Answering 25+ of Your burning questions about Winter in Finland

Find your answers:

1. How cold does it get in Finland during winter?

Finland is a large country, and temperatures can vary a lot from North to South. During peak winter, it can reach -40°C in the North, but also -30°C in the Southern parts. The coastline is typically a bit warmer.

3. What are the daylight hours like during Finnish winters?

In the North, polar night is a thing – here you won’t see the sun for a few months at all! It does get a little brighter during the hours around noon, but the sun remains set. 

Southern Finland has sun and proper daylight, on good days between 10:00 and 16:00. It’s not as bad as you’d think. Local weather forecast always mention the daylight hours as well.

5. What types of winter activities are popular in Finland?

  • Cross-Country Skiing: Finland is a cross-country skiing paradise, with an extensive network of well-maintained ski trails. It’s a favourite pastime for locals and tourists alike.
  • Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding: Finnish Lapland, in particular, has several ski resorts where you can enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding. You can also find smaller slopes further South. 
  • Ice Skating: Many cities in Finland have outdoor ice rinks where you can enjoy ice skating. Natural frozen lakes and ponds (and the sea!) also provide picturesque settings for skating.
  • Snowmobiling: Snowmobiling is a thrilling way to explore the snowy wilderness of Finland. There are many guided tours available. Not my favourite, as they are loud and disruptive. 
  • Husky Safaris: Dog sledding is a unique and exciting way to experience the winter wonderland of Finland. A truly unique experience!
  • Reindeer Safaris: Reindeer sleigh rides are a more tranquil way to explore the Lapland wilderness, and you can also learn about the indigenous Sámi culture. 
  • Ice Fishing: Ice fishing is a popular winter pastime in Finland. You can drill a hole in the ice and try your luck at catching perch, pike, or other local fish.
  • Snowshoeing: Snowshoeing allows you to explore the snowy forests and landscapes, offering a slower-paced alternative to skiing or snowmobiling. Most underrated in my opinion. 

7. Is it true that Finland experiences polar night in some regions?

Kaamos, a phenomenon of prolonged twilight in the winter, is exclusive to regions above the Arctic Circle. In Utsjoki, near the northern border, it lasts almost two months!

Despite being the darkest period of the year, Finnish Lapland’s proximity to the Arctic Circle results in a twilight glow, as the sun remains below the horizon, a magical soft light. 

Southern Finland, though lacking a polar night, still sees very short daylight hours, with Helsinki’s shortest day lasting less than six hours.

9. What are the best places to visit in Finland during the winter season?


So hard to decide. Here are some options: 


Helsinki: The capital city of Finland is a vibrant urban center with plenty of winter charm. Explore the Christmas markets, visit the Helsinki Cathedral, enjoy traditional Finnish saunas, and take a stroll along the frozen seafront.

Lapland: The northern region of Lapland is a winter wonderland. Rovaniemi, the “official” hometown of Santa Claus, offers Santa-themed attractions, while Levi and Ylläs are great for downhill skiing. These are arguably most popular with tourists from abroad. 

Kuusamo and Ruka: Located in northeastern Finland, this region offers excellent opportunities for winter sports like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. The Ruka ski resort is a popular destination for downhill skiing and one of the regions preferred by locals.

Kemi: Kemi is known for the SnowCastle, a massive snow and ice fortress built each winter. You can stay in ice rooms, dine in an ice restaurant, and enjoy various winter activities like icebreaker ship tours – which is one of my all-time favourite winter memories. 

Tampere: This city in southern Finland is known for its beautiful lakes, and in winter, it offers ice skating on natural frozen lakes. You can also explore the cozy cafés and restaurants along the Tammerkoski Rapids.

Turku: In this historic city, you can enjoy the Christmas market, visit the Turku Castle, and explore the beautiful archipelago. The nearby island of Ruissalo is a serene spot for winter walks.

Oulu: Oulu, a city on the Gulf of Bothnia, is known for its winter festivals and outdoor activities, including the Nallikari Winter Village, snow sculpting contests, and the Air Guitar World Championships.

Lakeland: Finland’s Lakeland region is beautiful in winter, with frozen lakes and forests. Try ice fishing, go for a winter hike, skate on the frozen lakes, or simply enjoy the tranquility of the winter landscape. It’s the best place for a calm trip and winter wellness. My favourite place.

