If you are here, you already know what are the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, so we skip this part and go directly to the basic information which can help you to plan Lapland holidays with best chances to see the Northern Lights in Finland.
Best place to see the Northern Lights in Finland
- Lapland above the Polar Circle
- Open space with wide overview (field, hill, lake-river side)
- No or limited artificial lights near
- Finland: Yllas, Levi, Saariselka, Luosto-Pyha, Rovaniemi.
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The best place in Finland to see the Northern Lights is Lapland/Northern Finland above the Arctic Circle
There are no exact place
with best chances to see it, because it depends only on weather and cloudiness. No need to move around Lapland, looking for different locations.
The only thing important regarding the place is open space, and no artificial lights
If you can find a place in dark and wide panorama – this is the best place to have a great view of Aurora.
Finnish Lapland is good Aurora destination because the area is underpopulated, cities and villages are small and it is very easy to find places without illumination just few steps from your accommodation.
Nevertheless there are some places with infrastructure specially designed for best Northern Lights views:
- Yllas ski resort. Street illumination here is switched off during the Northern Lights (after 22.00), so limited light pollution and good sky view.
- Luosto ski resort. Hotel Aurora there with large windows and “Aurora Alarm” that beeps whenever the Northern Lights appear.
- Saariselka. There are few Glass igloos resorts like Northern Light village, Kakslauttanen, Aurora village Ivalo, Muotka igloos. This type of accommodation is specially designed for Northern Lights experience and staff at some of them, like Northern Light village, are experts in Northern lights and photographing it.
- Levi ski-resort. There are some accommodation options, like Panorama hotel, log cabins, or Igloo resort, top of the fell with amazing open 360 view.
- Rovaniemi. Probably the most popular place in Finnish Lapland to visit, but not the best to see the Northern Lights because of the light pollution of big city. Nevertheless even in the city center there are few spots where it is possible to see the Lights and make good pictures (see map below) and many professional companies who make Aurora guided tours.
Best time to see the Northern Lights in Finland
- Best Time of the Year: September, March
- Best Time of the Day: 22.00 - 2.00
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It is quite difficult to predict the Northern Lights activity more then 2-24 hours beforehand. But there are some guidance to raise your chances to see it.
1. The Best Time of the Year
The best months to see Aurora in Finland are September-October, February-March
Statistic proofs it: springtime (March) and autumn (September) contain the most "geomagnetically disturbed days" which means Aurora activity.
Nevertheless each dark month has its own character worth taking into consideration while planning a Northern Light trip to Lapland.
Sept - Oct
Nov - Dec - Jan
- Ruska season in Lapland (autumn colours).
- Dark nights (Note: nights are darker without snow!!!)
- No extreme cold. Lakes are free from ice. Possibilities for great pichtures with Lights reflection on the water.
- Northern lights activities like: evening camp-sites, hiking in the wilderness, etc.
Feb - March
- First snow covers the Lapland in November. Snow shoeing Northern light tours might be already possible. Note: as snow comes from clouds, so ... sky view will be blocked by clouds.
- December has longest possible nights during a year, so longer time with darkness and chances to see the Aurora.
- It might be extremely cold during Christmas-New Year time. Expensive time in terms of accommodation prices. Snow cover Lapland usually in Nov-Dec, so it will reduce chances to see Aurora because of the clouds and snowfalls.
- January can be very, very cold. Nevertheless, it is sometimes said that the Northern Lights are more likely to appear on colder nights.
- Weather becomes not so serve, most of the winter snow has fallen already (in average less clouds), nights still dark and long, days are more bright and many winter activities available.
- Note: this time of the year is skiing holidays in Finland and majority of locals travel from Southern Finland to North. So be ready to book accommodation and activities in advance.
What about rest of the year?
It is time for 24h of daylight, MidNight sun. No chances to see the Northern Lights at all!
2. The Best Time of the Day
Obligatory condition - Dark time
To be more accurate, more often Aurora appears from around 22.00 to 2.00
at the night.
Be patient. Sometime even if Northern Light forecast is promising, it is needed to go out and look at the sky dozens of times during a night.
Be ready if Aurora appear when you least expect it.
BE READY FOR THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
As you might be already aware that no one can guarantee the Northern lights and predict it. There's a lot of luck involved. But there are some things you can do to increase chances.
1. Choose right time.
As was said earlier, it should be September-March time of the year, and dark time of the day from 22pm to 3am.
2. Get some leeway
The more time you have for Lapland vacations, the better chances to see Lights.
3. Use Aurora innovations
Get notified! Download weather apps, Aurora alerts and Northern Light forecast.
As a recommendation if you are staying in Rovaniemi - Pyha-Luosto - Levi area of Finnish Lapland:
There is a real-time information about the geomagnetic disturbances=Northern Lights, provided by Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory Magnetogram
. Great help - Real Time sky web-cameras online
. If Northern Lights are there, it can be seen immediately on the camera! Just go outside and enjoy the view.
