Finnish Lapland, Northern Lights & Beyond: A Complete Guide

As I glided through the white blanketed forest trail on a reindeer sleigh at night, I became attuned to the deep sound of the wind and crunching snow on the path. I sank into the mood completely, closing my eyes, feeling the freezing wind traveling through my body. I never had such a strong urge to stay back in any country I had traveled to, like I did in Lapland. There was something that pulled me back, especially when I realized that it was my last night in Finland. We stopped in the middle of the forest to have a glimpse of the northern lights, in spite of knowing that it was a cloudy day. Looking up in the sky, all I wished was to come back again to this winter wonderland. There was something mystical and mythical in the wilderness. According to the Sami people (the indigenous tribe), everything has a soul, whether it’s a living or non-living being. And I could feel a connection.

 

While having a hot cup of coffee, sitting next to the bonfire, in the middle of nowhere with a vaguely visible moon through floating clouds, was probably one of the most defining moments for me.

I had not come to Lapland with an ultimate goal of seeing the Northern Lights. The Finnish Lapland is beyond this natural phenomenon. It actually casts a hypnotic spell. The enchanting and tangible feel of this place makes it magical.Whether it is the endless wilderness, awe-inspiring landscapes, rolling hills, endangered reindeer, wild berries, Santa’s village or humble and hospitable Sami people, Finnish Lapland offers plentiful things that make you pack your bags not with souvenirs, but a bag full of precious memories from this Nordic country.

I still remember the very first look of the dreamy winter wonderland from my room’s window, early in the morning. Glittering with the street light, I saw a wooden house half buried in white snow across the road. I took a pause to soak in the feeling as I could not believe what I saw. It was nothing less than a fairytale world.

Without wasting even a second, I decided to step out to take a walk around. To my utter surprise, when I checked the local time, it was 9 a.m. and still, there was absolute darkness outside. With the contrasting landscape, Finnish Lapland hardly sees a few hours of daylight during eight months of winter. Everything moves slowly here due to the absence of daylight.

Everything was so overwhelming for me that I set out to see the surrounding, without caring much for the time and the freezing cold temperature. It was while wandering in the snowy paths of Saariselka, somebody just greeted me by saying, “Welcome to Lapland”. I was stunned, stood still and kept smiling.

Before you realize, the place kind of grows on you. I started enjoying the gloomy days, a few hours of daylight, the quaint little village and the hot cup of coffee. Going for window shopping, engaging in random conversations with the locals and even roaming around the snow filled tiny alleys, used to be my favorite pastime. Out of all these, what I loved the most was the adventure activities like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, etc. There is a whole new world for people who love to go for adventure activities, food lovers, and even culture enthusiasts. Let’s find out what all you can do in Lapland, apart from chasing Northern Lights.

Snowmobiling

When you are in Lapland, do not miss doing snowmobiling. This is one of the best adventures in Finnish Lapland that allows you to appreciate the silvery forests, rolling snowy roads and treat you with the alluring landscapes of the northern the most part of the country. This was my very first snowmobile ride in Lapland and I must admit that what I saw can not be described in words.

The jaw-dropping scenery, absolutely stunning landscapes, falling snow and freezing wilderness, I was hooked. The best way to get into snowmobiling is to take a guided tour. The first timers are given driving lessons and made aware of the terrain. We also stopped for lunch in a traditional Sami styled hut called “Kota” in the middle of the forest.

Tip: Wear sufficient woolens before you start your ride, layered up with extra jackets, fleece, socks, gloves, etc. Helmets must be worn at all times as it gets really cold outside, the temperature dipping till minus 20 degrees. Also, it is advisable to keep a safe distance between drives while riding.

Cost : 130 euros / when 2 persons/snowmobile
175 euros / when 1 person/snowmobile

Price for children: 4-11years -50% of the price
                                  0-3 years -100% of the price 

Duration: 3 Hours

Distance: 20 KM 

Time: Evening Safari ( 8 PM onwards)

Reindeer Safari

Reindeer sleigh rides are the most rustic way to get close to the Sami culture of Finnish Lapland. This is one of the must-try activities in Lapland. Riding in the sleigh, deep into the forest, whether it is night safari or day, the Reindeer safari is one of the most thrilling ways of experiencing the scenic beauty of this Nordic country. The Sami people are the proud owners of Reindeers in Northern Lapland. They are mostly domesticated. The Reindeers are rounded up twice a year for earmarking for identification. The Reindeer husbandry is still one of the main income sources for Sami People in Lapland.

