One of the happiest and greenest countries in the world is a world of nordic adventure. But, when is the best time to go?
Finland conjures many images: a dazzling winter wonderland, home to ‘Santa’, the Northern Lights, and a pristine wilderness that covers much of the country. It also has a world-class dining scene, modern and quirky cities like the charismatic capital of Helsinki, and a forward-thinking population, declared as some of the happiest on the planet.
While other countries slow in winter, Finland thrives. The snowy season is the longest and most dramatic time of the year, running from around November to May. The northern Lapland region, in particular, is covered in snow and ice come winter, with very short days. Both Finns and visitors alike make the most of this season, enjoying seasonal activities such as skiing, dog sledding, snowmobile treks, ice fishing, and even reindeer sleighing. One of the major attractions in the Lapland town of Rovaniemi is Santa’s Village – an incredible experience for young and old.
Another highlight is spending an evening under the stars in Sinetta – if you’re lucky, you can watch the Northern Lights dance in the sky from the comfort a glass-roofed igloo. In Kemi, visit the Snow Castle Resort to admire the ice sculptures, or board an icebreaker vessel to power through thick ice on an adventure of a lifetime.
There is no shortage of ways to enjoy the winter wilderness in Finland, but you’ll need to be prepared for the temperatures. In Helsinki, expect a frosty average of -2 degrees celsius, but further north in Lapland, it will most likely average around -7 degrees. Luckily, the Finns are more than equipped for the cold and your Lapland adventure will be comfortable thanks to indoor heating, saunas, and many hot chocolates.
Though winter in Finland can seem endless, spring is a welcome respite. The country comes out of winter closer to May and after the snow melts, nature comes back to life. Wildflowers start blooming in the south as the country inches its way towards summer. Spring temperatures in Helsinki hover around 14 degrees celsius, and in the north, Lapland averages 11-degree temperatures around Kemi and 13 degrees around Rovaniemi.
Summer is short but beautiful and sunny, though not overly hot – people spend their days in Helsinki enjoying the sun from pavement bars and cafes, and exploring sites like the so-called Rock Church. In the north, the forests change from white to green, rivers thaw, and locals get out and about to enjoy the fresh, Finnish air. Summer days are very long, with just a few hours of darkness each day. It's not the time to spot the Aurora Borealis, but you can cross the Arctic Circle and experience a Midnight Sun.
Summer in Helsinki is around 21 degrees celsius, while up north, Kemi averages 20 degrees, and Rovaniemi stays around 22.
Autumn transforms the Finnish countryside into a blanket of reds, golds and oranges with the changing of the leaves. Known locally as ruska, this seasonal sight is particularly striking in Lapland. From September to December, temperatures drop and the days are short, pending the arrival of winter. In Helsinki, temperatures go back to around 9 degrees celsius in October, and in Lapland, both Kemi and Rovaniemi average around 4 degrees.
There's a reason to visit Finland, no matter the time of year.
When will you go?
Where else do you want to visit?