Everything you need to know about snow

3 minute read

Credits: Eeva Mäkinen

Your biggest questions about snow, answered

Finns are no strangers to winter living but visitors have lots of questions about travelling to this snowy country of ours. Does it always snow in Finland? How much does it snow in Helsinki? Where can I find the most snow? 

In this article, we take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about snow and give you answers.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Credits: Julia Kivelä

When does it start snowing in Finland?

The season’s first snowfall is always an exciting moment eagerly awaited by many Finns and visitors alike. But as a big country – Finland stretches over 1000 km north to south – the start of the snow season depends on where in the country you are.  

In Lapland, which sits mostly above the Arctic Circle, the first snow often falls in September. In 2023, the first snow came in mid-September covering over 20 centimetres in many places, which is a lot for first snow. Usually, the first flurries hit the felltops with full ground cover coming later in the year. In northern parts of the country, snow typically stays permanently on the ground by late-October and lasts until the spring. 

In Finland’s central and southern areas, including the capital Helsinki, you’ll usually experience the first snowfall in November (although it usually melts away). The closer you are to the coast, the more likely it is for the snow to turn into rain due to the heating effect of the Baltic Sea in late autumn.

Snow fall captured in the picturesque wooden town of Porvoo.
Credits: Jussi Hellstén

Where can I find the most snow?

On average, you'll find more snow the further up north you go. Most of Lapland is covered in snow in the winter months between December and April. You can expect at least 25-50 centimetres on the ground across the region. Lakeland also gets plenty of snow during these months.

The snow cover is typically thickest in the southern and central parts of the country during March, and in northern Finland, in April.

Kilpisjärvi holds the snow record in Finland; in April of 1997, the snow depth was measured at 190 centimetres!

Koli National Park is a great place to experience winter in Lakeland.
Credits : Julia Kivelä
Kilpisjärvi, known for its great cross-country skiing routes, holds the national record for the deepest measured snow cover.
Credits: Juho Kuva

How long does the snow season last?

It all depends where in the country you are. In Lapland, snow usually covers the ground from early November to late May, so you can go skiing late into the spring. For a Lapland city like Rovaniemi, that means there’s snow on the ground for seven months – more than half of the year. 

As you head further south, the snow season typically gets shorter. The Lakeland city of Tampere, for example, experiences about six months of snow.

The charming Pispala district of Tampere was covered in snow in January 2021.
Credits: Visit Tampere, Laura Vanzo

How long does the snow season last in Helsinki?

"How much does it snow in Helsinki?" is a frequently asked question by many visitors. The Finnish capital is located on the southern coast of Finland, so it has milder winters compared to Lapland. The warming effect of the Baltic Sea in the autumn delays the first snow fall in Helsinki typically until November or December.

On average, the Helsinki snow season lasts for 97 days. You'll often see snow on the ground in March and even in April but the best chance of catching the snow-covered capital is in January or February. This, however, varies from year to year.

Credits: Ants Vahter

Can I fly to Finland when it snows?

As Finns, we’re very used to snow and that means we’re prepared and well-equipped for all types of wintry weather. Planes are sprayed with de-icing spray, while airports are equipped with high-tech sensors that monitor changes to tarmac temperature. The weather is also constantly monitored, and if snow does begin to fall, industrial scale snowploughs and sweepers keep the tarmac clear. We like to call this snow-how.

With over a million visitors flying to Finland annually for winter holidays, you can rest assured that flying in Finnish winter is normal and perfectly safe.

Can I drive in the snow?

You sure can! However, we would recommend winter driving for more experienced drivers. Main roads are ploughed frequently during the season but roads can be icy and days are short, especially in January and February, which means you'll often be driving in the dark.

All Finnish cars must have winter tyres during the colder months with either friction tyres ("kitkarenkaat") for snowy conditions or stud tyres ("nastarenkaat") for icy conditions. Thus, when you rent a car in Finland, it comes equipped with the right kind of tyres. If you're driving in more rural areas, a four-wheel drive is recommended. The supply of electric rental cars is increasing making e-cars also a great (and green!) option for the Finnish winter.

Read more about driving in Finland in our article.

Credits: André Alexander

What can I do when it snows?

From snowboarding and skiing to husky and reindeer rides, there are plenty of exciting sports and outdoor adventures that you can enjoy in the snow.

If you're less into sport and more into admiring spectacular views, the long autumn and winter seasons in Finland are made for northern lights fans. If winter photography is more your cup of tea, check out professional photographer Julia Kivelä's tips for winter. 

For more snow adventure ideas, get inspired by our guide to the best things to do in Finland during winter

Credits : Mikko Huotari
Credits: Eeva Mäkinen
Credits: Antti Pietikäinen

Unique and sustainable snow activities

Need inspiration for your next winter holiday in Finland? Look no further! We've collected ideas of unique and sustainable snow-related activities below.

Entrance of Arctic SnowHotel.

Visit to Arctic SnowHotel (with transfers)

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