Northern Lights in Finland

Can you see the Northern Lights in Finland?

One of the things foreign visitors ask most often when they visit Finland is: when and where can I see the northern lights? This Arctic phenomenon, also known as Aurora Borealis or Polar Lights, is only visible in a handful of countries in the world, all near or within the Arctic Circle. Due to Finland’s location, it is one of the best spots for viewing the Northern Lights.

Despite their mystical reputation, the science behind the Northern Lights is in fact fairly simple: when particles of solar winds react with the Earth’s magnetic field, they result in colorful lights dancing across the night sky.

In Finnish mythology, Northern Lights carry a special meaning. The indigenous Sámi people believed that the phenomenon was caused by a fox rushing through the snow and casting colorful rays in its wake — hence the Finnish name revontulet, which directly translates to “a fox’s fires”.

When can you see Northern Lights in Finland?

What month is best to see the Northern Lights in Finland?

Northern Lights are often associated in tourists’ minds with a blistering cold wintery scene, but the chances of seeing the lights are actually slightly higher during the spring and autumn seasons. In theory, Northern Lights can be seen anytime during the period between August and April — the sun does not set in northern Finland during the summer months, making it impossible to view Northern Lights against a night sky.

In late August and September, when the fall equinox takes place and the sun starts to set earlier each day, the season for catching the Northern Lights begins. The nights can get surprisingly dark around this time and the darker the sky, the better the setting for Northern Lights!

The winter season, which runs from December to February, is perhaps the most atmospheric season for seeing the Northern Lights. The deep darkness of winter in northern Finland is the perfect backdrop for the colorful dance on the night sky.

As the seasons begin to shift in March, days start to get longer and the sun lingers in the horizon in the evenings. This makes it increasingly difficult to see the Northern Lights, but visitors might be in luck and catch the last ones of the season! Once the famous midnight sun sets in and days run into nights, the Aurora Borealis in Finland won’t be visible anymore.

Timewise, around midnight is ideal for seeing the Northern Lights. Because of this, guided tours usually take place between 10pm and 2am or 3am to ensure the best chances of catching the lights.

Northern Lights in Finland

Where to see Northern Lights in Finland

The Northern Lights are more visible the closer one gets to the Arctic Circle, although they can technically be seen throughout Finland when the circumstances are ideal. The Arctic Circle begins roughly at the same latitudes as Lapland does, so once you enter either of those, you are getting closer to seeing the Northern Lights.

The norther you go, the better the chances, of course, but even such areas in southern Lapland as Kemi or Rovaniemi are known for being home to breathtaking Northern Lights.

Can you see the Northern Lights from Helsinki?

Although the Northern Lights can be seen everywhere in Finland as long as the night is dark and the weather is otherwise suitable, those visiting Helsinki or other southern areas of the country will have lower chances of seeing the phenomenon than visitors to Lapland.

Finnish cities like Helsinki also have a fair share of light pollution, which makes it increasingly difficult to view the Northern Lights. If you are in Helsinki during winter and hope to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, taking a quick trip to nearby woods or other rural areas could improve your chances.

National parks within a short driving distance from Helsinki include Nuuksio, Sipoonkorpi, and Teijo. The darker the night, the better your chances are of seeing the Northern Lights even close to Helsinki!

How can I be sure that I will see the Northern Lights if I visit Lapland?

Of course, with nature there are never any guarantees, but there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of seeing the Northern Lights if you do visit Finland within the Arctic Circle.

AuroraAlert!

There is an app for everything these days, and the Northern Lights phenomenon is no exception. Launched in 2014, the application uses its own sensors to alert users via the app and/or text message when the sky lights up.

The app also features an aurora forecast, which predicts the chances of seeing the Northern Lights according to the cloudiness of the sky, geomagnetic storms, and other indicators.

ISES RWC Finland

The Finnish Meteorological Institute, in partnership with the International Space Environment Service, hosts a website that detects the probability of Northern Lights by calculating solar wind parameters and geomagnetic activity.

The site includes a continuously updating all-sky camera, solar images, geomagnetically induced currents in the area, and a probability chart based on color (blue for no activity and red for high activity).

Aurora Live Webcam

Stuck at home but still want a glimpse of the Northern Lights? The Aurora Live webcam site claims to offer the highest quality Aurora Borealis webcams in the world. Cameras are available for Finland, other Nordic countries, and Alaska, as well as New Zealand for the Southern Lights.