11. Are there any specific winter foods or drinks that are popular in Finland?

  • Riisipuuro (Rice Porridge): Riisipuuro is a sweet rice porridge, typically flavored with cinnamon and sugar. It’s a common comfort food during the winter, and it’s often enjoyed on Christmas Eve.
  • Glögi: Glögi is a Finnish version of mulled wine. It’s made with red hot juice (it cannot be compared to wine) , sugar, spices like cloves and cinnamon, and sometimes a touch of vodka. It’s heated and served hot, often with blanched almonds and raisins.
  • Joulutorttu (Christmas Tarts): Joulutorttu is a traditional Finnish pastry made during the Christmas season. It’s typically a pastry with a prune or apricot filling and powdered sugar on top. 

13. How do Finns stay active and healthy during the dark and cold winter months?

It sounds stupid, but it is a lot about the mindset (you might call it sisu). If you hide away from the winter and choose to hate the darkness and the cold, you will also not have a good time. Here are some tips: 

  • Get a daylight lamp – it helps you get up in the morning by regulating your natural rhythm
  • Supplement Vitamin D – always consult your doctor or pharmacist
  • Sauna and ice swimming – great for well-being and your immune system
  • Make plans outside of your home – stay active and social
  • Spend time in nature – no matter if it’s just a short walk or a whole day on skis, being out in nature helps a lot
  • Get the right clothing – if you’re cold and uncomfortable, you won’t love winter. It’s that easy. Make sure you invest in a good set of basic clothing and gear, and it will make ALL the difference.  

15. What wildlife can be observed in Finnish winter landscapes?

Mostly reindeer (in Northern Finland) and moose. Bears hibernate in the winter. Lynxes are also out but not common to spot. 

17. Do lakes and the sea freeze in Finland in winter?

Yes! The first lakes freeze already in October. 

Both the seas and the lakes in and around Finland freeze thick and far out. In Helsinki, you can expect the sea to freeze in February, in area of Kemi, the icebreakers are out from December to April to break the ice for other vessels. 

Note: NEVER go on the ice alone or unless you are absolutely certain that it is extremely thick and frozen thicker than 20cm at least. Always inform someone who knows where you are if you are planning an icy excursion.

19. Are there any safety tips for winter in Finland?

  • Get the right clothing and equipment: staying warm in the cold is the most important and will keep you healthy
    • Dress in layers
    • get insulated outerwear
    • invest in good basics
  • Footwear is just as important: not just for the sake of warm feet but also on slippery, icy roads. Always be careful when walking on ice, even the best of us have accidents.
    • Insulated, waterproof boots with good traction are crucial
    • Warm, moisture-wicking socks are important for keeping your feet dry and warm. Always opt for wool. 
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast and listen to the locals
  • Know your limits and don’t push it: it’s not a competition with the elements. 
  • Common sense gets you very far. Pay attention to your surroundings and don’t take risks. 
  • Finland is generally very safe and people look out for each other. 

21. Can you ice skate on natural frozen bodies of water in Finland?

Yes! It’s popular and easily accessible. On most natural tracks you will need your own skates though. 

In the Helsinki area, you can find maintained skating tracks and their condition information on the Outdoor exercise map (both natural and articifial). 

23. What's the significance of the "blue moment" in Finnish winter photography?

The “blue moment” is a significant and magical phenomenon in Finnish winter photography. It refers to the brief period during the winter when the natural light takes on a unique, deep blue hue, creating a stunning and serene atmosphere. 

This phenomenon occurs during the twilight hours, typically in the late afternoon or early evening when the sun is just below the horizon.

25. What's the role of darkness and the concept of "kaamos" during Finnish winters?

“Kaamos” refers to the polar night, a period during the winter when the northern parts of Finland experience an extended period of darkness, typically from late November to early January.

It occurs in Northern region where the sun does not rise at all, all though it is commonly referred to the very dark period in the year, also further South. 

27. Are there any ice hotels or unique accommodations that are popular in the winter?

Absolutely! The glass igloos are probably the most famous, along with the snow- or ice hotels. Here are a few options: 

  • Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
  • SnowCastle of Kemi
  • Arctic SnowHotel and Glass Igloos
  • Santa Claus Village
  • Levi Ice Gallery
  • Lainio SnowVillage
  • Aurora Domes
  • Harriniva Hotels & Safaris
  • Wilderness Hotels

29. Are there any special winter markets or fairs in Finland?

You can find Christmas markets all around Finland, not just in the bigger cities. The Helsinki Tuomaan Markkinat is famous and has developed into one of the nicest ones around. 

2. When does winter typically start in Finland?

Again, it entirely depends where you are! In Finnish Lapland, the first snow can come in October. Most would consider November to March the main winter months. 

4. Are the Northern Lights visible in Finland during winter?

The Northern Light season starts in September and ends in April. So yes, I guess that’s winter! It’s a natural phenomenon that’s very hard to predict. On clear nights, you have a good chance to see them, the better the further North you are. In Helsinki for example, they can be seen rarely, but it is possible. 

