The best time to visit Finland and Lapland

Updated: 09th December 2020

Northern Lights in Finnish Lapland - Best time to visit
Visit Lapland in the winter months to see the Northern Lights

Seasons and Weather

Helsinki is among the world’s northernmost capitals and experiences a lengthy winter from October to April when it is dark and cold. Summer is a great time to visit when the days are warm and bright, and the countryside comes alive with greenery. The daylight hours are extremely long and from May to July night time consists of prolonged twilight as the sun sets for a mere five hours. Spring is another good time to visit when the temperatures are pleasant.

Lapland in the north unsurprisingly brings with it a lot more snow than the southern capital. Rovaniemi and Levi are both popular ski resorts and winter hot spots due mainly to the beautiful snow on the ground! The snow usually arrives as early as October and stay until May – so it is pretty much a guaranteed and magical white Christmas. Temperatures are generally below zero for the majority of this period. Bearing this in mind March and April are the best times to visit Lapland as you have more favourable daylight hours and the temperatures are warmer than December - February. The other thing to note when travelling to Lapland is the lacking of daylight hours in the winter, making this the best time for Northern Lights viewing opportunities. The closer you are to the winter solstice the less daylight hours there are with December seeing barely 3 hours of daylight a day. So if you decide to visit Lapland in April then you are likely to still have the snow and the daylight hours can be over 7 hours for the best of both seasons.

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Climate | Helsinki

Temp Min °C-9-10-7-149131283-1-5
Temp Max °C-3-406141922201583-1
Rainfall (mm)564236444151687271736866

Climate | Rovaniemi

Temp Min °C-18-16-12-5181084-2-9-15
Temp Max °C-10-9-3310171916103-3-7
Rainfall (mm)352829253552636959544435

Daylight in Finland

Due to its location in northern Europe with the Arctic Circle crossing the north of the country, parts of Finland experience both extremes when it comes to daylight. The northern quarter of the country (Lapland) that sits above the Arctic Circle has at least one day a year when the sun never sets (usually mid to the end of June) and one day when the sun doesn’t even appear (usually mid to the end of December).

Helsinki in the south has the least extreme of the daylight hours but still sees a lot more than most European capitals in the summer and a lot less in the winter. The earliest you are likely to see the sun rise in Helsinki is about 4am in the middle of June, on top of this you can enjoy up to 19 hours of daylight with the sun not setting until just before 11pm. The winter is a very different story with the latest the sun rises being about 9:30am in late December, early January. The sun sticks around generally for just shy of 6 hours before setting around 3:15pm. After January the daylight increases slowly until June and then beings to decrease again until it’s December again.

In Rovaniemi (the capital of Lapland) the story is a bit more intense. In June and most of July you’ll be unlikely to see much darkness. From mid July the sun rises at about 2am and doesn’t set until about 00:45am. Towards the end of December the sun doesn’t tend to rise until 11:45am and barely sticks around for an hour, setting at 12:32 in the afternoon. As with Helsinki the daylight increases moderately from January to June and then decreases again in the second half of the year.