Best places to see the Northern Lights in Finland

Visitors in Finland who want to see the Northern Lights have many options. Especially independent travelers and those hoping for a break from modern comforts can go camping in one of the numerous national parks in Lapland or visit a quiet village in the area.

At the other end of the spectrum are the countless modern hotels and resorts that cater to visitors coming to Lapland specifically to see the Northern Lights.

Tours are also available and are a good option for travelers who want to trust the experience into the hands of an experienced local. These tours often include accommodation, a guided trip to see the Northern Lights, and even assistance with cameras to make sure the experience is properly captured.

Due to the fact that the Northern Lights are best seen at nighttime, tours often take place between 10pm and 2am.

Here are some of the companies and organizations that offer Northern Lights tours in Lapland:

Get Your Guide

Aurora Holidays

Aurora Service Tours

Lapland Welcome

Lapland Safaris

50 Degrees Nordic

National parks and wilderness for seeing the Northern Lights

Northern Lights in Finland
Credit: Timo Newton-Syms

Santa’s Hotel Aurora in the Pyhä-Luosto National Park

The Pyhä-Luosto National Park is home to Santa’s Hotel Aurora, an all-inclusive, boutique-style hotel that offers rooms, glass igloos, and a log villa for visitors. The igloos are the most popular choice for visitors who want to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, as the ceilings and walls are made of glass (although curtains are available for privacy).

Available wintertime outdoor activities at and near Aurora include both cross-country and downhill skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. The glass igloos at Aurora cost 621 euros per night.

Dome glamping in the Muonio National Park

The Aurora Dome in the Torassieppi area of Muonio National Park is the only one of its kind in the area. The glass walls of the dome open to a view of the Torassieppi lake and, during winter, offer an unobstructed view of the Northern Lights. The dome sleeps two but has the option of adding camp beds for two more guests.

Nearby attractions are plentiful: the Torassieppi Reindeer Farm, which has been owned by the same family since 1847, features a reindeer museum, hiking trips with reindeer, and a restaurant.

The Torassieppi Winter Village is housed inside a snow igloo and offers an ice bar and an ice restaurant. Although the dome does not include a toilet or a shower, both are within a short walking distance.

Accommodation at Aurora Dome starts at 320 euros per night.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort and Northern Lights Village in the Saariselkä National Park

The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in the Saariselkä National Park launched its glass igloos in 2001 and was the first igloo-style resort in the country at the time. It remains perhaps the best known of its kind, having inspired dozens of other similar resorts around Lapland.

According to Finland’s national public broadcasting company Yle, more than one billion people have seen the best-known aerial image of the resort’s igloos. The nightly costs of the two-person igloos starts at 477 euros.

The Northern Lights Village offers Aurora Cabins, which feature laser-heated glass roofs and offer a chance to sleep directly under the Northern Lights. The resort centers around the main building, which houses a restaurant and a bar.

Other available activities within the Northern Lights Village include husky safaris, a snowmobile track, a sledding hill, ski tracks, and a reindeer paddock. The popular Aurora Cabins sleep a maximum of four people and start at 174 euros per night.

Ylläs Log Cabins in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

The Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park is a great option for travelers who want to truly unwind and be one with nature: streetlights in the area are turned off at 10pm every night to minimize light pollution and to allow spectators to see the Northern Lights more clearly.

There is even an “aurora alarm” available — guests can leave their phone numbers with the hosts and when the Northern Lights appear in the night sky, they receive a text.

The Ylläs Log Cabins range in size from two-person cottages to a seven-person house, and cost approximately 160 to 320 euros per night, depending on the size of the cabin, the season, and the number of visitors.

Northern Lights in Finland
Credit: Timo Newton-Syms

Oulanka National Park

Hoping to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life? The Oulanka National Park is a rustic river valley with few available spots for accommodation, but plenty of room for campers.

The Karhunkierros trail is famous for its gorgeous wintery views of waterfalls and the river. Sleeping under the stars and the Northern Lights after warming up near a bonfire sounds like a perfect way to end a day of exploring the area.

Hotels, ski resorts, and cabins for seeing the Northern Lights

Levi

The Levi ski resort is one of the most popular and best known of its kind in Finland. Located in western Lapland near the town of Kittilä (which is also where the closest airport is located), Levi is home to hundreds of restaurants, hotels, and unique accommodation options.

