runs from April to June. It’s the season when cities come alive with blooming flowers and outdoor cafes. Helsinki, Tampere, and Oulu are great places to soak in the urban vibes.
Gardens and parks are filled with colors, perfect for a stroll or a picnic. Spring is also less crowded, making it a great time to explore the city and relax.
Summer Festivals and Lake Activities
Ah, summer in Finland! From June to August, the weather is warm, and the days are long. It’s festival season, so you’ll find plenty of events celebrating music, art, and local food. You can tap your feet to jazz, folk, or whatever tunes float your boat.
But let’s not forget about the lakes, the real summer gems of Finland. You can go swimming, boating, or even try your hand at fishing. If you like to keep things low-key, grab a book and relax by the water’s edge.
Fall Foliage and Harvest Season
Come September, the trees put on a spectacular show of color. Shades of red, orange, and gold light up the landscape. It’s a wonderful time for scenic drives or leisurely walks in the forest. And don’t forget about the harvest festivals.
You’ll get to sample fresh produce, like Finnish apples and berries. Many places also host markets to buy local crafts and homemade treats. It’s the cozy season you didn’t know you needed.
Winter Wonderland and Skiing Opportunities
When winter rolls around, usually from December to February, Finland becomes a snowy paradise. This is your chance if you’ve always wanted to try skiing or snowboarding. The slopes cater to all skill levels, and there are even instructors for beginners.
If you’d rather skip the adrenaline rush, how about a sleigh ride instead? Picture yourself wrapped in warm blankets, gliding through a winter wonderland. And yes, hot cocoa stops are a must. Winter in Finland is about enjoying the frosty beauty at your own pace.
Senior Friendly Travel Guide to Finnish Locations
So you’ve got the seasons sorted, but what about the cities? Each Finnish city has its flair and attractions. From exploring Finland’s rich history to trying out the local flavors, these Finn cities are the reasons to visit the country.
Helsinki is the heartbeat of Finland. It’s a mix of old-world charm and modern life, bustling with activity but still easy to navigate. You’ll find plenty of parks, museums, and vibrant market squares.
Step back in time at Senate Square, the historic heart of Helsinki. This is where you’ll find the grand Helsinki Cathedral with its iconic white domes. Sit on the steps, watch people pass by, and soak in the history. It’s also wheelchair accessible, making it a convenient stop for every one.
Nestled between shopping streets, Esplanade Park is a green oasis. It’s the ideal spot for a leisurely walk among beautiful flower beds and sculptures. In the summer, you’ll often find live music. The park is also accessible to anyone with its many benches and kiosks.
Ateneum Art Museum
Art lovers, this one’s for you. The Ateneum houses Finland’s most significant art collection, featuring works from the 19th century to modern times. The museum is senior-friendly,, with easy navigation, seating areas, and even guided tours focusing on the highlights.
Looking to sample Finnish cuisine or pick up some souvenirs? Market Square is the place to be. Local artisans are selling wonderful Finnish crafts you can buy as souvenirs for your family. Try the Finnish pastries or enjoy a cup of hot coffee as you watch the boats go by.
Suomenlinna Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site, just a short ferry ride from Helsinki’s center. You are greeted with the incredible natural Finnish scenery. The island offers flat, well-maintained paths perfect for a casual walk. Explore the old fortifications, visit the Suomenlinna Museum, or simply enjoy a picnic with a view.
Welcome to Tampere, often called the “Manchester of Finland.” It’s a city that blends industrial history with a love for culture and nature. Upon your visit, below are the fantastic destinations to visit in this Finnish city.
Tampere Cathedral is not just a place of worship; it’s also a masterpiece of art and architecture. The building itself is in the national romantic style, and the interior is adorned with stunning frescoes by Hugo Simberg. Elevators and ramps make it accessible for seniors so everyone can enjoy its beauty.
Särkänniemi Amusement Park
Think amusement parks are just for the young? Think again. Särkänniemi offers more than just rides. The Näsinneula observation tower provides a calm way to see the city from above. Plus, the park has beautiful gardens and an aquarium. It’s a spot where the young at heart can find something fun to do.
Pyynikki Observation Tower
If you love scenic views, the Pyynikki Observation Tower is a must-visit. The tower overlooks the city and its surrounding lakes. Don’t worry, there’s an elevator. Once you’re done soaking in the views, head downstairs to the café famous for its doughnuts—a local treat you won’t want to miss.
