What is the best time of the year to visit Finland?
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Seasons in Finland go through drastic contrasts which makes it a stunning place to visit and experience its extremes from Midnight Sun through to Northern Lights spectacles. Deciding when to visit this unique part of the world, it is best to think about what you are looking to do once you get there. Are you itching to take your family to Santa’s grotto for a private meeting or is hunting for the northern lights or scenic hikes more your thing?
Before you plan your activities and start looking into holidays, it is worth knowing an overview of what the peak seasons entail. Plus, with snow cover lasting for over half of the year in Finnish Lapland, simple decisions such as tolerance to freezing temperatures is something to think about, especially if you’re planning to go with children. If it’s the aurora you are wanting to see, you also need to know when the best time of year is to increase the chances of seeing this beautiful spectacle.
We’ve provided an overview of the best times to visit during the year depending on what you’re looking for and the activities you can participate in.
|Short days, freezing temperatures||Long days, mild weather|
|Winter and festive activities, cosy log cabins||Hiking, wildlife watching, finishing|
|Northern lights gazing||Midnight sun during mid-June|
When is the best time to see the northern lights?
The key to catching the wonder of the Northern Lights are clear nights and dark skies from September to March. September and March in particular are good times to hunt for the aurora as they are equinox months and have some of the best aurora activity. The occurrence of the northern lights are very unpredictable and it is worth looking as soon as the skies grow darker and if the skies are clear as the aurora can be seen on 80% of clear nights.
The aurora generally appears between 6pm and 4am with the best chance usually between 9.30pm to 1am. Sometimes they can even be seen as early as 4pm and as late as 6am so it really does vary. It can be a waiting game, but if you are set on catching them then start looking as soon as darkness falls and be patient!
October to November tends to be cloudier, so are not the ideal months to visit in the search for aurora.
Late November and December bring darker skies and shorter days, increasing the amount of time the lights could be present. November and December are also the best months to immerse yourself in winter activities get into the festive spirit during the build up to Christmas.
January to March are the most popular months for hunting the aurora as dark nights and snowy daylight hours characterise these months. This is also the time of polar night in Lapland where the polar night dispels the sun during the first 50 days of mid-winter, so it marks the optimum time to catch the aurora. As January is also a colder month, it is said that the lights are more likely to appear due to the colder temperatures at night. The month of March sees temperatures gradually rise although thick snow still coats the ground. Snowfall is less likely as most of the winter snow has already fallen, which is a good thing for northern lights watching as there are less snow clouds to obscure the lights.
Late March to early April sees daylight hours lengthening although this time of year can be rewarding in the search for the northern lights despite the inevitable late nights.
Winter (end November-early April)
Finnish Lapland during this season is a winter wonderland! It's an ideal time to get into the festivities with family and friends and hunt for the northern lights in the night sky. The resorts in Finnish Lapland also promise guaranteed snow which is a perfect way to kick start the ski season. Snow arrives early in the winter season and lasts longer until late spring. Temperatures can vary between 0 to -35 degrees celsius with wind and humidity making the cold feel even colder, so be prepared for freezing temperatures and make sure you bring lots of layers with you on your trip!
Activities and events include searching for the northern lights, downhill and cross country skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing, husky and reindeer sleigh rides, meet and greet with Santa Claus and all the usual snow fun such as snowman building and snowball fights! You can even enjoy a traditional Finnish sauna, which is the perfect way to unwind.
Spring isn’t the most popular time to go on a holiday to Finland but it is ideal if you’re looking for a quiet, uncrowded trip. Spring is also Finland’s most diverse season. Temperatures remain pretty cold, averaging about 10 degrees celsius with snow still lingering until late spring which also means you can get some end of season skiing in.
Activities and events include northern lights hunting, hiking, husky sledding, 1st of May celebrations or “Vappu celebrations”, Inari Reindeer Racing Championships and northernmost ski marathon in the world which is held every April on an ancient mail delivery track from Hetta village in Finland to Kautokeino in Norway.
Summer in Finland is short and so locals make the most of the warmer months. During Finnish summer there are 70 days when the sun doesn’t set which is known as the ‘Midnight Sun’. Whilst it does bring beautiful light evenings and longer days, it can mean difficulties sleeping as a result of the light hours. July is the best month in summer to visit as temperatures are mild at around +20 degrees celsius, but in some instances temperatures have reached +30 degrees celsius.
Activities and events include boating, swimming, fishing, golfing, the folklore festival or ‘Jutajaiset’ in Rovaniemi, midsummer celebrations known as ‘Juhannus’ and the Tankavaara Gold Village which is an authentic European gold mining village.
The changing leaves mark the beginning of Autumn and in late September the Finnish celebrations begin, known as ‘ruska’ and the following months of October and November are the darkest months of the year. Holiday packages, accommodation, flights and tours are also usually cheaper during off season.
Activities and events include northern lights hunting, relax in a cosy cabin, ruska celebrations and hiking. One of the most popular spots to hike is the Urho Kekkonen National Park, the second largest national park in Finland.