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How to See Northern Lights FINLAND LAPLAND

how to see northern lights finland lapland

Of all places to see the aurora, Finland may be one of the most splendid yet underrated. In this article, we explain how to see northern lights Finland Lapland with regard to aurora visibility, time and location.

For centuries, the ghostly lights cast across the northern skies have intrigued people from all over the world. As word spread about the aurora borealis, travelers began to flock to the northernmost countries of the world including Iceland, Canada, Norway, as well as Finland.

And, among all the possible destinations for viewing the northern lights, Finnish Lapland has quietly grown to be one of the most popular options due to the beauty of the countryside which offers visitors unparalleled views of the lights.

In this article, we explain why you should travel to Finland for your aurora vacation, and practical tips for chasing the northern lights in Finland Lapland.

Why See the Northern Lights in Lapland Finland?

Top 3 Reasons to See Northern Lights in Lapland Finland:

  • Excellent aurora viewing opportunities, completely within the auroral oval
  • Large range of accommodation options, from glass igloos to log cabins
  • Quiet, pristine countryside

Located well within the Arctic Circle, Finnish Lapland provides visitors with some of the most unique viewing experiences imaginable. Not only does the geographical location of the country play a pivotal role in providing the ultimate experience, but its history and cultural significance add to the intrigue.

There is something magical about viewing the northern lights in Lapland Finland, where the pristine, untouched wilderness is covered by forests and of course a lot of snow. This creates a purely enchanting dimension to the entire aurora borealis experience.

Finnish Lapland obtains a large portion of its annual domestic product exclusively from aurora hunters, who make their way to the shores of this majestic land in droves. As a result, the nation offers one of the largest ranges of amenities as well as activities that perfectly complement the entire Northern Lights experience.

From glass igloos to luxury hotels to traditional log cabins, the accommodation options are endless. Fall in love with the unique culture of the indigenous Sami people, who have inhabited the region for centuries, or take a reindeer ride to your private aurora viewing spot in the forest.

northern lights finland lapland autumn
Autumn is a beautiful time to seek out the northern lights in Finland Lapland.

Visibility of Northern Lights Finland Lapland

Several important factors contribute to the visibility of the northern lights in Finland Lapland. These factors include geographical location, solar activity, the seasons, weather conditions, as well as the moon phases.

Geographical Location

Key points for aurora-hunters:

  • Finnish Lapland is in the auroral oval, therefore all of Lapland is excellent for aurora viewing.
  • Not all regions in Finland are good; for aurora chasing you must go to Lapland.

One of the most important factors associated with the visibility of the Northern Lights is the geographical location. For the best viewing experience, it is recommended that you visit a place that is well within the auroral oval.

The further north you can go, the greater the intensity and frequency of the auroral displays. All of Finnish Lapland is well within the auroral oval and is situated well within the Arctic Circle, where some of the best viewing locations in the world can be found.

It is important to remember that Finnish Lapland is a region within Finland. Not all of Finland is good for auroras – only Lapland – the border of which is the Arctic Circle. The capital of Finnish Lapland, Rovaniemi, sits right on the edge of the Arctic Circle and is the southernmost point of the Lappish region; all other Lapland destinations are located north of it.

To increase your chances of viewing the elusive lights, you can make your way to places such as Rovaniemi, Levi, or Ivalo which we’ll discuss further down. However, you will want to keep away from major cities due to light pollution, as they can dim the appearance of the aurora.

Solar Activity and Lunar Cycle

Solar activity plays an important role in the visibility of the Northern Lights. While the northern lights exist year-round, and throughout the day, they are rarely visible when the conditions are not perfect.

The stronger the solar activity is, the greater the visibility of the auroras. Whenever there are sunspots or solar flares, and therefore more geomagnetic activity, the chances of capturing a glimpse of the elusive lights are increased substantially.

The best time to view the aurora borealis is during the peak of the solar cycle. For more info on this, check out our article on the best years to see the aurora based on solar cycle.

You can also use a forecast app when you’re in the country to help you pinpoint the best nights to see the lights based on current solar activity, but these are only useful a few days in advance so can’t be used for planning vacation dates.

