Best things to do in Finland during winter

5 minute read

Find your favourite winter activity

If you haven’t got a clue what to do in a cool Nordic country like Finland during the winter months, do not worry. We collected a few ideas to get you started.

There’s no need to be afraid of the cold. Dress according to the weather and layer up, so that you feel comfortable outdoors enjoying the crisp, fresh air. If you're still feeling cold, we suggest a simple Finnish solution – get your blood circulating again in the nearest sauna.

The chill weather also makes many winter activities possible. Go skiing in picturesque crown-snow forests, enjoy the atmosphere in an urban ice skate rink, or hunt for a glimpse of the Northern Lights on the saddle of a fat e-bike. If you need equipment, there are many places around the country that rent gear for outdoor activities, especially near ski resorts.

Chase the Northern Lights

The best place to experience the Northern Lights in their most vivid form is in the north of Finland, where the season lasts for months, starting in September and continuing until spring.  If the sky is cloudless, the lights statistically appear in Lapland almost every other night. If you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse of the phenomenon in the southern parts of the country as well.

Book yourself a tour to see the auroras or hunt them on your own. Find out where to find the Northern Lights and how to prepare for the quest. 

Green is the most common colour in the Northern Lights. Try to witness this marvellous natural phenomenon with your own eyes or capture it on your camera roll.
Credits: Thomas Kast

Enjoy unique accommodation

You’ll find plenty of places to stay overnight in Finland’s arctic landscape. Depending on your wish list and budget, the accommodation options range from sensible to extravagant.

If you are looking for more rustic accommodation, warm and cosy log cabins are available all over the country.

If you are searching for something extra special, check out these unique glass cabins. There you can admire the starry night skies, even the Northern Lights, from the comfort of your bed.

Looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience? We’ve got you covered. Check out these bucket-list snow hotels in Northern Finland. 

Looking for unique accommodations? Imagine starting the day ice fishing from your bed,
Credits : Jari Romppainen
staying over at a unique and luxurious snow hotel,
Credits: Lainio Snow Village
or seeing the Northern Lights from the comfort of your glass cabin?
Credits: Jari Romppainen

Accommodation options range from sensible to extravaganza.

Go downhill or cross-country skiing or snowboarding

If you love winter sports, Finland is sure to deliver. The season up north is long and there are lots of ski resorts around the country, especially in the Lapland and Lakeland regions.

Never tried skiing of any kind? No problem. As Finland’s a relatively flat country, many slopes are suitable for beginners. All gear can be rented, and the ski resorts offer private and small group lessons to get started.

Another accessible option is cross-country skiing. As long as there’s snow on the ground, you’ll find well-maintained ski trails in every corner of the country – from Helsinki to Utsjoki.

There are two basic cross-country skiing techniques: classic style and skate-skiing.
Credits : Mikko Huotari
Downhill skiing in a crown snow forest is a fantastic addition to your collection of experiences.
Credits: Elina Sirparanta
Are you an experienced snowboarder looking for a challenge? Try freeriding in breathtaking sceneries like this.
Credits: Flatlight Films

Go for a husky or reindeer ride

Husky and reindeer rides are probably the most fun and memorable ways to explore the arctic landscape. And whilst there are plenty of joyful things to do in wintery Lapland, the rides – without a doubt – make it to the bucket-list category.

Reindeer are semi-domesticated, so you will likely spot one or more roaming near roads or dwellings during your visit to Lapland. Reindeer rides are in fact an ancient Sámi way of getting around. For a reindeer test ride, head to farms as they often arrange short sleigh outings on-site. There are also longer reindeer safaris available if you want to go for the full experience.

If you are more of a dog person and thus interested in husky tours, take a look at some of Lapland's Sustainable Travel Finland certified husky companies, like Hetta Huskies and Bearhill Husky.

Some decisions are tough. Should you go for a husky safari,
Credits : Samuel Taipale
or a reindeer ride? If it's hard to choose, we suggest you try them both while you're at it!
Credits: Juho Kuva

Try ice skating

Another enjoyable seasonal activity is ice skating. Experience this fantastic winter sport either in the comfort of a city – even in downtown Helsinki – or opt for the real deal on natural ice.

Ice skating in an urban rink is a great pastime but gliding in nature’s open landscapes is one adventure to remember. Once the layer of ice is thick enough – meaning it's safe to skate – Finns head to the outdoor tracks of the seashores and lakes. An excellent place to learn and practice your skating skills on natural ice is the region of Lakeland with its tens of thousands of lakes.

Get active in the city and go skating in an atmospheric ice skate rink.
Credits : Jussi Hellstén / Visit Helsinki
Alternatively, opt to go further away from the city where you can enjoy the beautiful, vast landscapes.
Credits: Harri Tarvainen

Go snowshoeing or fat e-biking in the wild

The crown-snowed landscapes can also be explored on land. Snowshoeing or fat e-biking are both accessible and give you a brand-new perspective on the wintry forests and fells. Most ski resorts have marked easy-to-follow snowshoe and bike routes, but alternatively, you can also hire a guide or partake in a guided tour.

Hot tip! Try the sliding snowshoe (liukulumikenkä), the Finnish invention which makes moving around in the deep snow easier.

Scenes like these are good motivators for experimenting with snowshoeing.
Credits : Matt Cherubino
Explore arctic landscapes on the saddle of a fat e-bike.
Credits: Roll Outdoors

Meet Santa Claus and immerse yourself in Christmas spirit

As you may be aware, Santa Claus comes from Lapland and Rovaniemi is his official hometown. Get in the Christmas state of mind by meeting and greeting him there any day of the year. Rovaniemi offers many Christmassy experiences year-round.

If you are visiting during November and December, there are also idyllic Christmas markets around the country. Enjoy the jolly atmosphere, buy a pair of handmade mittens and drink ‘glögi’ – a traditional warm, spiced cup of mulled wine from the Nordics.

Santa Claus, or 'joulupukki' in Finnish, is present year-round in Rovaniemi.
Credits : Juho Kuva
Christmas markets are popular events around the country, particularly in bigger cities. Here's a scenic view from Tampere city's market square.
Credits: Laura_Vanzo / Visit Tampere
Gingerbread and mulled wine 'glögi' are some of the essential flavours of Finnish Christmas. Try some at the Christmas markets!
Credits: Laura_Vanzo / Visit Tampere

Try a sauna and dip in ice-cold water

A sauna is certainly a must for any visit to Finland year-round. Public saunas are widely available around the country, often with access to water. Challenge yourself to the full Finnish experience by taking a refreshing dip in icy water followed by a steaming sauna session. The instant hit of endorphins and adrenaline will make you understand why so many Finns get hooked to bathing in freezing cold water every winter. Helsinki – the capital by the Baltic Sea – has plenty of options for experiencing a sauna together with winter swimming.

One of the benefits of winter swimming is that you get to tell everyone you were brave enough to do it.
Credits: Mikko Nikkinen

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