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Covered in thick forests and speckled with lakes and inlets, Finland is a country where nature is part of the everyday and a well-balanced life is considered essential. An integral element of mental and physical health here is the sauna, a restorative practice for the body and soul that is so popular that there are more than 2 million saunas in Finland — for a population of just over 5 million. On this expedition, learn about the benefits of healthy, clean living and discover the untapped powers of the mind.
Settle into vibrant Helsinki and explore the concepts of happiness and well-being as you discover innovative art and design, planet-healthy approaches to food and farming and a modern take on the Finnish sauna. Then head into the serene forests outside the capital for two nights and enjoy a traditional outdoor sauna experience and a chance to recharge in nature — as do the happiest people in the world. Along the way you will see why Finland has been named the happiest country in the world for the second year in a row by the United Nations.
Jul 19-26, 2020
Attend a private workshop on therapeutic painting at the new Amos Rex museum in Helsinki.
Set out on a foraging excursion with local experts and learn to identify and preserve wild berries, mushrooms and herbs.
Experience the rejuvenating Finnish sauna tradition at an architectural marvel in the city center and a cozy cottage in the woods.
Explore innovative food sustainability initiatives, including a thriving cricket farm.
Enjoy a full day at your spa hotel to indulge in optional wellness treatments.
Arrive in Helsinki and transfer to the historic Hotel St. George, located in the city center. Gather with your Los Angeles Times host and fellow travelers for a welcome reception and dinner tonight. (D)
Your exploration of wellness begins with a traditional Scandinavian buffet breakfast of warm bread, local cheeses, fresh fruit, porridge and smoked meats. You’ll be joined by a Finnish psychologist for a discussion about happiness and why the Finns consistently score high on worldwide happiness indexes. Then set out with a guide on a panoramic tour of Helsinki. Situated on a peninsula surrounded by islands, Helsinki is a city of waterfronts and forests with a historic center inspired by the neoclassical architecture of St. Petersburg. See the city’s landmarks, including the Presidential Palace; Senate Square, dominated by the graceful, green-domed Helsinki Cathedral; and the world-renowned Finnish National Opera overlooking Töölö Bay. Take a walk in Sibelius Park to see sculptures dedicated to Jean Sibelius, Finland’s most famous composer, and step into the intriguing Temppeliaukio Church, a copper-domed structure built into bedrock in the heart of the city. After leisure time for lunch, visit the new Amos Rex art museum for a private workshop on painting and breathing techniques that reduce stress. Tonight you’re invited for dinner with a family in their home. (B, D)
Travel to Karjaa Farms this morning to explore the food of the future, crickets. At the forefront of the fast-growing edible insect industry, this working farm responsibly raises protein-rich crickets as a sustainable alternative to beef and sells them in a variety of prepared foods from cricket granola to roasted crickets. Meet a representative of EntoCube, the first company to sell and market crickets in Finland, for a Q&A session about this fascinating technology. Afterward, visit the Haltia Nature Center for a lunch of local raw, organic foods and explore the grounds. View landscape shots from Nordic photographers or walk the Maahisenkierros trail to enjoy the beautiful views. Tonight enjoy dinner as a group at Ultima. (B, L, D)
Start the day by venturing into nearby meadows and forests on a foraging walk with a local expert. Learn to identify edible herbs, berries and mushrooms and discover how Finns prepare and preserve these wild foods. After lunch at a renowned zero-waste restaurant, enjoy an introduction to one of Finland’s most beloved traditions with an exclusive sauna experience at Löyly, a stunning work of wooden architecture on the Helsinki waterfront. Relax in a private sauna reserved for your group and try out the traditional smoke sauna. If you wish, descend from the terrace right to the Baltic Sea for a refreshing post-sauna plunge in true Finnish style. Dinner tonight is at the Löyly restaurant, which serves excellent Scandinavian fare with views of the city and the sea. (B, L, D)
Enjoy a morning at leisure to discover the city at your own pace or indulge in a sauna or spa treatment at the hotel. Have lunch on your own, then take part in a mushroom cultivation workshop this afternoon. Learn how to grow oyster mushrooms — high in essential vitamins and minerals needed to maintain a well-balanced lifestyle — at home in leftover coffee grounds. After the workshop has concluded, continue to Hotel Haikko Manor, our home for the next two days. Have an elegant dinner tonight on the grounds of the manor. (B, D)
Spend today immersed in the pristine forests and lakes around Nuuksio National Park. First head into the park to encounter Finland’s southernmost population of reindeer. Learn about these iconic creatures of the north, and how they are adapted to withstand long Scandinavian winters, while you feed them their favorite treats. Sip a coffee around the campfire and soak up the tranquility of the park’s cool pine forests. After lunch at the reindeer farm, travel to a lakeside cottage just outside the park for a revitalizing outdoor sauna experience. Here delve into the traditions and the spiritual significance of the Finnish practice as you relax in wood-heated sauna with views of the serene forest. Then leave the heat of the sauna for an invigorating dip in the lake. As evening sets in, sit down to a delightful three-course meal of Arctic specialties, including wild mushrooms and berries and fresh fish. Return to the hotel for the night. (B, L, D)
Enjoy a full day at our spa hotel to relax, take walks in the surrounding countryside or indulge in optional wellness treatments. Tonight toast our Finnish wellness week during a farewell dinner at a lively restaurant in the city center. (B, D)
After a final Scandinavian
buffet breakfast, transfer to the airport for individual flights home. (B)