On the charts you can see disturbances in Earth's magnetic field. If the values of the curve starting to grow up or down more than 100-300 points, it is a good sign for time to go out and find a place with open panorama to observe the night sky.
NORTHERN LIGHTS TOURS IN HANKASALMI OBSERVATORY
For those who are really interested in the Northern Lights phenomena, there is Hankasalmi Northern Lights Observatory in Central Finland (half way from Helsinki to Lapland, 300 km north from Helsinki).
It has been a center of worldwide Northern Lights research for over 40 years.
Scientists will tell you everything about the Northern Lights, how they are born, if they make any sound and many other things. Hankasalmi Observatory is located in the middle of a dark countryside far away from light pollution. It is the first place in the whole world starting to record the possible sounds of the Northern Lights.
Observatory guests will be introduced to All Sky Camera and visit Aurora Borealis Exhibition. If the sky is clear, you may watch the stars with the telescope assisted by your guide. To complete your experience, it is possible to stay overnight in a glass roofed cabin 15 minutes drive from Observatory - Revontuli Resort.
Observatory visits are possible year-round. However, plan a tour in dark evening times (from mid August till mid April) to get the most out of the experience. Price in 2019 is from 49€/person (groups 6-12 persons).
Revontuli All Sky Aurora Igloo
15km from Hankasalmen Observatory is all-sky Aurora cabins by the lake. The area is one of the darkest places in Central Finland to spot Northern Lights. The heated glass guarantees a clear sky view also in winter.
See more: Revontuli All Sky Aurora Igloo
SERVICE AROUND THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
# Glass Igloos
One of the latest Aurora innovation in Finnish Lapland is Glass Igloo hotels
or rooms with panorama sky view. It is comfortable warm little cabin with glass roof, perfectly located with the best possible view, where you can stay overnight and see the Lights from your bed or with glass of wine, not been afraid to freeze your hands outside.
We would say it is not an accommodation option for your Lapland holidays, but as 1 night stay experience it works great to add some luxury to your vacation and unique experience to sleep under the stars.
Some of the glass igloos are very simple and basic like Lake Inari Mobile Cabins
, or Olokolo mobile sleeping nest
Other are luxury lodge like SnowmanWorld Glass Resort
And a lot of options in between, but all of them can offer something special. Like Northern Light Village in Saariselka
. This place has own husky-reindeer farm. They can organize in-house activities as well as they are experts in Northern light hunting and know al the secrets.
# Northern Lights guided programs
There are a lot of helpers in Lapland, making it easier to catch the Aurora and make best possible DIY pictures of it.
Almost every location, ski resort, holiday villages has variety of organized tours combining some activity with Aurora hunting.
It is possible to choose from evening hiking in the wilderness, snowmobile safaris, reindeer-husky rides, Northern lights camp-fires with professional photographers, and many other adventures depending on you preferences, budget, group size and members age.
Local guides can share their knowledge about the Lights, give brief scientific overview, tell myths and legends, advice photo hints and tips, show best locations with perfect view and organize some local treats during the tour. If your Lapland holidays limited in time, guided tour makes sense and is worth it.
# Northern Lights photography tutorial
Northern Lights FAQ
Can you see the Northern Lights from Finland?
Yes! Northern Finland is one of the few places on planet Earth where you can see the Northern Lights. Just follow a few simple rules:
1) Plan a trip between September and mid April.
2) Come to the North, above the Arctic Circle. In Finland it is the area north of cities Oulu, Pudasjarvi, Kuusomo.
3) Check weather forecast. It should be moonless night (or at least not a full moon), clear sky and a bit of Solar activity during the previous couple of days.
What is the cheapest way to see the Northern lights?
Come to Finnish Lapland in September – earlier October.
Choose one National park in Lapland, for example, Pyha-Luosto National park.
Take your сamping equipment and tent and follow one of the nature trails, which is equipped with sleeping huts, fireplace stations with wc and firewood. Make your campsite and wait for the Northern lights for free!
Heavy clouds are blocking the sky view. What to do?
There are 2 options if you are eager for it.
Both of them are quite expensive and time-consuming.
1. Check most possible Northern Lights forecast. Check current weather map and drive somewhere with clear sky or some breaks in the clouds. Be ready to drive quite a lot, of course reasonable distance to manage it during a night.
2. If no cloud breaks, try Northern lights from the flight.
Where can I see the Northern Lights in Rovaniemi?
There are limited possibility to see the Northern Lights from the city center. But you can find some good spots not far from the city.
1-2. Kemijoki river embankment, both sides. Near bridge.
3. The Arctic Garden behind the Arktikum museum (10 min walking from Rovaniemi center).
4. The top of Ounasvaara fell (40-45 min by foot from city center). There is Sky Hotel observation tower or just open places in the wilderness.
The Northern Lights in Helsinki
The Northern Lights can be also seen in Helsinki. Find out the best time and places where to see the Aurora in Helsinki here.
Northern Light Images Gallery
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon with the charm of mystery. Everyone who has seen the Northern Lights is trying to photograph it. It is never the same and is an endless source of inspiration. Take a look for some great Aurora pictures below.
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