Finland’s oldest city and former capital is well worth a visit, with buzzing bars, restaurants and museums, plus 20,000 islets to explore. Quiz question: which is the oldest city in Finland and became the capital in 1809? No, not Helsinki – Turku. This south-western city, little-known to UK travellers, was the most important in Finland for hundreds of years.
Finland is trying to spread its happiness around the globe after topping the list of the world’s happiest countries for the second year in a row. To help others find happiness, Visit Finland is offering people the opportunity to travel to Finland for free and learn from “happiness guides”. The PR stunt, called Rent a Finn, is based on the idea that happiness stems from immersing oneself in nature.
Many of us are familiar with the idea of stripping to our pants, opening a beer and watching TV. But in Finland ‘Pantsdrunk’ has been elevated to an official activity. It’s been a long day: one meeting after another. You leave your office, happy the working day is finally over. You could head out, network until the early hours, but somehow it doesn’t appeal. What you need, more than anything, is to relax and de-stress.
What tea is to the UK, coffee is to Finland. Earlier this year, Finns were named the top coffee consumers in the world by the International Coffee Organisation – they drink an impressive 12kg per person per year, compared to the UK’s 2.8kg and Italy’s 5.8kg. That’s roughly 10 cups of coffee a day, usually served hot and dark and frequently paired with a korvapuusti – a traditional Finnish cinnamon roll whose name translates as ‘slapped ears’.