Replying to Inari’s comment on cycling in Helsinki, it’s definitely true that there are 8 months – at least – of perfect cycling conditions environmentally speaking. The built infrastructure is still, as they say, a work in progress. For a bit of cycling infra idiocy, see this.
From the country that decade after decade pulls out that dreary slogan, “Finland: Four Seasons, Four Reasons” (I found another here) it may sometimes feel like there’s a bit too MUCH season going on. And yet, thinking of “Copenhagen”, most Helsinki residents I know are really quite nostalgic for a time when snow was guaranteed, if not for Christmas, at least January to March.
Whatever the outside, of course there is the wonderfulness of warm interiors. One is never so cold in Finland (even when it’s 22 below (zero)), as in London in a 1904-built terraced house, even one with state-0f-the-art central heating. CHP keeps us snug in our flats, at school, in restaurants and cafes and, mostly, in libraries. To minimise the threat of cold creeping in through doorways, Finland’s public buildings also mostly have a tuulikaappi , or wind closet, literally translated. That’s a small (or bigger, e.g. at Stockmann’s) hallway wegded between two sets of doors, which helps you acclimatise and allows you to shrug off the sleet that stuck to your overcoat and stamp off the mud on your boots, before entering the actual interior.
As an example, here is SKS, the Finnish Literature Society, designed by architect-banker Sebastian Gripenberg. Its library north of the market square has been beautifully renovated and offers a fabulous place to work in peace and quiet and warmth. As well as a lovely selection of books on things cultural and literal.