I had absolute fun taking a night ride in the forest where we even stopped for coffee in the middle of nowhere. You can opt for a night safari to see the northern lights, which is considered the most traditional way of enjoying the light show in the sky.

Cost : 100 € / person

Price for children: 4-11years -50% of the price
                                      0-3 years -100% of the price 

Duration:2-3 hours

Time: Evening Safari ( 8 PM onwards)

Cross-country skiing

Another fun activity in Lapland is cross country skiing. Wherever your eyes travel, you will be amazed to see people enjoying skiing irrespective of the age. From children to elders, everyone seems to be doing skiing in the whole expanse of snow. Interestingly, Cross-country skiing is part of the Finnish culture and almost every Finn learns it right after their birth. This activity is extremely good for the body and mind. Though I wanted to try my hand at skiing, I chose to do Snowshoeing as I did not consider myself fit for this activity.

Snowshoeing

I had absolute fun doing Snowshoeing in Lapland. This is undoubtedly one of the must try the activity for everyone. Snowshoeing is a great way to experience the wintry landscapes in Finland. Walking on the snow carpets, making your own way is the best way discovering breathtaking scenery, new terrain and getting lost in the winter wonderland. I tried walking on the snow surface, wearing snowshoe, which was traditionally worn to walk on a snowy path from one place to another. Lately, this adventure activity has gained popularity among tourists and people seem to be enjoying this during their vacation in Finland.

Meeting Sami People

More than anything else, I was excited to meet the Sami people in Lapland. The only indigenous people in entire Europe, The Sami people are mostly inhabited in the northern most countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. With a total population of 80,000 in these four countries, the Sami people are known for their unique culture, lifestyle, and languages.

Meeting Mr.Timo & Mrs. Armi in Lapland was one of the most pleasant moments for me as I spent a considerable amount of time with them, having their traditional meal, visiting the Reindeer farm and even wearing their traditional attire.

Visit Santa’s Village –Rovaniemi

Like a fairy-tale wish, you can actually meet Santa Claus in his village in Lapland. The one and only Santa lives in a beautiful village named Rovaniemi. Anyone can visit Santa Clause throughout the year at his office, enjoy a private chat with him and live those magical moments with him. I was thrilled to see Santa’s Post Office right across the street from my hotel in Saariselka, covered with a blanket of snow, the popping red wooden office looked nothing less than a miracle in the snowy terrain.

Cost: Free

Having Finnish Food

Have you ever had a Finnish meal in a traditional Sami hut right in middle of the forest? Sounds fantastic right? The moment I stepped out of the bus in the woods, the simmering traditional hut appeared quite mystical.  Our Sami host had invited us for dinner at their Lappish wooden log hut – known as Kota or Tepee.

The temperature dipped to minus outside, but it was quite warm inside due to the bonfire in the middle of the hut. We were soon served with mushroom soup, followed by Salmon fish, salad and ending up with a delicious dessert.

The best part was when our host Mrs. Armi sang a traditional Sami song for all of us. It was undoubtedly one of the most memorable nights in Lapland for me.

Cost : 150 € / person

The Sami host will pick and transfer you to the Reindeer Farm for dinner and also drop you accordingly.

Husky ride

Do you want to try some really adventurous rides in the snowy terrain of Lapland? Don’t miss the opportunity to go on a Husky ride to experience the wilderness of Lapland in a unique way. Each sled is pulled by four huskies.

It definitely gives you some adrenal rush while doing this safari. But the journey is quieter than anything where you can only hear the panting sound of the Huskies and the swish of the runners. It is advisable to go on a guided tour while opting for Husky Safari in Lapland.

Cost : 120 € / per person ( 2 Hours)

           160 € / per person ( 4 Hours)

Price for children: 4-11years -50% of the price

Safari includes full outdoor equipment, guidance, hot drink, and transfers.
                                     

Stay in a snow Igloo

Have you ever dreamt of staying in a snow Igloo? How about watching the nature’s most spectacular light show, the Aurora Borealis from your glass igloo? The dream can come true if you opt to stay at one of these igloo styled hotels at Santa’s Village on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi.

