Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region, is not the only region in Finland where you can see the northern lights. But, because of its latitude, it is definitely the best place to see northern lights in Finland simply because your chances of seeing them are the greatest.
And, Finnish Lapland is a fantastic destination to visit!
Northern lights, also called Aurora Borealis, do not occur every night and cannot be guaranteed. Therefore if you want to travel to Finland to see the northern lights I highly recommend planning your trip well.
As a local from Finland, I’d say there are four Rs to seeing northern lights:
- The Right location to see the northern lights: Northern Lapland
- The Right time of year to see the northern lights: October to April
- The Right micro-location to see the northern lights: No artificial light. Plenty of open sky.
- The Right attitude to see the northern lights: Persistence. Persistence. Persistence.
Let’s go through these four Rs together!
The Right Location to See the Northern Lights
As said before the best place in Finland to see northern lights is in Lapland. But, some places in Lapland are better than others. As the best likelihoods to see auroras follow certain latitudes, it doesn’t make much sense to visit southern Lapland and hope for northern lights.
The chances of seeing auroras are the highest around the latitude of Kilpisjärvi, which is a small town located in Finland’s northern “arm” near the northwesternmost point of Finland. When the sky is clear on that latitude, the likelihood to see the northern lights is three out of four nights!
If you are on Utsjoki latitude, which is the northernmost municipality of Finland, the likelihood of seeing the northern lights is 65%, which is still amazingly great.
In Sodankylä, which is another municipality of Finnish Lapland, your chances of seeing the northern lights are around 50%.
4 Of the Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Lapland
If you want to see the northern lights in Lapland I would recommend planning to stay somewhere between the aforementioned Kilpisjärvi and Pyhä, an authentic Lappish holiday resort.
The likelihood of seeing auroras in this part of Finland is 75-65% and transport to and facilities in the resorts in this area are great.
You can reach all destinations by bus from Kittilä or Rovaniemi airport. If you arrive by train, there are bus connections from the railway station to the resort.
There are Four Major Destinations in This Area Which Make Perfect Places to See the Northern Lights:
Saariselkä is a resort village in northern Finland.
The Saariselkä area became world-famous as a place to see auroras due to the Kakslauttanen glass igloos. Nowadays, you can find glass igloos in many other parts of Lapland as well but Saariselkä definitely has its charm.
Ivalo airport serves as the gateway to the whole Northern Lapland and all the way to Nuorgam, which is the northernmost village of Finland.
There are several tiny villages in the area offering peaceful wilderness accommodation and activities. Saariselkä is the biggest hub of them all, known for its string of fells (a high and barren mountain-like formation), the highest reaching 718 meters above sea level.
Saariselkä is connected to Urho Kekkonen National Park, which is one of the most legendary national parks of Finland.
Airport: Kittilä. Railway station: Kolari.
Ylläs resort is known for its seven fells and the longest ski slopes in Finland.
Ylläs is built around two genuine Lappish villages with schools, health centers, and everything else a town needs. It is linked to Finland’s most popular national park, Pallas-Yllästunturin national park. In fact, this national park has the world’s cleanest air!
The street lamps of the villages are shut down at 10 pm so that people can better admire the northern lights. Note that I still recommend going outside to see the most beautiful blazing!
Airport: Kittilä. Railway station: Kolari.
Levi is the biggest ski resort in Finland and has a bubbly, wild nightlife.
If you want winter activities and bar hopping, this is your best (and only) choice. The restaurants are nicely in walking distance from each other (which is not a standard in Lapland). There are a lot of gigs by famous Finnish artists in Hullu Poro Arena (literally: Crazy Reindeer Arena). There’s also a riding stable near Levi center. Galloping in the snow has been one of my favorite winter activities!
The closest airport: Rovaniemi
Only an hour and a half of driving and you have reached the southernmost resort to admire fell-Lapland, as we say in Finland.
The area actually consists of two sister fells and ski resorts: Pyhä and Luosto. The region is versatile, including a working amethyst mine, possibly the best fresh donuts in Lapland in the cafe next to the mine, and the deepest gorge in Finland which is a must if you are visiting Pyhä. The gorge used to be a sacred place of ancient Sami people.
The Right Time of Year to See the Northern Lights in Lapland
The best season for northern lights is from October to April. Auroras appear throughout the year but they are almost always invisible in spring and summer because it’s so bright in Lapland. You have probably heard about the midnight sun in Lapland during the summer months as the sun never sets.
Autumn auroras start in September but are more fickle. Autumn is a great time to visit Lapland as it’s glorious there with the fall foliage. If you are lucky, you can see the magnificent northern lights by night and the burning red, orange and yellow colors of nature by day.
The Right Micro-location to See the Northern Lights in Lapland
Artificial light makes it impossible to see auroras. Make sure there are no street lamps and decorative lamps outside. It must be dark around you.
A frozen lake is a great spot to hunt for northern lights.
The most common time for auroras to appear is around midnight.
The Right Attitude to See the Northern Lights in Lapland
Don’t let cloudiness stop you from going outside because the weather changes quickly in Lapland.
Take hot cocoa with you and head outside every night. Your chances are zero in bed!
Happy hunting and enjoy Lapland!
What Are Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis?
The Aurora is a natural light display caused by collisions between electrically charged particles released from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen.
Auroras that occur in the northern hemisphere are called ‘Aurora Borealis’ or ‘northern lights’ and auroras that occur in the southern hemisphere are called ‘Aurora Australis’ or ‘southern lights’.
Auroral displays can appear in many vivid colors, although green is the most common. Red, yellow, blue and violet are also seen occasionally. The auroras can appear in many forms, from small patches of light that appear out of nowhere to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an incredible glow.
Lapland is Finland’s largest and northernmost region. It’s a sparsely populated area bordering Sweden, Norway, Russia and the Baltic Sea.
Lapland is known for its vast subarctic wilderness, ski resorts and natural phenomena including the midnight sun and the northern lights.
In winter the sun is not seen for days on end during the polar night (kaamos). Kaamos is a mystical period between December and January when the sun does not rise at all. Nonetheless, it is light from 10 am until 3 pm and white snow makes this period much lighter. Temperatures can get as low as -50°C (-58°F), so do prepare yourself for that!
Most people talk about wanting to see the northern lights in Iceland, but Lapland is an incredible travel destination and a perfect place to see the northern lights!
Other Articles About Finland:
- 10 Things to Know Before Traveling to Finland
- A Review of Santas Lapland
- A Practical Travel Guide for Visiting Vaasa, Finland
- Interview With an Expat About Living in Vaasa
- Interview With an Expat About Living in Helsinki
Map of the Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Lapland
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