Seeing the aurora borealis is one of the most common bucket list items out there — and Finnish Lapland is one of the best places to do it!
North of the Arctic Circle, you can see the Northern lights in Finland from the end of August through the end of April, though your best chance of seeing the lights tends to fall between December and March.
When I saw the Northern lights in Finland, it was in the first week of February, and the lights were spectacular!
While Abisko National Park in Sweden is one of the best places to see the Northern lights according to scientists, Finland is a close second for aurora hunting.
This is because areas close to water, like Iceland and coastal Norway, tend to have more cloud cover, which makes it hard to see the lights.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for Tromso Northern lights tours to end up in Finland — that’s just where the lights dance the most!
So get ready to enjoy a marvelous winter wonderland at some of the best hotels in Finland for observing the Northern lights.
How to Get to Finnish Lapland
The best way typically is to fly into Helsinki (which is also a great winter destination!) and then take a connecting flight to one of the three major airports in Finnish Lapland: Rovaniemi Airport, Kittila Airport, and Ivalo Airport, listed in order from southernmost to northernmost.
Rovaniemi is the most popular base for Finnish Lapland adventures because it’s home to Santa Claus Village — but that also means it is the busiest and most light-polluted area, so you’ll want to stay outside of the city center for a better chance of seeing the skies.
As you go further and further north, the Northern skies will be clearer and afford you more spectacular aurora displays!
I’ve broken down this post into three sections, corresponding to the nearest airport for each, since that is a big factor when planning your trip.
Another question people often ask is do you need to rent a car? Frankly, it depends. Unless you’re a seasoned (ha) winter driver, I would say no — it’s safer and likely more economical to simply book transfers or taxis from the airport to your destinations.
Once at your Finland Northern lights hotel, many of the activities are organized on-site, and you won’t have to worry about transportation.
However, if you prefer the comfort and freedom that having a rental car gives you, it may be a good choice. If you do opt to rent a car, Rovaniemi Airport will have the most options and the best prices on car rentals.
I recommend searching with Discover Cars, which browses through a database of over 500 rental car agencies to find the best price for your rental.
What to Pack to Take Photos of the Northern Lights
Mirrorless or DSLR Camera | Personally, I prefer mirrorless cameras because they are really lightweight. Ever since I started blogging in 2016, I’ve been using the Sony mirrorless series.
I now use a Sony A7 II camera body, which is a step-down from their top-tier full frame camera, but it is still professional grade. Before that, I was using a Sony A6000, which is a more affordable option.
As a rule of thumb, full frame camera gear tends to be pricier than crop sensor gear, but you will be able to capture a lot more of the night sky with a full frame camera with a wide angle lens than you will with a crop sensor, which has a magnifying effect.
Lens Warmer | If you have a large camera lens, you may want to grab a lens warmer which will keep your camera from icing up.
Sounds weird, but trust me, it happens a lot when shooting the Northern lights (take it from me!)
Hand Warmers | It gets super cold while waiting for the Northern lights a lot of the time!
These rechargeable hand warmers are great to keep in your gloves or mittens, or in your pocket to keep your batteries warm!
Extra camera batteries | Be sure to have lots of extra batteries with you, fully charged.
The cold will zap the battery way faster than you are used to! This four-pack of Sony-compatible batteries will serve you well.
Tripod | You’ll absolutely want a sturdy tripod to stabilize your camera for Northern lights photos in Finland. I suggest setting up a two-second delay on taking photos, so that there is no camera shake from you pressing the shutter button.
The Sony cameras also have a feature where you can control snapping photos with your smartphone, which will also reduce the potential shake but allow you more control of when exactly you snap the photo, so you don’t miss anything.
You don’t need a super expensive tripod, but it does need to have a little heft to it so that wind does not shake it and blur your photos, so resist the urge to buy the cheapest possible Amazon option.
Best Northern Lights Hotels in Finland
Rovaniemi Northern Lights Hotels in Finland (& Near Rovaniemi Airport)
Arctic Treehouse Hotel – View Property Here
For a unique and memorable stay watching the Northern lights in Finland, the Arctic Treehouse Hotel is hard to beat.
Despite the treehouse name, it has a ton of modern amenities, including all the things you’d expect like WiFi.
So, why treehouse in the name? Well, the Arctic Treehouse Hotel features unique mini-cabins perched on stilts for a perfect unobstructed view.
Each room houses a cozy bed that faces an enormous panoramic window — perfect for watching the Northern lights, even without leaving bed!
Each cabin suite has an en-suite bathroom, and some even have kitchenettes in case you prefer to self-cater during your stay, although there is also an on-site restaurant.
There are also Arctic Glass Houses which are more like a chalet, but with tons and tons of windows so you can see the aurora from any room in the house.
These private chalets also include an en-suite sauna in addition to a kitchenette, two bathrooms, and space for up to four guests.
There’s also the Arctic Scene Executive Suite, which has its own private sauna and bathtub — perfect if you’re coming to Rovaniemi for a honeymoon, anniversary, or celebration and want an extra special experience!
This hotel is located right next to Santa Park (perfect if you have kids who want to meet ‘Santa Claus’) and a short distance from all the amenities in town at Rovaniemi, including Santa Claus Village.
The staff is also happy to help you organize all sorts of Finnish winter activities like cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobile rides, dog sledding, and more!
Apukka Resort – View Property Here
Because it’s located a bit outside of the town of Rovaniemi, you’ll be able to enjoy beautifully clear night skies without the light pollution of the city.
This magical place is truly unforgettable: we’re talking glass igloos, an ice sauna (what?!), and even moveable saunas that are portable and transported on skis!
You can also rent a private sauna and Jacuzzi experience, with either an electric sauna or the traditional wood-heated sauna.
Apukka Resort is also home to a husky and reindeer farm, so you can go on a husky safari or try a reindeer safari with the reindeer that were — and are — so important to the indigenous Sami people who are the original stewards of this land. They also offer horse sleigh rides.
One of the coolest things about Apukka Resort is how you can stay in glass roof cabins (called Aurora Cabins) that offer you incredible views of the Northern lights dancing overhead as you lay on your back in bed!
They also have larger suites such as the Lappish Luxury Suite and the Lappish Kammi Suite, which still offer all the views of a glass roof but with more amenities inside.
There are also apartments with wide, panoramic windows offering stunning lake views — many of which also offer sunrise views, as another show after the Northern lights dance all night!
All cabins include an en-suite bathroom so you won’t have to worry about going outside in the cold in the middle of the night! A free breakfast is also included.
Northern Lights Hotels in Finland (Near Levi & Kittilä Airport)
Levin Iglut – View Property Here
Located a short drive from Levi, one of the main areas for downhill skiing in Northern Finland, Levin Iglut is a fantastic option for where to stay for epic sky views!
Even though Levi is a big ski destination, Levin Iglut is no average ski resort! It’s perfect for Northern lights viewing, with unique igloos with glass ceilings so you can perfectly enjoy the aurora.
The glass ceilings aren’t just ceilings, too; there are glass windows as well, giving you practically 360-degree views of the Northern lights (convenient, as sometimes, they might be located to the right or left of you, and rooms that only have one window might not get full views of the sky!).
Of all the igloo hotels in Finland, I think Levin Iglut is the most sophisticated. The igloo rooms enjoy decor that would be beautiful even in a standard hotel room, and the private bathrooms are exquisite and spa-like.
The on-site restaurant serves fine dining that is elevated so that it looks as beautiful as it tastes!
Despite being a bit far from Rovaniemi area, it’s still quite convenient to access: it’s just 11 miles from the Kittilä Airport and 5 miles from the Levi Ski Resort.