6. What clothing is essential to stay warm in Finnish winters?

8. How do Finns prepare their homes for the winter cold?

  • Proper Insulation: Finnish homes are typically well-insulated to keep the cold air out and maintain a consistent indoor temperature. Insulation is often installed in walls, roofs, and floors to minimise heat loss.
  • Triple-Glazed Windows: Many homes have triple- or at least double-glazed windows to improve energy efficiency and keep the cold drafts at bay. These windows also reduce condensation, which can lead to mold in humid conditions.
  • Heating Systems: Finns rely on efficient heating systems, including central heating, underfloor heating, and, in some cases, wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. Central heating is often powered by electricity or district heating, which is common in urban areas.
  • Winter-Ready Doors: Entrances are equipped with airlock-style vestibules or double doors to minimize heat loss when entering or leaving the house. These are less common nowadays, though. 
  • Proper Ventilation: Although homes are well-insulated, proper ventilation is maintained to ensure a healthy indoor environment and minimize condensation issues. Ventilation systems with heat recovery are common.
  • Carpets & Floor heating: Many Finnish homes have thick carpets or rugs to insulate against cold floors. Modern apartments feature a comfort floor heating in the bathrooms to keep the feet warm, and help moisture evaporate. 

10. How does the country maintain transportation during the snowy months?

Snowplows and Snow Removal: Snowplows are a common sight on Finnish roads. These run according to a schedule to keep roads open and accessible as much as possible.

Sand: is used on roads to provide better traction. It are applied strategically to prevent slippery conditions. The use of salt is uncommon as it penetrates the ground, and can be a danger to wildlife. 

Heated Pavements: In urban areas, heated pavements are used to prevent snow and ice accumulation on sidewalks and pedestrian areas. Famously used on the Aleksanterinkatu street in central Helsinki.

Railway Snowplows: Snowplows designed for railways keep train tracks clear. Trains are an important mode of transportation in Finland and need to operate smoothly in winter.

Snow Barriers: Snow barriers, such as snow fences, are used to prevent snowdrifts on roads and railways.

Winter Road Maintenance Schedules: Transportation agencies establish schedules for winter maintenance operations. High-priority routes and areas with heavy traffic receive immediate attention.

Emergency Preparedness: Finland is well-prepared for emergencies, such as severe snowstorms or icy conditions, to ensure that transportation can continue safely and efficiently.

Public Transportation: Public transportation systems, including buses and trams, are equipped to handle winter conditions. Timetables may be adjusted for adverse weather.

Airport Snow Removal: Airports have specialised equipment for snow and ice removal on runways and taxiways. This ensures that air travel continues to operate even during heavy snowfall. Helsinki airport is especially famous for their “snow-how”. 

12. What is the significance of ice swimming and how popular is it in Finland during the winter?

Ice swimming, also known as “avantouinti” in Finnish, is a popular and culturally significant winter activity in Finland. It involves taking a dip in icy-cold water, often in natural bodies of water like lakes or the Baltic Sea.

It has become more common in the last years, with public winter swimming spots installed all around Helsinki, for example. 

Especially the icy dip after a hot sauna is a unique experience. I always encourage you to find the courage to do it once, so you know what it’s about. If you then don’t want to do it again, fair enough 😉

Why do people do it?

  • Health Benefits: Ice swimming is believed to have numerous health benefits. Cold-water immersion is thought to boost circulation, stimulate the immune system, and provide a sense of invigoration. Many Finns view it as a way to strengthen their bodies and improve overall well-being.
  • Mental Resilience: Ice swimming is seen as a way to build mental toughness. The shock of the cold water and the ability to withstand the extreme conditions are considered character-building experiences.
  • Cultural Tradition: Ice swimming has deep cultural roots in Finland. It’s been practiced for centuries
  • Social Activity: Ice swimming is often a social activity. Groups of friends, families, or local communities gather to swim together

14. Is it possible to experience the famous Finnish sauna culture during winter?

Absolutely, for me personally, the sauna is the best possible experience in the winter time. You will find saunas everywhere in Finland, you don’t have to look far. Bring your swimwear for public saunas, or go in the nude in private company. 

16. What's the experience of staying in traditional Finnish cabins (mökki) during winter?

It can be everything you want to be, from a luxury getaway to a grounding nature experience. 

Traditional cabins are often without running water and heating, but you have a kamiina (furnace) to heat the space, or sometimes small electric heaters. You melt snow in the sauna, where you also wash yourself. It’s amazing and can bring you back to the importance of the simple things, but it is more effort. 

Most modern cabins are equipped fully with everything to have an easy holiday break. 

It depends on what you want. 

18. What are the best practices for driving in Finnish winter conditions?

  • Winter tyres are mandatory in Finland
    • personal vehicles need to change to winter tyres the latest in November
    • Rental cars come with winter tyres by default. Further out in the countryside, you may also get studded tyres. Those are less common in the cities to prevent road and street damage
  • Stick to the speed limits and be mindful about the road conditions
  • Check your lights before going on a longer trip
  • Make sure you don’t run out of gas
  • If you drive electric, consider that the batteries will deplete faster in the colder temperatures. Plan accordingly. 
  • Watch out for animals on the road – especially reindeer and moose 

20. Do locals or tourists need to be concerned about extreme weather conditions during their visit?

  • Proper outdoor equipment if you are planning to spend a lot of time outdoors especially. The right clothing is everything to a safe winter experience.
  • in extreme cold conditions, don’t overdo it and listen to the locals
  •  Snowstorms and difficult road conditions are common. Make sure to check the weather forecast and respective warning accordingly. 

22. What are the most scenic places for winter photography in Finland?

  • Rovaniemi: The capital of Finnish Lapland is known for its winter wonderland charm and is a popular spot for photographing the Northern Lights.
  • Levi: This resort town offers opportunities to capture the beauty of snow-covered landscapes and traditional Lappish culture.
  • Inari: Located in the far north, Inari is a fantastic place for winter photography, with its frozen Lake Inari and the Sámi culture.
  • Kuusamo and Ruka: Kuusamo is surrounded by pristine wilderness and Ruka is a famous winter sports destination. The area offers photogenic landscapes with forests, frozen waterfalls, and Lake Kitkajärvi.
  • Helsinki: The capital city is transformed into a winter wonderland in the colder months. You can capture the city’s architecture, parks, and harbors covered in snow.
  • Lakeland: I have a soft spot for the Lakeland. The largest lake in Finland, Saimaa, provides picturesque scenes with frozen lake surfaces and charming lakeside villages. 
  • Savonlinna: The Olavinlinna Castle and the surrounding area make for captivating winter photography.
  • Porvoo: The old town of Porvoo, with its well-preserved wooden buildings and cobblestone streets, looks enchanting in the winter, especially with a dusting of snow.
  • Koli National Park: Koli’s rolling hills and rugged landscapes, often covered in snow, are a paradise for landscape photographers (in every season)
  • Archipelago: The Archipelago Sea is transformed into a serene winter wonderland, with frozen sea views and picturesque wooden cottages.
  • Kainuu and Hossa National Park: Hossa offers a pristine wilderness setting with snow-covered forests and frozen lakes, perfect for capturing the beauty of Finland’s north.
  • Kilpisjärvi: This remote village in Finnish Lapland is a top spot for capturing the Northern Lights and the dramatic landscapes of the Arctic.
  • Kuhmo: The Kuhmo region features a stunning combination of snow-covered wilderness and unique landscapes, such as the Hiidenportti National Park.
  • Icy Baltic Sea Coast: The Baltic Sea coastline in winter provides opportunities to capture sea ice formations and dramatic, frozen seascapes.

24. Can you ice fish in Finland during the winter?

When to Go Ice Fishing: The ice fishing season typically starts in late autumn or early winter when the lakes and water bodies freeze sufficiently, usually from December to April. The best time to go ice fishing is when the ice is thick and safe, ensuring the conditions are stable.

Equipment: To ice fish in Finland, you’ll need some specialised equipment. This includes an ice auger to drill holes in the ice, ice fishing rods and reels, and bait. Common baits used for ice fishing in Finland include worms, maggots, and small fish like minnows. Ice fishing shelters or tents are also used to keep warm and shield from the elements.

Ice Fishing Locations: Finland is known for its vast number of lakes, rivers, and coastal areas, making it an excellent destination for ice fishing. Popular ice fishing locations include the Lakeland region, Lapland, and various frozen lakes throughout the country. Local fishing guides or ice fishing tours can help you find the best spots.

Fish Species: You can catch a variety of fish while ice fishing in Finland, including perch, pike, whitefish, burbot, and more. Each fish species may have specific regulations, so it’s important to be aware of local fishing guidelines and catch limits.

Safety Considerations: Safety is of utmost importance when ice fishing. It’s crucial to ensure the ice is thick and safe to support your weight. Check the local ice conditions, listen to local advice, and follow safety guidelines to prevent accidents.

Warm Clothing: Dress warmly in layers, as it can be extremely cold on the ice. Insulated clothing, gloves, and winter boots are essential to stay comfortable during your ice fishing excursion.

Fishing Licenses: In Finland, fishing licenses and permits are typically required. These regulations help maintain sustainable fisheries and protect the environment. Make sure to acquire the necessary permits before you start fishing.