Travel Guide: Northern Lights in Finland with Kid in Tow

Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, the rainbow bridge to Asgard, call it what you will, this natural phenomenon is fascinating. And with the help of social media, has made its way onto the bucket lists of many, including ours. But where are the Northern Lights? And where is the best place to see the Northern Lights? This travel guide will take you to Finland, way, way north to Lapland. A place where the creative faculties of the mind are inspired, where fantasy worlds are born and where one of the greatest legends we recall today lives on.


Northern Lights, The NOrthern LIghts, Where are the northern lights, Best place to see the northern lights, travel guide, Finland, Lapland FinlandPhoto Visit Finland


Finland – Where is Lapland and How do I Get There?


Where is Lapland? That’s a funny question. There’s Swedish Lapland and the “Lappish region” in Norway which is called Finnmark. Then there’s Lapland Finland which is often called Finnish Lapland and borders Norway, Sweden and Russia. Confused yet?

To make it easier we’ll just say it’s a cultural region which spans northern Fennoscandia, including parts of Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia.

Our journey started from the sunny shores of Florida’s Gulf Coast and took us all the way to Lapland Finland, more specifically, its capital city, Rovaneimi — home to a piece of the Arctic Circle, reindeer, Santa Claus and more snow than Narnia (and that’s just the half of it).

For trip planning to Finland try their visitor’s site.


Here are the deets on getting there and where to stay:

  • You will want to take any major transatlantic flight to get you “over the pond” so to speak. If you’re in the U.K. flights are easy right into Helsinki.
  • Travel Hack – look for the sale flight to any northern European destination then fly into Helsinki followed by a final flight to Rovaneimi.
  • Get a transfer from the airport to your hotel 24 EU.
  • Be sure to look at flight times and layovers as this journey can be a lengthy one.


We stayed at Lapland Hotel Sky Ounasvaara. Tucked away on a hillside overlooking the city, Hotel Sky was the perfect retreat after spending our days in the snow. We had our very own en suite Finnish Sauna and a portrait window overlooking a winter wonderland. They also have a rooftop where some of the best Auroras can be viewed. They will set an alarm to tell you when they are active.



So Where are the Northern Lights Anyway?

Glad you asked. If you’re just looking for wilderness and Northern Lights you can find that in a few places —  Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia and sometimes even in the UK. Many ask “where is the best place to see the Northern Lights?”. According to this website it’s Svalbard, maybe.


Northern Lights, The NOrthern LIghts, Where are the northern lights, Best place to see the northern lights, travel guide, Finland, Lapland FinlandPhoto Mone Loe Creative Commons License


The best place to view the Northern Lights depends on what your vision of ‘best’ is. Do you want to journey to Middle Earth and pitch a tent in sub-zero climates? Maybe you are more of a ride out on a snowmobile into the wilderness type (then enjoy your sauna and warm hotel room later)?

“Best” is relative.

All these places get activity, but in Rovaneimi you get the best of both worlds. And when you’re traveling with a kid in tow trust me, you want the warm cozy bed. 




Our Northern Lights Experience with Lapland Safaris

This was our third attempt to see the famed Northern Lights, and this time we meant business. The kind of business which gets you mounting a snowmobile for an evening safari into the wilderness of the Arctic Circle.

When you’re a single mom who gets to ride into the night with your only seven-year old boy to an area of wilderness, where you roast hot dogs and drink hot berry juice to the Northern Lights (let’s be real, the rainbow bridge to Asgard), you are winning. Winning big time.

Now before you say it, yes, they let me drive the snowmobile. I know, I know, after twenty years in Florida it’s almost criminal to say it. I’ve officially trekked a frozen river on a snowmobile in the Arctic, yet I’ve never ridden (much less driven) a jet ski. I even have the official diploma to prove it.

And laughter ensues…

Let’s circle back. I got to drive my very own snow mobile! On a frozen river! Into the wilderness! Beneath the magic of the Northern Lights! The roasted wieners were a bonus in my opinion!


Northern Lights, The NOrthern LIghts, Where are the northern lights, Best place to see the northern lights, travel guide, Finland, Lapland Finland

Snowmobile Safari with Lapland Safaris – Photo Lapland Safaris


Meanwhile, the Little got the “Prince Little” treatment as he was chauffeured in his very own special sleigh (which our incredible tour Guide led). And that’s exactly what every guest with Lapland Safaris gets to do. 

