Is there anything more magical than pristine white snow and glowing lights during winter? That feeling that the festive period is near and everyone is full of good cheer simply cannot be beaten – no matter how hard you try. But there are ways to heighten this sense of wonder and joy, and one such way is by visiting Finnish Lapland in winter.
Many people journey to the (almost) top of the world to indulge in all the wintry delights that this beautiful area has to offer.
Suppose you’ve never considered going to Finnish Lapland before. In that case, I am going to take this opportunity to share with you 13 of my top reasons to do so, especially during the winter, when the area is at its most impressive.
What Is Finnish Lapland, Anyway?
Finland is a country in Northern Europe in an area termed ‘The Nordics’. In this Nordic region you will also find Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
Lapland is a region of Finland, the largest of all the Finnish regions, and lies at its most northerly point. If you’re looking to get as close to the North Pole at a tourist location, Lapland is likely one of the last points. Although, do bear in mind that there is a good 1700 miles between the two sites, so traveling to the top of the world isn’t possible from here.
The area has a mostly colder climate, with the winters being subarctic and very chilly. There is a lot of snow, and in some periods of winter, the sun doesn’t rise at all thanks to the far north location of the area. Surprisingly, summer can be quite mild with an average temperature of 17º, which is something that a lot of foreign visitors to Lapland find astonishing. That being said, when you learn that the first snow of the year usually comes in at the end of August or the beginning of September, you begin to appreciate just how cold it can get here. But don’t let this deter you – pack plenty of layers and make the most of those world-famous Lapland hot chocolates, and you’ll be as snug as a bug in a….Christmas village?
Much of the area is covered in pine and spruce forests, which add to the association that many people have made between Lapland and Christmas. Particularly in the UK and other European nations, holidays to Lapland to visit Santa have become extremely popular in recent years. You will also find many mountainous regions of Lapland, especially in the north fell regions of the area.
Since Lapland is known to be the biggest region of Finland, one would be forgiven for thinking that it has a relatively large population. But, perhaps owing to the remoteness of the region or the cooler climate, Lapland is home to just under 200,000 people – that’s two people per square mile! So, as you can see, it is very sparsely populated, but that doesn’t stop the 3 million annual visitors from filling up the space.
13 Reasons To Visit Finnish Lapland In Winter
I would like to point out that when many people refer to Lapland, they simply call it Lapland, and for the most part, the tourism places found here are in Finland. However, this vast expanse of land does indeed stretch across the entire northern part of Scandinavia (Sweden and Norway) and into Finland. So, when we refer to Finnish Lapland, we are talking about the area you would jet off to for your Christmas vacation.
Getting to Lapland may feel like a trial but you’ll be pleased to know that there are many international flights going into Helsinki each week and from here, there are various internal flights taking passengers up to various spots in Lapland.
Whilst the winter months fall between October and April, most people will find that visiting throughout the festive period will bring the most joy for families whilst the earlier months of the new year also work well.
It would be easy to write a list as long as my arm of reasons why this unique and incredible place deserves your time during the winter, but I’m sure that you don’t have time for that. For this reason, I have narrowed the list down to 13 reasons, all of which I am sure you will fully understand after visiting.
01 The Northern Lights
The Northern lights or Aurora Borealis are perhaps one of the most well-recognized natural phenomena in the world, yet millions of people are unable to simply look out of their window and spot this dancing light show in the night sky. If you want to make the most of your Lapland visit, seeing this incredible natural display is a must – not that you’d be able to miss it. However, it is important to keep in mind that the lights aren’t a guarantee and the conditions need to be just right for them to appear – it’s all to do with solar winds and magnetic fields, but when everything lines up just perfectly, you will be given a sight that you won’t ever forget.
02 Santa Claus Village
Now whilst the Santa Claus Village is open all year round, there is nothing quite as magical as taking the younger family members to meet the man himself right around Christmas time itself.
Since 1985, the world-famous Santa Claus Village has been hailed the home of St Nick, Father Christmas, The Man in Red – whatever you refer to him as, and millions of people flock here every year to get in on the action.