In addition to the solar cycle, you should also pay attention to the moon cycle. For northern lights in Lapland Finland, you’ll want to avoid a full moon, for the reason that a full moon can cast a surprisingly large amount of light which can make it more difficult to see the subtle aurora borealis.

Season and Weather Conditions

The season and weather conditions play a pivotal role in the appearance and visibility of the aurora borealis. For starters, during the winter months, the nights are longer, ensuring that the skies are darker for longer periods. The colder weather reduces the amount of humidity in the air and therefore increases the chances of a clear sky.

In saying that, it is still possible for a snowstorm to block the view of the auroras, as I discovered personally when I visited Rovaniemi in early January several years ago (my story is here).

A visitor to Finnish Lapland could theoretically plan ahead and stay during the time of year when there is a lower chance of snowfall, but that means trawling through historical weather data which is a tedious and near-impossible task when you don’t know the Finnish language, and is not necessarily reliable either.

The best way is to make sure you spend several nights in Lapland to increase your chances of both seeing the aurora and avoiding bad weather, around a week if possible.

winter lapland finland northern lights
Winter is very popular for northern lights, but snow clouds may shroud the skies.

How to See Northern Lights Finland Lapland

TIME OF YEAR for Northern Lights in Lapland Finland

Timing is everything when it comes to planning your visit to the Finnish Lapland. The aurora borealis can be viewed throughout the year when the conditions are just right. However, it is during the winter months when the conditions are just right to ensure their visibility.

For more guidance on choosing travel dates, check out our article on the best time of year to see the aurora borealis in Finland. Below is a summary.

Autumn (September to November)

The Northern Lights season in Lapland begins during early autumn. During the night, the skies become increasingly darker, and the air remains crisp. The temperatures still are quite bearable and the forests are stunning with their autumnal colors, which makes the fall months some of the best times of year to visit Finland generally.

Winter (December to February)

However, the best time of year to visit Finnish Lapland to view the elusive lights is during the winter months. The extended hours of pure darkness, create the perfect conditions for viewing the elusive lights. Coupled with the snow-covered landscapes, the breathtaking ethereal lights reflect off the glistening snow which enhances the experience. However, you’ll need to be conscious of snowfall, which can block the view, particularly towards the start of winter.

Late Winter to Early Spring (March to April)

After 3 long months of cold, cold winter, the annual Aurora season segues into early spring. From March to April, visitors to Finnish Lapland will have the final opportunity of the year to hunt for the aurora borealis. Keep in mind that although the temperatures are milder during this time of year, the visibility of the elusive lights is greatly diminished due to the longer daylight hours. While temperatures are better, hiking outdoors can be unpleasant due to the sloshy ground and mosquitoes. Nevertheless, early spring still provides aurora enthusiasts with plenty of opportunities to capture a glimpse of the ethereal lights.

rovaniemi lapland finland
Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland, is a popular aurora-hunting base for families.

LOCATION for Northern Lights Finland Lapland

Visiting Finnish Lapland to view the aurora borealis also requires selecting the perfect location to visit. Naturally, the further north you go, the greater the chances are of witnessing the ghostly lights dance across the darkened skies. But, keep in mind that each region of Finland offers a unique experience all on its own.

Finnish Lapland is a very quiet region, with a certain ‘small town’ ambiance to it. Further north, you will encounter places where English is not spoken much, and even in the capital city Rovaniemi we couldn’t find anywhere to get a meal after 6pm (so, remember to eat dinner well-beforeyou go aurora-hunting!).

For an in-depth look at locations, check out our guide to choosing the best place in Finland to see the aurora borealis. Below is a summary.


Many first-time aurora hunters make their way to the capital of Finnish Lapland due to its extensive infrastructure. Just about any facilities a visitor could want, can be found in the capital city of Rovaniemi, and the numerous tour operators will take you just outside of the city limits, where there is less light pollution and an increased chance of seeing the northern lights. It is also a popular base for other activities such as reindeer sleighs and dog-sledding.

