Iceland vs. Finland

Picking between Iceland and Finland for your next adventure might seem like a tough choice. Both lands are brimming with enthralling stories and charming customs. Iceland, the land of fire and ice, offers a stunning blend of natural wonders and Norse history. Meanwhile, Finland, the home of a thousand lakes, also boasts a captivating past, full of ancient Sami traditions and modern Finnish practices.
Iceland vs. Finland

Table of Contents

Ready for a journey into the rich histories and vibrant cultures of these Nordic gems? You’re about to uncover the unique allure that makes Iceland and Finland such fascinating places to explore. So, buckle up and get ready to dive into a world full of tales from the cold North.

History & Culture

Stepping into the realm of history and culture, Iceland and Finland are two nations that command attention. Both steeped in time-honored traditions and captivating narratives, they offer travelers a unique glimpse into their past and present.

In Iceland, you’ll find a culture deeply influenced by its ancient Norse roots. This is the land where the sagas, epic tales of heroes and kings, were born. These stories, coupled with the rugged landscapes, have shaped the nation’s identity. The Icelandic language, virtually unchanged for centuries, adds another layer to the country’s rich historical tapestry.

Finland, on the other hand, is a wonderful medley of indigenous and foreign influences. The indigenous Sami people, who inhabited the region long before the Finns, have a culture steeped in myth and nature worship.

Modern Finnish culture is a blend of these ancient traditions and influences from both Eastern and Western neighbors. The Finnish language, part of the Finno-Ugric family, also sets the country apart.

When comparing the two, you’ll find that both countries are rich in folkloric tradition. Icelanders still treasure their sagas, while Finns celebrate their ancient epics, like the ‘Kalevala’. Their histories are full of old tales that continue to shape their societies, influencing everything from arts to their communal values.

Summing up, both Iceland and Finland have rich histories and cultures that are deeply interwoven with their landscapes and languages. These nations are true gateways to a time gone by, offering you an enriching experience that can’t be replicated anywhere else. Whether it’s the sagas of Iceland or the folk tales of Finland, you’re in for a memorable journey.

Now that you have a glimpse into the histories and cultures of these fascinating countries, what awaits you in their stunning landscapes? Stay tuned to find out.

Attractions & Activities

When it comes to attractions and activities, both Iceland and Finland pack a punch. Each nation boasts unique offerings that make them stand out, ensuring you have a memorable time during your visit.

Iceland’s biggest draw is its stunning natural beauty. The Golden Circle route takes you through some of the country’s most impressive sights, like the geysers of Geysir and the waterfalls of Gullfoss. Add to this the magical Northern Lights, visible between September and April, and you have the perfect playground for nature lovers.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also explore the beautiful glaciers and lava fields in a Super Jeep or on a guided hiking tour.

On the other hand, Finland’s attractions range from picturesque landscapes to unique cultural experiences. In winter, you can go on a thrilling husky safari or a reindeer sleigh ride in Lapland, while in the summer, canoeing or hiking in one of the country’s 40 national parks is a must. If you’re interested in history, make sure to visit the UNESCO-listed Suomenlinna Sea Fortress in Helsinki.

When comparing the two, Iceland offers more dramatic landscapes and outdoor adventure activities. From glacier hikes to Northern Lights tours, there is something for every thrill-seeker. Conversely, Finland’s attractions and activities offer a balance between serene nature experiences and cultural exploration, making it a versatile destination.

To sum up, Iceland and Finland both offer unique experiences. If your passion is chasing natural wonders and you’re not afraid of a bit of adventure, then Iceland might be your best bet. But if you’re looking for a mix of history, culture, and nature, Finland is a strong contender.

Eating, Drinking & Nightlife

If there’s one thing that completes your travel experience, it’s the local cuisine, drinks, and nightlife. Both Iceland and Finland have distinct culinary traditions and vibrant nightlife that promise to engage your senses.

When it comes to food, Iceland’s cuisine is heavily influenced by its surroundings. Expect to find dishes featuring fresh fish, lamb, and dairy products. Traditional dishes like fermented shark and sheep’s head may not be for the faint-hearted, but don’t miss the chance to try ‘Skyr’, a delicious yogurt-like dairy product.

In contrast, Finland’s cuisine is a blend of traditional and modern flavors. Freshly caught fish, wild berries, and game meats are common ingredients. Don’t miss trying the national dish, ‘Karjalanpiirakka’, a rye crust filled with rice porridge, or ‘Salmiakki’, a salty licorice treat.

Iceland’s drink scene is dominated by local beers and the famous ‘Brennivín’, a potent schnapps often referred to as ‘Black Death’. It’s a traditional drink, especially during the mid-winter feast of Þorrablót.

Finland, too, has its own favorite drinks. ‘Koskenkorva’, a vodka-like spirit, and ‘Salmiakkikossu’, a salty licorice liqueur, are among the most popular. And let’s not forget the Finnish love for coffee, Finland being one of the biggest coffee-consuming nations in the world.

