Finland is a country of four beautiful seasons, all of which have their unique characters. Yet, most tourists visit Finland either in summer or winter. This is what most tour operators, travel sites and guides advice you to do, too. As summer is slowly drifting away and Finns are getting ready for the brisk autumn air, we want to embrace this beautiful season by revealing the secrets of autumn in Finland.
There are plenty of exciting and exquisite things to do in Finland in autumn that you can’t experience at any other time of the year. Also, as most tourists consider autumn being between seasons, travelling to Finland in autumn is much more peaceful and cheaper compared to summer and winter.
To some extent, autumn might even be the best possible time to visit Finland. And now it’s time to tell you why.
Autumn colours should be on everyone’s bucket list
The most visible sign of the approaching autumn in Finland is the vibrant colours of the foliage. ‘Ruska’, as we call it in Finnish. During this relatively short period, you can spot all the colours of a rainbow at one glance. Imagine standing by a blue lake while the autumn sun reflects all the reds, yellows, oranges and whatever is left of the green on the surface of the water. The air feels fresh, and the last warm rays of sunshine are gently touching your face.
Is there anything better than that?
There are plenty of excellent ways to enjoy autumn colours in Finland. Here are a few of them:
Take a walk in a nearby forest, head for one of the 40 national parks in Finland or choose one of the most famous and well-built trails, like Karhunkierros in Kuusamo or Herajärvi Trail in Koli.
Pro tip: It’s true that you can experience ruska as its strongest in Lapland, but it’s not necessary to travel all the way up north for autumn foliage. Try Porkkalanniemi in Helsinki, Turku Archipelago or Finnish Lakeland in Central Finland, for instance, to experience the true colours of autumn in Finland.
Spend a day at a lake
Autumn colours seem even more vibrant when admiring them from the lake. Few-hour foliage cruises are organised across Finland between the end of August and mid-October. Don’t hesitate to contact the tourist info of your travel destination in Finland to find out where the nearest ‘ruskaristeily’ takes place.
Pro tip: Another great idea is to gather your friends and rent a sauna boat. As the name unveils, sauna boat is a small vessel with an actual sauna on board. They usually feature a comfy lounge and a small kitchen. The fanciest sauna boats are equipped with an outdoor jacuzzi. Sauna boats are available in various locations throughout Finland.
Pump up the adrenaline on a marathon
Ruskamaraton a.k.a. ‘Foliage Marathon’ is a popular running event that has been organised in Levi, Lapland since 1984. If hiking in a national park or climbing to the top of the Finnish fells isn’t quite enough to get your adrenaline running, Ruskamaraton should do the trick. Besides the excellent exercise and like-minded adrenaline junkies, you get to admire the beautiful autumn colours in Finnish Lapland.
Finnish autumn is delicious – discover how to enjoy it
There are reasons why hundreds of thousands of Finns can’t wait for September to arrive. Flowers might not be blooming anymore, but Finnish forests offer a wide range of other treats that anyone is allowed to enjoy. And they are delicious!
In autumn, our forests will be full of wild mushrooms with approximately 500 edible species. Also, some of the most delicious vitamin-filled berries and wild herbs are at their best at autumn time.
You’re allowed to pick mushrooms and berries almost in any forest. If you haven’t heard of Finnish ‘freedom to roam’, you can find our extensive guide here.
Try at least these mushrooms
Besides the edible and delicious species, also poisonous mushrooms grow in Finnish forests. Therefore you should only pick the species you know. Some of the easiest and the most common ones are chantarelle, trumpet chantarelle, porcino, hedgehog mushroom and Russula decolorans. Learn to recognise these, and you won’t be leaving the forest empty-handed.
Wild berries are the real superfood
Picking wild berries is a perfect hobby; you get to enjoy some fresh air and other benefits of being in nature while filling your storages with Finnish superfood. No wonder the studies reveal that half of the Finns run to forests to pick wild berries every autumn. Some berries are perfectly fine for picking until they’re covered in snow and impossible to find. Try at least blueberry, cranberry, rowanberry, juniper berry, lingonberry and sea-buckthorn, to get started.
Enjoy fooling fish? Autumn is the best time to do it!
Some might think summer is the ideal time for fishing in Finland. In reality, the cooling autumn waters put fish on the move. The fish swim towards their wintering areas in large shoals and stop for fueling in shallow waters where they’re easy to catch. Pike and perch often gather in shallow bays with reeds, whereas zander flocks in deep streams which makes it easy to snatch under bridges, for instance.
Finland is a birdwatcher’s paradise
As Finland is one of the northernmost countries in the world and also one of the easternmost in Europe, it’s possible to spot birds that are extremely rare in anywhere else in Europe. In spring and autumn, Finland becomes birdwatchers paradise when migrating species are taking over the fields and skies. If you’re into birdwatching (or even if not but you’re eager to try), try Hanko, Porkkalanniemi in Kirkkonummi, Kustaanmiekka in Helsinki or Virolahti on the South Coast, Pulkkilanharju ridge in Asikkala or Kokemäenjoki River with its delta that is often considered as one of the best birdwatching spots in the Nordics.
Autumn events in Finland celebrate the harvest and Baltic herring
Summer might be over, but fun, tasty and communal events aren’t. Some autumnal traditions have lived strong for centuries, and they still are. One of them is the harvest festival, also known as ‘kekri’ or ‘köyri’, that celebrates the end of the crop year in a very delicious way. For example in Åland, the harvest festival gathers everyone together for free full days – including locals, tourists and of course, the local farmers and producers – to eat, dance and sing. If you’re looking for a harvest festival in the mainland Finland, try Archipelago Harvest Festival in Nauvo, Turku Archipelago.
Another popular autumn event is called Baltic Herring Market. Despite the name, the market isn’t just about the herring or fish in general, but any local products. The oldest herring market in Finland takes place in Helsinki where it first landed back in 1743. Besides Helsinki, the herring market tradition blooms especially on the West Coast of Finland; for example Turku, Kustavi, Rauma, Pori and Kaskinen enjoy this vibrant and tasty market event every autumn.
The aurora season is ON!
Many people mistakenly think that the northern lights only appear in the middle of winter in -30-degree temperatures. False. In reality, it’s possible to spot the aurora in Finland as soon as the light summer nights are gone and the evenings begin to get darker. This year (2018), the first views of the northern lights were spotted – not only in Lapland but also in the south – in mid-August.
Here’s a fun fact for you; Autumn in Finland is one the best possible periods for aurora-spotting. The season is at its strongest in September around the autumnal equinox.
Another fun fact; Staying up for auroras is much more pleasant in the autumn when you don’t have to worry about hypothermia.
Autumn storms, fireplace and candles make a perfect setting for a romantic cottage getaway
When travelling to Finland in autumn, you get to experience the exciting change of the climate. You can spend your days outdoors, where the temperature might still rise up to +20 degrees. As soon as the sun sets, the temperature drops rapidly. At night, it might even get below zero. This is when sauna becomes the best place on Earth.
The dark and cold autumn nights can be magical. Imagine hearing the strong wind blowing outdoors as you’re comfortably next to a blazing fireplace, wearing woolly socks and sipping a hot drink while cuddling your loved one under a shared blanket.
This is how Finnish autumn can be at its best; doing all the things listed in this article and, after a fantastic day, relaxing at a cottage feeling like there’s nothing or no one else in the world. Who wouldn’t love autumn in Finland?
Here’s an extra tip for your cottage getaway: find a cottage with an outdoor jacuzzi and lift your autumn experience up a notch. Nothing feels better than bathing in a hot tub, feeling the brisk autumn air touching the face while admiring the northern lights dancing in the sky above the lake.