Northern Lights Village – View Property Here
Another great Northern lights hotel option in Saariselkä, near to Levi, is Northern Lights Village. It even has its own reindeer paddock, where you can meet the local reindeer!
The rooms feature glass roofs so you can see the Northern lights while you relax in bed.
The Aurora Cabin rooms are designed beautifully, with wood paneling on a large portion of the room, then opening up to several panels of glass.
From these panels, you can enjoy views of the snowy forest by day and hopefully the aurora by night!
The rooms also have a seating area and en-suite bathroom included in each unit.
On the property, there is also an on-site restaurant specializing in the cuisine of Lapland, so you can eat well without having to trek into town. Best of all? Dinner is included in your rental price!
There’s also an on-site sauna that is available for guests to use — you are in Finland, after all!
Aurora Pyramid Glass Igloo – View Property Here
Meet the new evolution of glass igloos in Finland: pyramid glass igloos!
This unique hotel, Aurora Pyramid Glass Igloo, is brand new. It’s located 4 miles from Levi and 11 miles from Kittila Airport, making it a convenient stay especially if you want to do a mixed ski holiday and Northern lights chasing trip.
The glass pyramids feature incredible views from every direction, with amenities like a kitchenette, en-suite bathroom, and seating areas.
Admire the incredible views while being close to all the comforts that Levi offers!
Northern Lights Hotels in Finland (Near Ivalo Airport)
Aurora Village Ivalo – View Property Here
Ivalo is a quiet, remote area of Finland located about 21 miles from Saariselkä and 25 miles from Inari.
Aurora Village Ivalo is located just 8 miles away from the Ivalo Airport, though, making it relatively easy to get somewhere so remote!
This stunning property has the unique cabins with glass roofs, allowing you to watch the spectacular views of the Northern lights undulate overhead while you’re lounging in bed.
There is an on-site restaurant serving up new Nordic cuisine. The dishes are absolutely exquisite, using local ingredients and beautiful plating.
There’s also a tour concierge who can help you plan the Finnish Lapland trip of your dreams — from dog sledding to snowshoeing, the Finnish winter wonderland is right at your doorstep.
There’s also a glass sauna — yes, you can watch the Northern lights from a sauna at Aurora Village Ivalo!
This is a unique offering I haven’t seen at any other Northern lights hotels in Finland (or anywhere else, for that matter, but nothing gets between a Finn and their sauna).
There’s also an outdoor hot tub which is another fantastic place to spot the lights.
The cabins all have their own coffee machine, seating area, and en-suite bathroom with toiletries and hair dryer — it’s amazing how much fits into these small but scenic cabins!
Wilderness Hotel Inari & Igloos – View Property Here
For a beautiful, remote lakeside stay, Wilderness Hotel Inari & Igloos is a fantastic choice.
The hotel takes inspiration from the Sami culture which informs much of Northern Norwegian life and culture, in its food, decor, and architecture.
There are several options for the kind of accommodation at this hotel.
The most affordable room style is the Wilderness Room, which is your typical hotel room with Scandinavian and Nordic design elements. It’s comfortable and has an en-suite bathroom, but isn’t as unique an offering as the other room types at this hotel.
Another great choice are the Arctic Chalets with large panoramic windows for seeing the Northern lights from your window — and these come complete with a private sauna! These are also quite reasonably priced.
Another option are their Log Cabins, which include a cabin and a fireplace, which can sleep six — you’ll have to inquire directly with the hotel regarding this, as it’s not available on the booking website.
But the reason most people come to Wilderness Hotel Inari is for their Aurora Cabins, which feature several panels of glass shaped similarly to a Sami lavvo (similar to a tipi).
This is where you’ve seen those viral photos of a person in bed with the Northern lights dancing all around them through the paneled glass windows.
In terms of amenities, there is an onsite restaurant that serves Northern Finnish cuisine including dishes like reindeer and moose, well as an on-site sauna for communal use.
