The Ultimate Guide to Winter in Finland

Table of Contents

Good to know about Finland in winter

When is winter in Finland?

Depending on where you are, winter can start as early as October. Also, the winters in Finland have changed a lot and are less predictable. In Helsinki, usually the coldest months are January and February, but it can also be December. 

For a winter trip in Finland, no matter what region, February is hands-down the best month. It is beautiful, bright and cold and the days are starting to get longer. It is the main skiing season (both downhill and cross-country) and the chances to see all lakes and the sea frozen are the highest. 

How cold does it get in winter in Finland?

It can vary a lot – the coldest months can easily go down to -20°C or colder – also in the South. Most of the time between December and early March you can expect negative degrees, easily.  However, the cold is dry and pleasant, and with the right clothing a cold day with -22°C can be more enjoyable than a wet cold at +5°C. The humidity makes a huge difference.  See my cold weather clothing guide for tips on dressing in Finnish winter!

Is it always dark in winter in Finland?

– Not necessarily – again it depends on where you go and when. 

– November and December are the darkest months and they can be hard for many

– Keep the daylight hours in mind when planning your days! In Lapland, there can be no sunrise at all, or just very limited hours of daylight. Make sure your activities align with that.

– The best month for winter in Finland in terms of light, are February and March

– In Southern Finland, I personally didn’t find much of a difference compared to Central Europe. It’s really not as bad as everyone says. 

Do you sauna in Finland in winter?

Well, you always sauna in Finland! Sauna is part of everyday life and culture, and for me personally – there’s nothing better than a hot and steamy sauna after a day outside in the cold. It relaxes your muscles and clears your skin, and is a recipe for a good night’s sleep. 

I also encourage you to try Avanto – the dip in the ice hole after the sauna! I know it seems crazy, but the feeling is incredible – and I strongly recommend you try it once and see for yourself. Find the courage, and you’ll know why people do it! Remember to keep your head covered and don’t put your head under water. 

Can you always see Northern Lights in Finland in winter?

The short answer is no. Northern Lights are a weather phenomenon and are very hard to predict. However, all the months with an “r” in it are considered Northern Lights season – so from September to April, it’s possible to see them.

– It needs to be a dark, clear sky and you have to be lucky – that’s about it. That being said, in Northern Finland, the chances are pretty high that you will get to see them. You can download an Aurora Forecast app or join the Aurora alerts in Finland Facebook group.

– In Southern Finland, it is more rare, but not impossible. Last season, we had a couple of nights of amazing Aurora Borealis even in Helsinki. Light pollution is an issue, so it’s a good idea to venture out of the cities. If you go out for Northern Lights hunting, remember to dress extra warm and take a hot drink with you. 

Read more about the Northern Lights here. 

What should I wear in winter in Finland?

Winter in Finland is one of the most amazing seasons, and it totally is what you make of it. I am usually the most active in winter, I love to be outdoors and enjoy the cold and all the activities. I’m also glad we still have this kind of real season in Finland. 

Some tips:

– wear good quality, natural fabrics and invest in good merino wool base layers

– keep your hands, head and feet warm, always

– remember to wear sunscreen and bring sunglasses – the sun is strong and bright, and the bright snow can be blinding, and is easily underestimated

Read the full Guide with all details and product recommendations here

Where to travel in Finland in winter?

Finding the perfect winter destination in Finland can be a little overwhelming because there simpy are so many stunning places. It depends a little bit on what you’re looking for and what you want to experience, but here are my picks:


How to get there? 
From Helsinki, you can take a flight to Kuusamo, and then take the airport bus to Ruka village, or continue with a rental car. Ruka is a great got-it-all destination that you can also experience without a car. Connections are great and transportation is often included when you book activities.

What to do there? 
Well known as a skiing destination, Ruka-Kuusamo does have everything else too, though. Stunning Arctic landscapes, magical snowy forests, meeting reindeer and riding a husky sled, ice climbing on frozen waterfalls or a peaceful snow-shoeing experience – you’re not short of options. 

You can read all about the perfect winter trip to Ruka-Kuusamo here

Savonlinna & Saimaa Lakeland

How to get there: you can reach the Saimaa lakeland area by train or bus connections from Helsinki, or drive yourself. Trains and busses take you to Mikkeli or Savonlinna frequently. Admittedly, getting around with public transport in the area is tricky, especially in winter. So if you can get a car rental from Mikkeli or Savonlinna or come with your own, I would recommend it. 

What to do there: the frozen Lakelands are famous for their winter skating, where you can take in the beauty of icy landscapes, you can float in frozen rivers and hike through the snowy forests, or book yourself into a sauna or spa, enjoy some delicious local food – for me the Saimaa area is a favourite for a slow and peaceful winter nature trip. I’ll be back here for sure!

Read more about Nature & Winter Wellness in Saimaa here


How to get here? You can take a plane to Kajaani airport, or travel by train from Helsinki. The train ride takes a few hours, but especially when it’s such a beautiful winter landscape, the journey is part of the destination!

What to do here? Vuokatti is well known for their world-class training facilities for Olympian cross-country skiers, so if that is your jam – Vuokatti will be amazing. Otherwise, you can also go downhill-skiing, take the huskies out for a spin. 

Read more about a trip to Vuokatti here


How to get there: the easiest way is to take a flight to Rovaniemi and continue by bus or rental car. 

What to do there: The area of Pyhä-Luosto is well known for its skiing and all kinds of classic winter activities. The National Park is dreamy, you can experience unique snow mobiling tracks and stunning nature. 


How to get here? You can fly up to Kemi, or take a train which takes a while – but with either an overnight option or if you like to gaze out at the beautiful winter scenery – definitely a good and inexpensive option!

What to do here? The Kemi area has a lot of unique things going on, such as the snow castle that is built every year with a different theme. However, what I couldn’t recommend more is the excursion with Sampo the Icebreaker. This massive ship will take you across the sea and show you how powerful it is to crush down on the ice-shield – it’s fascinating and an experience I will never forget. You can also go floating in the frozen sea while at it.

Jyväskylä Region

How to get here? Jyväskylä can best be reached by train. Busses also go here frequently, but especially in the winter the train is by far the best option!

What to do here? The Central Finnish lakeland does have a lot going for it, from beautiful winter hikes, snow-mobiling and gorgeous sauna experiences, for lots of active winter activities, this region is for you!

Read more about an active winter holiday in the Jyväskylä region here


Greetings, a winter soul