What do people in Finland do in their free time?

What sports do they watch in Finland? What classes do they attend? How much do they travel? How much volunteer work do they do? These stats give you the answers.

Lifelong learning

There are a total of 181 adult education centres in Finland, operating across the length and breadth of the country. The centres are open to everyone, regardless of educational background. Every year, more than one in ten Finnish people attend courses, and the fees remain very reasonable, as they are subsidised by the central government and local authorities. Instruction is offered in a wide variety of subjects, including languages, IT, arts and crafts, music, sports, cooking and wellbeing.

Popular ways to spend leisure time

A smiling girl lies on a couch reading a book.

Photo: iStock

  • Reading books 56%
  • Walking 49%
  • Exercising in nature 48%
  • Travelling abroad 36%
  • Solving crosswords/sudoku 32%
  • Travelling within Finland 31%
  • Spending time at summer cottages 28%
  • Self-access learning 27%
  • Cooking as a hobby 25%
  • Gardening 24%

The respondents were given more than one option, which resulted in a total percentage of more than 100.
Source: Kantar TNS Oy, TNS Mind Atlas 2018

What sports do Finnish people watch?

An ice hockey player stops, sending up a cloud of small ice particles.

Photo: iStock

  • Ice hockey 39%
  • Athletics 36%
  • Soccer 26%
  • Motor sports 25%

The respondents were given more than one option, which resulted in a total percentage of more than 100.
Source: Kantar TNS Oy, TNS Mind Atlas 2018

Esports rising in popularity

People play games on their computers at a long table.

Photo: iStock

Young Finnish people are interested in electronic sports. In a survey conducted in September 2017 that measured the popularity of 63 different sports, only ice hockey was considered more interesting than esports by people between the ages of 18 and 29. Other age groups are also interested: 14 percent of the population indicated an interest in esports.

Source: ePressi/Sponsor Insight

The promised land of associations

In 2017, 54 percent of the Finnish population over the age of ten participated in the activities of an association. Finns are active citizens in general. Signing citizens’ initiatives or other petitions is common these days, facilitated by the internet. In 2017, 24 percent of those older than 15 had put their signature on an initiative or a petition during the past 12 months. Women between the ages of 20 and 24 were the most active, with 45 percent having signed.

Source: Statistics Finland

Finnish volunteers

In a survey taken in 2017, almost every third Finnish person over the age of 15 had done volunteer work during the past 12 months. The volunteer work may have been collecting money, coaching sports, keeping lonely people company, or participating in any other organised activity. This work was not always through registered associations. Men and women participated in volunteer work in equal amounts and with equal frequency.

Source: Statistics Finland

Art and handicrafts in Finland

A woman focuses on painting a canvas.

Photo: iStock

Non-degree art subjects are popular among Finnish adult students. Almost 25 percent of 18–64-year-old students who attended non-degree education in 2017 took part in art education. About 100,000 people studied art subjects as a hobby: 51 percent music or the performing arts, 33 percent handicrafts or arts and crafts.


  • Art 20%/30%
  • Foreign languages 20%/21%
  • Sports, exercise 17%/22%
  • Health and social services, wellbeing 7%/8%

Content of adult education in 2017 not related to work or profession, by gender (18–64-year-olds taking part in education, excluding students and people doing military service).

Source: Statistics Finland

By Marina Ahlberg, ThisisFINLAND Magazine 2019