All sorts of activities are also on offer here, including snowmobiling, husky safaris, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and aurora chasing tours.
Star Arctic Hotel – View Property Here
Located on top of a beautiful mountain, you can enjoy some of the best views of the aurora you can possibly imagine at Star Arctic Hotel!
Just 17 miles from Ivalo Airport and yet feeling like another world atop beautiful Kaunispää Mountain, the property has everything you need to feel at home and tick seeing the Northern lights off your bucket list.
This hotel doesn’t have “glass igloos” per se but it does have Aurora Cabins, which feature pyramid-shaped glass roofs that give a similar 360-degree effect from the bedroom portion of the cabin.
There are also View Suites which do not have the glass roof, but do have large panoramic windows, as well as View Suites that also come with en-suite saunas!
As with all the other Finland Northern lights hotels on this list, they can assist you with any winter activity bookings you want to make, from dog sledding to snowmobiling and beyond!
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort Igloos and Chalets – View Property Here
One of the classics of Northern lights hotels, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is one of the most famous glass igloo hotels in Northern Finland.
In fact, when you think of glass igloos in Finland, this is probably the property that comes to mind.
Located way in the North, far from light pollution, you can enjoy pristine skies many nights of the year at Kakslauttanen.
However, since this is the original, it is one of the more expensive offerings, and its reviews are not quite as good as newer glass igloo hotels in Finland – so I’d personally look elsewhere.
Other Northern Lights Hotels in Finland
Seaside Glass Villas – View Property Here
While located in Kemi — not technically part of Lapland — the Seaside Glass Villas are another possible choice for a Northern lights hotel.
These villages feature glass windows on the ceiling, in front of the bed, and on one full side of the bedroom area (all the side windows can be covered up with curtains for privacy), with one wooden-paneled wall.
There’s also a cozy sauna to enjoy and walks along the seaside can be spectacular.
However, do note that Kemi is further south than Rovaniemi, not to mention other Northern lights hotels which are even further north (and therefore, a lot more likely to get better aurora displays!)
Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend this as my top choice for a Northern lights hotel, even though it does look spectacular, simply because Kemi is not the most predictable place to see the Northern lights.
What Causes the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights are an entirely natural phenomenon that occurs when gas particles that are free-floating in the Earth’s atmosphere interact and collide with other particles released by the sun.
These particles from the sun occur after solar storms produce massive clouds of particles that are electrically charged (ions) — and when they collide with the Earth at certain latitudes, the magnetic fields of the Earth create beautiful light shows.
The different colors of the aurora relate to different gases, as well as how high the particles are when they interact.
The most common color you’ll see is green, which is characteristic of low-altitude oxygen. If you see a scarlet red, that’s also oxygen, but interacting at a high altitude (which is atypical unless there is high solar activity).
You may also see purple, pink, and blue, which are caused by nitrogen particles.
Keep in mind that photos you see of the aurora are typically more intense than the Northern lights you see in person.
This is because the eye takes in light information at, well, the speed of light, whereas as a camera taking photographs of the northern lights is typically set on a tripod and takes photos for anywhere from 1-5 seconds, which allows for more light collection and thus more vibrant color.
This is not to say that the photos are altered per se, but that the camera “sees” differently than the human eye does.
That said, I’ve seen the Northern lights on nearly a dozen separate occasions, and you can absolutely see the lights with your naked eye quite dramatically when they are particularly active, and I’ve even been able to snap good photos with a simple smart phone.
Allison Green is a former educator turned travel blogger. She holds a Masters in Teaching and a B.A. in English and Creative Writing. Her blog posts merge her educational background and her experience traveling to 60+ countries to encourage thoughtful travel experiences that both educate and entertain. She has been a speaker at the World Travel Writers Conference and her writing, photography, and podcasting work has appeared in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, CBC Canada, and Forbes, amongst others. Now based in San Francisco Bay Area where she grew up, she has also lived in Prague, Sofia, and New York City.