For visitors whose to-do list includes seeing the Northern Lights, Levi has these accommodations to offer:

Northern Lights Ranch

Located approximately 15 kilometers from the center of Levi, the Northern Lights Ranch is a restaurant and accommodation complex with modern sky view cabins.

The wooden cabins come in four size options, all of which feature a glass ceiling for uninterrupted views of the Northern Lights. Some of the more deluxe cabin options include outdoor hot tubs and adjoining saunas.

Other activities in the Northern Lights Ranch area range from a heart-shaped skating rink and a snowshoeing trail. The sky view cabins rent for 430 to 595 euros per night.

Levin Iglut Golden Crown

The Levin Iglut (which translates directly to Levi’s igloos) Golden Crown hotel stands approximately ten kilometers from the Levi center.

The suite-style igloos, which are fairly spacious compared to other similar accommodations, all include an outdoor terrace and outdoor jacuzzi. Smaller igloos are also available.

There is a restaurant on the premises, as well as a sauna that is available for private booking. Cost for the igloos starts at 690 euros per night.

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel in Rovaniemi

The capital of Lapland is a unique city: surrounded by thick woods on all sides and almost destroyed during World War II, today Rovaniemi is home to many of the most popular attractions in Lapland. SantaPark Arctic World is among the most famous and offers something for everyone.

For Northern Lights enthusiasts, the design hotel Arctic TreeHouse is a must see. Located right at the edge of the Arctic Circle, the Arctic Tree House consists of seven suites, five glass houses, and two executive suites.

All three options have glass walls that open to a stunning view of the surroundings woods, and, of course, the skies that may be painted in green with the Northern Lights if visitors are lucky.

Accommodation at the Arctic TreeHouse starts at 674 euros.

Seaside Glass Villas in Kemi

The town of Kemi sits near the border of Sweden in western Finland, roughly 90 minutes south of the Arctic Circle. Although not technically within the Arctic Circle, Kemi is bustling with the atmosphere of Lapland: one of the most popular attractions in the area is the Kemi Snow Castle, a frozen castle sculpted solely from ice and snow that is available for visitors year-round.

The icebreaker ship Sampo is also well worth a visit — for a truly wintery experience, take a snowmobile to and from Sampo and float in the surrounding waters in a survival suit!

The Seaside Glass Villas in Kemi are a great destination for visitors who are hoping to see the Northern Lights during their trip. The villas stand at the edge of the sea, with unobstructed views of the surrounding skies.

The villas are available for 315 euros per night.

Villages for seeing the Northern Lights

Northern Lights in Finland
Credit: Martin Stojanovski

Nellim

The tiny village of Nellim is only less than ten kilometers from the Russian border and near the Inari Lake. The wilderness of the area is the perfect setup for viewing the Northern Lights, and the Nellim Wilderness Hotel is located away from any possible light pollution.

The Aurora Cabins at the hotel are igloo-style glass cottages, sleep up to four people and are available in three sizes. One night in the Aurora Cabins costs between 310 and 440 euros.

Ivalo

The Ivalo village is located along the Ivalo River, tucked between several national parks and wilderness areas, and not far from the Korvatunturi hill, which is said to be the home of Santa Claus.

One of the most popular spots for Northern Lights watching in the Ivalo area is Aurora Village, which houses 28 cabins of panoramic views of the night skies. The village is robust with wintery activities, ranging from reindeer sleigh rides, husky safaris, snowmobiling, and tours to view the Northern Lights by car or snowmobile.

The cabins are available for 368 euros per night. 

Credit: Marco Brotto

Kilpisjärvi

The village of Kilpisjärvi prides itself in something that might be of interest to visitors who are trying to see the Northern Lights: according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the statistical probabilities of viewing the Northern Lights are higher in Kilpisjärvi than anywhere else in Finland.

The Institute states that the Aurora Borealis are visible in Kilpisjärvi during approximately 75% of dark and cloudless nights — for comparison, the equivalent percentage for most of the resorts in Lapland (like Levi and Ylläs) is about 50%, and in Helsinki the Northern Lights can be seen about once a month on average.

Although Kilpisjärvi remains quite rural, some accommodations such as the Santa’s Chalets Rakka are available in the area.

The Aurora Borealis in Finland

Exhausted by options? Lapland is a vast, sparsely populated area with plenty to offer for everyone. Take your pick and drink some Finnish coffee to stay awake — the best time to view the Northern Lights is around midnight, but they are well worth the wait!

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