If you are looking for an unforgettable holiday with your family, friends, or employees, then Lapland is a perfect destination. Brave the cold and enjoy fantastic adventures in the snow. Below you will find the 9 best things to do in Lapland.
Lapland is located in the northernmost part of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. In broad lines, you can say that the regions above the Arctic Circle are part of Lapland. The locals are the Lapp or Sámi people and are closely related to the Inuit (Eskimo). The people of Lapland prefer the name 'Sámi people' because 'Lapp' is considered an insult.
Contrary to what the name suggests, Lapland is not a country. The area where the Sámi people live is spread over several countries. As a result, they also speak a number of different languages.
The most popular and touristic part of Lapland is in Finland.
Climate in Lapland
Lapland has a continental climate. The average annual temperature is only 2 degrees Celsius. There is regular rainfall, often in the form of snow.
July is the warmest month, with an average temperature of 17 degrees (which means that it is also regularly over 20 degrees). January is the coldest month with an average of 10 degrees.
If you're travelling to Lapland for winter activities, it's best to travel between December and mid-April.
Looking for the northern lights? Then it is best to travel between November and January.
Travel between May and July if you want to see the spectacle of the midnight sun. The sun does not set during that period. It will remain on the horizon for hours, resulting in a vista of beautiful colours.
The 9 best things to do in Lapland
If you take a trip to Lapland during the winter, there are a lot of activities that you absolutely shouldn't miss. Lapland tours every holiday will include are a ride with a snowmobile or a husky safari tour, but there are many more things to do in Lapland.
The organisations that facilitate the excursions will provide appropriate clothing. This means that you can leave your own ski suit at home. Bring good thermal underwear and the rest will be provided while you’re there.
1. Snowmobile excursion
Of course, you haven't been to Lapland if you haven't driven a snowmobile. The excursion center provides you with a high quality ski suit to keep you warm. After a few short safety instructions, you will go out under the guidance of an experienced guide.
You'll tear the snowmobile over frozen lakes and across narrow paths in the forest. And once you get a taste for it, you’ll put the foot down and race through the dazzling landscape. Your guide will also make regular stops so you can enjoy all that beauty in peace.
2. Reindeer excursion
Because they are strong and reliable, reindeer have occupied an important place in the life of the Sámi people for centuries. They were perfectly suited to help the nomad people move from place to place. Almost all reindeer in Lapland are owned by the Sámi.
Most of the year, the reindeer walk around free in the wild. It means that the reindeer you encounter during your trips in Lapland are rarely actual wild reindeer. At the beginning of winter, the Sámi “call” their reindeer back to the reindeer farm.
When you’ve booked a reindeer safari, a snowmobile will take you to the reindeer farm. You'll meet these gentle, slow-looking reindeer.
The reindeer are harnessed and put in front of the sleigh. Usually, the sleigh will hold two people and is pulled by one reindeer. The sleigh will start to move slowly, and you will enjoy, wrapped in a blanket, the wide landscapes and the absolute peace.
3. Husky safari excursion
After a quiet ride in a reindeer sleigh, it's time for a little more action. Another ride with a snowmobile, this time you’re heading for a husky farm. You can hear the excited barking of the huskies from afar. The sled is ready to go and the huskies are literally and figuratively in the starting blocks. They are still tied up at this point, as they are liable to leave without a driver!
One person sits comfortably wrapped up on the sled and the second person stands at the back. And hold on tight, because as soon as the dogs are untied, they'll run off in a big hurry. An exciting tour along a pre-defined course follows. There is no time to enjoy the scenery, especially when you're on the back of the sled, because the huskies run as if their lives depend on it.
If you fancy more, there is an option to do multi-day tours. You will use a husky sled to travel from cabin to cabin.
4. Northern Lights Excursion
Spotting the northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, is the ultimate excursion in Lapland. I've never seen it myself, but it is said to be really magical. Most hotels in Lapland will wake you up (if you want) when the northern lights can be seen. Of course, it is even more fun to do an excursion during your Lapland holiday specifically in the hope of seeing the northern lights.
