Magic in the Air – Tips for Seeing the Northern Lights in Finland
The Northern Lights are one of nature’s most spectacular phenomenons, and the Finnish Lapland is one of the best places on Earth to witness the magic for yourself. Every aurora show is different, a shifting dance of beautiful lights that many viewers find a memorable and uplifting experience. On average the Aurora Borealis are visible around 200 times a year in northern Finland, so there is plenty of opportunity to spot them on your next vacation.
What Causes the Aurora Borealis?
Great storms on the sun send gusts of charged solar particles hurtling across space. If Earth happens to be in the path of this stream, our planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere react to the particles. The Earth’s magnetic field is much weaker at the poles and therefore some of the particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere and collide with gas particles. When the charged particles from the sun strike atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere, they excite those atoms, causing them to light up. These collisions emit light that we perceive as the dancing Northern Lights. Variations in colour are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding.
Where to See the Northern Lights in Finland?
The occurrence of auroras depends on the latitude of the observer. At a distance about 2500 km from the poles, the probability for seeing auroras is almost 100 %. When moving southwards, the frequency of auroras decreases.
The northern parts of Fennoscandia belong to the maximum auroral zone and in Finland the probability for seeing auroras is best in the northernmost part of the country, i.e. in Lapland. Providing that the sky is free enough from clouds, the statistical probability for seeing auroras during a dark and cloudless night is approximately:
- 75 % of nights in the northern part of Finnish Lapland (e.g. Kilpisjärvi, Enontekiö, Inari, Utsjoki)
- about 50 % of nights in central Lapland (e.g. ski resorts Ylläs, Levi, Pallas and Saariselkä)
- about 25 % of nights in the central part of Finland (e.g. Oulu, Kuusamo, Ruka, Syöte)
- once in a month on average on the south coast of Finland (e.g. Helsinki, Turku)
When is The Best Time to Hunt the Northern Lights?
Winter is generally the best season to view the northern lights. The long periods of darkness and the frequency of clear nights provide good opportunities to watch the auroral displays in northern Finland. The best months are September and October in autumn and February and March in winter and early spring. During summer months the northern lights cannot be seen due to light nights.
In winter time the hours of darkness increase the farther north you travel, and while the aurora can be sighted at any dark moment, from 9 pm to 1 am tends to be prime viewing time.
An Organized Aurora Tour Takes You to the Best Viewing Spots
Although it is possible to see the northern lights even from the window of a cottage, we highly recommend taking part in an organized aurora tour. You cannot beat local knowledge, because the aurora guides know the best spots to view the lights. There are a number of ways that you can search for the Aurora Borealis – by snowmobile, on snowshoes or even on a reindeer safari. You can find organized aurora trips almost everywhere in Finnish Lapland.
Best Cabins for Viewing the Northern Lights
On Gofinland’s site you will find plenty of rental cottages that offer a good chance to see the northern lights. Whether you are looking for a luxurious cottage in the immediate vicinity of tourism services, a ski-inn apartment in one of the Finnish ski resorts or a wooden cabin in the wilderness, we have options for many different tastes.
To help you to plan your next holiday in Finland: