Winter days may be short and cold in Finland, but summer is a whole other story. With its northern location, Finland enjoys long summer days when the sun never really sets. This Finnish phenomena is known as a polar day or nightless night.
In the most northern parts of Finland, north of the Arctic Circle, the sun will not set at all for several months, while in southern parts of the country, the sun is visible for 24 hours a day only during the months of June and July.
Since nights during the Finnish summer are almost as light as day, you can play all night long under a beautiful golden glow stretched across the horizon. How will you spend all those extra hours of light? Here are five ways to make the most of the midnight sun in Finland.
Sailing in the Åland Archipelago
Exploring Finnish coastal waters is beautiful at the best of times, but when everything is bathed in an incredibly warm, bright light, a Midnight Sun sail is a whole other experience. The Åland Archipelago is a unique collection of more than 6,500 islands at the entrance to the Bothnian Gulf in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland. Only around 65 of the islands are inhabited and the archipelago’s outer reaches are only accessible by boat, but with the extended daylight hours, there’s more sailing time to reach the more remote islands.
How: Midnight Sun Sailing has a fleet of over 30 yachts with sizes varying from 26 to 51 feet, with the option of a skipper. A week’s charter for a 27 foot yacht with two cabins (sleeping six) starts from $ 1,150 (850€) without a skipper / $ 3,040 (2,250€) with a skipper. www.midnightsunsailing.fi/
Sunset Paddling in the Lakeland
Finland is not only known as the ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’, but also the ‘Land of a Thousand Lakes’ (although there are actually over 180,000 of them) so combine the two on a sunset kayak trip in the Lakeland region, which occupies most of central and eastern Finland. Lake Saimaa, the largest lake in Finland and the fourth largest in Europe, represents Finland’s Lake District at its best. With hundreds of islands and broad open waters to explore, the extended daylight mean more time to make the most of the area, while watching the sunset over the watery landscape is a breathtaking experience.
How: Kolovesi Retkeily Canoe Outfitters rents canoes and sea-kayaks and offers independent and guided trips, both pre-planned and tailor-made, across the protected lake areas. Kayak rental costs from $ 47 (35€) for one day and includes life jackets, one dry bag, and a map for the self-guided routes. www.sealtrail.com
Horse Riding in Northern Lapland
Far north of the Arctic Circle, in the depths of the Sami land of Lapland, the Midnight Sun creates a fairy-tale-like scene across the forested hills and fells. Exploring the Lappish wilderness on horseback is one of the most peaceful and invigorating ways to feel the effect of the Midnight Sun. A two day riding tour from Kamisak Farm leads through the Lappish countryside, across the varying landscape of the Samis, to a wilderness cabin complete with a Finnish sauna to be enjoyed under the golden glow of the Midnight Sun.
How: Kamisak offers overnight Midnight Sun riding tours from 1 June to 31 October for groups between 2 and 6 people. The excursion, priced from $ 560 (420€) per person, includes helmet, guide service, liability insurance, all meals during the tour and one night’s accommodation in a cabin. www.kamisak.com
Wildlife Watching in Wild Taiga
During the nightless nights, nocturnal animals still wake up to prey in the evening but don’t have their usual shelter of darkness, providing one-of-a-kind opportunities to observe and photograph rarely-seen animals, such as bears, wolves and wolverines. The untouched forests and lakes of Taiga in Eastern Finland are one of Europe’s last great wilderness areas, attracting both wildlife and landscape photographers under the Midnight Sun.
How: Taiga Spirit offers overnight excursions to a special hide in the heart of Wild Taiga, where bears, wolverines, white-tailed eagles and owls are among the wildlife that can be observed and photographed in their natural habitat. Excursions are priced from $ 108 (80€) per person for a night in a hide equipped with a bed, sleeping bag, dry toilet and picnic blanket. www.taigaspirit.com
A Round of Golf in Oulu
Although golf isn’t the first sport associated with Finland, the game has been growing in popularity since the 1980s with thanks in part to the growth of Midnight Sun tournaments held each summer. Oulu Golf Club, on Finland’s western coast, is the northernmost 36-hole golf course in the world and it’s not uncommon to see players starting their round at 9pm in the evening and playing throughout the night under the Midnight Sun. During the midsummer months, the sun rarely goes below the horizon so the light only dims slightly and since it’s a countryside course, the area is remarkably quiet around midnight, with only the occasional bird singing. Bears have even been spotted during midnight games.
How: Oulu Golf Club is located in the town of Sanginsuu, 11 miles east of Oulu, and is open 24 hours a day during the midsummer months. Green fees are $ 67 (50 €) a day, which allows you to play as many rounds as you wish in a 24 hour period. golfpiste.com/oulungolfkerho/
If You Go