14 Places to Visit in Finland in Winter (Not Just Lapland!)

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Are you interested in booking a trip to Finland in winter? While there are many places to visit in Finland in winter, you really need to plan ahead to see which destination fits you best!

Most people think winter in Finland can only be experienced by visiting Lapland… but several other places in Finland are worthy of your visit, too!

I have visited lots of places in Finland during winter and have many others on my list. This guide discusses the best places to visit in Finland in winter.

While it includes Rovaniemi, the top winter destination in Finland, it also includes some lesser-known places in Lapland as well as places outside of the Arctic Circle.

If you have additional Finnish winter destinations to add to this list- please drop them in the comments below!

Are you planning on visiting Finland this winter? This is a guide to the best places to visit in Finland in winter | Finland in winter | Winter in Finland | Lapland winter | Finland December | Finland January | Finland February | Finnish winter | Places to visit in Finland | Yllas | Salla | Rovaniemi | Levi | Utsjoki | Kemi | Vaasa | Helsinki | Nuuksio National Park winter | Tampere | Lahti | Turku | Ruka | Kuusamo | Finland skiing | Åland Islands

Where to Go in Finland During Winter

I handpicked this list according to places I have loved visiting in Finland throughout the winter and other times of the year. I also picked a few that are on my list as friends of mine have visited them and said how amazing they were.

Some of these winter destinations require a bit of effort to visit and others are rather easy, merely requiring a plane ride or train to.

Places to visit in Finland in winter
Places to visit in Finland in winter

In addition to the list of places, we have also included where in Finland the destination is located, the daylight situation (24-hours of darkness or not?), and some of the unique experiences you will get from visiting the place.

I also listed a few pros and cons of the destination and listed any resources you may find on this blog that can aid you in planning the Finland winter trip.

If you have any winter tips for Finland, please let us know!

Things to Consider Before Booking a Finland Winter Trip

There are many things you need to consider before booking a trip to Finland during winter.

  • Are you visiting Finland for snow?
  • Are you visiting Finland for adventure?
  • Did you come to see the northern lights?

I think before booking a trip to Finland in winter, you need to figure out what you really want to accomplish and see there first.

Regardless of where you choose, you will absolutely fall in love with Finland!

Finland Daylight in Winter

Something else you really want to consider when visiting Finland in December or January is the amount of daylight you will have. Or, perhaps I should say, won’t have.

Like other Nordic countries, you will have many places in Finland where it is completely dark during the winter. The farther north you are, the less daylight you will have. The further south you are, the more you’ll have. Pretty standard.

Salla Finland in snow
Salla, Finland during winter

If you’re in Helsinki, expect around 6 hours of daylight on the winter solstice.

If you’re in Utsjoki, on the other hand, expect none. One thing that kind of throws travelers off is that despite the sun not rising in the Arctic in winter, you will still have a few hours of skies that look like an extended sunset.

So, if you’re visiting Rovaniemi, for example, you will still be able to see a bit and it will not be pitch black.

In this guide, we include the sunrise and sunset details for each destination. We used December 21 (winter solstice) as the chosen date solely because it is the longest day of the year.

Temperatures During Winter in Finland

Temperatures in Finland vary during the winter. But, I can generally say that they are almost always cold.

Unlike visiting Norway in winter, where the Jet Stream plays a factor for coastal cities, you don’t really have that in Finland. We list the average December temperatures for the places on this guide.

What to Pack for Finland in Winter

What you should pack for winter in Finland simply depends on where you will be visiting and what you will be doing.

I recommend checking out this destination winter packing list for Norway that is similar to what you’ll need in Finland for the winter. It breaks everything down and all are products, gear, and clothing I have used when visiting Finland during winter.

Map of Places to Visit in Finland in Winter

To add this map to your Google Maps account, click the ‘Star’ icon next to the map name. You can then view it on your cell phone or computer by heading to your Google Maps account, click the menu and add it to ‘Your Places’.

Winter Destinations in Finland

These fifteen places are places I have hand-selected personally after visiting them during the winter months or in other times of the year where I knew they had a lot to offer in winter.

