Index


Introduction



The climate of Finland is characterized by long and cold winters, and by short, mild and moderately rainy summers. Among the Scandinavian countries, Finland is the one with the coldest climate because of the proximity to Russia.
Across the country, precipitation is not very abundant, and it ranges from 400 millimeters (15.5 inches) per year in the extreme north-east, to 650 mm (25.5 in) in the east and south, and to 700 mm (27.5 in) in the south-western tip (see Turku); however, it is quite frequent, and well distributed throughout the year.
The rainiest periods are summer and autumn. In the center-south, generally August is a bit rainier than July. The least rainy (and snowy) period is the one that runs from February to April. In winter, a light snow often falls, which may not even be counted in the statistics (if it does not reach a minimum amount of equivalent rain).
Finland is largely a flat country. However, in the north there are hills, and in the extreme north-west, on the border with Norway, even a mountain, Halti, 1,324 meters (4,344 feet) high.

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 around or below freezing (0 °C or 32 °F) from mid-November to late March.
As you head north and east, winter gets even colder and longer. The many lakes that are located in Finland are frozen, and sometimes even the sea freezes (more often the Gulf of Bothnia, but sometimes even the port of Helsinki and the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland), and it is necessary to resort to icebreakers to allow maritime traffic to continue.
During winter, the weather can vary greatly depending on meteorological conditions: when Finland is affected by cold air masses from neighbouring Russia, the temperature drops below -20 °C (-4 °F), while when it is reached by mild winds from the Atlantic Ocean, the temperature is around the freezing point. On colder periods, the temperature can fall as low as -50 °C (-58 °F) in the far north (Lapland). In January 1987, the temperature reached -35 °C (-31 °F) even in the "southern" Helsinki.
The thaw usually occurs in April, at the beginning of the month in the south of Finland, and 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.

May and September are two transitional 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 get hot during the day. In this season the vegetation grows rapidly, to take advantage of the brief period of mild weather, while mosquitoes literally invade the landscape. In Lapland, the daytime temperatures during summer resemble those of the rest of Finland, around 20 °C (68 °F), with peaks around 30 °C (86 °F), while nights remain cool or even cold, with minimum temperatures typically below 10 °C (50 °F).

Lapland



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 in Nordic countries is the season in which 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.
Summer is mild, with some warm days, while at night it can get cold. July is the warmest month. In summer the days are very long: in June and July there's the midnight sun, while in August, even though the days begin to shorten, it's never completely dark.

Ivalo

In northern Lapland, well beyond the polar circle, we find Ivalo. Here, during the colder winters, the temperature drops below -40 °C (-40 °F). The cold record is -49 °C (-56 °F), occurred in January 1999. During summer, the temperature can occasionally reach 28/30 °C (82/86 °F), but in other periods at night it can drop below 5 °C (41 °F). Here are the average temperatures.
Ivalo - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-20-19-14-806962-4-12-18
Max (°C)-10-10-42815181592-4-9
Min (°F)-4-2718324348433625100
Max (°F)141425364659645948362516

Precipitation in Ivalo is not abundant, just 430 mm (17 in) per year, however in winter there are often light snowfalls. Summer is the wettest season, with 60/65 mm (2.4/2.6 in) per month in July and August. During summer, at night and in the early morning fog can form.
In Ivalo, the sun stays all day under the horizon from December 4 to January 8, while it never sets from May 24 to July 22.

Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, is located practically at the polar circle, in the southern part of the region (therefore, the least cold). Here are the average temperatures.
Rovaniemi - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-18-18-13-6171083-2-9-16
Max (°C)-8-8-2411172017114-3-7
Min (°F)00921344550463728163
Max (°F)181828395263686352392719

In Rovaniemi, precipitation amounts to 580 mm (22.8 in) per year. The wettest season is summer. In winter, snowfall is quite frequent but generally light. Snow generally covers the ground from the beginning of November to May 10th, with a maximum of 55-60 cm (1.8-2 feet) from late February to early April.
Rovaniemi - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)403535303560707055555040580
Prec.(in)1.61.41.41.21.42.42.82.82.22.221.622.8
Days1010978910109111210115

The sun in Rovaniemi does not set at all from around June 7th to July 6th. In winter instead there is no period when the sun never rises (around December 22, the sun is slightly above the horizon for about 2 hours and a quarter). However, given the shortness of the days, in winter the sun is almost never seen, while in June and July it shines roughly 37% of the time.
Rovaniemi - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours024789864210

Rovaniemi

Center-south



In the center-south, winter is less cold than in Lapland, however it remains freezing, with averages well below 0 °C (32 °F). The Gulf of Bothnia, especially in the northern part, is not able to temper the climate by much because in winter it is often frozen. Summer is mild or pleasantly warm, and a little warmer than in the north, especially at night.

