What are some things to know before visiting Helsinki?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Violetta Teetor

Business or leisure? Either way, it’s good to know a few things about the do’s and don’ts of a country before landing there. Finns are generally easygoing people, but there are a few things that wouldn’t hurt to keep in mind.

Long years of experience in working with Finns have led me to believe that one should never underestimate a Helsinki native. He or she may be quiet and appear to not have much to say, but believe me, they’re spending that time thinking and summing you up. When they speak, they have something worth hearing.

Under no circumstances should you ever suggest that Finland could have been, is, or may be part of Russia. A history of animosity between these two neighboring countries has left its mark and in no way, shape or form does a typical Finn want to be associated with Russia.

One of the few etiquette rules in Helsinki (though not a very strict one) is taking your shoes off upon entering a Finnish home. The weather here is so lousy for so long during the year, that tramping through a house with snowy boots doesn’t show much respect for the host. Finns are house-proud and their homes are usually immaculately clean.

Expect to be on first-name terms at an early stage of communication with Finns that you meet during your stay. Even school children call their teachers by name. Avoid giving lavish business gifts. Anything that might even slightly be considered as a bribe, will not go over well. However, if you’re invited to a Finnish home, a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine will do the trick.

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