A few are places that my friends have visited and recommended to me for my next Finland trip!

Rovaniemi

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -4C/24F  Low: -11C/11F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  11:08am and 1:22pm
Pros of visiting Rovaniemi in winter:  northern lights, highest concentration of activities in Finland during winter
Cons of visiting Rovaniemi in winter:  most touristy season there, high prices

Aurora in Rovaniemi Finland
Aurora in Rovaniemi in winter

Without a doubt, the most popular place to visit in Finland in winter is Rovaniemi.  Flying from Helsinki to Rovaniemi is a breeze and when you arrive, you will be greeted as though you’ve walked into a winter fairytale!

Rovaniemi is known for its Santa Claus Village, a dreamland where over half a million visitors flock to annually to sit on Santa’s lap and hand him their Christmas wish list.

But, Rovaniemi is more than just Santa Claus Village!  You will also find so many activities that it is impossible to get bored there!  There are many things to do in Rovaniemi from eating reindeer waffles to visiting local museums, but nothing is as popular as taking a Rovaniemi northern lights tour!

You’ll find plenty of tours in Rovaniemi that you can join in on from dog-sledding to snowmobiling to snowshoeing… and more!  While autumn in Rovaniemi is my favorite, you really can’t go wrong with a winter trip there.

Unique experiences: northern lights tours, ice floating (seriously it was one of the weirdest and coolest things I’ve ever done!), dog-sledding, and Santa Claus Village.

Here are some of our Rovaniemi guides that will help you plan an epic winter trip:

Ruka – Kuusamo

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -6C/21F  Low: -15C/4F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  10:37am and 1:26pm
Pros of visiting Ruka in winter:  northern lights, several activities, some of Finland’s best skiing
Cons of visiting Ruka Kuusamo in winter:  Ruka is a large ski area so it can be packed

Ruka Kuusamo skiing Finland
Skiing in Ruka in Finland in winter

One of my favorite places to visit in Finland in winter is Ruka and Kuusamo.  Sitting closer to the Russian border than the Arctic Circle, this area is often referred to as part of Lapland when it is, in fact, not.

It has so much to offer year-round and is well-known for its bears but once they go into hibernation, the area comes alive for different reasons – skiing!  Ruka is a fantastic Finnish ski resort and place to view the northern lights.

In addition to enjoying skiing in Ruka, you can head to various experiences in the area from participating in the ‘Day as a Finn’ program to learning all about reindeer and the Sami people that call the area home.  

Ruka-Kuusamo is a great alternative to Rovaniemi if you’re into action sports and winter trips.  It is also a great place to relax and enjoy the scenery for a few days.  There is an airport in Kuusamo that makes arriving there fairly easy.

Unique experiences: Ruka ski resort, Sami experiences, Day as a Finn 

Below is our Ruka-Kuusamo guide that will help you plan a trip there:

Levi

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -8C/17F  Low: -17C/1F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  the sun doesn’t rise
Pros of visiting Levi in winter:  northern lights, Finland’s largest ski resort
Cons of visiting Levi in winter:  winter is the peak season so it can be crowded and pricey

Levi Finland during winter
Levi, Finland in winter

There are so many reasons to visit Levi in winter. Levi is home to Finland’s largest ski resort and you will see a lot of active Finns traversing up north to take to the slopes there.

But, Levi is not all about skiing. It is also an adventurous place with plenty to do outside of putting your feet in a pair of skis.

You will find interesting places to stay, like the Levi Igloos, glass roof hotels that are perfect for viewing the northern lights during the winter.

And if adventure sports and excursions aren’t your thing, there are plenty of unique sauna opportunities to keep you relaxed and rejuvenated. The Northern Lights Ranch even has sauna boxes out in the snow in the middle of the wilderness!

Levi is also a great place to learn about Sami culture and visit a reindeer farm. You can check out Ounaskievari Reindeer Farm to feed reindeer. If you want to learn even more, go to the Samiland exhibition in Hotel Panorama where you can learn about the EU’s only indigenous people.

