Fourth year Bachelor's student
St. Petersburg to Finland on a Budget
Summer has ended but your mind is full of memories to be recalled. Living in St. Petersburg makes Finland one of the most reachable destinations for traveling. Untouched nature, Nordic-styled cities, unique Finnish goods, and more appealing things make Finland a perfect location for your upcoming adventure. Today, I am going to take you through my Finland-on-a-budget trip and share some interesting details that you probably have not discovered yet.
Options for traveling
Finland is considerably expensive in comparison to Russia, but it is possible to find reasonably priced and even cheap tickets. One of the options would be traveling with the Finnish railway company VR. It might be a little expensive, but if you buy in advance, you may end up paying the same or less as for bus tickets. Moreover, Allegro trains provide their customers with easier border control procedure and faster travelling overall.
Nevertheless, buses are definitely an option if you want to travel on a budget, even though the time and border controlling procedures are longer. Some of the options are Ecolines, LuxExpress, and BusFor. Traveling within Finland is easy with companies like Matkahuolto, Savonlinja, and Onnibus. The latter occasionally offers 1 euro tickets — imagine how much it can help you to save money for your "shopping" or "things to do" list.
How to find a place to stay
Unfortunately, accommodation prices remain high throughout the year, and it gets even more expensive during the Christmas holidays. Does it mean there is no chance of staying in Suomi land without spending half of your budget on a hotel? Of course not! My advice — make friends with people all over the world, so that you can host them, and they can host you back. During my trip, both Finnish and international friends kindly offered me a place to stay and this is probably much more exciting than staying in a hotel on your own. You get to explore daily routine of the locals, cook together and share a nice conversation with a cup of kahvi (coffee). One more option would be to connect with locals using Couch Surfing. The idea is the same — you meet a local online, and if you both get on well with each other, you get a place to stay in a country of your destination. Personally, I have never tried it, but my friends seem to enjoy the philosophy of the website — be a nice visitor or/and host, gain your reputation and enjoy staying at locals' places around the world.
Finland off the beaten track — what else have you not seen yet?
If you’ve travelled to Helsinki or some closer cities like Lahti or Lappeenranta, I bet you presume you’ve seen everything Finland has to offer. Well, let me tell and show you a few things that may get you interested in coming back to the land of thousand lakes once more.
Take your time for recreation
Tired of big city rhythm, feel like escaping to a calm and peaceful environment? Put your phone away and immerse yourself into a nature which the Finns have carefully preserved. They are basically surrounded by it — you don’t have to travel several hours to enjoy the landscapes, just take a ten minutes' walk from a Finnish home and during the summer and early fall you will find yourself picking up delicious berries — mustikka (blueberry) and puolukka (lingonberry). No plastic packaging and high prices for a hundred grams — wonderful berries grow exactly where you’re walking. Further on, find the closest lake with a good viewpoint and enjoy watching a stunning northern sunset — sky colours change every minute, and this is a truly unique experience.
Rent a summer cottage and dare taking a dip into the cold lake waters
Cold autumn is approaching and what could possibly be the best way to avoid getting sick? Get your body prepared for it! A lovely Finnish summer cottage located in the middle of the forest will offer you a traditional sauna experience. After getting warm enough, you have to try swimming in the cold lake — believe me, you will feel like a brand-new person ready to accomplish anything and to overcome every difficult circumstance standing in your way! Besides, it will strengthen your immune system — I didn’t get sick or had a flu for almost a year now — thanks to my sauna experience in Finland as an exchange student.
Climb the highest point and see the place from above
Are you eager to receive a breath-taking experience? Then you need to see Finland from the top, just like the birds do. The viewpoint that I have visited is Hyyppäänvuori, takes around 30 mins to reach it by car from Jyväskylä. The place has given me thrills when I was gazing out on the astonishing landscape. Just by looking at the scenery, you can sense such a harmony with the nature, your state of mind will be detached from your current issues, your anxiety will fade away, leaving you a lighter perspective on upcoming events.
Learning a few words before your trip — is it necessary?
Have you ever heard the phrase that learning Finnish is as hard as learning Mandarin Chinese? Even though Finns are perfect at their English skills, I honestly believe that learning a few words and phrases in Finnish might bring a smile upon the face of a person you’re talking to. It does not take much energy to learn a few greeting phrases like "hei, moi, terve", thank you as "kiitos" and excuse me as "anteeksi", especially because you pronounce them exactly as they’re written. Fun fact: the Finnish language has no specific word for please, so if you want to order a coffee, "one coffee, please" would be "yksi kahvi, kiitos".
With this, I am saying that you will pretty much surprise a local, since they are aware of their language’s level of difficulty. And yet here you are, a foreigner, trying to speak Finnish, struggling with pronunciation of a tricky Finnish "Y". You will see how your experience will become more exciting and how people will turn to be more open and talkative.
Hope I got you interested, and you will want to put Finland on your "places to visit" list.
Welcome to Finland! Tervetuloa Suomeen!