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Her Scandinavian Secrets -- 50 Travel Tips



Train station in Helsinki provides entertainment...
Finland is one of my favorite countries. The main train station in Helsinki has a wonderful shawarma kiosk. Enjoy a large spicy one while watching the passengers coming and going. I would venture to the train station most days because there was always some excitement happening there: free cans of Pepsi one day, free ice cream another day, live music and, of course, lot of travelers.
Margaret, Hamilton, Canada


Swim naked in Helsinki...
I went to Finland last year and braved the Yrjönkatu Indoor Swimming Pool, (the oldest pool) built in 1928. Freezing cold and snowing outside and (gasp) naked women inside. Check the separate bathing times for men and women before you go and take your courage and enjoy the best of Scandinavia. Recently renovated to house three pools and wonderful saunas, there is an extremely convivial atmosphere where women meet after work and have a sauna and swim followed by a drink (served by female waiters who are clothed). Staff are also very helpful and speak English. From my cultural perspective, it was pretty confronting, but I am very glad I took my courage with me. No-one really cared about body shape or size and seemed very comfortable in their own skin. That was a valuable lesson and experience.
June, Adelaide, Australia


Helsinki is safe and fun...
Our capital Helsinki is a nice, relaxed and safe city for female travellers. You can move freely and independently. Helsinki is not too big; it's a walkable city with lovely parks, it's by-the-sea and especially in summer time Helsinki is very international with lots of city events and music. For shoppers I can recommend our biggest department store Stockmann. Finnish design is world famous and you can buy that in our main shopping street in the centre of the town. Don't forget the Moomies, a must souvenier from Finland.

I suggest you also take a boat trip to Stockholm in Sweden and see the city from a different angle. This is a popular enjoyment for Finns and the boats are something to see! It is only 60 kms and you can visit a lovely city called Porvoo, with old buildings from 16th century and narrow streets.
Hannele, Helsinki, Finland


Fabulous facts about Finland...
1) Finns are known for their honesty. Since 1998, Finland has been found to be the world's least corrupt country.

2) Finland's mobile phone market is one of the world's most developed. Ninety-eight per cent of households have mobile phones. It's no surprise, then, that the world's leading manufacturer of mobile devices, Nokia, was founded and is still headquartered in Finland. It's estimated that 11 to 12 Nokia devices are sold every second.

3) Lest you get the sense that Finns are a bunch of bookworms with few other interests, they also hold a number of other firsts, such as the karaoke singing world record, which they nabbed from China by singing nonstop for 240 hours. Could the fact that the Finns are the top coffee-drinking nation have fueled their win?

4) Seventy-five per cent of Finnish households own a personal computer, 70 per cent have an internet connection and 62 per cent broadband; 78 per cent own a digital television.

5) Finland has a literacy rate of 100 per cent and the highest number of registered book borrowers per capita.

6) In Finland education and healthcare are virtually free and equality is not just a buzzword: Finland's president (2009), Tarja Halonen, is a woman and women ministers outnumber men in government, making Finland the most female-dominated government in the world.

7) On average, Finns are entitled to five weeks of paid holidays a year. And while they are avid travelers, many enjoy spending their holiday time in the Finnish archipelago, which is considered the biggest in the world when measured by the number of islands in it – more than 20,000. Finland is also known as "the land of a thousand lakes." Actually, there are 187,888 lakes. The 338,000 square-kilometre country also has more islands than any other country in the world.
(Source: Katja Pantzar at


Talking trash bins in Helsinki...
During the summer trash bins greet passers-by and encourage them to throw their trash away. They are never at a loss for words, whether the subject is culture or politics. This summer tourists will be delighted to hear that the talking trash bins speak not only Finnish and Swedish, but also Japanese, English, German, Polish and Russian. Tourists can also learn the basics of the Finnish language, such as: “One of the sure signs of summer in Finland is that the trash bins start talking.” The voice behind the talking trash bins this year is Simo Frangén, a popular Finnish TV celebrity. The multilingual trash bins can be found along Esplanadi, Senate Square, Sibelius Monument and Temppeliaukio Church. Website:


We loved our time in Finland...
I travelled in Finland with a girlfriend May 2006. In Helsinki we had some of the best food at Kosmos; dinner was served in an elegant 80 year old dining room atmosphere. We still go on about their delectable Cream of Nettle Soup. Address: Kalevankatu 3, tel +358-9-647 255. Highly recommended. Click here for their website.

Leave your high heels at home. Bring comfortable walking shoes for Helsinki, where streets are cobblestoned and beautiful. We loved the mostly low-rise pastel painted architectural wonders that draw you in to the feeling of old times. You will want to explore the whole city by foot and tram. We stumbled onto parks, quaint cafes and restaurants, clothing and fabric stores and the Esplanade, a boardwalk that teems with outdoor eaters and where there's a fantastic indoor/ outdoor food & wares market most days.

I also recommend (SP) travel to Rauma, a 400 year old wooden town, and Tampere, the university city with a river running through it as well as a bus tour to St. Petersburg, Russia where you must take in as much of the culture as you can. Especially delicious was not the food but the folklore concert in a baroque concert hall with singers and dancers that sparkled with old charm as they showed us one of the best evenings of our trip.
Ahava, Salt Spring Island, Canada


Older adults offered travel savings...
If you are 65+ show proof of your age and you will receive 30% discount on trains and buses covering 80 kilometers each way. For air travel within Finland and between Finland and parts of Europe, Finnair offer substantial savings. Website:


What to wear in Finland...
Finns dress stylishly but conservatively. I traveled to Finland during Feb. and March and it gets really cold so dress for the weather -- down coat, hat, gloves and long johns. Waterproof, non-slip boots are a must, as it snows constantly. Out of concern for the environment, Finland does not use rock salt when it snows.
Donna, New York City, USA

Finnish women have a very conservative style that appears to be driven more by the weather than by current fashions. Its easy to see why with temperatures dropping below zero during winter time. Bring lots of turtlenecks and nice-looking skinny jeans. Most women wear nice brown or black boots with the jeans tucked into them.

Make sure if you come in winter or to Helsinki during any time of the year you don't bring any expensive shoes with skinny or high heels. In winter the streets and sidewalks are coated with ice as they do not use rock salt and the streets in Helsinki will tear up your high heels because the streets and sidewalks are all very old and made from bricks.

As far as coats are concerned, anything that keeps you warm is acceptable regardless of shape, color, or material. If you are traveling to Lappland in the winter there is absolutely no need to look fashionable. Just keep warm!!! Snowpants, boots, hats, scarves, insulated mittens, and long underwear are necessities! If you try to look fashionable here when it's that cold you will just look foolish!
Ashley, Chicago, USA



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