Finland's weird and wonderful natural phenomena
From the Northern Lights dancing across winter skies above Lapland to the hundreds of islands and sandy beaches of Helsinki’s archipelago, Finland is rich in natural wonders. But for those who like to experience the truly unique wonders of the natural world there’s even more to explore, including some natural phenomena you simply can’t find anywhere else.
Ice eggs on Hailuoto Island
The sight of ice eggs stretching across a remote beach was enough to cause a social media stir in 2019. Who had put them there? And if it wasn’t the work of eager snowball-makers then who, or what, was behind this weird and wonderful phenomenon?
Nature, of course. With the air temperature just below 0°C and the water close to freezing, wavelets helped shape these eggs from larger pieces of ice sheet, with light winds causing them to rotate and shape into spherical formations before being washed ashore. Locals said they’d never come across them before. Take a trip, hope for the right mix of weather conditions and you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them yourself.
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Frozen snow trees in Riisitunturi National Park
The boreal forest, which covers much of northern Finland, is one of the richest habitats on the planet. And in the darker, colder months, it becomes a magical winter wonderland, not least because its trees turn into spectacular ice sculptures.
These frozen forests are at their snowy best in Riisitunturi National Park, a remote part of Lapland. This area of Finland is surprisingly humid, with the wet, dense droplets in the air freezing to the trees when the temperatures begin to slide. In the depths of winter it can get as low as –40°C. The result is a forest full of weird and wonderful ice sculptures, with no two looking the same. These are best enjoyed on one of the national park’s snow trails, with a good pair of snowshoes strapped on to make the going easier.
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Snow rollers on Lake Oulujärvi
Also known as snow doughnuts, snow rollers are formed on large expanses of ice. And with hundreds of lakes which freeze over during the winter, Finland is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of them. Lake Oulujärvi, in the heart of the country, is a great option for weather watchers on the lookout for these icy creations. They form when fresh snow falls on older ice and compacted snow. When the wind blows at the right strength, the new snow, stickier snow starts to roll, picking up other snowflakes as it goes. Conditions need to be perfect. If the winds exceed 30mph then the snow rollers will collapse.
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Majestic Northern Lights over Lake Inari
As the summer light fades, Finland becomes home to some of the finest Northern Lights displays in the Arctic. And on a clear, cold night, they look particularly spectacular from the banks of Lake Inari. High above the Arctic Circle, and close to the border with Russia, this vast lake is part of Lapland and home to the Sami people, where traditional ways of life hold firm.
Locals say the best times to see aurora borealis in all its glory are September and March, with strong solar storms creating amazing colours that dance across the dark night sky. The lack of light pollution means that if the weather is clear you have a great chance of seeing Finland’s most famous sight first-hand.
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Vallisaari’s rich and diverse wildlife
Just 20 minutes by boat from Helsinki’s Market Square, the island of Vallisaari has the richest biodiversity of any of the 330 islands that make up the archipelago surrounding Finland’s capital. Having been used by the military for most of the 20th century, the island’s wild inhabitants benefited from having a very small permanent human population. Wildlife and plants thrive here. It’s said the crumbling fortifications, helped by the rich soil, have helped to foster rare mosses, while old buildings also provide perfect homes for bats.
The wild meadows and ponds dotted across Vallisaari provide winged creatures with ample food, and there are plenty of varieties to choose from: The island is home to a staggering 1,000 species of butterflies and moths, while eagle owls have also been spotted. There are still explosives in the ground after a military accident in 1937, so visitors must stick to marked paths and cannot camp or light fires.
Finnair’s new one way fares make it easier and more flexible to book your trip and experience one, or all, of these natural phenomena for yourself. Check out Finnair.com and the Finnair mobile app for the very best prices from across Europe.