These designed igloo style hotels give you the priceless moments of experiencing the northern lights, midnight sun, autumn colors and polar night in the most stunning way. You can also visit the Levi Igloo in Utsuvaara, located 10 kilometers away from Finland’s most popular ski resort Levi in Kittila.

Cost: The tariff varies based on the options and location of the Igloo.

Visit Siida Sami Museum

If you are someone who is keen on knowing about the indigenous people of Lapland, their culture, lifestyle, and languages, then visiting Siida Sami museum is a must visit the place to know more about the Sami People.Located on the bank of Lake Inari, the Siida Museum introduces you to the early lifestyle of Sami people, their unique lifestyle, food habits, traditions, various rituals and even gives you glimpses of their rich history. I got to know about their primitive lifestyle but was also amazed to know that they came to Finland even before the country was formed. I was introduced to various tools, traditional attires, and jewelry during my visit to the museum.

The Siida museum has a huge collection of artifacts, photographs, archive collection, reference library and an open air museum. It has one shopping corner from where one can not only buy souvenirs but everything related to Sami culture.

Cost:  10 Euros (Entry ticket )

Museum timing:  10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tue. – Sun. (Mon. closed)

The above-mentioned timing is only for the winter season, Sept. 20.2016 – May 31.2017. For the other seasons, timings vary a lot and it is advisable to check in advance.

Take a leisurely walk in the wilderness

It was literally the best thing I did in Lapland. Walking aimlessly in the woods, watching people skiing, discovering hidden corners and meeting strangers and exchanging smiles in that freezing cold, were the best takeaways of mine from this compelling destination.

I still remember the morning when I decided to take a morning walk in the forest and wanted to get lost in the wilderness. The dipping snowdrops from the naked trees, the sound of the wind, my half buried feet in the snow, a wooden bridge and a lonely cottage in the middle of the forest, I had not seen such jaw-dropping natural set up till now. How I wish I could stay there forever.

 

I am completely hooked. I can’t wait to go back to this amazing country again to explore the Coast & Archipelago area. What about you ? 

Also Read : Why You Should Visit Finland At Least Once In Your Lifetime

For More Information,  Visit  Finland with Club Mahindra 


How to reach Lapland

You can fly to Finland with Finnair, which has direct flights to Helsinki from Delhi thrice a week. It takes 7 and half hours to reach Helsinki. There are other airlines like Air France, Air India, Aeroflot Russian, and Lufthansa.

To reach the Finnish Lapland, the main gateway is the Helsinki-Vantaa International airport.You have to take a direct flight to Ivalo,  the northernmost airport in Lapland, approximately 250 kilometers above the Arctic Circle.

Where to Stay

I stayed at the northernmost spa hotel and holiday home resort in Europe named  Holiday Club Saariselkä in a village with the same name. I made Saariselka as my base to explore the Finnish Lapland. I must highly recommend this hotel for everyone who is planning to visit Lapland because the hotel is located at the gorgeous location, but also for their world standard services and warm hospitality. Holiday Club Saariselka is a part of Club Mahindra now as the company acquired Club Resorts Oy, Finland and it allows Indians to have their family vacation possible in Europe through their membership.


I was invited by Club Mahindra on a press trip to Finland.

Disclaimer :

  1. All the used Non-Watermarked photos have been provided by Visit Finland and have been used with permission. 
  2. The Watermarked photographs are owned by the writer and are copyright protected. Reproduction of any of the contents, including the photographs without prior consent/permission of the writer, is strictly prohibited and a violation of the same will attract legal action.

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23 Replies to “Finnish Lapland, Northern Lights & Beyond: A Complete Guide”

  1. I love snow fall and i also love food. Thanks for posting its a amazing post you have

  2. Amazing places. I love to go these type of place.

  3. I love this! I’ve been fascinated with the Sami people’s culture and history ever since I took a nordic anthropology class at university. It’s so interesting to learn about their traditions, but also their place in Scandinavian society and the things they had to go through! Would love to follow your footsteps and finally visit Finland!

  4. Wow, this looks like something straight out of a fairytale! Finland is another place on my list, but northern Finland looks wonderful, but yes, very cold! Those costumes are something else! So colourful, and hopefully warm. For me, any post with huskies and reindeer is a winner!

  5. Finland has always fascinated me to no end, and this post of yours has made my resolve to visit it even stronger. Also, the stay option looks really good, I’m going to go for it when I visit Finland myself.
    Great post!

