Winter in Finland

10 tips what to do in winter in Finland (update 8/2022)

You might think that there is nothing to do in winter in Finland.  Well nothing is further from the truth….  In this post I will give you ten outdoor tips what to do in winter in Saimaa lakeland area (Puumala, Mikkeli, Varkaus, Savonlinna  areas). Most things don´t cost nothing. Some things will require a  car or a hired guide.   Hope you like…

1. Play with snow

Okey, we have snow. Sometimes a lot, sometimes less…winters are different. It is big fun to play in snow with children building snow man, snow hut (need some knowledge to do that), shovel a mountain of  snow and then enjoy riding sledge and sliders… and after that enjoy warm cocoa made of reel milk. Yammy……A simple walk in the snowy landscape is a sensation. If temperature goes above 0C you can do snowballs and maybe try a “snow ball war” with friends.

2. Walk  on ice & see Ice Art

Normally, all lakes are deep frozen from November till end of April. With the warming climate winters are different. Sometimes lakes get frozen later than usual (like in 2016)  in January, but they allways do. At the moment we have some 50cm of ice.  You should go for a walk on ice. 50cm of ice can carry a 12tons truck. In some places in lake Saimaa area, they even do “Ice roads” which shorten the distance between villages and town. One word of safety advice:  you should never go on ice which is not thick enough. In places of current the ice can be very thin all winter, and you will not want to drop in ice…  Ask you finnish friends and locals for help about where to go safely..      There are some ice-art happenings every winter, like we had in Varkaus one week ago.  Ice sculpture is really great thing to watch, and the sculpture will remain there untill spring comes. If you get a big piece of ice and some tools, you might try making your own….

3. Look at the stars in the nothern sky

Did you ever see a dark sky and millions of stars? Makes you feel small.  There is no time better to see this than in the winter, because nights are long and dark.  After sunset check if there are clouds in the sky. If not, this is your chance to see stars and northern sky, and if you are lucky… a glimps of Northern lights.  By the way, did you know that there are regularly northern lights even in Helsinki, but the problem is that they cannot be seen, due to “light pollution” of big city. You should allways go out of the city, to distant and isolated places to observe evening sky. Less light means better experience.  Some astronome clubs have built observatories, like “Cassiopeia Club” in Varkaus.  They have open door evenings during winter months in non-cloudy days. You should go if you want to be amazed…

4. Feed and observe birds

Some birds do not migrate to warm countries when winter is coming. These brave birds need our help to survive the long winter, and thats why people should feed them with grains breadcrumps nuts leftovers etc. It is nice to watch feeding birds and try to recognize the species..  Check in Google what kind of birds remain in winter…

5. Go skiing

Finns love crosscountry skiing. There are skiing tracks near all towns and in the countryside. You should definitely try this !  Borrow a pair of skis and boots from a friend, or find out the nearest rental (not easy to find except in Tourist resorts). You might buy them cheap in a flea market, if you donot find elsewhere. Go first with a finnish friend to lower the learning curve.  If  you fall, just get up and try again…

10 tips what to do in March in Finland by Lakelandguide
Cross country skiing is great sports

6. Walk with snowshoes in the forest

Finnish forest is beautifull in winter, and they are plenty. Forest becomes magic when you get out of tracks, “inside the forest”. Snow everywhere. Forest is silent. You can hear every small sound. You see animals tracks in the snow. There is a lot more  life in winter forest than you might think.  Air is fresh. Excitement grows when you go deeper in the forest. You can go anywhere by snowshoes. You can follow your own path. And of course… you will find back by simply following your own track. Even on very cold days (-30C or so) you donot feel cold inside the forest, because snow and trees protect you in a way. If you donot own snowshoes, you might want to go on a guided snowshoe safari. Like the ones organized by Lakelandguide.

7. Try winter ice fishing

Did you ever think where the fish go when lakes get deep frozen?  Winter time is special for all fish. Water temperature in the bottom of lakes is +4C and gets to 0C just below ice shelter. As far as ice  is covered by snow, no light can enter below ice, and it is a dark and cold environment.  At this time, fish are mostly passive (but they still need to eat every now and then) and remain mostly close to bottom.  Ice fishing with a small fishing rod on a sunny day may be the most relaxing thing you can imagine.  Drilling a hole in the ice through 50cm of ice, lowering a small bait to the bottom, raising it up and down, waiting for fish to grab to bait… in complete silence on the ice, sitting, thinking of the beauty of winter…  You must try this to believe. Even if you would not catch any fish, you will remember the feeling forever. Best to be practiced on a sunny, zero-wind day in March-april. Remember safety, and donot go on weak ice. If possible, hire a guide or take a local friend who knows with you. Dress warm. If you donot have access to equipment, it might be easier to use guide services, like the ones of Lakelandguide

8. Swim in ice hole or try Ice floating

The first time you go swimming in an ice hole. Cold. Your mind fights the idea to go in the water, and your skin joins the fight as you go down the stairs to 0C water. Studies show that people who do this regularly have enhanced immunity for cold and sicknesses. After the exercise, once back in warm inside, you will feel  great sensations. It cannot be descibed, you must try it (only if you are in good health. Not for people suffering from heart diseases). In most town there is a place with a warm shelter to change clothes and a pump driven ice hole that remains open during the coldest days.  First-timers should go with a friend who has done it before, never alone.  There are some other ice-swimming related experiences available in the area.  One is an exercise where you will learn how to escape from water if you have fallen in due to weak ice. Another is a guided ice floating wearing waterproof rescue suit, neoprene gloves etc. Lakelandguide is one company organizing these experiences…

9. Motorized activities

This is for the “adrenaline hunters”…  While most motorized winter activities can be found in the Lapland, there are some nice options also in lake Saimaa area. Some companies organize guided snow scooter tours, like Porokylä in Rantasalmi.  You will enjoy the speed and the power of the snow scooters.  Electric scooters are also coming in 2022 and in Puumala you can book a private Electric snow scooter tour to enjoy the forest in peace and quiet, yet in perfect ease.

electric snow scooter adventure in Puumala by LakelandGTE

10. Last but not least:  SAUNA

Visiting Finland any season and not going to Sauna: same as going to Caribian and not going to beach. Sauna is number one thing for most finns, and for a reason. Try it alone, or after any of above activities. You feel revitalized and healthy. Like a rebirth. Any day of the week. Any time of the day. Alone or with friends. You will find a sauna practically in all rental cottages, all hotels, swimming halls, private houses.  In Sahanlahti resort there will even be an ice-sauna made of bricks of natural ice… how cool is that!!!!   Did you know that there are over 3 million saunas in Finland?  If you never been to Sauna, you should ask a finnish friend the first time to show you how…  It is heaven !

For any further information feel free to contact Arto the Lakelandguide using contact form