For example, you can take a snowmobile or moose sleigh into the night. And even if you do not end up seeing the northern lights, this journey into the dark is simply magical.
What are the northern lights?
The northern lights are created by gaseous particles in the atmosphere around the Earth colliding with electrically charged particles of the Sun.
The type of gaseous particles determines the colour of the northern lights. Usually the northern lights are green, but sometimes it is also red, blue, or purple.
What's the best time to see the northern lights?
You have the best chance of seeing the northern lights between November and January. Of course, there should be no clouds, and it has to be dark. When the moon is full, there's too much light to get a good view of the northern lights. There should also be enough solar activity.
5. Ice fishing excursion
Ice fishing is a popular activity in Lapland. You drill a hole in the ice with what looks like a big screwdriver. Then put your fishing rod in the hole and wait until a fish takes the bait.
A guide will teach you the best way to catch a fish.
Not an excursion for people who are sensitive to the cold as you will be sitting around all the time, but still a nice experience.
6. Skiing or snowboarding excursion
You can of course also make time for a few hours of skiing or snowboarding during your holiday in Lapland. The slopes are not really challenging so experienced skiers will not have much to do here after a few hours.
The villages of Levi and Äkäslompolo in Finnish Lapland are ideal for a skiing day trip.
7. Excursion to Santa Claus Village
The only real Santa Claus lives in a village near Rovaniëmi. In fact, Santa Claus Village is a theme park with some shops and a post office. You can go into Santa's office and shake his hand. There is no entrance fee, but if you want a picture of you and Santa Claus, you will have to reach deep into your pockets.
You can leave your, or someone else’s, address at the post office. The one and only Santa Claus will then send you a letter at Christmas. We did that 20 years ago, but our letter has not yet made it to our mailbox.
The Arctic Circle runs right through Santa's village. Make sure to take the obligatory photo next to the sign indicating the polar circle.
If you're travelling to Lapland with children, an excursion to Santa Claus Village is a must.
8. Excursion to the Ice Hotel
There are several ice hotels in Lapland. We stayed at SnowHotel Kemi, which was awarded World Luxury Hotel Winner in 2016. It provides the most exclusive luxury experience during your holiday in Lapland.
Of course, you can also choose to just visit the hotel. You walk through the ice sculptures exhibition, visit the chapel, and have an ice-cold drink at the bar. However, I would advise you to sleep there sometime. It's a really special experience.
You sleep on a giant ice block with reindeer skins draped over it. You let the reception know what time you are going to turn in, as they will bring a heated sleeping bag made of lambskin. Changing very quickly is essential, and then you dive into the sleeping bag like a speeding bullet. The room temperature is about -5 degrees, so the tip of your nose will be freezing, but the rest of you will be nice and warm.
The doors of the rooms resemble the doors of a saloon. During the night, there are regular checks to ensure that you are still snugly wrapped up in your sleeping bag.
9. Excursion with an icebreaker
I thought that the trip with an icebreaker was by far the best excursion we did during our holiday in Lapland. The Sampo is an old icebreaker that is now used for this special excursion.
You board the ship and sail into the Gulf of Bothnia. Along the way, enjoy a delicious meal in the restaurant on the ship and through the window you witness the icebreaker making its way through the thick layer of ice.
After a short journey you get off the boat. Very bizarre because you're standing in the middle of a sea on a thick layer of ice. The adventurers among us can put on a special survival suit and jump in the icy wake behind the ship. As I said - we thought this was the most unique excursion in Lapland. You float in the water like some kind of Teletubby. These rescue suits allow sailors to survive hours and days in the icy water in the event of shipwreck. Really highly recommended!
The boat is a 10-minute drive from Kemi so this excursion can be perfectly combined with a night at the ice hotel.
You can do all of these excursions during a week-long holiday in Lapland. Alternate your outside activities with a session in your hotel’s sauna as in Lapland they certainly know a thing or two about wellness too.
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I didn't have nice pictures of my own trip, so this time the pictures are not my own.