Discover Finnish winter on ice

4 minute read
Person ice skating on a frozen lake in Saimaa, Finland.

Credits: Mikko Nikkinen

Your burning questions about ice, answered

Finland, lovingly nicknamed the land of a thousand lakes, offers various icy winter activities. Our lakes come in all shapes and sizes, and while many lakes are situated in the Lakeland region, these natural wonders can be found throughout the country. Coupled with the long, picturesque coastline, Finland's water features offer an abundance of breathtaking frozen landscapes and exciting winter activities to enjoy.

Let’s dive into some common questions we hear about ice and things to do in the winter in Finland!

Credits: Mikko Nikkinen

When do waters freeze in Finland?

In general, the lakes freeze up in the northern parts of Finland, in Lapland first, usually between late October and December. Meanwhile, cities located along the southern coast, such as Turku and Helsinki, experience milder temperatures. As a result, the sea typically freezes around December and January. When seeking to explore the country's icy landscapes, the Waterinfo ice update is a useful tool for travellers to stay informed about ice thickness in different parts of Finland.

Credits: Rob Smith

Can I go ice skating in Finland?

Yes – ice skating is a classic winter activity. Across Finnish cities, municipalities, and travel destinations, there are many open skating areas on natural ice. Staying on maintained and marked tour skating tracks is a safe bet. Many cities also have skating rinks on solid land where you can rent skates and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

Credits : Mikko Huotari
Credits: Harri Tarvainen

Can I go ice fishing in Finland?

Yes – we're big on fishing here in Finland, and ice fishing is a must-try during the winter. We recommend finding a local guide who can provide you with all the necessary gear and take you to the best spots. It's a calming and mindful activity – you drill a hole in the ice and keep an eye out for any tugs on your line. Don't forget to dress up warmly and bring some drinks and snacks with you.

Credits: Juho Kuva

What other winter activities can I do on ice?

Snowshoeing and simply taking a stroll on the ice are popular activities in Finland. There's something incredibly soothing about the vast, frozen landscape. You'll find marked cross-country skiing routes that run across the lakes. And if you're looking for some excitement, certain Finnish travel destinations offer ice tracks for go-carts, motorbikes, and even cars.

Many Finns also drill a hole in the ice and take a fresh dip after a sauna – if you ask us, it is one of the best things you can do in the winter in Finland. For more ideas on what to do and where to go in Finland, have a look at the Finnish National Park's advice on activities on ice and safety.

Credits : Tomi Tähti
Credits: Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere
Credits: Mikko Nikkinen

Is it safe to go on the ice?

As long as the ice is strong and thick enough, you're good to go. You'll want at least five centimetres of clear ice, but it's safer with ten centimetres to support an adult's weight. If you plan on riding a snowmobile, make sure there is at least 15 centimetres of clear ice. If you have any doubts about the conditions, it's always a smart idea to reach out to a local guide who knows the area well.

Avoid all spots with a water flow, such as narrows and straits. Don’t go close to shipping routes, under bridges or piers. Even if the ice carries you near the shoreline, it doesn’t mean it will do so further off. For more safety tips and a full list of ice safety equipment, visit the Finnish Border Guards' instructions for walking on ice.​​​​

Credits: Mikko Nikkinen

What is clear ice?

Clear ice is the good stuff – it forms directly from the water below, it's strong, clear, and even. It is great for skating. But sometimes, Finnish lakes can have a different type of ice, which forms from a mixture of snow and water, giving it a pale and hazy appearance. This type of ice isn't as smooth or strong as clear ice. If you're unsure, just ask a local for guidance.

Credits: Mikko Nikkinen

Can I see the Northern Lights on the ice?

Frozen lakes offer great open views to catch a glimpse of Aurora Borealis. The best time to see the Northern Lights in Finland runs from the end of August to April. Northern Lights are most commonly spotted in Finnish Lapland.

Credits: Pertti Turunen

Unique and sustainable ice activities

In search of inspiration for your upcoming winter holiday in Finland? We've gathered a variety of unique and sustainable ice-related activities below.

Skiing and fishing Rovaniemi

Skiing and Fishing on Ice Adventure Private

4 hours

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