  6. Despite the fact that I am not a winter person, there is something that draws me to Lapland. It’s probably those adorable reindeer:) But I wouldn’t say no to a night in a glass igloo either!
    Jennifer recently posted…Great Hikes in Vancouver – Diez VistasMy Profile

  7. Lapland has been on my list since I was a child. I was fascinated by its world of ice and snow, so starkly different from the sun and heat of my Caribbean island home. If I ever go there, I would definitely try the husky and reindeer rides and snow shoeing. Looks like so much fun!

  8. Almost everyone I met and discussed Finland had the “I do not want to leave” experience. The pictures accompanying the blog post are thrilling. For the love of travel pictures.

  9. Ive been wanting to go to Lapland for years! I know it’s become more popular now and probably much more expensive. My daughter would love the reindeer rides and Santa. And that igloo is amazing!

  10. Who knew the snowy wilderness would have so much to offer as far as activities go. Having grown up in a mountainous country, I might miss that aspect of winter. But then, there’s reindeer.

  11. This is making my heart melt! I am going to Finnish Lapland in October and I am so excited – it is a dream come true, especially going northern lights chasing! I will be there in the fall though so I’m not too sure if we’ll have any snow, so my adventures will be little different. But I think it will still be exceptionally beautiful! What a wonderful guide – saving it for later. Can’t wait to go!
    Juliette | Snorkels to Snow recently posted…17 Tips For Visiting Japan For the First TimeMy Profile

  12. I would love to go to the Finnish Lapland and experience the different way of life from up there. Even if I have seen the midnight sun before I think I would find it very strange in winter, to wake up at 9am and see that it is pitch black outside. The raindeer experience sounds so amazing, I’d love to jump in the sledge and pretend Santa Clause is there with me. It does give you that feeling, doesn’t it? The see-through igloos are so amazing, I’d love to spend the night in one of them, chasing the northern lights.
    Joanna recently posted…Mango Tree: A Journey Through The Flavours Of ThailandMy Profile

  13. When we wen’t to Finland we debated so hard to go. Arg this makes us feel so FOMO! We love sunlight though, I think we would struggle with the few hours of daylight. All the experiences there seem so fun, Husky ride is high on our bucket list! Soooooo jealous you stayed at those igloo hotels! We can’t wait to do it!
    Mimi & Mitch recently posted…Montenegro Travel guide and ItineraryMy Profile

  14. I’ve never been to Lapland, but I’ve been hearing more and more about it! I’m not so sure if I’d be able to handle the cold very well, but might be able to tolerate it for a quick visit. Of course, staying in the igloos would be a dream come true!

  15. I love this guide and I love that more people are writing about Finland. I moved here from the US and can say that this is a great guide to the region!

  16. Nicely written !!

    You make me want to take a trip to Finland right now!!
    My Unfinished Life recently posted…Mario Mirana Gallery in Panjim | Offbeat things to do in GoaMy Profile

  17. I always love posts about Lapland, and you describe it well. The snow-capped homes, the bright snow, the silence of it all is just magical. Of course, a visit to Santa would be amazing, as would visiting the reindeer farm. I’m not a huge fan of Scandinavian cuisine, but I imagine it would be life-changing to eat with the Sami!

  18. What a wonderland! I’d definitely be down for the reindeer and husky rides. And those Sami outfits are so charming. Love your description – I could definitely feel the cold. 🙂

  19. Cliodhna Ryan says: Reply

    Lapland is every child’s dream! It looks like even as an adult it would be magical. I would love to stay in one of the glass igloos.

  20. Lapland sounds amazing but just isn’t for me as I’m not a snow person haha! I hate being cold! Although I would love to take a leisurely walk into the wilderness and see what wildlife I could see! Was an awesome read!

  21. Great list – and post – of things to do in Finnish Lapland. Your pictures are beautiful and one day I hope to experience the same. I have a friend who is an Aurora hunter – he works for a company based in Norway and someday I hope to go visit him. Take care and thanks for sharing!

  22. OMG I didn’t know there are so many fun things you could do in Finland in the winter! It is my dream to see the northern light. And staying in a igloo styled hotel would be the perfect way to enjoy the light show!!

  23. OMG! This is just a paradise! The white snow everywhere is just splendid. Meeting the Sami people and Santa I guess are the highlights of this trip! Just awesome!

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