Oulu

In Oulu, on the north coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, 170 km (105 mi) south of Rovaniemi, the average January temperature is -10 °C (14.5 °F). Here the temperature dropped to -37.5 °C (-35.5 °F) in January 1987. Here are the average temperatures.
Oulu - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-14-13-9-339121051-6-11
Max (°C)-6-6-16121821181260-4
Min (°F)7916273748545041342112
Max (°F)212130435464706454433225

In Oulu, 475 mm of rain or snow fall per year. As usual, precipitation is well distributed throughout the year, at least as regards to the frequency, while July and August are the months when the rains are more abundant. Here is the average precipitation.
Oulu - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)302525203545706545453530475
Prec.(in)1.2110.81.41.82.82.61.81.81.41.218.7
Days10886779109101110105

In Oulu, the sea temperature from January to April is near the freezing point (remember that the sea freezes at about -2 °C or 28.5 °F). In summer the sea remains cold.
Oulu - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)10-1027121412853
Temp (°F)343230323645545754464137

Further south, in Vaasa (on the coast), and Kuopio (in the interior), the climate is similar to that of Oulu, just slightly milder.

Tampere

Further south, in Tampere, located in the inland southern areas, the average temperature ranges from -7 °C (20 °F) in February, to 17 °C (62.5 °F) in July.
Tampere - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-10-11-7-149121062-3-8
Max (°C)-3-418152022201482-2
Min (°F)141219303948545043362718
Max (°F)272534465968726857463628

In Tampere, precipitation amounts to 600 mm (23.5 in) per year. As usual, July and August are the wettest months, with 70/75 (2.6/3 in) mm per month.

Helsinki

The capital Helsinki is located in the southern and mildest part of the country. However, the temperature remains around or below freezing for a few months a year. Generally the snow covers the ground from December 10th to April 10th, with a maximum of 20/25 cm from late February to late March. Here are the average temperatures.
Helsinki - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)-6-7-41611141394-1-4
Max (°C)-1-2281418222015940
Min (°F)211925344352575548393025
Max (°F)302836465764726859483932

In Helsinki, precipitation amounts to 650 mm (25.5 in) per year. Here is the average precipitation in Helsinki.
Helsinki - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)453535353550708070757055650
Prec.(in)1.81.41.41.41.422.83.12.832.82.225.6
Days108876891111111212113

The sun in Helsinki is rarely seen from November to January, while from May to August it shines about half the time (compared to the length of the day). The white nights in Helsinki occur roughly from May 12 to August 2.
Helsinki - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours134799975311

The sea in Helsinki is a little less cold than in the Gulf of Bothnia, but as mentioned it can sometimes freeze here as well. In summer the sea remains cold, however it reaches 17 °C (63 °F) in August.
Helsinki - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)2112591517141073
Temp (°F)363434364148596357504537

Helsinki

In Turku, on the coast exposed to the south-west, the climate is similar to that of Helsinki.

When to go



Summer, from June to August, is the best season to visit Finland. Temperatures are generally good for outdoor activities, hovering around 18/22 °C (64/72 °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 28/32 °C (82/90 °F). However, sometimes at night it can get cold, especially in Lapland.
The days are very long, especially in June, when you can admire the "white nights" in the south, and the midnight sun in the north (see Rovaniemi and Lapland). June is not as rainy as July, but it's a bit cooler.
It is worth while to recall that in Nordic countries generally from mid-August the summer begins to decline: the days get shorter (even though they remain long), and there is both a slight decrease in temperature and an increase in the number of rainy days.
The sun in Finland does not shine very often, even in summer, when there can be some rainy or cloudy days, but at least in this season the sky is not always overcast, and the sun often peeks through the clouds.

If you want to visit Finland in its winter appearance, the best month is March, when the country is still covered with snow, but the temperature is milder, and the days are longer than in the previous months.
Easter can be a good period, even when it is advanced, for cross-country skiing in the north, to take advantage of the longer days, and hoping for the sun to come out.
In the period from December to February, in addition to very short days (in the Christmas period the sun doesn't even rise in the north), sometimes there can be a bitter cold, even in the south, especially in January and February. In this period, however, you can experience the polar nights in the north and go in search of the northern lights. By February, the days start to become longer.

What to pack



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

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