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The Finnish Lapland is the mythical home of Santa Claus, and Rovaniemi is a must-visit if you want to meet Father Christmas himself and get into the festive spirit. The snow-blanketed landscapes make this an ideal time to enjoy outdoor pursuits like dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and Arctic swimming. You can also relax in steamy saunas, marvel at Helskini’s diverse architecture, and enjoy Nordic cuisine. A trip to Finland in December conjures images of a winter wonderland with snow-capped trees, fleet-footed reindeer, dog sledding through the snow, and the magical Northern Lights.
- Wisam Al Badr
Even though December is the first official month of winter in Finland, snow has been falling for a few weeks, and temperatures are steadily dropping. December has the shortest days of the year with minimal sunshine. In Helsinki and southern Finland, you get only about six hours of daylight, while the sun does not even rise in the northern parts of Lapland.
The average temperature throughout the country is -4°C. But it is usually much colder in the north, with the mercury dipping to as low as -15°C. The further north you venture, the colder and darker it gets. The snow gets thicker as well, so outdoor activities will be very limited.
For a seasonal overview of Finland's weather, visit our guide on the best time to visit Finland.
Weather in Finland in December - Rainfall and Temperatures
|Avg Daily (°C)||-1||-1||2||8||15||19||21||19||14||8||2||0|
|Avg Nightly (°C)||-9||-10||-6||-1||4||9||12||11||6||3||-2||-7|
|Avg Daily (°F)||31||31||36||47||59||67||70||67||58||47||36||32|
|Avg Nightly (°F)||16||14||22||31||40||49||54||52||43||38||29||20|
|Avg Rainfall (mm)||60||40||40||30||40||60||70||90||80||70||80||60|
|Avg Daily (°C)||2||0||-1|
|Avg Nightly (°C)||-2||-7||-9|
|Avg Daily (°F)||36||32||31|
|Avg Nightly (°F)||29||20||16|
|Avg Rainfall (mm)||80||60||60|
Finland is bustling with tourists in December despite the cold weather. Helsinki, in particular, sees an influx of international visitors coming to experience a truly white Christmas, while Lapland welcomes both local and international travelers, heading to the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. Here are some of the top things to see and do in Finland in December:
- Igloo Hotels: Lapland has several ice hotels built by hand each winter. The hand-carved rooms have transparent domes so you can lie in bed and gaze at the Northern Lights or starry night sky above you.
- Marvelous Helsinki: The capital of Finland is a Unesco City of Design and world-renowned for its incredible architecture, which ranges from the magnificent neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral to the striking futuristic Finlandia Hall. Visit the Unesco-listed fortress islands of Suomenlinna for a day or wander around the Amos Rex contemporary art museum.
- Christmas Shopping: Stroll around the Christmas markets in Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Porvoo, Oulu, Turku, and Tampere, where you can find some unique Nordic treasures.
- Snowsports: Finnish Lapland is a haven for fun winter activities in December when the landscapes are blanketed in thick snow. This is a perfect time to enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog- and reindeer-sledding. If you are really brave, have an Arctic swim in one of the frozen lakes.
- Independence Day: December 6th is a public holiday in Finland, commemorating the country’s independence from Russia in 1917. The Finns are proud of this day and hang the Finnish flag in windows and decorate cakes in the colors of the flag. A special service is also held in the Helsinki Cathedral.
Finland’s Lapland is one of the country’s most beautiful popular spots to visit in December and if you have limited time, make the trip north. Not only is it home to Santa Clause, but you can also meet the man in red in Rovaniemi. Furthermore, the snow-blanketed countryside offers a wealth of fun snow sports.
While you are in Lapland, make it a point of visiting Kakslauttanen—a beautiful winter resort home to an Igloo Village where you can live like an Eskimo for a few days. The nearby Urho Kekkonen National Park is a great spot for looking at the northern lights.
Take a trip on the Sampo Icebreaker vessel from Kemi, where you take in the spectacular coastline and brave the icy waters for a dip in the Arctic Sea.
Get into the Christmas spirit by wandering around the Christmas markets in Helsinki or some of Finland’s other lesser-known cities like Porvoo, Jyväskylä, or Turku. Be sure to stay warm by sipping on Finnish glögi (mulled wine) as you meander around the stalls.
Helsinki is also globally renowned for its Nordic architecture and design, and it is worth spending a few days exploring the city. Take in the Unesco-listed Suomenlinna, the Helsinki Cathedral, and the National Museum of Helsinki. And lastly, do not forget to try some tasty Nordic cuisines, such as Souvas, Arctic Char, Finnish meatballs, and salty Nordic licorice.
Finland is magical despite the cold and snowy weather conditions of December. Christmas spirit pervades the air during this time of year. Finland’s cities are brightly lit and the holiday markets selling beautiful decorations and gifts are everywhere. Meanwhile, the country’s snow-covered landscapes are also in prime condition for enjoying a range of snow activities.
Chat to one of our travel experts in Finland who can help you design a tailor-made trip to Finland. Or check out our Finland tours in December for inspiration.