Of course, whilst the big guy is the main attraction, there is an entire theme park surrounding the spectacle, and you’ve even got the chance to send a Christmas postcard with an official Lapland postmark. They’re all here, from the elves in the toy factory to Mrs. Claus baking her cookies – what a wonderful way to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.
03 Let It, Snow!
Whilst many of us sit listening to Bing Crosby through the month of December, wishing that the snowflakes would start to fall – it’s no secret that we are often left disappointed, and if you live in a corner of the world where snow never falls in winter, you may have never even laid eyes on the white stuff.
But one thing that you can guarantee in Lapland during winter is snow – and lot’s of it. Between those first flakes we mentioned in August through to the Spring, in April, you can be sure that this Finnish wilderness will be a complete white-out.
Many people go sun-seeking during the summer months but there is something special about a winter holiday that is decorated with one of nature’s purest offerings and you won’t be left disappointed.
04 Ice Floating
If you have ever watched the world-renowned survival expert, Bear Grylls stripping down and diving, head first into a frozen lake, you’ll likely need a hot bath just at the thought. But, if you have a wilder sense of adventure then Lapland is the perfect place to sate this – especially in winter!
One of the best reasons to visit Finnish Lapland in winter comes in the form of Ice Floating which is exactly what it sounds like – you will float on ice.
There are many unique winter activities to take part in here but this has got to be the most unusual – and coldest of them all. You will don a wetsuit and simply float in an icy lake – some may say it’s crazy, others may call it relaxing but either way, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.
05 Incredible Scenery
When most people think of stunning scenery, the first things that spring to mind are rolling green hilltops, the blue ocean or a tropical beach, but the incredible scenery of Lapland doesn’t fall into any of these categories, yet it is still, arguably one of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet.
What’s more, much of the area is completely unspoilt, and thanks to the sparse population, you won’t be confronted with a lot of built-up areas. The most you’ll be exposed to are the beautiful log cabins and quaint villages that fit perfectly into the surrounding scenery.
The Urho Kekkonen National Park is one of the favorite hotspots in the area for anyone looking to experience Lapland in all its natural glory. It is home to a crisp icy river and thick forest and has plenty of marked walking trails for getting right into the thick of it.
06 Stay In The Ice Hotel
Did you know that there are only 20 ice hotels in the whole world? There is an incredible one located in Lapland, and even staying for just a night is an experience you will never forget.
Quite simply, this is an entire hotel crafted from ice – hard to believe, right? But what’s really interesting is that every year, the hotel must be reconstructed, so even if you were to visit every year – you’d be getting a brand new experience each time.
There’s a cool ice bar where you can sit and chill with a glass of your favorite beverage before retiring to your personal igloo for the evening.
If you’d rather stay in a more traditional type of accommodation, it is perfectly feasible to drop by for a few drinks to get a feel for the completely unique attraction.
07 Take A Sauna
OK, it may be easy enough to access a sauna in your own country – you might even have one installed somewhere on your property, but there is nothing quite like the experience of a traditional Finnish sauna – after all, this is where it all began.
During the advent of the sauna, it served quite a different purpose to what it does today. Ancient Finnish people would dig a hole into a slope of snow and light a fire to keep warm – these dwellings were actually used as domestic hideouts during the harsh winters.
However, over time and as construction and accommodation options have improved, the sauna now serves as a relaxing way to unwind after a long day in the snow.
There are enough saunas in Finland for each occupant of the country to have half a sauna each – and perhaps even more interesting is that many Finnish people were born in their parents’ saunas! It isn’t hard to see that this is an integral part of their culture and whilst in Lapland, it is a must!
08 Go Skiing
What winter vacation would be complete without a spot of skiing? But the problem with Lapland and Finland in general is that it isn’t the most mountainous country in the world. There are a few peaks dotted around, as I mentioned earlier but certainly not enough that you would call this an excellent ski resort.
However, where there’s a will, there’s a way – and you may be surprised to know that there are a handful of ski resorts that give some nice skiing trails. But don’t expect anything comparable to the Alps.
There are three main ski resorts and several smaller ones that are perhaps a little quieter and more suited to the novice. The three that you absolutely must check out are Ylläs, Levi, and Pyhantunturi, the first of which features a 718m fell that will give you a good session.
