When you visit or move to Finland, you want to fit in. The best way to connect with the Finns and Finnish culture is to learn more about how they act and what’s common in their country. So, when you come to Finland, there are a few things you need to know. Here are 13 things not to do in Finland.
Keep these in mind, and you’ll be sure to make some Finnish friends in no time!
1. Don’t get too close too soon
Finns love their personal space. It’s common to shake hands when you’re meeting someone, but don’t get too close with kisses on the cheek, a hug, or standing too close.
Once you get to know someone a bit more, you can obviously start to be a little more touchy-feely. This applies to dating as well—don’t get too close right away but build it up as you get to know them.
2. Don’t be late
Finns are the most punctual people in the world. Being late is seen as rude and disrespectful because you’re not valuing their time.
Be on time—always. A five-minute margin on either side is okay, but if you’re going to be any later than that, make sure you let the person know. Know that if you agree to meet “around five”, that means five sharp.
3. Don’t randomly praise Sweden
Finland and Sweden have a shared history, and you still see the impact of this today. Sweden is actually still the second official language of Finland! And while it’s mostly a friendly rivalry between our two countries, some people are still sensitive about it.
So, try to avoid randomly talking about Sweden all the time. If you’re always praising their hockey team or talking about how beautiful the people are, Finns will start to get annoyed.
4. Don’t forget to visit other parts of Finland
Helsinki is a fantastic city—I live here, and I love it! But Finland is so much more than just Helsinki. If you don’t venture outside of Helsinki, you are going to miss what the country has to offer.
Other cities in Finland are less popular with tourists and, therefore, offer a more authentic experience. For example, Tampere is a cool city with sites like the Pyynikki tower and museums (Muumin Museum and the Museum Center Vapriikki, which is a museum of museums).
5. Don’t judge Finns as antisocial
Finns have a stereotype of being grumpy, antisocial, and quiet. But they’re just being Finnish! In general, Finnish people don’t speak unless there’s something to say, and they don’t open up emotionally until it’s time to do so.
So, be patient and start to get to know your Finnish friends. Once you do, you’ll see that they aren’t antisocial or grumpy—it just takes time for them to open up!
6. Don’t ask about money
In Finland, people do not like talking about money. A lot of Finns are uncomfortable talking about their salaries, how much things cost, or how much money they have.
I personally think we need to have more open conversations about money, especially related to saving and investing it for future wealth. But, until we get to that place, avoid talking about money with Finnish people—and definitely don’t ask how much they make.
7. Don’t keep your shoes on inside
Wearing your outside shoes in someone’s home or apartment is a big no-no in Finland. Make sure you take off your shoes and leave them outside or at the entrance of the home so that you don’t make things dirty.
And while it’s normal to wear shoes in a workplace, there are a few exceptions where they take them off! Don’t worry, though. You’ll be instructed to do so if this is the case.
8. Don’t eat with your hat on
This one might seem weird to a lot of other cultures, but wearing a hat while eating is considered disrespectful in Finland. We don’t have a lot of rules about eating—just use your common sense!—but make sure you take off your hat while enjoying a meal. It’s a part of good table manners.
9. Don’t litter
Finland is very clean and beautiful, a point of pride for many of us in the country. The reason the streets are so clean, though, is because Finnish people don’t litter. If there ever is any mess in the streets, such as after a festival, it’s always cleaned up quickly.
10. Don’t interrupt
Some people say it’s tough to get Finns to talk, so once you do—don’t interrupt! Let them speak and say their points. Wait until they’re finished before speaking yourself. This applies in both personal and professional settings.
11. Don’t tip too much
A lot of countries have strong tipping cultures where it’s rude not to tip your server at a restaurant. But here in Finland, tipping is not common or necessary. The prices already include the service fee, so the staff is being paid fair wages. That means you don’t need to overly tip for regular service.
If you have an amazing experience and want to leave a tip, go for it! But the servers are not expecting it, and there’s no obligation to do so.
12. Don’t be noisy
A lot of Finnish people are quiet and calm, so being noisy in a public area is discouraged. Finns find it so annoying when someone is speaking very loudly on the phone in public or talking at a high volume. Of course, it’s okay to make some regular noise if you’re talking to someone, but just be mindful of how loud you are being.
13. Don’t worry about messing up
If you’re visiting Finland, don’t stress out about doing something wrong or messing up. Finns understand that you’re new to the country and culture so won’t get everything right the first time. All you can do is keep learning and do your best.
One of the best ways to learn Finnish culture is by learning the language. I have a lot of videos on my YouTube channel all about how to learn Finnish, so check them out.
These are 13 things not to do in Finland. If you keep them in mind, you’ll connect better with the people and culture and enjoy your time in the country.
Have you been to Finland and experienced any of these things? Let me know! Also, make sure you check out my 100 Facts about Finland and Finnishness. Grab it from the link form below.