Sports, berries, and cruise ships; the Finnish way to relax

Finns are hardworking people, but they also value their time off. A lot of the favorite pastime activities in Finland are related to sports in one way or the other, but there are also some other activities that Finns enjoy doing.

Long vacations truly show us how Finns like to relax outside of work.

Looking at my own childhood and how my parents spent their time after work, I realize that it was a lot of driving for them. Finnish schools don’t have any sport teams or anything like that, so parents have to drive their kids to practice every day. My parents, for example, drove 30 minutes every single day to get me to practice and another 30 minutes back home.

Since kids might play multiple sports such as hockey, soccer, and floorball, it takes a lot of effort from parents to drive their kids around.

Finns also enjoy watching sporting events. In the summertime, soccer, pesäpallo, and track and field are the main sports. During the winter, people enjoy going to hockey and floorball games. If Finns are not driving their kids around or enjoying live sports, they could be playing sports with their friends or colleagues. Renting ice and playing hockey is popular yearround.

It’s also common for companies to have their own floorball or hockey team. Well, it’s not really a team if they don’t play against anyone, but they still play weekly with each other. In the winter, cross country skiing is a popular activity since there are well-lit skiing tracks everywhere.

Finland’s nature is beautiful, which is why people like to relax outdoors. In the summer when there are no skiing tracks, the same trails are used for Nordic walking. It is a popular fitness activity for people of all ages.

Swimming is also something that Finns naturally do a lot in their free time.

The change in season does little to affect swimmers, because the crazy Finns truly enjoy ice swimming in the Winter.

Picking berries and mushrooms is another great way to spend time in the nature. Finns mostly do this for fun, but every summer thousands of workers come to Finland from countries like Thailand and Ukraine to pick berries.

Not everyone likes sports or walks in the nature. Many Finns enjoy spending time at home and doing chores around the house. One of the reasons why Finns love staying at home in their free time is the ability to work from home.

Studies show that on a European scale, Finns are the hardest working people in their free time. Only one third of the Finns don’t do anything work-related at home. Luckily, thanks to the modern technology, you don’t have to be at work or at home in order to work.

As you might already know, summer cottages are extremely common in Finland. It doesn’t have to be a weekend or a vacation, some Finns go to their cottages after work and spend their time there. Whether people go to their cottages or decide to stay at home after work, going to sauna is obviously an important routine in Finland. It’s the most relaxing way to get your mind off work, even for the Finnish workaholics.

Even though Finns work really hard, they also take long vacations. In Finland, there’s a four-week paid vacation in the summer, and a week-long paid vacation in the winter. Trips to Sweden and Estonia are something that Finns do a lot during their vacations. These cruises don’t cost a fortune, and they’re a great way to experience different cultures. Tax free shopping on these cruise ships is also another benefit that Finns go crazy for.

In case you were wondering, yes, alcohol plays a big role on these trips. In fact, if you decide to take a ferry to Estonia, instead of a cruise ship, it only takes 2 hours to get there. One round-trip ticket only costs 30 euros, which is why many Finns go to Estonia just to buy alcohol. The alcohol prices in Estonia are lower than in Finland, so it is popular to take a quick trip there, and buy large amounts of alcohol for weddings, for example.

When it comes to making longer trips, Finns definitely have their favorites. Many Finns spend their winter vacations in Thailand, but by far the most popular travel destination is Spain, especially the Canary Islands. Over 1,200 Finns permanently live in the Canary Islands, and hundreds of thousands visit there every year. The Canary Islands have a Finnish school, Finnish restaurants, bars, a library, and saunas.

In general, Finns rarely break their traditions. Year in, year out, they stick to their old habits that they truly enjoy. Playing or watching sports, enjoying nature, and decades of trips to the Canary Islands are the simple things that Finns do to relax. Like the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Roni Salmenkangas is a student athlete at Ferris State University, majoring in sports communication. For the most part, Roni’s stories focus on Finnish culture and people. He is completing his internship from Tampere, Finland.


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