Nature lovers will feel right at home in the Hatanpää Arboretum. The garden is filled with different species of trees, plants, and flowers. The paths are well-maintained, making it easy for a relaxed walk. And if you’re visiting in the summer, the rose garden is in full bloom, offering a colorful and fragrant experience.
Vapriikki Museum Center
If you’re the kind who loves to learn when to do a couple or solo senior travel, Vapriikki is the place for you. This museum center houses everything from Finnish history to natural sciences and a vintage video game exhibit. The facility is wheelchair-friendly and offers seating areas to rest, making it a comfortable outing for seniors.
Oulu is a vibrant city located in Northern Finland, best known for its tech scene and stunning natural surroundings. With the sea on one side and forests on the other, it’s a destination that offers the best of both worlds. Oulu has something for every senior traveler, from bustling marketplaces to peaceful parks.
Market Square and Hall
The heart of Oulu’s social life can be found in its Market Square and adjacent Market Hall. You can taste local Finnish products like fresh fish, berries, and pastries here. The hall is indoors, so it’s a good spot for any weather. It’s also wheelchair-accessible, ensuring everyone can explore comfortably.
Who says you can’t enjoy a beach day in Finland? Nallikari Beach offers golden sands and stunning sea views. The beach is flat and easy to navigate, ideal for a leisurely walk along the water’s edge. You can also find cafes nearby, perfect for grabbing a snack or a cool drink.
Oulu Castle Park
Once home to an actual castle, this park is a lovely green space with historical markers. It’s a nice area for a stroll, and you can learn about Oulu’s history. The paths are well-maintained and flat, making it an easy walk for seniors.
This isn’t just one park; it’s a collection of tiny islands connected by charming wooden bridges. The Hupisaaret Islands offer scenic spots to sit and relax, ponds filled with ducks, and beautifully landscaped gardens. It’s an excellent place for those who enjoy peaceful nature walks with a touch of whimsy.
Tietomaa Science Center
If you enjoy hands-on learning, the Tietomaa Science Center is worth a visit. The exhibits cover a variety of topics, from technology to natural sciences. And don’t worry about it being too “young” — the center offers something for curious minds of all ages. It’s also designed for accessibility, with ramps and elevators available.
Dos and Don’ts in Finland
Traveling to a new country is exciting, but knowing local customs can improve your trip. Finland has its cultural norms that can differ from what you’re used to. To help you have the best experience, we’ve gathered some dos and don’ts for your Finnish adventure.
Dos in Finland
Always be on time
Punctuality is a big deal in Finland. Whether joining a guided tour or meeting friends for dinner, being on time is important. Arriving late could be seen as disrespectful. So plan and give yourself enough time to get where you’re going.
Use your inside voice
Finns value peace, even in public places. It’s appreciated if you keep your voice down when you’re in a restaurant, on a bus, or just walking around. This creates a peaceful atmosphere that many Finns cherish.
Respect personal space
Personal space is highly valued in Finland. It’s polite to keep about an arm’s length distance when talking to someone. This respect for space even applies in public transport where people often opt for a window seat, leaving the aisle seat empty for as long as possible.
Finland is known for its beautiful natural landscapes, and they’d like to keep it that way. You’ll find plenty of recycling bins around. Glass, plastic, and paper all have their separate bins. Make sure to sort your waste to help keep Finland clean.
Enjoy the silence
In Finland, silence is golden. You don’t need to fill every moment with conversation. It’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy the quiet, whether out in nature or sitting in a café. Many Finns find silence comfortable, not awkward.
Don’ts in Finland
Don’t jump queues
In Finland, respecting the queue is serious business. Cutting in line is a big no-no at the bus stop or in the supermarket. Wait your turn patiently; it’s a sign of respect for others.
A service charge is already included in the bill in many Finnish restaurants and hotels. Because of this, tipping is not a common practice. If you want to tip for exceptional service, a small amount is more than enough.
Don’t make small talk
In Finland, conversations usually get to the point quickly. Small talk isn’t a common social lubricant as it might be in other cultures. It’s not considered rude; it’s just that Finns prefer meaningful conversations over casual chit-chat.
Don’t disturb the wildlife
The natural world is highly respected in Finland. If you’re out exploring the forests or lakes, maintain a safe and respectful distance from any animals you encounter. Let them go about their business undisturbed.
Keep the environment as pristine as you found it. Always carry a small bag for your trash and dispose of it properly in designated bins. Littering is frowned upon and can result in fines.
