Lapland, the magical winter wonderland on the northernmost edges of Europe, is an exciting place to spend your winter holidays, see the Northern Lights, try some unique activities, and meet Santa Claus. Spanning the north of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Kola Peninsula of Russia, this one-of-a-kind region within the Arctic Circle, with its 200 long days of winter, huge glittering expanses of snow, amazing wildlife, and displays so pristine that take your breath away, is a magnificent winter destination and a fascinating experience. Here are the best things to do in Lapland.
For about 200 nights a year from the end of August to April you have the chance to see one of the great natural spectacles.
Unless you live close to the Arctic Circle this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The Northern Lights appear on clear nights, so you might need a bit of luck with the weather.
How you see them is up to you. In winter you could get intrepid and speed out into the icy wilds on a snowmobile or trudge to a vantage point with snowshoes.
If this sounds like entirely too much effort there are a wealth of luxury suites and glass igloos that let you gaze up at the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of your accommodation.
If you’re in search of gargantuan slops, Lapland might not be for you.
Rather, the region is a cross-country skier’s El Dorado and is under a deep blanket of snow from October right through to April.
Cross-country skiing is a national pastime, and throughout the year it’s just the easiest way to get out and about.
In Lapland’s rounded fells are where most of the region’s “big four” ski resorts can be found.
On these smooth hills are Levi, Pyhä-Luosto, Ruka and Ylläs.
If you’d like big resort facilities then Levi is definitely the place to go, with 43 slopes, nearly half of which are floodlit.
Take a Husky/Reindeer/Snowmobile Safari
Ever wondered how it feels like to be pulled on a sled by huskies or reindeers while enjoying the fairytale-like Lappish surroundings? Well, a winter trip to the land of Santa will certainly endow you with the greatest husky safaris, the best reindeer sleigh rides, and the most thrilling snowmobile adventures.
Both husky and reindeer excursions are common activities in Lapland, and they are frequently organized throughout the populated areas. Whether opting for a short ride or a longer journey over tens of kilometers accompanied by traditional lunch and hot beverages, a reindeer safari in Lapland will offer you the chance to explore the frozen wilderness and soak up a bit of the peculiar local culture, and so will do an exhilarating husky expedition.
Have Fun at Santa Park
Situated within a mere walking distance from Santa Claus Village, Santa Park is an underground amusement park and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rovaniemi.
The Christmassy theme park welcomes guests with fascinating attractions and activities, including entertaining sleigh rides, stunning ice galleries, and all kinds of family-friendly workshops and elf shows. Additionally, the facility plays host to an ice bar, a special Christmas carousel, and Mrs. Gingerbread’s famous kitchen, where the little ones can decorate cookies in a cozy, convivial atmosphere.
Well, here’s your chance to try sautéed reindeer (poronkäristys), and if you’re a meat-eater you’ll probably love it.
This dish starts with frying thin strips of meat in reindeer fat or butter.
After that beer or cream is added and the broth is cooked down until the meat is completely tender.
It’s then served on a bed of mashed potatoes with preserves and pickled cucumber.
At festivals in summer you’ll see Suovaskebabs, which is a real north-meets-south combination: Smoked reindeer meat in a pita bread with salad and garlic sauce!
Arktikum Science Museum
If you fancy a little break from the sub-arctic winter, head over to the Arktikum Science Museum that showcases how the Arctic is changing and what life is life so far north.
Plus, the museum has a gorgeous glass walk-through tunnel that leads to the Ounasjoki River. This is an excellent spot to catch unreal views of the Northern Lights on a dark evening or afternoon.
Go mountain biking
Okay, this one might surprise you. It’s not for the faint-hearted, or people who would call sun-bathing and lying on a beach an adventure. But if it’s real adventure you’re after then the opportunity to mountain bike through Rovaniemi could be exactly what you need.
No car ride or bus tour will allow you to appreciate the Arctic beauty in the same raw way as biking will. In order to enjoy the epic scenery to its fullest, it’s important to pick the base of your trail wisely. I’d advise you to start from Rovaniemi, as it’s the hub for all kinds of outdoor activities. This one can be performed all year-round, so you can choose between blue skies or a wintry route.
The rental price of a traditional bike starts at around €25 for 3 hours.