Finns know a thing or two about relaxing. They’ve got it all figured out. For a few weeks in the summer, the towns and cities are half empty. Where do the Finns go?

They’re at their summer cottages – their little havens of peace and tranquillity. I’ll never forget the first time I stayed at a Finnish summer cottage. You could even say it changed my life forever.

One summer many years ago, when I lived and worked in a bustling British city, my Finnish girlfriend (now my wife) took me to a delightful lakeside cottage, deep in the forest. We walked down to the lake that first evening, filled our lungs with the clean, warm summer air and admired the wonderful view of the calm lake, mirroring the sky. ”Close your eyes” she said. We closed our eyes and literally all we could hear was the gentle lapping of the water on the shore. I could already start to feel my worries melt away.

I’d really needed a break. Although the hustle and bustle of the city has it’s charms, the daily rush hour crush, the hot dusty stench of the streets, the stress and the constant rumblings of traffic and crowds can wear you down. So, that wise and savvy Finn of mine suggested now was the time for my first trip to her homeland. I’m glad I went. The place she took me couldn’t have been more different from the hurry and rush of our urban life. It was just the two of us, the timeless forest, the still lake, our cosy cottage and blissful quiet.

We spent a few magical lazy days enjoying our lakeshore habitat, slowly but surely letting go of our city selves. We swam and splashed in the warm clean water of the lake. We whiled away an afternoon in our rowing boat, discovering sandy shores and lonely tree-covered islands. Some days I’d fish from the pier listening to the birdsong, while my girlfriend basked in the warm sun, devouring magazines and paperbacks. Early evening meant lakeside sauna – a daily ritual always observed. The wonderful hot steam and the crackle of the wood on the stove, followed by a giggling run, jump and splash in the water brought such joy.

Later, under the energising light of the midnight sun, we’d sit and chat on the beach while supping Finnish beer from little brown bottles. I can still remember the smell of the wood smoke from our campfire and sound of fish jumping for their supper. Those few days were idyllic – a reminder of the pleasure to be had from the simple things in life and that we all need to spend some time surrounded by nature.

I could now easily understand why so many Finns retreat to their summer cottages. I’d soaked up the clean air, the pure water, the calm of the forests and the light of midnight sun and it all felt really good.

Here’s our Top 3 of how to recharge at the Finnish Lakes.

1. Bathe in the lake

Take a relaxing swim in the beautifully clean water. It’s the perfect way to cool down on a hot day and you’ll come out feeling cleansed and invigorated. You also have to try diving into the lake straight from the sauna – it’s a summer cottage tradition.

2. Sauna time

If you want to relax like a Finn, take off your clothes and spend some time in one of these little pine rooms. Throw water on the hot stove to make clouds of steam.  Then sit back, unwind and feel the warmth spread through your body.

3. Take it easy

Finnish cottage holidays are about slowing down, feeling closer to nature and enjoying the simple pleasures of life with your loved ones. Relax, have fun and leave your worries behind.