Unique experiences: Finland’s largest ski resort, Samiland exhibition, Levi Igloos, Northern Lights Ranch

Kemi

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -5C/23F  Low: -13C/9F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  10:49am and 3:50pm
Pros of visiting Kemi in winter:  northern lights, icebreaker ships, world’s largest snow castle
Cons of visiting Kemi in winter:  peak season is winter- can be crowded and pricier

Kemi Finland ice floating survival
Ice floating in Kemi in winter

Kemi, Finland is a place that just ‘gets’ winter. It capitalizes on its surroundings and climate like no other place in Finland and this is the place to venture off to if you want to try something totally different than you could attempt anywhere else!

In Kemi, you will find the world’s largest snow castle called the SnowCastle of Kemi. It usually opens in January (weather permitting) and hosts visitors from all over the globe season after season.

In addition to sleeping in a snow castle, you can head to the Bothnian Bay and do a little ice floating in a survival suit or take an icebreaker cruise. These are things that you just can’t do in other places in Finland and it really makes Kemi in winter a special destination!

Unique experiences: Ice floating in survival suits, icebreaking ships on the Bothnian Bay, close to Sweden

Helsinki

Average Temperatures (December):  High: 1C/33F  Low: -4C/24F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  9:24am and 3:13pm
Pros of visiting Helsinki in winter:  amazing cafes, sauna culture, great museums, still a lot to do during winter
Cons of visiting Helsinki in winter:  no northern lights

Helsinki in winter tram
Helsinki in winter

Helsinki is one of my favorite cities in Europe and no matter how many times I venture back there, it remains that way.  The Finnish capital just doesn’t miss a beat and excels pretty much at everything it does, from food to adventure to shopping… and more!

I usually spend my winters there in cafes enjoying the coffee culture (Finns drink more coffee than any other country in the world) or shopping for cool Scandi digs and design.

Unique experiences: some of the world’s best museums, best sauna experiences in the world (Allas Sauna), world-class dining, and SO much more

Below are our Helsinki guides that will help you plan a trip there:

Utsjoki

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -7C/19F  Low: -17C/2F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  the sun doesn’t rise
Pros of visiting Utsjoki in winter:  northern lights, northernmost town in Finland, opportunity to learn about Sami
Cons of visiting Utsjoki in winter:  rather difficult to get to – closest airport is 170km away in Ivalo

Utsjoki, Finland
Utsjoki

The Sami village is renowned for its location as the northernmost place in Finnish Lapland and it sits right on the Norwegian border. You can experience everything from the northern lights to the vast tundra that locals call home if you plan to visit Utsjoki.

The population density is extremely low and you will find protected game reserves in the area. It is common to take snowmobile trips during the polar nights and chase the northern lights. You are also close to the Arctic Ocean if you decide to venture in to Norway (Nordkapp is awesome!)

In Utsjoki, you will find a historical church and vicarage. There is a variety of accommodation ready to host you there. Don’t miss the nearby villages of Nuorgam and Karigasniemi.

Unique experiences:  northern lights chasing, close to Norwegian border, true ‘off the path’ experience

Nuuksio National Park

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -1C/31F  Low: -7C/20F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  9:25am and 3:13pm
Pros of visiting Nuuksio in winter:  snowshoeing, ice fishing, close to Helsinki, many activities
Cons of visiting Nuuksio National Park in winter:  no northern lights

Nuuksio National Park in Finland in winter
Nuuksio National Park in winter

Nuuksio National Park is a winter lover’s dream destination in Finland.  This park, technically located in Espoo, is easy to visit from Helsinki during any time of the year.  You can also book tours to Nuuksio from Helsinki.

One of the coolest things about visiting Nuuksio in winter is that there are copious activities that can keep you occupied and you’ll feel like you’re in Finland’s far north, not just right outside of Helsinki!

Unique experiences: plenty of winter activities from dog-sledding to snowshoeing to ice fishing 

Below is our Nuuksio guide that will help you plan a trip there:

Åland Islands

Average Temperatures (December):  High: 2C/36F  Low: -3C/26F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  9:43am and 3:33pm
Pros of visiting Åland in winter:  peaceful, delicious food, and interesting culture
Cons of visiting Åland in winter:  it can be difficult to reach and you will need to take a ferry there, no northern lights

Åland in winter
Åland in winter

One of North Europe’s most underrated places to visit are the Åland Islands, an archipelago situated in the middle of the Baltic Sea in between Sweden and Finland. 