But I’ll freeze!

I know! That’s why Lapland Safaris has an entire location dedicated to your warm and fuzziness! You get suited up, head to toe, with the best thermal gear money can buy. Kids too! Everyone is snug as a bug riding into the night. Just watch this video and you’ll see what I’m talking about!


The Safari Trek

  • Everyone received training on how to operate their snow mobile
  • Couples rode in two’s
  • I rode alone while my son was carted in his own sled with wool blankets

I wasn’t the least bit nervous about riding onto a frozen river. I was far too amazed by the quietness which seemed louder than the engine of my mobile.

After about twenty minutes of therapeutic riding we came to the forest trail head. Birch and pine trees towered over us, completely covered in snow, as if they were dipped into a bucket of powder and every flake just stuck.


Northern Lights, The NOrthern LIghts, Where are the northern lights, Best place to see the northern lights, travel guide, Finland, Lapland FinlandPhoto Paul Williams Creative Commons License


The snow-covered trail wound its way over little hills and finally to an open space. From here we hiked a short distance to a Kota (a tee pee for the Native Laplanders called Sami) where we roasted hot dogs and drank warm berry juice. Our guides told us all about the Northern Lights and how they are formed.

If I said this was magical I would be discounting it terribly. It was extraordinary. How’s that for a home school science lesson.

I packed more fun with the Darth Vader hard case carry on from American Tourister!

I packed more fun with the Darth Vader hard case carry on from American Tourister!

Things You Should Know about Seeing the Northern Lights in Lapland Finland

  • Think about your chances of seeing rain in the rainy season. You know it’s a good chance but there are no guarantees. If you really want to catch the Northern lights you need to plan. This is a great prediction tool.
  • Catching the magical phenomenon requires clear and dark skies and a viewing spot not affected by light pollution, like street lights and neon signs.
  • In Rovaniemi, you don’t have to walk far from the city center to find a good spot, and really strong Auroras can be seen even with interference from artificial light.

Tips for Doing this Trip with Your Kid(s)

I’m going to pull a Captain Obvious here, It’s cold in the Arctic Circle. To make sure this trip is a happy place for everyone, proper planning is required. This is also an incredible educational experience for children of all ages and a perfect opportunity to educate them on the world around us!

  • Warmth lives in the base layer. So does the cold. Choose the right fabric to wick away moisture and lock in heat so you don’t cold.
  • You don’t need bulky ski gear. Lapland Safaris offers all of the necessary equipment for your excursions. If you want to play outside however, be mindful of the temperatures and dress according to the guide above.
  • Children can get cold faster than adults, and they might not even tell you. Ask them!
  • Use waterproof gloves. Kids love playing with snow. Snow turns to water when it melts again teh warmth of the body.
  • Don’t forget chap stick. There’s nothing worse than a cranky kid with chapped lips.
  • Educate before you go and during your trip. Here is a great video for kids on how the Northern Lights are made.



Just for Fun

Many legends come from the existence of Northern Lights. Here are some you may want to look up and tell your children.


Whether you’re flying overseas, from the U.K. or other European cities, A Northern Lights safari needs to be on your magical winter wonderland bucket list for 2016. You have this year to catch the end of the solar cycle flares and then it’s another ten years in waiting. So take off work and take in the sweet magic of Mother Nature in Finland.


What’s your idea of a magical winter wonderland? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss a post!


This article was sponsored by Visit Finland, Lapland Safaris, Lapland Hotels and American Tourister. This is no way changes our opinions, it just makes bringing you the deets affordable (and we’re okay with that).

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This guide is presented by American Tourister. Our travel philosophy is to pack more fun into every moment and every bag, like our Star Wars, Disney and Marvel luggage collections. Keep up with us by keeping an eye on #PackMoreFun!

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About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

38 Comments on this post

  1. The little man is quite intrepid. You are giving him the finest kind of education. I’ve seen Aurora Borealis, on a winter’s night, in Flagstaff, Arizona, where it was visible, due to us being at 8,000 feet, in the forest, and a solar flare was occurring.

    righteousbruin9 / Reply
  2. My husband and I were talking about going to see them up in Maine this summer. Sometimes you can see them all the way down here in MA 🙂

    Robin Rue (@massholemommy) / Reply
  3. Wow. It’s like something right out of a fantasy movie over there! I love the terrain next to those beautiful lights in the sky.

    Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle / Reply
  4. Looks and sounds like you had an amazing trip!! Seeing the Northern Lights is on my bucket list so thanks for these tips!!

    beckysbestbites / Reply
  5. Um, all I can say is WOW! It is hard to believe that this exists in real life. I would love to see it in person someday.

    Making Our Life Matter / Reply
  6. This would be the most amazing trip! I would love to take my kids to see this. It is so beautiful and awe inspiring!

    lisa / Reply
  7. I can’t even imagine how perfect a trip here would be. If I ever make it there, I’ll use your guide for my stay.

    Terri Ramsey Beavers / Reply
  8. These pics are simply gorgeous!! I hope to see the northern lights one day!!

    Ricci / Reply
  9. The Northern Lights are on my bucket list! I NEED to go somewhere where I can see them in full glory. NEED.

  10. It’s also one of my dreams to see the northern light. Oh, how I wish I can go to Finland.

    Miles Basilio / Reply
  11. It sound like you had an amazing wonderful time in Finland. These are gorgeous pictures of the Northern Lights in Finland. I would love to visit there some day. Here in the U. P. of Michigan we can see the Northern Lights sometimes. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Rebecca Swenor / Reply
  12. The northern lights are absolutely breathtaking! For a child to experience it is an amazing adventure and sometimes a once in a lifetime opportunity! So majestic and mystical!

    Kelli @ 3 Boys and a Dog / Reply
  13. That is so beautiful. I have never seen northern lights before. I would love to take my family there.

    wemake7 / Reply
  14. That is one of my long time dream, to see the northern light. My daughter especiallym would love to see it too.

    Chubskulit Rose / Reply
  15. This would be the most amazing trip! I would love to take my son to see this!

    Claudia krusch / Reply
  16. I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights. I think it would be such an amazing site to see. From looking at your photos it looks so beautiful!

    Kathy / Reply
  17. This is so amazing! It’s definitely going on my must see list! Imagine witnessing to this beauty!

    Kate Nox / Reply
  18. And everyone needs to hurry since after 2016 they won’t be visible for another 10 years!

    Robin Rue (@massholemommy) / Reply
  19. This sounds like quite an amazing adventure! I’m not big on anything related to the cold or snow but I really enjoy seeing the pictures of it.

    April Mims / Reply
  20. The northern lights are positively beautiful! This looks like such a fun trip and an amazing experience!

    Maggie Branch / Reply
  21. These photos are truly amazing. I would love to experience the Northern Lights and that would be a great place to see them.

    Gwendolyn Mulholland / Reply
  22. I have always wanted to see them in Alaska, I hear there are spots in the United States where the phenomena is also visible! I had no idea you could also see them in Finland, that’s neat! 🙂

    Tracy @ Ascending Butterfly

    ascendingbutterfly / Reply
  23. This is absolutely a great trip. Looks like I wanna go there with my family

    victoria / Reply
  24. Seeing the great lights is one of my dreams. This year would be great!

    Chubskulit Rose / Reply
  25. Amazing guide! It’s a dream to see the Northern lights in action. I’ll be beyond thrilled to see this live, so beautiful and magical. I love all the videos!!

  26. I know exactly how to get there now! I didn’t know the back ground about the Northern Lights, this post was very informational and detailed. Maybe one day I’ll get out there lol!

    John Lopez / Reply
  27. I cannot wait to see the Northern Lights someday. It’s on my bucket list of things to see before I die. So amazing

    Christie / Reply
  28. These are beautiful photos. I have always dreamed of seeing the Northern Lights in person. I will have to see if i can plan a trip for next year.

    Ann Bacciaglia / Reply
  29. These photos are breathaking! I have always wanted to visit ALL of the Scandinavian countries. I find them fascinating! I stayed briefly in Malmo Sweden on my way to Copenhagen years ago and fell in love with it! I have to wanted to travel through Northern Europe ever since.

    Lisa @bitesforbabies / Reply
  30. What an experience! So amazing! I would love to go there and experience those too.

    Lynndee / Reply
  31. I’ve never seen this light in my entire life, love this place.

    Ryan Escat / Reply

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