The Arctic is a magical mix of long nights and cold winters with snow covered wilderness and frozen lakes as far as the eye can see; to mild, if not warm, summers with babbling brooks, wild flowers and berries and the midnight sun.

Both summer and winter in Lapland provides the perfect backdrop and conditions for a wide range of activities from whitewater rafting, hiking and fishing in the summer, to dog sledding, snowmobiling and Northern lights hunts in the winter.

Both summer and winter offer exotic variation of weather which, in itself, is a reason to visit the northern regions of Sweden, Norway and Finland.

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Winter in Lapland

The winter climate in Lapland can vary dramatically depending on the time of year and where you are visiting. Areas around the coast like Tromso and Narvik in Norway, can be as much as 10 degrees warmer than other destinations inland, simply because of the ‘warming effect of the sea’.

Winter weather

In wintertime, from around November to April the landscape in Lapland is covered with snow. A normal winter on the east coast brings around 70-80 centimetres of snow and in the west and mountain regions it is not uncommon that snow levels reach as high as 100-130 centimetres. The record for the most amount of snow in the Lapland region exceeds 2 meters (around 80 inches).

That makes Lapland the perfect destination for snow-based activities like dog sledding in Tromso, snowmobiling in Kiruna or Ice fishing in Abisko.

It’s no wonder that many visitors from around the world choose Lapland as their destination for a snowy winter wonderland Arctic activity holiday.

Winter Daylight

Above the Arctic circle the daylight changes a lot across the year, and in winter this means that there are times when the sun doesn’t even make it above the horizon. The further north you go, the longer the sun stays hidden.

One miss conception is that this means that means that the region is entirely plunged into darkness. This is the case if you go far enough north, however across Lapland you will still get the effects of daylight, however they can appear as a permanent warm pinkish glow of sunrise that then merges with the warm glow of sunset, all in one movement.

Days do shorten and by early afternoon dusk recedes into the dark skies of night, perfect for Aurora hunting activities in Lapland.

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Summer in Lapland

Summer is a time for nature to bloom. With the long summer days which result in the Midnight sun anywhere above the Arctic Circle in mid-summer. As the snow recedes a blanket of colour is revealed to leave the perfect conditions for Arctic summer activities including hiking, foraging, fishing, kayaking and Whitewater rafting.

Summer Weather

With the big melt of the Arctic happening around April / May, the landscape literally transforms. Hibernating animals awake, and communities come together to enjoy the long days. This is the time of year that locals holiday enjoying the wide range of Arctic outdoors activities on offer.

Summer Daylight

From the end of May to mid-July the sun does not set at all and the midnight sun gives you 24 hours of daylight a day – more than enough time to experience all that Lapland in the Summer has to offer.

The midnight sun is also a draw for international visitors who are able to use the additional daylight for long days hiking in the mountains, mountain biking or simply topping up the tan!

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Local Weather Patterns

The weather across the Arctic can vary depending on a wide range of factors. it is important, wherever you’re destination to always keep an eye on forecasts to plan accordingly. Many of the hotels ans accommodation will have reports posted in public areas and there are a range of websites and apps that can help plan ahead.

Altitude and Weather

The altitude can change quickly when travelling across Lapland with the difference going from sea level up to heights well over 2000 meters. With the change of altitude, you can also find a change in the weather, so it is important, as with any activities in the mountains, to the be prepared for all eventualities.

It is this change from sea level on the Norwegian coast and over the mountain range into Sweden that can regularly cause the blue hole over Abisko – a weather phenomenon that has landed the region one of the best for Northern Lights activities in the world.

Local Weather Averages

As Lapland covers vast areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, the weather is likely to vary with average temperatures ranging by up to 10 degrees. Here are some of the average temperatures for our popular destinations:

Kiruna climate

Average temperature July: 11° C. (53° F)

Average temperature January: -14° C (6° F)

Luleå climate

Average temperature July: 15° C (59° F)

Average temperature January: -12° C (11° F)

Rovaniemi climate

Average temperature July: 15° C (59° F)

Average temperature January: -12° C (10° F)

Tromsø climate

Average temperature July: 12° C (53° F)

Average temperature January: -5° C (23° F)

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The Arctic's Eight Seasons

Unlike many cultures, due to the dramatic change of weather from winter to summer, the Sami people believed in eight seasons that spanned a year.

Deep winter [Dálvvie]

The Sami Season of Caring, 30 January – 27 February 3: The deep winter brings the longest nights and the iconic blanket of snow bringing to life the best time of year for Northern Lights activities, Northern lights photography; snowshoe treks; dogsledding adventures and snowmobiling trips.

Early spring [Gijrradálvvie]

The Season of Awakening, 28 February – 29 April 3: As the days begin to lengthen, visitors still have the opportunity to see and photograph the Northern Lights, however with the days lengthening and the nights shortening, daytime activities such dogsleddingsnowmobiling and snowshoeing can become important to consider. Add to this the longer days, and the heart of the ski season and your range of Arctic activities widens a little further.

True Spring [Gijrra]

The Season of Returning, 30 April – 19 June 3: With the warming weather and receding snows brings the start of summer seasons and hiking, cycling, golf, fishing, white water rafting and summer photography activities. As the days get longer some areas of Lapland will start to experience the Midnight Sun where the sun remains in the sky for the entire day.

Early summer [Gijrragiessie]

The Season of Growing, 20 June – 10 July: With the sun reaching its highest point in the Arctic sky beings a flourish of growth with wild flowers and berries covering the mountains and wilderness across Lapland. Summer Arctic activities are now in full swing with the wilderness dotted with visitors walking, cycling, fishing; local golf courses being enjoyed; and the waterways being enjoyed by those kayaking and white water rafting.

Summer [Giessie]

The Season of Contemplation, 11 July – 28 August: The warmth of the summer sun is now in full swing with July traditionally the warmest month of the year across the region. More summer Arctic activities are popular by those looking for unspoilt wilderness for hiking, cycling and other Arctic outdoor activities. Events such as the Bjorkliden Mountain Marathon also make an appearance in August.

Early autumn [Tjakttjagiessie]

The Season of Harvesting 29 August – 9 October 3: With reindeer showing off their full antlers and wild berries, herbs and mushrooms abundant for foraging – early autumn sees the long warm days of summer gradually shorten in preparation for winter. The darkening skies see the return of Northern Lights activities with the season’s first Aurora Photography activities, however the snow is just arriving – so no dogsledding or snowmobiling yet.

True autumn [Tjakttja]

The Season of Desire, 10 October – 20 November 3: The shortening days bring both longer nights with the wilderness awash with golden autumnal colours – perfect for photographers and enjoyed by late season hikers. Longer and darker nights bring an increasing chance of experiencing the Northern Lights and with snow building up throughout October the first dogsledding and snowmobilingactivities begin to open for guests in November.

Early winter [Tjakttjadálvvie]

The Season of a Journey, 21 November – 29 January 3: The sun entirely disappears with the warm glow of the sun illuminating Lapland a magical glow, and giving Northern Lights hunters long nights for spectacular Northern Lights Activities and Aurora Photography activities in the night, and snow based activities in the summer.

Find Arctic activities for all seasons here