Us Brits are not getting much of a summer this year. We’re despairing over our pale skin. It’s a hell of a lot darker than it should be for the last days of July, not to mention colder and a fair bit wetter. In our summer of darkness, it’s natural to want to go abroad in search of sunshine, however at Gutter we never do things the conventional way – why head to the south of France, Barcelona, or Ibiza when Finland awaits? That’s right, we actually went to northern Europe in search of sun.

While the Scandinavian country might not seem like the epitome of sunburn and getting sand in your swimming costume, it barely gets dark at all in the summer months, particularly around the time of the solstice. We travelled to Tampere, in the south of the country, a city also known as the “Manchester of Finland”, but that’s more due to its industrial past than to the proliferation of loud-mouthed geezers sporting mop-top haircuts. This is what we did while our European counterparts were tucked up safely in bed.

Outdoors stuff. There are over 200 lakes in Tampere alone, so naturally being in water is a popular pastime. We took a cruise to Viikinsaari Island, which has a beach, barbecue facilities and a nature reserve within a forest. During the day there is a restaurant (and a chapel for all your marital needs), or you can simply turn up to grill your own sausages and admire the night time sun. At weekends the last boat is at 12.30 am, however you can’t stay on this particular island overnight, although there’s nothing stopping you from hiring your own canoe or boat and exploring the lakes into the early hours – just remember to take anti-mosquito protection, particularly in hot weather.

Pampering. If you’ve never had the sensation of being extremely hot before jumping into cold water, it’s something you must try. Sit in a traditional sauna for 20 minutes (the temperature of which reaches 90 degrees) till the sweat is pouring off you, then jump into a crystal clear lake, ideally one that’s surrounded by forest, with the sun rising over you at 3 am. We were lucky enough to experience this at the idyllic Villa Hepolahti cottage. Trust us, you’ll feel more energised than if you’d downed four espressos (minus the shakes), plus it’s great for your skin.

Eating. It’s not open through the night, but it’s well worth experiencing the gourmet Finnish cuisine at Nasinneula, if only because the restaurant is situated within a tower that offers panoramic views over the city. Even better, the dining area rotates gently so the scenery is constantly changing, although getting back from the toilets can be a little disorientating.

Nightlife. We were a little concerned when we learned that the club in the basement of the hotel we were staying at, the Sokos Ilves, is the main nightclub of the city, but there is a more interesting offering in the form of Pub Vinyyli, which plays a selection of classic rock on – you guessed it – vinyl records only. The pub stays open till 2 am at weekends when there is live music too. For drinking till 4 am there is Pub Ukko Nooa, a place so quaint-looking it should belong in a village in Shropshire, circa the 13th century.

Find out more about this quirky city here: www.visittampere.fi

Related posts: