Finland may be one of the most northern and remote countries in the world, but that’s all part of the charm of a honeymoon here. Don’t let temperatures hitting the negatives turn you away from some of the most romantic landscapes the countryside has to offer. Villas and castles dotting snow-covered valleys are just the start. Couples can cozy up any way they like, whether it’s in a private lakeside sauna or a glass-encased igloo with one of the most jaw-dropping views possible: the Northern Lights. As Finland celebrates 100 years of independence, make your honeymoon just as momentous of an occasion. From snowmobiling to fine dining on foraged fare, here’s five ways to make the most of a winter honeymoon in the Finnish countryside.
1. Nordic Fine Dining: Copenhagen’s award-winning restaurant, Noma, may have spearheaded the new Nordic cuisine trend, but Finland is also home to a number of fine-dining eateries that look to foraged and seasonal ingredients when crafting their menus. And don’t think you have to go to the capital, either. In the city of Lahti, the gateway to the Finnish Lake District of Päijänne, you’ll find cuisine that makes the most of the region’s fresh springs and forests. Head to the center of the city and dine at the French-inspired Roux, an intimate bistro that was dubbed “Restaurant of Year 2016" by the Gastronomic Association of Finland and is housed in a century-old former pharmacy . Restaurateur couple Kati and Sami are behind the concept that highlights locally sourced ingredients and traditional Finnish fare, with artisanal versions of classic country cuisine like reindeer tartar with egg-yolk cream and panfried pike perch fresh from the nearby lake.
2. Steamy Sauna Sessions: Take part in a Finnish tradition believed to date back to 7,000 BC that’s designed to detox and relax both your mind and body. At the lakeside resort of Lehmonkärki, you’ll find options ranging from a 100-year-old chimney-less sauna to a glass-encased version with views over Lake Päijänne. In between sauna sessions, indulge in a glass of bubbly from the hot tub while soaking up nature during a much-deserved evening of Finnish-style de-stressing.
3. Ice Age Beauty: The Lahti region is rich in natural beauty, with islands formed two billion years ago and trails carved at the end of the last Ice Age. Couples have their pick of outdoor adventure here, from hiking trails tracing the birth of the region to a hundred miles of cross-country skiing through the woods of Salpausselkä and along the frozen Lake Vesijärvi (which doubles as a romantic ice-skating locale). Looking for an adrenaline rush? Hop on a snowmobile and set off on a safari through the region’s rolling hills and towering tree-lined forests.
4. Castle Stays: Hole up in a historical manor that got its start in the 1460s as a military manor. Over the years, Mukkula Manor has transformed into a more regal countryside estate surrounded by English-style gardens and oak trees. With only 17 rooms, including two suites, this boutique beauty feels like a proper hideaway that’s isolated enough while still being only an hour’s drive away from Helsinki. Spend the day sitting in the lakeside sauna with rooms named after the former lord and lady of the manor, or set off and explore the surrounding ridges and lakes on a snowshoeing trek.
5. Sleep Under the Northern Lights: Glamping takes on new meaning in the northernmost province of Lapland, with glass igloos serving as the ultimate winter retreat from which to watch the Northern Lights. One of the best spots to catch these colorful auroras is at the Arctic resort Kakslauttanen, with its cozy snow igloos, log chalets, and wedding chambers—a honeymooner favorite. These turf-roofed Earth lodges (called kammi in Finnish) date back to ancient times and form the perfect little hideaway since they’re literally designed to blend into the landscape. After indulging in the comfort of your private sauna, set off for an al fresco lunch in one of the most memorable ways possible—by reindeer safari.