During my visit to Rovaniemi in early January, my partner and I found the city to be very touristy. Having landed into Rovaniemi just after Christmas, it was a ghost town, with the majority of stores being souvenir shops or tour operators. The few taxi drivers and shopkeepers we spoke to seemed surprised that we were even there outside the Christmas period. During the festive period, it is a huge hustle and bustle, replete with family Christmas and Santa Claus activities.

As someone who prefers the quiet life, I found Rovaniemi too kitsch and tourist-focused, but nonetheless enjoyable for a day or two. But for a family with children excited by the Christmas hype, it would be ideal.

Official Website: Visit Rovaniemi


For those who are looking for more exciting, and adrenaline-rushing experiences, Levi is the perfect destination. Located in the heart of Finnish Lapland, Levi is home to several ski resorts and countless winter activities. You’ll find a wide selection of glass igloos, and traditional log cabins to stay in when visiting the region.

Official Website: Levi


In the northernmost part of the country, you will find the pristine and remote Ivalo. Here, you are provided with the best conditions for observing the northern lights. The region is surrounded by national parks, which not only offer a tranquil setting to aurora hunters but also ensure that the light pollution that is commonly associated with larger cities, does not interfere with the visibility of the ethereal lights.


However, if you are looking for a charming destination in the northernmost part of Finnish Lapland then the small village of Saariselkä is the perfect choice. The village is known for its wide selection of outdoor activities, and close proximity to nature. Soak in the cultural experience of the surrounding natural snowscapes as you hunt for the perfect auroral experience.

Other Activities in Finnish Lapland

There is a whole lot more to Finnish Lapland than simply viewing the aurora borealis. Whenever you visit Finland, take the time to engage in a wide selection of Arctic adventures that will make your trip something to remember forever.

Husky Safaris

Head out into the snowy landscapes of Finnish Lapland strapped into a dogsled as you are pulled deeper into the Arctic wilderness. Get up close and personal with nature, as you meander your way through the majestic Finnish countryside.

Reindeer Safaris

For a more unique experience, allow yourself to soak in the magical Sami culture, by going on a reindeer safari. On my visit to Lapland my partner and I took a reindeer safari through the frozen forests at night, with the snow drifting down on us, and it was easily the most memorable and romantic activity of our trip. I highly recommend it for a memorable and unique experience.

Cultural Traditions

There are numerous ways to enjoy the cultural traditions of Lapland. Head out to a traditional Sami village to learn more about the indigenous way of life that has existed in the northernmost parts of Finland for centuries. Or, like we did, spend a quiet and casual evening in a traditional reindeer-farmers home to learn about the history and practice of reindeer farming, and enjoy a meal together around the fire.

Snowmobile Excursions

If you are looking for a little bit more adrenaline-pumping experience, then visit the Finnish countryside on the back of a snowmobile. With the help of a professional guide, make your way through the wilderness and visit far-off, remote viewing locations, to experience the aurora borealis in a way that you are bound to remember for a lifetime.

Ice Fishing

One of the more popular traditions in Finnish Lapland is fishing on frozen lakes. Head out onto the lake with a dedicated guide, as you connect with nature, line in the water, and the ghostly auroras dancing through the night skies overhead.

Arctic Sauna Experience

Of course, nothing beats viewing the elusive lights from the warm embrace of a traditional Finnish sauna. There are many different accommodations located throughout Finnish Lapland that offer private saunas, many of which provide the sauna sessions with some of the most jaw-dropping northern lights experiences imaginable. Or, like we did, combine the sauna with an outdoor hot tub, where you can scan the skies for the aurora while soaking in the warm waters.

Final Tips for Northern Lights Finland Lapland

You should now have a good starting point for planning your Finland Lapland northern lights vacation, or deciding whether visiting Finnish Lapland is for you at all. This article is just an introduction to planning a trip to Lapland Finland for northern lights, but for more detailed advice we recommend you check out our other articles to help you choose the right place, time, tour and accommodation for your trip.

Find the full selection of articles at our Northern Lights Finland page, or jump straight to one of these:

Happy aurora hunting!

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