Best time to travel to Finland

Northern Lights in Finland

Check out the amazing colorful aurora shimmering in the sky for a once in a lifetime experience

Best time: September–March

Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights

For around 200 nights per year, some regions of Finland witness the stunning natural phenomenon known as aurora borealis. Even though hunting the aurora is a matter of luck, in Finland's Lapland, it's actually quite easy to catch a glimpse of the amazing colorful lights that show up on every other clear night.

When is the best time to see northern lights

The season for northern lights in Finland is quite long and stretches from September through March. As a matter of fact, autumn and early spring are the best time for catching the northern lights, as solar activity is quite intense and reliable. March is also considered to be the month with the clearest skies. You can observe the brightest aurora at around midnight or until 2 am. The mystical shimmering in the sky can last for just a few minutes at a time so be patient not to miss it. Your main obstacle can be cloudiness, so don't forget to check the aurora forecast or sign up for alerts from the Finnish Meteorological Institute to be ready to run outside at the right moment.

Lapland

The northernmost part of the country—Lapland—is the best destination for aurora borealis chasers. It can be reached by train or plane from the capital of Helsinki. You can go on a northern lights snowmobile adventure, try dog-sledding, snowshoeing, or just watch the northern lights with comfort at a glass igloo. The warm and cozy glass rooms even have an aurora alarm so you won't miss it. To increase you chances of seeing aurora Borealis, you need to travel to Finnish "northern arm" region. The village of Kilpisjärvi in the municipality of Enontekiö boasts 75% chances to catch the northern lights. The neighboring Utsjoki municipality which borders Norway, provides the same high likelihood to see the phenomenon. Sodankylä and nearby Inari, Kittilä, Rovaniemi, and Savukoski municipalities also sport a good chance to witness the phenomenon. Ivalo in Inari municipality has an Aurora Village with snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, ice karting, and horse sled riding. Rovaniemi witnesses northern lights for about 150 times a year. However, you'll have to get out of the city for the best view because of light pollution. Keep in mind that in the winter, the temperature in Lapland can drop to -30°C (-22°F) so pack lots of warm layers and insulated boots.

Your chances to see northern lights will be a bit lower in Kemi. located near the city of Tornio, on the Swedish border. Aurora shows up in local skies for about 100 nights per year. However, the town, situated on the Bothnian Bay, boasts a Snow Castle which looks stunning with northern lights in the background. There are also many hotels and lodging options.

Helsinki

Your chances of seeing the phenomenon of northern lights in Helsinki (located in Uusimaa of southern Finland), are much lower than in Lapland. However, with a bit of luck, you can still catch a glimpse of dancing lights here on a clear dark night in the fall or early spring. The popular spots for local aurora chasers include the 98-ft (30-m) Observatory Hill (Tähtitorninmäki) which is located in the park near the South harbor in Ullanlinna district. You can also try other parks in Helsinki or get out of the city to avoid light pollution.

Practical info

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Finland?

Viewing the Aurora Borealis in Finland is best between September and March, especially in Lapland. Solar activity is high during this period, resulting in a high frequency of sightings. The month of March is believed to be the clearest for viewing the Northern Lights, and you can witness the brightest auroras around midnight. Note that viewing the Northern Lights is dependent on luck, and the weather plays a crucial role. Show more

Where is the best place in Finland to see the Northern Lights?

Lapland, located in the northernmost part of Finland, is the most favored location for Aurora Borealis observation. The chances of viewing the Northern Lights are high in municipalities such as Utsjoki, Inari, Sodankylä, Kittilä, Rovaniemi, and Savukoski, all of which fall under Lapland. Ivalo and Rovaniemi offer adventurous snow and ice activities, including snowmobiling, ice fishing, and horse sled riding, among others, while enjoying the Northern Lights. Show more

What activities can I do while chasing Northern Lights in Finland?

Other than witnessing the Aurora Borealis, many activities can be enjoyed in the snow-topped wonderland of Finland. You can go snowmobiling, dog-sledding, snowshoeing or observe the Northern Light while relaxing in a cozy glass igloo. Aurora village in the Inari municipality provides travelers with various adventure sports options such as snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, ice karting, and horse sled riding. In Rovaniemi, get out of the city to observe Northern Lights and enjoy thrilling activities in the snow. Kemi is also an excellent option for its stunning Snow Castle and accommodations with a beautiful view of the Aurora Borealis. Show more

Can I see the Northern Lights in Helsinki too?

Although witnessing the Northern Lights in Helsinki is less likely than in Lapland, if weather conditions are favorable, the lights may be visible on a dark night during fall or early spring. The Ullanlinna district features the observatory hill in the South harbor's park which is an excellent spot for aurora viewing. You can also move away from the town to avoid light pollution and increase your chances of catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Show more

What should I pack when traveling to Lapland to chase Northern Lights?

When traveling to Lapland, pack enough warm layers of clothing, insulated boots, thick gloves, and a warm hat, as temperatures can get incredibly low, even dropping to -30°C. In November pack sunglasses since daylight can be intense. Winter activities such as dog-sledding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing all require adequate winter clothing to stay warm, and extra batteries for your camera to capture the stunning view of the Northern Lights. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin