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Lakeside in Finland
Lakeside in Finland | © Mark Rakovec / Pexels
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When's the Best Time of Year to Visit Finland?

Picture of Jessica Wood
Updated: 4 April 2018
The best and worst times of year to visit Finland depend largely on what you want to see or do and which regions of the country you travel to. This guide will tell you all you need to know about visiting Finland at any time of year.

January

This is one of the best times of year to travel to Lapland and see the Northern Lights, since Christmas is over and most of the crowds have thinned out with children back at school. The sky is still dark enough for clear and stunning views of the lights, and the snow is deep enough to enjoy other Lappish activities, such as riding in a reindeer sledge or going skiing. Cities aren’t quite as exciting during this time as there aren’t many events on, and the short daylight hours can cause winter depression.

Rainfall: 9 days

Temperature: 19°F (-7° C)

Fatbiking in January
Fatbiking in January | © Visit Lakeland / Flickr

February

The coldest month of the year in Finland should only be braved by the truly daring. While the winter days aren’t quite as short, the entire country tends to be covered in snow and ice at this time, and getting around is incredibly difficult with an increased risk of accidents. Yet these conditions almost make visiting Finland in February a rite of passage. This time of year is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts to take advantage of the prime snow conditions and try out snow mobiling, Nordic skating, cross-country skiing or any of the other winter sports.

Rainfall: 8 days

Temperature: 19°F (-7°C)

February snows covering trees in Lapland
February snows covering trees in Lapland | © Timo Newton-Syms / Flickr

March

The daylight hours begin to lengthen during March, but the cold still remains. If Easter falls during this month, then you can expect it to still be covered by snow. The great contrast in weather can cause a lot of frustration for Finns, with the snow close to melting one day and a cold front swooping in on the next and covering everything in a fresh layer of snow. A plus is that the Northern Lights can be very active around the spring equinox on March 21st, and the night skies are still dark enough for a final glimpse before spring.

Rainfall: 8 days

Temperature: 27°F (-3°C)

A post-sauna drink in cold March weather
A post-sauna drink in cold March weather | © Visit Lakeland / Flickr

April

Spring can be highly different in various parts of Finland. While flowers begin to bloom in the south, the north is still in the icy grip of winter. This is probably what makes Easter such a low-key holiday in Finland. More events and tourist sites begin to open up in the cities, such as the April Jazz Festival in Espoo or the Reindeer Racing Championships in Inari, but the winter activities in Lapland begin to dry up around this time, and the thinning ice makes some of them dangerous. Most of the northern ski resorts will still be open, however, and will have fewer crowds.

Rainfall: 8 days

Temperature: 38°F (3°C)

Reindeer races in Jokkmokk
Reindeer races in Jokkmokk | © jsandb / Flickr

May

May 1st is Labour Day in Finland and with the weather finally clearing up, most locals use their extra day off to relax, take a walk or have a picnic outside. The end of the long winter is celebrated with fairs, a carbonated fruit drink known as sima and funnel cake (the chocolate-covered variety is the best). It is also around the time when university classes end, so expect loud and wild parties in student towns. Overall, it is a great month to see Finland in its lush greenery and take advantage of the improved weather before the tourist season begins in earnest. It is an ideal time to rent a summer cottage before the demand increases.

Rainfall: 6 days

Temperature: 50°F (10°C)

Relaxing in the park on Labour Day
Relaxing in the park on Labour Day | © IK's World Trip / Flickr

June

With the sun finally out, most Finns jump at the chance to take their long-awaited summer holidays in June. One of the biggest public holidays in Finland is Midsummer, which is usually on the closest weekend to June 25th. Tradition is to spend the holiday at summer cottages and light bonfires on Midsummer’s Eve. Cities become almost deserted during the holiday weekend and the sun doesn’t set at all in Lapland. The weather can still be a little chilly, especially farther north, but this is still a good time of year to visit Finland and take part in an ancient tradition, although you will have to book your accommodation far in advance.

Rainfall: 8 days

Temperature: 59°F (15°C)

Enjoying a Midsummer cruise and drinks
Enjoying a Midsummer cruise and drinks | © AKX_ / Flickr

July

This is when summer truly begins in Finland, and the entire country comes alive for a month to take advantage of the brief window of warmth and sunshine, with festivals and special events up and down the country from the Ilosaari Rock heavy metal concert to Animecon. You can generally expect a heatwave during this month, but the effects of climate change can cause sudden and unexpected heavy rain showers, too. The Finnish countryside is at its most beautiful at this time and perfect for cruises, fishing or berry-picking, so long as you use plenty of bug repellent. The major downside is that the midnight sun can make sleep almost impossible without blackout curtains or an eye mask.

Rainfall: 10 days

Temperature: 63°F (17°C)

Revellers at Ilosaari Rock
Revellers at Ilosaari Rock | © symmetry_mind / Flickr

August

August is typically when children go back to school and summer holidays end in Finland as the temperature begins to drop more rapidly than the rest of Europe, meaning a lot of the tourist attractions close. The weather is still generally fine, however, especially in the south, so it is a more quiet and relaxing time for a late summer break. Fewer tourists also means that hotels and holiday chalets are typically cheaper. It is also a good time to go for a shopping spree since most stores have massive clearance sales to make room for their Christmas stock.

Rainfall: 11 days

Temperature: 59°F (15°C)

A late summer cookout
A late summer cookout | © Outdoors Finland / Flickr

September

Finland’s autumn is short but highly underrated. The weather is cold and wet, but not to the point of making accessibility difficult. The cities may be a little grey and grim, but you can still practice your photography, watch the birds migrating or enjoy some indoor activities, since the tourist season is over and they will be less crowded and much cheaper. The Northern Lights begin again in Lapland, particularly around the autumn equinox on September 21st, but the increased cloud cover makes them difficult to spot.

Rainfall: 11 days

Temperature: 50°F (10°C)

Autumn colours in Finland
Autumn colours in Finland | © Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho / Flickr

October

October is another highly divisive time in Finland. The south still has autumn leaves and mild temperatures while in the north, the temperature drops below zero and the snow is returning. The days also become significantly shorter and there are fewer tourist sites open or special events. Halloween isn’t that popular in Finland since All Saints Day is practised instead by placing candles on the graves of deceased loved ones. However, some do still practise the ‘Americanised’ version of Halloween by attending costume parties or watching scary movies, which is perfect on a dark autumn night in Finland.

Rainfall: 11 days

Temperature: 41°F (5°C)

Helsinki in October
Helsinki in October | © Ilkka Jukarainen / Flickr

November

The Finnish winter really kicks in around this time, becoming impossibly cold, dark and icy with a greater chance of winter depression or slipping over on the ice. This even prompted the Helsinki tourism board to put up a sign in the city centre saying ‘Nobody in their right mind would come to Helsinki in November. Except you, you badass. Welcome’. Alternatively, head to Lapland for your first glimpse of the Northern Lights and shopping at the Christmas markets before the winter tourism season starts and the prices shoot up.

Rainfall: 13 days

Temperature: 32°C (0°C)

November snows can cause trouble for cyclists
November snows can cause trouble for cyclists | © Ilkka Jukarainen / Flickr

December

Visiting Finland, and especially Lapland, during the Christmas season is a dream come true for many, and it is truly magical. The decorations, Christmas markets, snow and the Northern Lights all create a winter wonderland. The only downside is that with so many other people having the same idea, hotels and resorts in Lapland become incredibly crowded and more expensive during this time. Visiting in early December before the school holidays begin is one way to beat the crowds, and you can also join in the celebrations for Independence Day on December 6th.

Rainfall: 12 days

Temperature: 25°F (-4°C)

Christmas market in Tampere
Christmas market in Tampere | © Pasi Pitkänen / Flickr

When not to go to Finland

As the banner in Helsinki indicated, September to November are the worst times to visit the Finnish cities due to the amount of ice and slush on the ground, the reduced hours of daylight and fewer things to do. Summer in Lapland does have some charm, but there are far fewer attractions open and swarms of mosquitoes, which are best avoided.