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An autumn weekend somewhere in Finland. Picture: Sami Uskela/Flickr

Ah! summer . . . the time of holidays, vacations and relaxation. To go, or not to go? To quote Anna Viljanen: “This is the question.” If yes, where to go? Croatia, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Egypt – all those luxurious all-inclusive hotels with pools, food and people. The whole South just waiting for you to arrive. And what if I told you to go North? Oh, come on, don’t look at me that way. I know what I’m talking about – I’m one of those freaks that decided to leave the hot and humid South. Yes. There are indeed clear reasons why Scandinavia and Finland could be the target for your dream vacation.

Temperature. No chance that the heat will affect you. Recently one of [highlight color=#FFFF00 ]Finland Today’s headlines[/highlight] said something about a broken heat record – broken with, ladies and gentlemen, pun intended, 26 degrees. This suspicious sound you hear now is my lenient laugh. Poland is only one Baltic Sea away from Finland and the average temperatures are so different. Well, heat is something that has no chance to destroy your summer chillin’. Instead, you’ll find perfect conditions for sightseeing, hiking and calm relaxing with a book.

 Safety. You can go for a walk alone during any time of the day. You know when tourists feel like they are welcomed with “opened arms?” When there’s nothing to fear about. We, two young foreign ladies, were able to browse the city in the late evening without any harassment. This isn’t so obvious in many countries. I know that probably every city has its own “forbidden” districts, in which foreigners aren’t warmly welcomed, and so arguably does Helsinki. But generally, we felt there very safe and restful.

No rush. And you can feel like a true hipster. What surprised us during our stay . . . (“Oh boy, not again! I can’t stand all those Viljanen’s Finnish surprises anymore!”) was the absolute lack of tourists in Finland. Well, there were a few, but we expected much more. The city was calm, quiet like a dignified dame waiting for her noble guests to come. No rough-and-tumble, no admiring Mona Lisa through screens of billion tourists trying to take a photo, no queues that last for hours. Bonus – you can consider yourself a true hipster, because you visited a country that isn’t mainstream. Yet.

Forests. Nature all around. Joking apart, the most beautiful thing you can see either in Finland or in Scandinavian countries is forests. Overwhelming greenery surrounding you from all sides. After my trip, I was completely convinced that real Ents, which Tolkien has written about, DO exist and, what more, they live in Nuuksio. A Polish woman we met (the host of restaurant I mentioned in my previous column) said that not only is the winter a popular tourist season in Finland, but also summer and, interestingly, autumn. It looks like the forests are an equivalent tourist attraction to Aurora Borealis.

Exotic. Get lost and find yourself. What is exotic? If you have palm trees, coconuts and boa snakes on your mind when you hear that word – well, probably North won’t be a good choice for a holiday. But if “exotic” means to you “something I didn’t know or experience before” – try it. Culture, language, landscapes, living, cuisine – all those ingredients can really interest you, and if you’ll stay open for new experiences, you can learn a lot and leave North inspired. Isn’t that the reason we travel?