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With the northern parts of Finland located inside the Arctic Circle, the country is a winter holiday heaven in January. From dog-sledding expeditions, and steamy saunas in traditional log cabins, to cold-water dips in the Arctic Ocean or Lapland lakes, you can find plenty of things to do in Finland in January. And if the winter condition gets too harsh for you, there are also plenty of indoor attractions around the country to keep you engaged and entertained to make your Finland holiday memorable.
- Wisam Al Badr
Finland’s weather varies depending on where you are. Winter in the north is extreme, with shorter days, heaps of snow, and frigid temperatures. In Lapland, the temperature regularly plummets to -12℃ at night, with an 81 percent chance of snow on any given day in January. Helsinki benefits from the city’s proximity to relatively warmer waters of the Gulf Stream. However, the city’s daily temperature average is still cold, ranging between -1℃ and -6℃. It gets colder towards the month’s end when the daytime high barely exceeds -2℃.
For a seasonal overview, check out our guide on the best time to visit Finland.
Weather in Finland in January - 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)||0||-1||-1|
|Avg Nightly (°C)||-7||-9||-10|
|Avg Daily (°F)||32||31||31|
|Avg Nightly (°F)||20||16||14|
|Avg Rainfall (mm)||60||60||40|
Finnish infrastructure is geared to function during the cold winter weather. So getting around won’t be a problem, although some tourist facilities close for the winter. Still, there are several reasons why you should visit Finland in January. Here are some:
- The Northern Lights: January is the best month to view the aurora borealis. The sun sets at around 2 PM in Lapland and does not rise until 10 AM. These long nights and clear skies make viewing this natural phenomenon easy. The town of Saariselkä, close to the Russian border in eastern Lapland, is a popular base for viewing the Northern Lights.
- Sleep in an Igloo Hotel: The hospitable Finnish people know how to make visitors feel warm and welcome. Their ice hotels are built by hand every winter to provide guests with the unique experience of sleeping on a bed of furs in a room carved out of solid ice. You can also sleep in a glass igloo where you will have a perfect view of the stars in the January sky.
- Winter in Helsinki: If you travel to Helsinki in January, you will find a city of bright lights and frozen waterways. When it is cold outside, Helsinki has plenty of indoor draws to keep you warm. The fortress island of Suomenlinna has several intriguing museums and galleries. These include the Museum of Contemporary Art and the quirky art museum, Amos Rex. Saunas are a Finnish invention; there is one for every person in the country. The Finland capital is a great place to have a Finnish sauna experience.
- Ski Your Heart Out in Lapland: The town of Äkäslompolo is the base for skiing adventures in the Yllästuntui ski resort. In January, the resort is in full swing. You can find 330 kilometers of cross-country skiing trails and 61 alpine ski slopes accessed by 29 lifts here.
Plan your travel around the icy attractions mixed with indoor escapades if you are visiting Finland in January. Many of Finland’s lakeside and coastal summer resorts become winter playgrounds, and you can rent a cottage as a base for dog-sledding, ice-fishing, and ice-skating adventures.
If you travel to Kuusamo, up in Lapland, the nearby Ruka Ski Resort is one of the largest in Finland. The Kuusamo region has thousands of small lakes perfect for ice-skating. You can also explore the snow-clad forests from the comfort of a reindeer-drawn sleigh. Likewise, the Holy Cross Church in Kuusamo contains a pair of ancient bells saved during WW2 by the actions of some German soldiers and the city’s Kaamos Gallery houses a collection of superb Finnish artworks.
Further north, the Lappish city of Rovaniemi – the traditional home of Santa Claus — sits on the edge of the Arctic Circle. Here you can also witness the Northern Lights. Numerous tour operators offer guided aurora-viewing trips from the city. If you have your transport, you can escape the lights of downtown into the dark wilderness of the woods. Rebuilt after WW2, Rovaniemi is laid out in the shape of a reindeer’s head.
The Finnish people embrace the cold January weather with joy and exuberance. A visit to Finland in January will let you experience their distinctive culture and embrace the country’s unique natural environment in a way that is entirely different from the summer months. And what is more, there is abundant fun and activities if you are a snowsport enthusiast.
Reach out to our local travel experts if you need help planning a customized trip to Finland. You can also check out our guide on how many days to spend in Finland for a detailed itinerary suiting your need. Or, browse through our Finland trips in January for inspiration.