This is also a great excuse to get closer to wildlife since these areas are filled with wild reindeer, and don’t forget the chance to take in some of the breathtaking scenery from the top.
09 Husky And Reindeer Safaris
Safari’s bring up an instant image of the African plains but there are some excellent safaris to be had up here in the arctic circle as well.
There are two main choices, you can take a ride on the wild side and hop on one of the husky safaris that will see you speeding across the frozen desert and through fragrant forests quicker than you can say Santa Claus. If you’ve a real sense of adventure, you won’t be disappointed.
However, if you like to take things at a slower pace, then there is also the option to head out on a reindeer safari – this is perhaps a better option for families with small children since the reindeer tend to toddle along very slowly.
You’ll be taken in a cozy sleigh through much of the same terrain as the husky safari but with a chance to breathe it all in whilst singing Jingle Bells.
There’s no doubt that whichever option you choose, you’ll experience Lapland in a way that you cannot on foot and this is also a great way to learn more about some of the animals that call this wintry wonderland home.
10 Ice Fishing
In a land so full of snow and ice, it’d be madness to omit ice fishing from your winter visit to Finnish Lapland, and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved.
But if you have never fished before, don’t panic – there is a wealth of people and companies offering ice fishing tours all over Lapland.
You’ll usually spend the morning out on the ice trying your hand at catching a juicy fish. Then at lunch time, most of the trips involve a meal where you will have the chance to cook and eat your catch. But let’s face it, not all fishing trips are successful so if you haven’t been lucky enough to land a catch – the tour guide will likely have a little something up his or her sleeve.
Whilst ice fishing is predominantly done during the winter months, it is worth noting that in some parts of Lapland, there are ice fishing opportunities as late in the year as June. Of course, this depends highly on the weather and current conditions.
11 Icefall Adrenaline
If the skiing, husky rides, and ice floating weren’t enough to get your blood pumping, there is even more that Lapland has to offer in terms of giving you an adrenaline boost.
Icefall climbing is one of the most highly favored extreme sports here in the Northern end of Finland, and if you head over to the Pyhatunturi resort, you will find plenty of chances to take part.
The concept simply involves climbing up the ice fells and coming all the way back down on a rope. Of course, this is super-exciting and indeed a great reason to head across to Lapland but do bear in mind that this can be a dangerous activity if it isn’t done properly. So always do this under the supervision of a trained instructor.
12 Stay In A Log Cabin
I’ve tried long and hard to think of anything that brings on such a feeling of winter spirit than warming up by a crackling fire in a log cabin surrounded by crisp, white snow.
If this sounds like your ideal vacation then Lapland may be right up your street. There are many log cabins to choose from, and if you are looking to stay right in the heart of the action in Rovaniemi near to the Santa Claus Village then the Suomu Log cabins are a great choice.
However, if you prefer something a little more remote, then you may enjoy the Yllas cabins which are located in the heart of a stunning forest and offer some great opportunities for spotting wildlife and frolicking in the snow.
13 Take An Artic Circle Tour
The Arctic circle is a circle of latitude that runs around the top part of the earth and it marks an area where the polar day and polar night ends and begins at the respective solstices. It may be of particular interest to people with a passion for geography but when in Lapland, you’ve got a fantastic opportunity to explore one of the most talked about places on the planet.
One of the main reasons that people visit this part of the world, aside form the obvious presence of Santa, is to take an arctic circle tour and I’d highly advise scheduling this in to your itinerary.
There are a lot of tours offering multiple day trips around lapland, which includes a stop off at the Christmas village and a crossing of the Arctic circle – if you like a schedule that is set in stone – I’d suggest you go this way. Otherwise, there are plenty of guided tours daily which give you information not only on the circle but the way of life here, nature, wildlife and much more.
attracts millions of annual visitors for it’s beautiful scenery, wonderfully wintry climate and of course, Father Christmas!
There are many winter vacation locations around the world, but there is a magic associated with Lapland that will delight both young and old, and when looking at the many reasons to visit Finnish Lapland in winter, it isn’t hard to see why so many people make the journey.
So, whether you’re looking to greet jolly St Nick himself, don the skis or take part in some of the most extreme activities in the Northern hemisphere, I’d absolutely recommend Finnish Lapland.