When it comes to nightlife, Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, comes alive with a plethora of bars and clubs offering live music. Don’t be fooled by the city’s size; the nightlife scene here is lively and diverse.

Helsinki, Finland’s capital, offers a similarly exciting nightlife. From classy cocktail bars to pulsating nightclubs, the city caters to all tastes. Live music, especially jazz, is particularly popular.

In summary, whether it’s biting into the hearty flavors of Icelandic cuisine, sipping on Finnish liquors, or dancing the night away in vibrant capitals, both countries offer exciting experiences that cater to all tastes.


A shopping spree is an essential part of any trip, and both Iceland and Finland offer unique opportunities to take home a piece of your journey.

Iceland offers a range of items unique to its culture and environment. You can find beautiful Icelandic woolen goods, like the traditional ‘Lopapeysa’ sweater, that are both functional and stylish. Also, Icelandic music is renowned worldwide, and picking up some local CDs could be a great way to remember your trip.

In Finland, design and craftsmanship reign supreme. The country is famous for its quality design items, like Marimekko fabrics, Iittala glassware, and Arabia ceramics. Also, traditional handicrafts, such as Sami jewelry and ‘Puukko’ knives, make unique souvenirs.

When comparing the two, Iceland offers products more focused on traditional crafts and its rich musical heritage. In contrast, Finland leans towards modern design and quality craftsmanship.

In conclusion, whether it’s the warm woolen goods of Iceland or the sleek designs of Finland, shopping in these countries allows you to bring back not just souvenirs, but a part of their unique cultures and traditions.


When planning your trip, finding the right place to rest your head is crucial. Let’s take a look at what both Iceland and Finland offer in terms of accommodation.

In Iceland, you’ll find a mix of accommodation options to suit different travel styles and budgets. Whether it’s cozy guesthouses, modern hotels, or self-catering cottages, you’ll find something to match your needs.

Some unique offerings include farm stays where you can experience the rural Icelandic life or the bubble lodges that allow you to view the Northern Lights right from your bed.

Finland, on the other hand, offers a wide range of accommodations, from luxury hotels in cities to cozy cabins in the countryside. Unique to Finland are the glass igloos, particularly in Lapland, which offer an unparalleled experience of viewing the Northern Lights.

Additionally, staying in a traditional Finnish cottage, or ‘mökki’, by a lake can offer a serene and quintessentially Finnish experience.

In summary, whether you’re looking for luxury, comfort, or unique local experiences, both Iceland and Finland have an array of accommodations that cater to diverse needs and preferences.

Family-Friendliness & Children’s Activities

When it comes to family travel, both Iceland and Finland offer a host of activities that promise fun for all ages.

Iceland’s breathtaking natural wonders provide an exciting outdoor classroom for children. Families can enjoy whale-watching tours, visit puffin colonies, or explore the country’s numerous geysers and waterfalls. The Perlan Museum in Reykjavik offers interactive exhibits about Iceland’s geology and wildlife that are both educational and entertaining.

In Finland, families can indulge in a variety of activities regardless of the season. From meeting Santa Claus in Rovaniemi to going on a thrilling husky sled ride in Lapland, the options are plentiful. During the warmer months, Finnish amusement parks and zoos, such as Linnanmäki in Helsinki or Ranua Zoo in Lapland, are great for a family day out.

In conclusion, whether it’s the natural wonders of Iceland or the enchanting experiences of Finland, both countries offer a wealth of family-friendly activities that ensure a memorable trip for the whole family.

Getting There & Getting Around

Getting to and around your destination is an essential part of your travel planning. Here’s what you need to know about reaching and exploring Iceland and Finland.

Reaching Iceland is relatively easy with regular flights from North America and Europe landing at Keflavík International Airport, which is about 30 miles (around 48 kilometers) from the capital city, Reykjavik.

Similarly, getting to Finland is straightforward with Helsinki-Vantaa Airport serving as the major international gateway. The airport is about 12 miles (approximately 19 kilometers) north of Helsinki.

Once in Iceland, the best way to get around is by renting a car, especially if you’re planning to explore the countryside. The country has a comprehensive road network, and the famous Ring Road covers most of the major attractions. Alternatively, domestic flights and buses are available for longer distances.

Finland, in contrast, has an efficient public transportation system. Trains and buses connect cities and towns. For the more remote areas, such as Lapland, domestic flights are the best option. Renting a car is also a good choice if you prefer the freedom of self-drive.

In summary, whether you’re heading to the breathtaking landscapes of Iceland or the diverse attractions of Finland, getting there and around is fairly straightforward. A bit of planning can ensure you have a smooth and enjoyable journey.


Weather can significantly impact your travel plans, so it’s important to know what to expect when visiting Iceland or Finland.

