5 ways Finnish summer cottage life turns you into a hippie


When Finland is spoiled with beautiful, hot summer days you can guarantee that most Finns do what they love best. They head to the forest and their summer cottages. According to Statistics Finland, there are close to half a million official summer cottages of about 40 square metres or less. Once you include larger leisure homes the figure likely doubles or triples. However, enjoying “mökkielämä” or cottage life comes with certain risks, (or advantages depending upon your point of view). One of these is that it turns everyone into a hippie. Here’s how.

1. You don’t bother changing clothes anymore

When you pack your bags in your city apartment, you count how many days you are going to stay and how many clothes you need for yourself and for your child. You do this all for nothing. You’ll wear exactly the same clothes throughout your stay at the summer cottage. If the temperature is above +15, your child will wear no clothes whatsoever. Thanks to your increasingly stinky cottage attire mosquitos don’t bite you anymore. However, how your kids survive running around naked in clouds of mosquito is a Finnish miracle.

Off we go! Don't bother stuffing your bag with loads of clothes. You won't need them!

Don’t bother stuffing your bag with loads of clothes. You won’t need them!

2. You don’t shower.

You swim in the lake and go to the sauna. Many summer cottages don’t even have a shower. Wearing a swim suit is not necessary either when you are with your own family. Swimming and going to sauna as a family activity is quite intense. At the end of the holiday, you’ll notice how you only washed your hair with shampoo on the day you arrived and the day you left. Things like make-up, hairdryer, deodorant, perfume and mirror seem like magical items from another world.

Lake Finland

Dear Friends! Let me introduce you to your new shower and bathtub: The Lake!

3. Instead of going to the toilet, you go to the bushes

Kids love it. When you return to the city, you basically need to potty train them again and teach what a toilet is. Grown-ups burst into tears after seeing a porcelain toilet after several weeks’ break. You truly understand and appreciate what this piece of sanitary furniture means to you and a civilised society in general. Anyone who is not familiar with the concept of Finnish summer cottage toilet should google “ulkovessa” or “ulkohuussi” for a general idea and you will understand why we prefer the bushes always when possible.

summer cottage toilet

So, it’s this or the bushes. Which one do you choose?

4. You get loved up with nature

What I mean by a hippie here is not exactly what they did in 1960’s San Francisco. Access to free sex and drugs in the Finnish countryside and summer cottages is usually quite limited. Of course it depends on your family and friends a little, but anyway, this is not the general line. What I mean by hippie life is that you really turn towards nature with all your senses. You gaze to the lake with your eyes, your feet touch the ground, there is nakedness that is completely nonsexual (Sorry if I’m shattering dreams of long, light, sex-filled nights in the Nordic nature) and your hands touch the water when you swim, wood when you warm up the sauna and berries, mushrooms and fishes when you look for and prepare food.

picking berries

Chop, chop children! No berries in the bucket, no breakfast in the morning!

5. You go barefoot everywhere

Whether your summerhouse has a big grass yard or a pine tree forest around it, you will go barefoot most of the time. You are regularly reminded by pine cones, sharp stones, sticks and other sharp objects that your soles are out of their comfort zone, but still, the pleasure of not wearing shoes overcomes the pain. Very quickly you forget where your shoes are. It’s only when you sit in the car to leave and feel how strange the pedals are on your feet, that you remember to return to the summer cottage to look for your long lost footwear.


Go barefoot like an original hippie!

Unfortunately, all fun things and even the longest summer holidays come to an end. Forest hippies need to return to their real lives as CEOs, bankers, nurses and teachers. The transition is often extremely painful because you don’t know how to live in a city anymore. Not only do you have to live your everyday life again, but suffer the inevitable identity crisis when emails and excel spreadsheets remind you are not a flower child anymore. But don’t despair. There’s always hope and it’s called next summer!

11 replies

  1. I lived this throughout my childhood ! But for us is the sea not a lake ! Loved it ! My father would not shave for 4 weeks and he looked like a bear ! Coming back to the city he had to and we almost did not recognize him ! Just came back from Finland and unfortunately just spend 2 days there !

    • Sound amazing! What is the closest city/town to where you did it?
      I am thinking of moving somewhere with peaceful nature, but also a sea nearby

  2. Why only stay for the summer vacation? Sometime we stay for winter as well. You can not got bare feet but it is lots and lots of fun in the snow 🙂

  3. This changed a lot during the years. Many cottages today have all luxury as at home. I lived this life in the 80-90s. A cottages in Savo Finland. It was relaxing, no electricity, water from the lake and Sauna. No mobiles, no computers, nothing that disturbed the peace. 3-4 weeks at this and fully loaded back to work..

  4. I don’t turn in a hippie. I turn into a super handy-man who can do anything, or at least tries anything 🙂

  5. You forgot the growing a massive beard! Of course this only an option for men. But for me I love letting it just grow and grow.

  6. There is nothing better than nice cottage at lake saimaa. All you need is good friends, grill food and beer… lots of beer 😀

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