Zeenat Coutinho has been with Goway for almost 2 years as a destination specialist for Europe. She most recently spent 8 days in Finland, making it the furthest North on the globe that she’s travelled to. The trip encompassed culture, adventure, nature and history along with the traditional tourist attractions and sightseeing. Finland has become a popular destination amongst European and Asian travelers and is an up and coming destination for the North American market! Zeenat is looking forward to helping travel agents and clients plan future trips to Finland shares some of her experiences and expertise with us today.
Tell us a bit about where you went.
I visited Lapland and Helsinki in Finland. Being the only Canadian traveller on the trip I was often asked if I noticed any difference between Canada and Finland. Other than the obvious difference in location on the map, the foliage was familiar, the wildlife was not. It was great to be able to see bears and reindeer in the wild! The tourist attractions are different as well, such as visiting Santa Claus in his office at the Arctic Circle or spending time with a local in Lapland, creating crafts or baking. Being able to come back from this trip and say “I have been to the Arctic Circle” is also a lot of fun! Or even being able to share the knowledge I attained from the locals in Finland such as the proper way to pronounce ‘Sauna.’
What cities did you visit in Finland?
Rovaniemi and Kussamo (Lapland, Northern Finland), Helsinki (capital of Finland)
What was your highlight and why?
All the adventures in Lapland were amazing! It was a first time for everything, from the husky farm visit and husky sleigh ride, to floating in a wilderness lake, to the therapeutic experience of Saunas, to learning about the traditions and cultures of the Finns and Lappish folk.
What were your favourite 3 properties and why?
Kamp Hotel in Helsinki. The hotel is in a great location, connecting room options are available for families, staff are friendly, and the patio restaurant is open all year long.
Hotel St George in Helsinki. It’s centrally located with spacious rooms and friendly staff. It’s well known for its spa, with sauna access complimentary for guests.
Arctic Tree House Hotel in Rovaniemi. The remote location offers a great setting to see the Northern Lights from the comforts of your room. It’s also family friendly with a great restaurant.
Name 2 things that surprised you about the experience:
I was surprised that being at the Arctic Circle wasn’t as cold as I expected it to be. I am sure it gets colder during the winter months, but I was under the impression it was cold all year long.
I loved learning about the traditions and history of the Saunas. Sauna is the only Finnish word widely used in the English language.
What are some interesting excursions or itineraries you would recommend?
Best of Finland is a great itinerary found on Goway.com which offers a stay in Helsinki combined with 2 nights at the Kakslauttanen resort in Lapland. It includes a city tour in Helsinki which I highly recommend doing as there are so many interesting things to learn about Finland and Helsinki.
For families looking to travel to Finland, Rovaniemi would be a great destination to pair with Helsinki as there are a lot of fun activities like visiting the Husky Kennel and Santa Claus’ Office.
Top tip for agents selling Finland, or this style of travel?
Finland is just as amazing to experience in the warmer months of Spring, Summer and Fall as it is in the winter. Winter time is what it’s most known for, but hey, the reindeer are there all year long! Plus, in the summer time you have more hours of sunlight.
Did you learn anything new, or did anything surprise you about the destination?
I learnt about Finland’s part in WW2 and did not know they fought on both sides. I also learnt that they have Canada geese in Finland, and that Finland is a popular ski destination for European and Asian travellers.
If you can go back, what would you like to see/do?
I would like to go back and do the glass igloo experience at Kakslauttenen as it is very popular. I would also go later on in the winter season for a chance to see the Northern lights as I did not get to see them on my trip. I would also like to go back during the summer time and experience 24 hours of sunlight!