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Climate - Finland

Temperature, rainfall, prevailing weather conditions, when to go, what to pack

United States version (°F - inches - feet). See also the metric version (°C - mm - meters)

Flag - Finland

Map - Finland

The climate of Finland is characterized by a long and cold winter, and by a short, mild and moderately rainy summer. Among the Scandinavian countries, Finland is the one with the coldest climate, due to its proximity with Russia.
Winter is long and cold throughout the country; it is almost five months long even in Helsinki, which lies in the far south. Here, the temperature remains almost constantly below freezing from mid-November to late March.
Here are the average temperatures of Helsinki.
Helsinki average temperatures
Helsinki J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°F) 17 15 22 31 40 49 53 51 43 36 28 20
Max (°F) 27 27 34 46 60 68 71 68 57 47 37 31

As you head north and east, the winter gets even colder and longer. The many lakes that are located in Finland are frozen, and sometimes even the sea freezes (the Gulf of Bothnia, but also the port of Helsinki and the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland), and it is necessary to use icebreakers in order to allow maritime traffic.
During winter, the weather can greatly vary depending on meteorological conditions: when Finland is affected by cold air masses from neighboring Russia, the temperatures plunge below -4 °F, while when it is reached by mild winds from the Atlantic Ocean, the temperature is around the freezing point. During colder periods, the temperature can fall as low as -58 °F in the far north (Lapland). In January 1987, the temperature reached -31 °F even in the "southern" Helsinki.
The thaw usually occurs in April: at the beginning of the month in the south of Finland, at the end of the month in Lapland. In autumn, normally the snow begins to fall in October in Lapland, and in November in the south.


In Lapland, the northernmost part of Finland, the climate is cold for most of the year, with a short and intense summer. Here the winter (which, it should be remembered, in the Nordic countries is the season when the temperature remains below freezing) lasts seven months, from October to April.
The days are very short from November to January, and in December you almost never see the sun, also because of the cloud cover.
May and September are two transition months, with night temperatures around freezing, and the only months with a mild climate are the three summer months, from June to August, when it can even be hot during the day. In this season the vegetation grows rapidly to take advantage of the brief period of mild weather, as well as mosquitoes, which literally invade the landscape. If daytime temperatures during the summer in Lapland resemble those of the rest of Finland, around 68 °F, with peaks around 85 °F, nights remain cool or even cold, with minimum temperatures typically below 50 °F.
Here we can see the average temperatures of Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, located in the southern part of the region (therefore, the least cold).
Rovaniemi average temperatures
Rovaniemi J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°F) 5 7 15 24 35 47 52 47 39 28 16 8
Max (°F) 17 17 27 37 50 62 67 61 50 37 26 20

Across the country, precipitation is not very abundant, being everywhere below 27.5 inches per year, even though they are quite frequent, and well distributed throughout the year. In Helsinki it amounts to 25.5 inches per year. The rainiest periods are summer, especially the month of August, and autumn. The relatively least rainy (and snowy) period is the one that runs from February to April.
Here is the average precipitation in Helsinki.
Average precipitation Helsinki
Helsinki J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (in) 1.7 1.3 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.9 2.7 3.1 2.7 2.9 2.7 2.2 25.6
Days 10 8 8 7 6 8 9 11 11 11 12 12 113

In the north, the amount (but not the frequency) of precipitation is lower, especially in spring and autumn. In Rovaniemi, 22.5 in of rain or snow per year fall.
The sea is cold, and in winter can freeze across the country. In summer, it reaches 55 °F in the far north, and 63 °F in Helsinki and the Gulf of Finland, so it's not advisable to swim in the sea, if not for the brave.
Sea temperature Helsinki
Helsinki J F M A M J J A S O N D
Sea (°F) 36 34 34 36 41 48 59 63 57 50 45 37

When to go

Summer, from June to August, is the best season to visit Finland.
Temperatures are generally good for outdoor activities, hovering around 64/50 °F), at least when it doesn't rain (in the evening or during rainy days it can be cooler), while it rarely gets hot, even though sometimes the mercury reaches 82/90 °F.
The days are long, especially in June, when you can enjoy the "white nights" in the south, and the midnight sun in the north (see Rovaniemi and Lapland). June is less rainy than July, but it's a bit cooler.
Recall that in the Nordic countries, generally from mid-August the summer begins to decline: the days get shorter (even though they remain long), there is a slight decrease in temperature and an increase in the number of rainy days.
The sun in Finland is not always guaranteed, even in summer, when there may be rainy or cloudy days, but at least during this season the sky is not always overcast, and the sun is often peeking through the clouds.

If you want to visit Finland in its winter look, the best month is March, when the country is still covered with snow, but the temperatures are milder, and the days are longer than the previous winter months. You can take advantage of the Easter period, even when it is advanced, to practice cross-country skiing in the north, enjoy the longer days, and hope for the sun to come out.

The period from December to February is not ideal, because in addition to very short days (in the Christmas period the sun doesn't even rise in the north), the cold can sometimes be bitter, even in the south, especially in January and February. In February, at least the days become longer.

What to pack

In winter: cold weather clothing, synthetic thermal long underwear, fleece, parka, wind jacket, gloves, warm boots.
In summer: clothes for spring and autumn, being ready to add or remove the outer layer, t-shirt, but also long pants, jacket, sweatshirt or sweater; raincoat or umbrella.

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