Frigid Tourists

Kuva: Peter Culley

Winter is here and so are the tourists. Our visitors from afar are not used to cold temperatures and many are even experiencing snow for the first time. Living in the Arctic, we are used to snow, ice and harsh winter temperatures, but many things can seem strange for foreigners.


  • Windows do not open. The first time I saw a window that doesn’t open was in Finland.
  • Doors open the wrong way. External doors here open outwards, in most other countries in the world, external doors open inwards.
  • Few visitors will understand the sauna. If you host a sauna evening for foreign visitors, do not test their endurance by throwing too much water on the stones. It will ruin their idea of the sauna – I speak from experience! Hitting each other with twigs and rolling around naked in the snow might also seem a little odd for the foreign visitor.
  • Chimney latch. I have never seen a fireplace abroad with a chimney you can close.

Vehicles & traffic

  • Metal-studded tyres. I have never seen these tyres anywhere else in the world.
  • Block heating. We plug our cars in to keep the engine warm in the winter.
  • If you stand by a zebra crossing and wait to cross the road, cars will seldom stop to let you cross (unless you are a reindeer). In England, you will get a fine and points on your licence for not letting people cross the road.
  • In most other countries, when it snows, you avoid driving or going anywhere at all – it is just too risky!
  • Avoid tourists walking in the middle of the road. I have noticed that I also do this on holiday. Why? I don’t know.


  • Seeing a baby sleeping in a pram outside in the winter is shocking for most visitors. They might think it is like putting your child to sleep in the freezer.
  • Even small children walk to school alone. This is because we don’t have much crime in Lapland.
  • Abroad, most schools will close if there is snow.
  • Kids even eat ice cream in the winter.

Northern Lights

  • Some visitors have superstitions related to the Northern Lights, but any foreign visitor would like to experience these celestial phenomena.

Polar Night

  • There’s not much daylight in winter. This might sound unappealing for people who have never experienced it, but the snow really does brighten things up. Although many of us hate the snow and winter in general, what we see when we look outside is similar to what other people only see once a year on Christmas cards.

Distances and the compass

  • Here, distances are measured in kilometres. One hundred kilometres means one hour of driving. In busier places abroad, distances are measured in time. In London, travelling ten kilometres can easily take an hour.
  • Finland is a large country, so people are used to talking about compass directions. However, telling a tourist to go north, south, east or west, will almost always be confusing.


  • We have more reindeer than people in Lapland. The fact that they roam freely and every reindeer has an owner, might seem odd for foreigners.
  • We eat reindeer. Because of Rudolf and Santa Claus, some foreigners might compare this to eating Mickey Mouse.


Since Finland is the best country in the world, if a foreigner asks you why something is done in a certain way, simply tell them it’s because it is the right way to do it.