Technically part of Finland, these islands have a lot of Swedish history and you will even hear Swedish as the main language there.

While island-hopping is a summer pastime, don’t be too quick to write off visiting the Åland Islands in winter!  I found them eerily quiet and so unspoiled when visiting Finland in January and I can’t wait to go back.

There were plenty of winter activities available from Mariehamn and other places – you can go curling, biking, or even just hiking to some of the best sites on the islands.

Reaching Åland is pretty easy from either Stockholm or Helsinki and it truly is one of the most relaxing places to visit in Finland in winter!

Unique experiences: you’re in the middle of the Baltic Sea, really stunning places with unique culture 

Below is our Åland guide that will help you plan a trip there:

Lahti

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -2C/29F  Low: -8C/18F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  9:29am and 3:01pm
Pros of visiting Lahti in winter:  Finland’s adventure capital, winter sports activities
Cons of visiting Lahti in winter:  no northern lights

Lahti in winter
Lahti in winter

I visited Lahti in 2019 during the summer and I sometimes struggle to imagine a place in a different season, but Lahti was easy. 

There were winter sports tracks and ski jumps throughout the Finnish city and it immediately flew to the top of my Finland winter bucket list!

Lahti is kind of quiet but also very boisterous at the same time.  I was surprised to find such a nice culinary scene there with tasty beer, locally distilled whiskey, and a natural knack for using local, seasonal ingredients

I also loved downing too much coffee from Kaniwa Coffee Roasters in Lahti.  The city was a definite win/win for me and I’m sure Lahti in winter will be even better!

Unique experiences: Finland’s green sports capital, beautiful forests and lakes throughout the region 

Below are our Lahti guides that will help you plan a trip to the region:

Ylläs

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -10C/14F  Low: -17C/1F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21: the sun doesn’t rise
Pros of visiting Ylläs in winter:  northern lights, cross-country and downhill skiing
Cons of visiting Ylläs in winter:  winter is the high-season

Yllas Finland winter
Ylläs in winter

Ylläs, or Yllästunturi in Finnish, is a mountain area in northern Finland that is renowned for its downhill and cross-country skiing. After Levi, it is the second-largest ski resort in Lapland.

While the activities in Ylläs remain pretty much the same as many other popular destinations in Lapland, it is absolutely stunning and retains its popularity year after year for its impressive views, 61 ski slopes, and 330 kilometers of cross-country skiing tracks.

Unique experiences: second largest ski resort in Lapland, cross-country skiing paradise

Tampere

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -1C/31F  Low: -5C/23F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  9:42am and 3:03pm
Pros of visiting Tampere in winter:  winter activities on the lake, cozy cafes and restaurants
Cons of visiting Tampere in winter:  low-season so prices are cheaper and fewer tourists, no northern lights

Tampere finland in winter
Tampere in winter

Tampere is easily one of Finland’s coolest cities and it shows from the moment you arrive there.  

While Tampere is brimming with culinary delights and gastro opportunities, you will also find plenty to do outside for nature lovers.

From ice skating on Tohloppijärvi to venturing to Lake Näsijärvi to take advantage of the ice skating track there, Tampere has a lot to offer in winter.

There are also ski centers, cross-country ski trails, ice swimming (even at one of my favorite places, Sauna & Restaurant Kuuma), husky safaris with Gegwen Getaways, and ice fishing.

And at the end of the day when you’re exhausted from a long day of adventurous winter activities, you can unwind in one of Tampere’s many saunas. It is the sauna capital of the world and you’ll return home feeling like a new person!

Unique experiences: world’s sauna capital, cozy cafes, skating on frozen lakes

Below are our Tampere guides that will help you plan a trip to the region:

Salla

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -6C/22F  Low: -13C/8F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  11:17am and 1:22pm
Pros of visiting Salla in winter:  northern lights, cross-country and downhill skiing
Cons of visiting Salla in winter:  difficult to get to (100 kilometers from Kuusamo Airport and 70 kilometers from Kemijärvi Train Station)

Salla Finland dog sledding
Winter in Salla, Finland

If you’re looking for a place far removed from the rest of the world, head to Salla, Finland. The gorgeous area in the east of Finland sits about 100 kilometers north of Kuusamo and 90% of Salla remains uninhabited.

It truly will be a nature experience like no other!

Skiing has been around Salla for over 5000 years and the oldest ski ever found was located there. Salla Ski Resort, located in Sallatunturi has 15 slopes and 6 ski lifts and is a popular place to visit.

It is also a great place to visit in Finland in winter with children. There are opportunities to learn about Sami culture and the importance of reindeer to the area.

There are many opportunities to stay in log cabins and just genuinely be impressed by the untouched Finnish nature surrounding Salla.

Unique experiences: ski history, uninhabited nature where you can see Russia in the distance

Turku

Average Temperatures (December):  High: 2C/35F  Low: -3C/27F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  9:37am and 3:20pm
Pros of visiting Turku in winter:  charming restaurants (great culinary scene), low season- so it’s cheaper
Cons of visiting Turku in winter:  no northern lights, many activities in archipelago shut down in winter

Turku in winter
Turku in winter

Turku is one of the largest cities in Finland as is easy to reach by ferry from Stockholm or by train from Helsinki.  

Turku is renowned as a summer destination as the archipelago leads to some exciting adventures and trips but there is plenty to do in winter in Turku to keep visitors occupied!

The city is one of Finland’s culinary powerhouses and there are many top-quality restaurants and cafes in Turku that will help you enjoy this side of the city.

While many people venture to Finland for snow, you may be surprised to not find much in Turku as it is a bit more ‘coastal’ located near the Baltic.

Turku’s charming streets are reason enough to go there but you can also visit the Turku Castle, Moomin World, and the Turku Cathedral if you’re keen on visiting the most popular sites in the city.

Unique experiences: Moomin World, extremely charming Old Town, the archipelago

Vaasa

Average Temperatures (December):  High: -2C/29F  Low: -7C/19F
Sunrise and Sunset on December 21:  10:11am and 2:51pm
Pros of visiting Vaasa in winter:  many winter activities from skiing to ice skating and ice floating
Cons of visiting Vaasa in winter:  low-season so the islands are not as accessible, no northern lights

Vaasa in winter
Vaasa in winter

Another western Finnish city that deserves attention during the winter (but tends to be a more popular summer destination) is Vaasa, Finland.

This city has plenty going on in the winter months- from snowmobiling to On the Rox to Skiing at Öjberget Ski Resort.

The weather is cold but can be somewhat milder (for Finnish standards) due to its seaside location. There are also many places to go ice skating in Vaasa, making it a great place for families to visit in Finland in winter.

Unique experiences: Öjberget Ski Resort, seaside location

Should You Visit Finland in Winter?

I definitely give a huge thumbs up to visiting Finland in winter! It is actually my favorite time to head there and there are so many fantastic places to visit in Finland in winter that you will most definitely find ‘your’ place.

If you’re keen to see the northern lights, Finland is an epic place to do so. If you’re heading on a food and culinary extravaganza, Finland is also a desirable destination.

Do you have any recommendations for places to visit in Finland in winter? Please leave your top pick in the comments!

Pin This Finland Winter Travel Guide

Are you planning on visiting Finland this winter? This is a guide to the best places to visit in Finland in winter | Finland in winter | Winter in Finland | Lapland winter | Finland December | Finland January | Finland February | Finnish winter | Places to visit in Finland | Yllas | Salla | Rovaniemi | Levi | Utsjoki | Kemi | Vaasa | Helsinki | Nuuksio National Park winter | Tampere | Lahti | Turku | Ruka | Kuusamo | Finland skiing | Åland Islands

One thought on “14 Places to Visit in Finland in Winter (Not Just Lapland!)

  1. omid says:

    In the name of God
    I am an Iranian
    I wish to travel to Finland
    But I do not have enough money
    I love the snowy scenery of Finland
    Traveling to Finland is like a dream for me

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