In any given year, Finnish Lapland plays host to more than 200 nights of light displays, making it one of the best places to go to spot the world’s most arresting natural phenomenon, the Northern Lights. Lapland is also a veritable wonderland of hikes through evergreen forests and kayaking excursions along rivers and lakes which make a picture-perfect frame for the auroras.
Where to go?
Follow the compass red for the best chances; you’re approximately ten times more likely to spot the lights in the north than in the south. Perhaps head to Harriniva for a stay in a pine-clad wilderness hotel where you’ll learn about the lifestyle of a reindeer herder by day, trying your hand at the Lappish lasso and enjoying a reindeer safari. By night, head out on a snowmobile in search of the Northern Lights. Summit fells for uninterrupted views and clutch warm drinks as the lights play out over the rocky crags and snow-capped pines. Alternatively, get there under you own steam with a snowshoeing expedition after spending the day learning how to mush as you take to the powder on a husky sledding trip.
Finland is also home to unique accommodation that takes full advantage of night sky views. Iso-Syöte, located on a wooded peak that juts out above the country’s central plains, is scattered with picturesque log cabins whose floor-to-ceiling windows offer excellent aurorae views. The Eagles View Suite is particularly impressive with its windowed ceiling making for relaxed bedtime viewing. During the day, indulge in fishing trips and downhill skiing before enjoying that age-old Finnish tradition – the sauna.
If you’d rather move about, a self-drive tour or motorhome hire is an ideal way of seeing the country. There’s even the aptly named Northern Lights Route, which takes wide-eyed spotters through the country’s vast green forests dotted with frozen lakes further afield to Norway’s Arctic destinations. Along the way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot the dazzling colours of the aurora.
When to go?
To make the most of your trip, plan ahead for the best times to visit your choice of accommodation, as hotels are very in demand during the high season. To give you the best chance of spotting the lights, look to the longer nights between September and March, bearing in mind that the winter months – with crisp skies producing less rain and cloud cover – are ideal.