Coping with the Cold in Finland

by Amber Musgrove-Benford (University of Helsinki, Finland)

After a fortnight of the temperature persistently staying below -8°C, reaching eye-watering lows of -14°C (the Weather App helpfully told me this translated into “feels like -24°C”) and the Baltic Sea beginning to freeze over, I feel the time has come to impart some tips on how to stay warm during the Finnish winter.

1. A good coat goes a long way 

Most of my peers, me included, arrived in Finland with no “big coat.” Not only does this save on suitcase space when you first leave your home country, but it allows you to buy a coat suited to Finnish winter. A puffer jacket will never let you down. 

2. Layering is the new cool

I cannot overstate the importance of layering. It has been weeks since I wore jeans without leggings underneath or just one pair of socks. It has been longer since I have left the house without a scarf, gloves, and a hat. 

I’d really recommend looking into a thermal liner jacket if you decide to come to Finland. For me, it’s been a lifesaver, and they’re very versatile! Before winter I wore mine by itself, and now it’s colder, it fits perfectly under my big coat and keeps me nice and warm. A win-win, if you will. 

3. Walk off the chill

Though leaving your apartment might seem daunting when it’s so cold, but Helsinki is beautiful in winter in a way I doubt anywhere else is. 

Whether it’s a walk around frozen Töölönlahti, or a personal favourite of mine along Ehrenströmintie and the coast in the south of the city, nothing is will make you feel as successful as braving the outside. My top tip would be to aim to get to the sea at around 3pm in December and hope for clear skies. The sun really does know how to put on a show. 

Beware, however, glasses wearers like myself! My lenses have frozen over more than once on a walk. You can’t win everything, I suppose. 

4. If all else fails: Glögi

Whether it be copious amounts of coffee, hot chocolate, or even a cup of glögi, the traditional Finnish mulled wine, that you fancy, head to one of Helsinki’s many cafés, or from late November, the Christmas market, and behold. Nothing will warm you up quite like it. 

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