Iceland experiences cool summers and relatively mild winters. The summer months of June to August see average temperatures around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15 degrees Celsius). However, the winter months, especially December to February, can get chilly with temperatures hovering around 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius).

Finland, in contrast, has distinct seasons. The summer months of June to August offer warm weather with temperatures typically ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius).

However, the winter months can get extremely cold, particularly in the northern areas, with temperatures often dropping below freezing and reaching as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius).

In summary, while both countries can offer you a refreshing summer break, Iceland’s winters are milder compared to Finland’s. So, pack accordingly to enjoy the spectacular views each season brings in these stunning destinations.


Safety is a top priority when planning your trip. Both Iceland and Finland are considered safe destinations, but there are a few factors to keep in mind.

Iceland consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world. Crime rates are incredibly low, and locals are generally helpful toward tourists. However, the country’s rugged landscape and unpredictable weather can pose risks, especially for those venturing into the wilderness. Always check weather forecasts and follow local advice when exploring natural attractions.

Finland also enjoys a reputation as a safe destination with low crime rates. Just like any other place, it’s advised to be cautious and aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places. In winter, icy conditions can make roads and walkways slippery, so be careful when moving around.

Regarding non-crime-related safety, both countries have excellent healthcare systems. However, it’s always wise to have comprehensive travel insurance covering any potential medical needs.

In conclusion, while both Iceland and Finland are safe places to visit, being vigilant and taking basic safety precautions is always a good idea.


Planning your budget is a vital part of your travel preparations. Let’s see how Iceland and Finland compare in terms of costs.

In general, Iceland is known for being quite pricey. Accommodation, food, and transportation can add up. For example, a meal at a mid-range restaurant could cost around 3,000 ISK (roughly 24 USD). However, many of the country’s natural wonders are free to visit, which can help balance your budget.

On the other hand, Finland, while not cheap, tends to be slightly less expensive than Iceland. A meal in a similar type of restaurant might cost around 20 Euros (approximately 23 USD). Like Iceland, many of Finland’s natural attractions can be explored free of charge.

In summary, while both countries might require a bit of a splurge compared to other destinations, they offer unique experiences and natural beauty that make the trip worth every penny.

Which Is Better – Iceland or Finland?

Choosing between Iceland and Finland can be a challenge. Both destinations offer unique charms and distinct experiences that cater to a wide variety of travel preferences.

History and culture enthusiasts might find Finland more engaging due to its distinct historical periods and vibrant cultural celebrations. On the other hand, if you’re drawn to ancient folklore and a more unified cultural heritage, Iceland, with its sagas and tales of Norse gods, could be the choice for you.

When it comes to attractions and activities, Iceland stands out with its geysers, volcanoes, and breathtaking Northern Lights. Finland, however, offers beautiful lakelands, enchanting forests, and the opportunity to meet Santa Claus in his hometown.

For beach lovers, Iceland’s black sand beaches offer a unique experience, though it might not be ideal for swimming due to cooler temperatures. Finland’s coastline, on the other hand, boasts several sandy beaches perfect for sunbathing and water sports during summer.

Regarding eating, drinking, and nightlife, both countries have their specialties. If you are a food adventurer, Finnish cuisine offers a wider range of flavors and influences, while Iceland presents unique delicacies like fermented shark.

Nightlife in both countries can be thrilling, with Helsinki offering a more cosmopolitan vibe, and Reykjavik known for its friendly locals and lively music scene.

Shopping varies greatly between the two. Finnish design pieces and quality outdoor gear can be a great addition to your collection. Meanwhile, in Iceland, hand-knitted woolens and artisanal crafts are worth a look.

Accommodations in both countries cater to different budgets and preferences, from luxury hotels to budget hostels, and unique options like glass igloos in Finland or cozy cabins in Iceland.

For family-friendly activities, both countries shine. Finland offers several amusement parks and kid-friendly museums, while Iceland’s natural wonders provide an open-air classroom for children.

Getting to either country is relatively easy from most parts of Europe and North America, and both countries have efficient public transportation systems for getting around. Yet, renting a car and driving yourself can add to the adventure in both places, offering flexibility to explore at your own pace.

Climate-wise, the choice depends on your comfort level with cold temperatures. Finland has extreme winter conditions, while Iceland has milder but more unpredictable weather. Safety in both countries is top-notch, though always remember to heed local advice when exploring natural attractions.

Lastly, regarding costs, Finland tends to be slightly less expensive than Iceland, but the unique experiences that both countries offer can justify the expenses.

In summary, the decision between Iceland and Finland boils down to your personal preferences and what you’re hoping to get out of your trip. If you seek an adventure filled with geothermal phenomena and Viking legends, choose Iceland. If you prefer serene lake vistas, forest hikes, and a touch of Santa Claus magic, then Finland it is!