A journey to the Northern Lights in Lapland

An aurora is often referred to as northern or southern lights. It’s a natural light display in the Earth’s sky. This magical experience is predominantly seen in high-latitude regions. Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by the solar wind. Visiting such a phenomenon is a common experience on people’s bucket lists. But it’s not just about observing the lights. It’s about the journey, the adventure, and the experiences along the way. So, what better place to do so than Europe’s northern garden, Finland.

The northern lights
Northern Lights

Getting Here

Norwegian Air provided a service between London Gatwick and Helsinki Vantaa. Prices start at around 40 EUR (one way) and the journey takes just under 3 hours. Another popular choice amongst travelers is to fly into Tallinn Airport. Many choose to explore Estonia’s capital city before making their way across the Baltic Sea via ferry, which takes around 2 hours. Prices start at 15 EUR (one way).

A Ryanair plane
A Ryanair plane

The Adventure – Tallinn

Begin your journey in Tallinn, Estonia’s largest and most populous city. Once you touch down at Tallinn Airport, a tram will whiz you into the city center in around 20 minutes. This city is a traveler’s playground. Each street is smothered in character and charm. The narrow winding streets, the cobblestone roads, and the medieval buildings make for a scene from a Disney movie.

Tallinn Old Town in Winter
Tallinn Old Town in Winter

Getting lost in the Old Town is one of the most enjoyable things to do here. Stumble across roads and alleyways that seem like they’re still stuck in the 16th century. Great examples of this are Aida Street and Katariina Käik Street, arguably Tallinn’s prettiest streets. As the day moves on, take a well-earned stop at Must Puudel. Relax and refuel inside the fun and exciting walls of one of Tallinn’s most adorable cafés with top-quality food & drink. Once you’re finished, venture outside the city walls and admire one of Europe’s finest examples of a walled city.

For more information on visiting Tallinn, click on the link down below.

Tallinn – Helsinki Ferry

It’s now time to say goodbye to low-cost accommodation and budget-friendly drinks, as you got to make your way to the land of a thousand lakes. Tallinn ferry port is just a 20-minute walk from the city center. If you prefer, tram line 1 takes just 15 minutes and stops outside the terminal. There are a combined total of 13 sailings available per day on the Helsinki-Tallinn crossing between Finland and Estonia and with 3 ferry companies. Eckerö Line is the most budget-friendly of the three. For more information on ferries, click the link down below.

The Adventure – Helsinki

After just two hours, you’ll arrive in Helsinki. The white city of the north. From the Katajanokka terminal to the city center, it is about 5 minutes by taxi, 5 minutes by tram, or 15 minutes by foot. It is about 1.5 km from the main cathedral. Tram 4 and 4T connect this terminal to the city. Once you arrive in the city, it won’t be long until you notice how expensive it is, how beautiful it is, and how friendly the locals are.

The Helsinki Cathedral in Finland
The Helsinki Cathedral

Within a day, you will fall in love with this city. Even though this isn’t a budget-friendly city, there are countless free attractions or activities around the city. Most tourists begin their adventure in Helsinki at Senate Square where they can find the dominating Helsinki Cathedral. This church was built in 1830 as a tribute to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. If you need a boost of energy, the Regatta café is the ideal spot to do so. You can sip on a delicious coffee while grilling a sausage on the outdoor firepit and take in the gorgeous views of the lake.

A lake in Helsinki
A view of a lake in Helsinki

There’s plenty of things to keep you entertained here, but one not-to-miss site is Suomenlinna. Take a 20-minute ferry out to this UNESCO World Heritage site. The island is home to a sea fort with historical museums and many walking trails, where tourists and locals come to draw in the breath-taking scenery. No matter how long you stay in the city, you won’t have enough time to explore everything. This means you need to plan and decide whether or not you want to visit Temppeliaukio Church, Sibelius monument, Museum of Contemporary art, or some other attraction.

For more information on visiting Helsinki, click on the link down below.

The Adventure – Night Train

This is more than just a mode of transport that gets from A to B. This is a sightseeing tour of Finland’s best landscapes. The journey takes around 11 hours and ventures north along Finland’s west coast, passing through cities such as Tampere and Oulu. A seat (one way) costs around 35 EUR, while a cabin is around 70 EUR (one way). If you decide to get the late train at around 18:30, this will cover the cost of a night’s accommodation in Rovaniemi.

For more information, click the link down below.

A train in Helsinki station
A train in Helsinki station

The Adventure – Rovaniemi

This is the final leg of the journey, and the reason for coming here is closing in on sight. But first, it’s time to explore this modern Finnish city. Visitors flock to the streets during Christmas, but outside this timeframe, the city is a ghost town for foreign tourists. Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland and was almost destroyed during World War II. Today, the city has seen a Renaissance with its trendy bistros and multi-story shopping center. If you wish to learn about the local area, the Arktikum museum should be at the top of your list of things to do.

A bridge in Rovaniemi, Finland
A bridge in Rovaniemi

Now it’s time to accomplish what you came out here to do, witness the Northern Lights. There’s plenty of spots to choose from around the city. Depending on how long you’re staying, you might want to view the lights from a couple of different spots.

The most convenient place to spot the lights is at Arktikum Park, just a 5-minute walk from Rovaniemi city center. Another favorable location is Ounasvaara fell. Not only do you get a glimpse of the lights, but you get to see this outdoor paradise. Those wishing to see the lights are their very best should visit Pyhä-Luosto National Park. There is no light pollution, so you’ll be able to capture a clear image of the sky lit up beautifully at night.

Northern lights in Finland
Nothern lights in Finland

For more information on visiting Rovaniemi, click on the link down below.


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