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What is the best time to visit Helsinki? Finnish seasons explained

What is the best time to visit Helsinki? Finnish seasons explained

It's always a good time to visit Helsinki! But here's what you should be prepared for.

Best time to visit Helsinki? Dealer's choice, really. Helsinki experiences four seasons and each one of them offers something different. But it's safe to say summer is what most people would recommend as the best time to visit this Nordic capital.

Summer is the best time to visit Helsinki (June-August)

Late spring in Helsinki

My personal recommendation for visiting Helsinki is summertime (from June to August) and I bet the majority of my fellow Helsinkians would agree. Helsinki really comes to life during the summer months.

The weather is not too hot, not too cold – just right. Sun sets late and parks are filled with people enjoying picnics and drinks. Summer is short and we enjoy it to the fullest. You'll find the majority of events (concerts, festivals) take place in the summer.

And although you might not think of Helsinki as a great beach destination, it does have some beaches too. Maybe not Cancún but you can enjoy a beach day and a dip in the sea in Helsinki.

If you're looking for festivals, you'll have plenty to choose from in the summertime. Music lovers will visit Sideways in June or Flow in early August. If your heart beats to a heavier tune, go for the heavy metal festival Tuska in early July.

And if art in all its forms is your jam, make sure to visit Helsinki during Taiteiden yö (“Night of the arts”) in August when different art spectacles and workshops spread around the whole city.

What's the weather like in Helsinki in the summer?

There are no guarantees when it comes to weather in Helsinki but overall the temperatures tend to be mild and warm, not too hot. The average temperature in July is around 19 °C degrees.

The temperature might rise up to 30+ °C, but that's rare. During daytime you can expect anything around 20 °C, but do check the weather forecast before packing your suitcase. July is actually the rainiest month of the year so be prepared for some summer rains.

Let there be light, lots of it

Finland is a northern country which means bright and light-filled summer days. The longest day is celebrated in June (Midsummer or Juhannus) and on the longest day the sun sets at around 11 pm and rises again at around 4 am. Long days are lovely but if you're a light sleeper, bring a sleep mask or make sure your accommodation comes with sturdy curtains or window blinds.

What holidays are celebrated in the summer? Midsummer is the biggest festivity in the summer. This means some stores, restaurants and museums are closed but there's still a lot to do. You can visit islands around Helsinki and experience some typical Midsummer celebrations.

Traditionally Midsummer has cleared out the city as the residents have headed to their summer houses in the countryside but I'd argue this is not the case any more. The city is quieter than usual but more and more people opt to spend the holiday in a more urban setting.

Fall in Helsinki (September-November)

Winter in Helsinki

Fall in Helsinki brings colder weather and bright colors of foliage. September-October is a good time to visit Helsinki if you want to avoid tourists. Add an extra layer (maybe a waterproof one) and enjoy quiet walks around the city.

Fall is a great time to make a day trip to a national park. Nuuksio park is the closest national park to Helsinki and it's located in Espoo (Espoo is a neighboring city to Helsinki). Pack a picnic and enjoy a day in the woods. The routes are marked so you don't need a map, just pack good shoes. The great thing about Nuuksio is that you don't even need a car. You can reach the park with public transportation.

What holidays are celebrated in the fall?

There are no major holidays in fall. All Saints Day is celebrated at the end of October and it might close some shops or affect public transportation. Cemeteries will be lit with candles people bring to the graves of their loved ones but otherwise it's not a particularly big holiday. It's more likely you'll find some American-style Halloween decorations in the city although we don't have the tradition of trick-or-treating – at least no yet.

Winter in Helsinki (December-February)

Winter in Helsinki

Winter in Helsinki is cold and dark but it doesn't mean it's a bad time to visit! Helsinki is beautiful in the winter, but don't expect to find a Laplandish winter wonderland. We usually get snow even in southern Finland and in January-February the landscape can be stunning, but the Helsinki snowscapes don't quite compare to Lapland.

If you visit in November-December, you'll find Helsinki decorated with some lovely holiday lights. This is also the perfect season to visit the Christmas market and enjoy some glögi, our (usually non-alcoholic) version of mulled wine.

Finland is famous for its sauna culture and while we enjoy sauna all year long, the dark and cold winter season is a wonderful time to cozy up in the pampering heat of a sauna.

During the coldest months, the sea off the coast of Helsinki freezes. You can walk on the ice which can be a peculiar experience. The ice has to be thick and sturdy enough so remember to be extra careful and observe if others are on the ice too. And even then, avoid places where the ice might be thinner, such as rivers or other places with currents, open sewers, bridges and other construction.

How cold is it in Helsinki in the winter?

It can get cold, even as low as -20 °C, but that's rare. Usually the temperatures fluctuate between -5 and 0 °C. Which isn't too cold but can be nasty if the temperatures rise above 0 °C. It makes the snow melt and turns streets into a slushy slurry. And when the temperature drops below zero again, it all freezes and turns the streets into an ice rink. Pack good shoes and be careful on the slippery streets.

How about snow? First snow usually falls in November but it doesn't bring a lasting snow cover. I'd say the safest bet to enjoy proper snow is in January and February.

What holidays are celebrated in winter?

On December 6th we celebrate the Finnish Independence Day. It's a national holiday and might close museums, shops and restaurants.

And of course the most important holiday of the year: Christmas and New Year. If Midsummer is the main holiday of summer, Christmas is without a doubt that of winter – if not the whole year. Official holidays are December 24th, 25th and 26th and January 1st and 6th (Epiphany).

Most grocery stores are open half day on the 24th and then close for a couple of days. But we are becoming ever more secular and commercial, so you'll find grocery stores open every day.

Spring in Helsinki (March-May)

Late spring in Helsinki

Spring comes to Helsinki a bit later than you might expect if you come from a warmer part of the globe. We usually still have snow in March. I'd say spring starts in April but really only in May. That's when you see more green and the last remains of dirty snow, sand and grit are finally cleaned off the streets and sidewalks.

Temperatures rise slowly but you will notice how the amount of light increases and the days grow longer. Bear in mind that there is always a chance of an unexpected coldspell even in the spring. You might experience snowfall still in April and May (not totally unheard of even in June but luckily that is very rare).

What holidays are celebrated in spring?

Easter is the main holiday in the springtime. Finland is a mainly protestant country and we have some bank holidays around Easter time (Good Friday and Easter Monday), but this is not a weeklong celebration as in some Catholic countries. Some places (stores, museums) might be closed but Easter is definitely not as big a holiday as Christmas.

On 1st of May we celebrate Vappu (Labor day). Nowadays it's mostly a celebration of students and you'll find the center of Helsinki packed with students wearing overalls and their graduation hats.

Ascension day in May is another bank holiday. A nice little day off from work but not really an important holiday. Most people don't remember why we celebrate it.

Frequently asked

What is the best time to visit Helsinki?

Summer, between July and August, pampers the city with the warmest (but not hot) temperatures and it is the best time to visit Helsinki. This is also peak tourist season but you won't find Rome-like masses of visitors in Helsinki.

What is the worst time to visit Helsinki?

There isn't one “bad” season to visit Helsinki. Helsinki doesn't experience a hurricane or monsoon season. Just bear in mind that visiting Helsinki in fall or winter means chillier weather and shorter days.

In summary, each season in Helsinki is different. It's really up to you and what you're looking for. Easy breezy summer days? Marveling foliage? Christmas shopping and sipping on hot drinks? Helsinki's got it all.



I'm Ella, your local insider in Helsinki. In this blog I share my best tips to make sure everyone gets to enjoy Helsinki to the fullest.

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Insider's Helsinki