Don’t Forget Insurance
While Finland is relatively safe, it pays to have coverage during your visit. You want extensive coverage provided by services like Travelex Travel that offer different lifestyle options.
Finland is an adventure of your tongue with its numerous fine cuisines. You can see for yourself by trying out these recipes below.
Lohikeitto with Tomatoes
If you want to bring a bit of Finland to your table, Lohikeitto is a traditional Finnish salmon soup that’s hearty and delicious. This unique version adds sliced tomatoes for a burst of flavor and color. Let’s get cooking!
- One lb salmon fillets, cubed
- Four medium potatoes, diced
- One large onion, chopped
- Two carrots, sliced
- One leek, sliced
- Four cups of fish stock
- One cup of heavy cream
- Two tomatoes, sliced (for cooking and garnish)
- Two tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh dill for garnish
- Melt your butter in a large pot while on medium heat. Place your onions, carrots, and leeks into the pot once your butter turns liquid. Sauté them until the onions turn translucent.
- Pour in the fish stock and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add the diced potatoes. Let the fish cook for 10 minutes or until it is tender.
- Lower the heat and add the salmon cubes to the pot. Let the salmon cook until it turns opaque, which should take about 5 minutes.
- Add half of the sliced tomatoes to the pot. Save the rest for garnish. Stir them in and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Pour in the heavy cream and stir. Turn the fire down if the soup is bubbling up to prevent the cream from curdling. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve your Lohikeitto while it is hot. Pour into bowls and top with fresh dill and the remaining sliced tomatoes as garnish.
This Lohikeitto recipe with a tomato twist offers a fresh take on a Finnish classic. The added tomatoes provide a touch of acidity and sweetness that pairs wonderfully with the creamy, fishy goodness of the traditional soup. Enjoy!
Karjalanpiirakka is a traditional Finnish pastry, often filled with rice porridge, mashed potatoes, or carrot and rice filling. This recipe sticks to the classic rice filling but adds a dash of nutmeg for a little twist. Get ready to roll some dough and make this Finnish favorite!
- One cup of short-grain rice
- Two cups water
- Two cups milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Dash of nutmeg
- Two cups of rye flour
- One cup of all-purpose flour
- two cups of warm water
- one tsp salt
- 1/4 cup melted butter for brushing
- Combine rice and water in a pot. Cook the rice until it is fluffy and has taken most of the water.
- Add milk, salt, and a dash of nutmeg. Let the porridge simmer while stirring occasionally to avoid burning the bottom. Set it aside to cool.
- Now for the dough. Mix your rye and all-purpose flour with a teaspoon of salt in a bow. Gradually add warm water, kneading until you get a firm dough.
- Cut the dough into small separate golf balls size. Roll each ball out into a thin, oval shape.
- Spoon rice filling onto each oval, leaving a border around the edge.
- Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, pinching to create a crimped look.
- Preheat your oven to 475°F (245°C). Place the raw karjalanpiirakka on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Brush each pastry with melted butter. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.
- Once out of the oven, brush with more melted butter for a glossy finish.
Enjoy your Karjalanpiirakka warm or at room temperature. The added nutmeg gives the traditional rice filling an aromatic twist, making each bite a comforting and delicious experience.
Korvapuusti are Finnish cinnamon rolls that are a beloved treat in Finland. Soft, fluffy, and filled with cinnamon and sugar, these pastries are perfect for coffee breaks or desserts. Here’s how to make them at home.
- Four cups of all-purpose flour
- One cup of warm milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- One egg
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- One packet of active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Two tbsp ground cinnamon
- One egg, beaten
- Pearl sugar or crushed sugar cubes for garnish
- Mix warm milk and yeast in a bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes until it starts to froth.
- Add sugar, melted butter, egg, and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix well.
- Gradually add flour, mixing until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it becomes smooth.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover it and let it rise for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a large rectangle.
- Spread softened butter on the dough. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon evenly over the butter.
- Roll the dough tightly from one of the long edges to form a log.
- Cut the log into slices about 1.5 inches thick. Place each slice, swirl side up, on the baking sheet.
- Brush each roll with beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the rolls turn golden brown.
Your Korvapuusti are ready to be enjoyed! These Finnish cinnamon rolls are best served warm, right out of the oven. They’re perfect for pairing with coffee or tea. Enjoy!
Finland is a fairytale destination full of incredible stories for you to experience. From the magical Northern Lights to the bustling markets of Helsinki, this country offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness.
Make Finland your next stop for a retirement vacation you’ll cherish for a lifetime.