Top five things to do in autumn in Finland

3 minute read
Woman walking through a autumn landscape.

Credits: Julia Kivelä

Autumn in Finland – fall foliage meets beginning of northern lights season

The autumn months from September to early November offer earthy tastes and unforgettable sights from the first glimpses of northern lights to the colours of autumn foliage.

Below, we've listed the top five things to do during autumn in Finland.

Credits: Julia Kivelä

1. See the season's first northern lights

Autumn is one of the best times to see the aurora borealis in Finland. The first peak time starts around August when the Earth aligns well with the sun. As nights get longer, there's a good chance you'll see the dancing, shimmering lights covering the night sky. The top spot to view the Northern Lights is Lapland in the northern part of the country.

Would you like to admire the auroras from the comfort of your own hotel room? Here's a selection of some of the best places to sleep under the northern lights in Finland.

Credits: Markus Kiili

2. Explore "ruska" in national parks

"Ruska" is a Finnish word for the colourful autumn foliage. As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, plants and trees offer stunning display of red, orange, yellow and purple hues. With more than forty national parks spanning the country, you have many options to choose from when deciding where to go to witness the beauty of the autumn foliage season. If you're looking for a more urban but historical setting, try one of the ironwork villages around the Helsinki region.

Ruska typically starts in Lapland in September and continues southward reaching southern Finland and the Helsinki region a couple of weeks later.

Visit Finland's Autumn Foliage Live tool, powered by artificial intelligence, helps you to follow where the "ruska" season is currently happening.

3. Forage in the forests

In the autumn, Finland's forests become abundant with mushrooms and berries waiting to be gathered. This privilege isn't just for locals – even travellers are welcome to enjoy these forest treasures, thanks to the principle of Everyman's Right. For instance, blueberries are ready for picking from July to early August, followed by lingonberries from early September to mid-October, and cranberries from late September until the first snowfall.

To make your foraging experience both rewarding and safe, consider joining a guided tour. A local guide will take you to the best spots and ensure everything is safe to eat.

If you prefer others do the work, wild food restaurants are a great option to explore.

Credits : Hotel Punkaharju / Visit Saimaa
Credits: Julia Kivelä

4. Go wildlife spotting

One of the most unique things you can experience in Northern and Eastern Finland is bear-watching on guided tour. You have a chance to see bears in the wild until around the end of September before they seek places to hibernate. Guided bear spotting trips are available for example in the northern parts of Lakeland and the southern part of Lapland, including places such as Kuusamo, Suomussalmi and Kuhmo.

September also offers the last opportunity of the year to catch a glimpse of a much less intimidating creature: the rare ringed seal of Lake Saimaa. Join a sunset seal safari and the chances are high that you'll spot one of these cuties.

Credits: Mikko Kiviniemi

5. Enjoy the harvest season

Autumn offers many seasonal events. Typically, on the last weekend of August, people in the coastal cities and towns gather to celebrate the end of the summer season. These festivities are called "venetsialaiset" in Finnish, also known as "forneldarnas natt" in Swedish. Depending on local traditions, you can expect bonfires, fireworks, colourful lanterns, and a cosy atmosphere.

Between August and October, various harvest season celebrations ("sadonkorjuujuhlat") and farmer’s markets are held throughout the country. Keep an eye out for local specialties like fermented vegetables, jams, and rye bread – and Finnish Archipelago Bread ("saaristolaisleipä") if you're in the coastal areas.

One quintessential autumn event is the Helsinki Baltic Herring MarketSilakkamarkkinat – which has been held since 1743 in Finland’s capital. Even if cured fish isn't your thing, experiencing this vibrant October event is worthwhile.

Credits: Kaskis

Sustainable autumn tours and activities

Below, you'll find examples of autumn products, tours, and activities from berry picking to bear watching around Finland, that have the Sustainable Travel Finland label.

Blueberries can be found all over the national park!

Berry Picking in a National Park

7 hours

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