Where to See the Northern Lights in Finland

Where to See the Northern Lights in Finland

When it comes to bucket-list experiences, seeing the celestial spectacle of the Northern Lights (or aurora borealis) is a popular pick. However, it can be a tricky one to tick off. First, you’ve got to travel to the right place (typically the Nordic nations) at the right time (between September and April). Then, once there, you’ll need clear conditions, just enough solar activity and a dose of good luck. But when the stars align, your efforts will be richly rewarded. The darkness becomes a dancefloor as waves of green light shimmy and sashay across the sky. It’s majestic, moving and makes standing in the freezing cold seem like a minor inconvenience. Time to see this natural wonder for yourself? Finnish Lapland is one of the best locations for catching a glimpse of the aurora, where the lights shine roughly every other clear night. So, here’s our round-up of where to see the Northern Lights in Finland. 


  1. Levi
  2. Ylläs
  3. Rovaniemi
  4. Ivalo
  5. Kemi 



Imagine a day of outdoor adventure (think skiing, snowshoeing, ice swimming, and more) followed by a night beneath the ballet of the aurora borealis. That dream itinerary can become a reality at Levi – Finland’s most popular ski resort. With 44 slopes to test your skills on, plus snowmobile safaris, sled dog tours and saunas for post-snow recovery, there’s plenty to keep you busy. But when darkness falls, the real magic begins. On average, the Northern Lights can be seen 111 times a year at Levi, so there’s a good chance your après ski soiree should coincide with showstopping skies. Guided excursions are also available, by snowmobile, horseback or sleigh; these tours take you away from the lights of the resort to maximise your chances of successful sky-gazing. You could stay in one of the Levi igloos; luxurious glass domes where the awe-inspiring Arctic sky is your ceiling.



Light pollution is your foe when deciding where to see the Northern Lights in Finland. But in the resort of Ylläs, it won’t be a problem. Here the streetlights are out by 10pm each night, ensuring the aurora looks extra-impressive when it decides to dance across the sky. Ylläs is home to two traditional villages (Äkäslompolo and Ylläsjärvi), seven picturesque fells (with trails aplenty to explore) and one national park, home to the world’s cleanest air (Pallas-Yllästunturi). And this pristine, peaceful landscape is one of the best places to admire the atmospheric wonder of the Northern Lights. Take the overnight train from Helsinki to awake above the Arctic Circle; refreshed and ready for a night of aurora-admiring. 



The capital of Lapland and official hometown of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi is a well-loved destination for a festive family break. While the city itself isn’t a great place to catch the Northern Lights (too much light pollution from Santa’s workshop), it’s a convenient place to stay if you want to combine meeting the man himself with a glimpse of the aurora. The Arctic Garden is a ten-minute walk from the centre and a popular spot to see the Northern Lights. It’s also the location of the Regional Museum of Lapland, where you can learn more about Lappish culture and heritage. Alternatively, a 45-minute walk brings you to the top of Ounasvaara fell, where, if the stars align, you might just be blessed with that sought-after celestial show. The Sky Ounasvaara hotel also sits atop this peak; a bolthole amid the Arctic landscape, complete with a roof terrace offering 360-degree views of the sky.



In summer, the River Ivalojoki that winds through the village of Ivalo is one of Finland’s finest canoeing routes, with several stretches of white water to raise the heart rate. But in other seasons, it’s the night skies, not the rapids, that take your breath away. The so-called ‘golden river’ once tempted travellers of a different type; with prospectors heading here to pan for gold. Today, the jewel that draws visitors to Ivalo is the aurora borealis. When it comes to choosing where to see the Northern Lights in Finland, serious aurora-hunters know that the further north you go the better. And Ivalo’s location in the north of Lapland means your chances of catching a glimpse of that once-in-a-lifetime light show are increased. The area is also home to the EU’s most northernmost airport, making it easier to explore the region and its spectacular skies.



Home to 20,000 people, the historic port city of Kemi is less wilderness-like than many Northern Lights locations in Lapland. While you’re here, marvel at (or book a room in) the world’s largest ice hotel. The vast snow and ice fortress of the SnowCastle is rebuilt each winter with a new design, so no two visits are the same from year to year. The Sampo Icebreaker is also docked in Kemi; a ship once used for clearing shipping lanes in the Baltic Sea, now repurposed for day cruises through the icy waters. Hop on board to feel like an intrepid Arctic adventurer as you sail through the frozen scenery. And as for the aurora, we think it’s best seen from the comfort of one of Kemi’s iconic glass villas, where the windows provide a perfect vantage point for any potential light show. There’s a spa on site too – great for embracing Finland’s favourite pastime of lounging in the sauna.