If you’re planning an aurora-chasing trip to Europe, then Finland should definitely be on your shortlist. In this article, we answer the question ‘Can you see Northern Lights in Finland?’ with a list of seven of the best aurora viewing locations in the country.
As a Finnish-Australian, hearing the question ‘Can you see Northern Lights in Finland?’ always surprises me. Nonetheless, it continues to be a common question amongst aurora-chasers. Finland is one of the best countries in the world to see the aurora borealis. However, like Sweden and Norway, Finland is also a long country stretching north-south, so you won’t see the lights everywhere in the country.
In this article, I share the best places where you can see Northern Lights in Finland, and also discuss whether you can see the Northern Lights from Helsinki, Finland.
Where can you see Northern Lights in Finland?
Without a question, the best place in Finland to view the northern lights is in Lapland.
The Finnish Lapland is located well within the aurora zone, which makes it a perfect destination for viewing the aurora borealis. And, while the best viewing can be found in Lapland, it is still possible to see the northern lights throughout the country if you’re lucky. The odds of viewing the northern lights, and the intensity of the viewing, are highly dependent upon the proximity to the auroral oval, and the height of the solar cycle.
Below is a list of some great places in Finnish Lapland where you can see Northern Lights in Finland. These destinations are listed by latitude, which as we discussed in our article on the best places to see the Northern Lights, the further north you go the better your chances of seeing the lights. Let’s jump in.
#1 Saariselkä, Lapland
Without a question, the most popular destination in Finland to view the northern lights is Saariselkä. Every year the lights are visible in and around the city, as much as 200 times. As long as it is a clear night and a new moon, there is a very good chance that you will view the elusive lights during your stay. Most visitors to the city, choose to stay at the Saariselkä Northern Lights Village which has a number of specially designed cabins that feature glass roofs which allow you to view the elusive lights from the comfort of your bed. In order to ensure that snow does not cover the glass roof, laser heaters quickly sweep off any powder.
The city of Saariselkä is located next to one of the largest protected areas in Finland, the Urho Kekkonen National Park. As a result, there is very little light pollution in the surrounding area, and the picturesque mountain scenery is nothing short of perfection. Countless aurora hunters make their way to Saariselkä, in order to capture some of the most breathtaking photos of the aurora borealis.
#2 Ivalo, Lapland
Located just outside of Saariselkä, you will find the remote village of Ivalo. Considered to be one of the northernmost locations in the country, it is therefore one of the best destinations to view the aurora borealis. After all, the further north you travel, the better chances you have of viewing the elusive lights. Here in the village of Ivalo, you can snuggle up and view the night skies from the comfort of your cabin.
#3 Kakslauttanen Resort, Lapland
Perhaps one of the most popular places in Finland to view the elusive aurora borealis is at the remote Kakslauttanen Resort, near Saariselkä. Situated a mere 30 minutes away from the Ivalo Airport, this wonderful resort is easily accessible and considered by many to be more isolated than some of the other locations farther north. Because of its remoteness, there is very little light pollution in and around the resort, which makes viewing the auroras a lot easier. Considered to be one of the top hotels in the world for viewing the elusive lights, there are plenty of accommodations, including wooden chalets, glass and snow igloos, as well as traditional Finnish houses.
#4 Levi Ski Resort, Lapland
One of the biggest ski resorts in Finland can be found in Levi. As a result, there are plenty of things to see and do in and around the resort. Since Levi is situated well within the aurora zone, you will have plenty of opportunities to view the aurora borealis. However, due to light pollution, you will need to venture just outside of the township in order to get the best views. Here, you’ll find the Levigloos, which are glass igloos that feature private terraces and Jacuzzis. There’s nothing more enjoyable than viewing the elusive lights in style and comfort. While you can spend your nights hunting for the northern lights, you can spend your days skiing, barhopping, horseback riding, snowboarding, ice fishing, and much more.
#5 Ylläs, Lapland
Out of all of the villages in Finland, only Ylläs turns off all of the streetlights at 10 PM, in order to reduce as much light pollution as possible. Because of this, Ylläs is one of the only villages in Finland where you can view the aurora borealis from the center of town, even during low solar activity. You will find the majestic Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park just outside of Ylläs, which is considered to have the cleanest air in the world. There are forests and fells throughout the National Park, which provides a picturesque backdrop for your auroral photography. Located along the edges of the park you will find the beautiful Lodge 67N, which provides an ideal location for aurora hunting.
#6 Rovaniemi, Lapland
When it comes to a location that provides some of the best possibilities for viewing the elusive lights, look no further than Rovaniemi.
Even during low solar activity, the aurora borealis can be viewed as much as 150 times every slow year. Although, it’s best to head just outside of the city limits in order to view the elusive lights. Rovaniemi is also considered to be Santa Claus’s official hometown. As a result, during Christmas, it is one of the most festive destinations in the entire Finnish Lapland. Stay at one of Santa’s igloos, or, for a more Christmassy experience you could stay at the Arctic Treehouse Hotel, where you can view the elusive lights from the comfort of your bed.
While this village is lively at Christmas, be aware that if you are travelling to Rovaniemi outside the festive period you may find it to be a ghost town. This was our case when we stayed in Rovaniemi in early January – the place was eerily quiet and very little was open except for a couple of shops and tour operators.
#7 Kemi, Lapland
If you have ever researched the aurora borealis in Finland, then chances are you have heard about the coastal town of Kemi. Kemi is home to the Snow Castle, which is the largest snow fort on the planet. Each year it is rebuilt from scratch and includes a hotel, chapel, and restaurant. It takes local artisans more than a month to completely rebuild the castle at the onset of each winter season. Because of the remote location, you will have very little light pollution to interfere with your viewing experience.
Can You See the Northern Lights From Helsinki, Finland?
Many visitors to Finland have asked “Can you see the Northern Lights from Helsinki, Finland?”
Due to its location further south of the auroral oval, and the increased light pollution, it is virtually impossible to view the elusive lights from Helsinki most of the time. Helsinki is located at latitude 60°N which is well below the auroral oval. However, during the peak of the solar cycle, it is still possible to catch glimpses of the northern lights in the surrounding countryside.
From personal experience, I agree that you can’t see the Northern Lights from Helsinki. I spent a week in Helsinki during January and never had even had a hint of it, and my Helsinki-residing relatives practically laughed at my question of whether they could see the aurora there. Without a second thought, they said you need to go to Lapland to get a real chance, and being full-blood Finns who were born and bred around the Helsinki region I would take their word for it.
How Can You See Northern Lights in Finland? Final Thoughts
We now come to the end of this article on where can you see Northern Lights in Finland. If you are still feeling uncertain, the best rule of thumb for any aurora chasing is to stick to areas within the auroral oval (65°N or higher). If you are unsure what that mumbo-jumbo means, then jump over to our article on how to choose the best place to view the aurora borealis where we explain all that stuff.
In Finland specifically, 65°N (the auroral oval) is Lapland. So, in other words, choose a place in Lapland to stay… the more north it is the better. The destinations above are listed in order of highest latitude, with Saariselkä having the northernmost location. Even if you don’t choose one of these destinations from this list, since there are of course many smaller towns as well, as long as you stick to this rule you’ll be fine.
And unfortunately, no, Helsinki is not a good aurora viewing location. However, a short flight from Helsinki will land you in Lapland, which is worth it to avoid the disappointment of missing out. As well as place, make sure you also choose the right time of year to travel to Finland, as that makes a huge difference.
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