Best Time to Visit Finland to See the Northern Lights

Posted by Kornelija Kadyte  |  April 25, 2019

One of Finland’s most mesmerizing attractions is the captivating display of the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. This celestial spectacle draws visitors from around the globe and is a must-see while in Finland. While these dazzling lights can be observed in several northern regions, Finland’s Lapland, the country’s northernmost region, is a prime location for this awe-inspiring phenomenon.

In order to witness the Northern Lights, two essential factors come into play: darkness and a clear, unobstructed sky. Fortunately, when you’re in Finland, you can sign up for free Aurora alerts from the Finnish Meteorological Institute. These alerts will notify you when magnetic disturbances are at a high level and the weather conditions are perfect for experiencing the Northern Lights. This invaluable service can help you decide on the best time to visit Lapland, Finland. You can subscribe to the Aurora alerts here.

Northern Lights, Finland

So, when is the ideal time to plan your trip to Lapland?

The Northern Lights can be visible year-round, but the optimal time to visit Finland for this celestial spectacle is during spring and autumn. These seasons offer a higher occurrence rate of the Northern Lights. However, from late August to the end of April, you can experience this phenomenon, making those months a good time to visit. Summer is not ideal for Northern Lights enthusiasts, as the nights are too bright to see them, especially in Lapland where the sun doesn’t set at all during that period.

September, October, and November are great months to visit Finland for the Northern Lights, but if you’re seeking a snowy landscape, consider that there is typically no snow between mid-April and mid-November. For those concerned about weather conditions, locals suggest that the best time to visit Lapland is in March or early April. During this period, the days are longer, the weather is not excessively cold, and there’s still plenty of snow to enjoy while witnessing the Northern Lights. However, keep in mind that this is a peak season and can be more expensive. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly visit, consider August and September when the tourist season has tapered off.

Northern Lights, Finland

What’s the best time of day to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights?

Auroras can appear at any time during the night, as long as the sky is sufficiently dark. Yet, the prime time to observe them is around midnight and a few hours before and after midnight.

In the summer months, even at midnight, it may not be the best time to spot the Aurora due to the Midnight Sun phenomenon when the sun remains visible for 24 hours. Typically, the Northern Lights make their appearance from 8 pm to 2 am and can last for just a few minutes or extend for several hours. Waiting outside in the cold can be a challenge, but you can make the experience more comfortable by spending that time in glass buildings, like cozy glass Igloo hotels. These hotels are available for reservations from late August to the end of April, offering a unique opportunity to enjoy the Northern Lights in warmth and comfort.

Northern Lights, Finland

Is December a good time to visit Finland?

The northern regions of Finland are renowned for their Northern Lights, as well as for being the home of Christmas itself. Rovaniemi in Lapland is the official hometown of Santa Claus, making it an ideal place to visit Santa Claus Village. The best time to experience the magic of Santa Claus Village in Finland is from the end of November to mid-January when they host Christmas season festivities. However, the Santa Claus office is open year-round, so you can visit at any time.

If you plan to visit Santa Claus Village and witness the Northern Lights simultaneously, December is an excellent choice. Keep in mind that the winter months bring the Polar Night, a period of continuous darkness. This might not be ideal for those seeking outdoor activities, but it offers perfect conditions for Northern Lights sightings, as they require darkness, which is abundant during this period.

Northern Lights, Finland

Northern Lights in Helsinki

While Lapland is considered the best place to witness the Northern Lights in Finland, you can also spot them in the capital city, Helsinki. The optimal time for viewing remains the same as in northern Finland: October, November, March, and April, during the darkest hours of the day. However, it’s important to note that Helsinki is a bustling metropolis with significant light pollution, which can make observing the Northern Lights a bit challenging. If your main goal is to experience the Aurora, it’s highly recommended to plan a trip to northern Finland. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in Helsinki, you can increase your chances by seeking out higher points or more remote locations away from the city lights and gazing towards the northern sky around midnight on clear nights.

Helsinki, Finland

In summary, the best time to visit Finland for a chance to witness the awe-inspiring Northern Lights is from October to April. For those yearning for snowy landscapes and milder weather, March may be the ideal choice.