Maya had a big dream. When we just met she kept on saying that seeing the northern lights would be a dream come true for her. How fascinated it would be to watch it and to chase it. So for her 24th birthday I decided to fulfill that dream of hers, and I booked tickets to FROZEN Lapland. I remember people thought we were crazy. everybody we’re asking us:
” how could you be able to survive the cold? you would freeze to death and suffer instead of having fun”. But nothing could ever stop us when we already pictured it in our minds. It was final to us. Oh, what a huge luck we were stubborn enough to do it, we discovered a land of adventures, a frozen kingdom. A destination that we can never get enough of.
In this article we will share with you our moments and tips from the 3rd visit in our Narnia!
Lapland is a quite big area that covers few countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia) but as we see it, nothing compares to the Finnish Lapland for many reasons.
With an endless white roads, trees that’s hidden with big amount of snow, unique wildlife, and green lights that glitter up in the sky, Lapland is one of the most magical places we’ve ever experienced.
We prepared a list of must do things for the first-time-visitors in Lapland
- Visit Santa-Claus village in Rovaniemi
The Village is located right on the arctic circle (66°33′48.0″ N), over there you can even see the drawn line that shows you where it’s passing. For us, the grownups, it’s still one of the must-visit places in Rovaniemi! where you can feel the magic everywhere you go, you can be a child again for a moment. It’s like an “arctic Disneyland”, Covered by lots of Christmas lights, traditional music all around, and a special holiday atmosphere, even when it’s far away from Christmas day itself.
In the village you can find lots of Christmas shops, and guess what? the workers are elves! you can enter Santa’s house and to visit his office. You’d like to meet Santa himself? That’s possible too! You’ll even get a photo as a souvenir.
One of the must-do things in this place is sending your family and your loved ones a post card that will surprise them on the exact date of Christmas day!
Actually, you can enjoy most of the attractions that Lapland has to offer in Santa’s village:
- Stay in an arctic ice hotel
- meeting huskies without the need to pay for a husky safari
- riding reindeers
- sliding on a huge snow hill with a sledge
- eating nice local and international food
and lots of other things to do, see and buy
This place is awesome to see even if you don’t want to spend money and just enjoy the atmosphere!
2. Try a husky safari
This is the cutest part of your Lapland experience. These dogs are extremely friendly and playful and they are most excited about running since they feel the most comfortable in very low temperatures. An experience that suits adults and kids as one and in the end, who knows.. maybe you’ll even get some new furry best friends
Note – Don’t forget to go see the puppies before/after the sleds! If you didn’t fell in love before the experience, you will definitely meltdown after that.
3. Aurora hunting
The first reason we decided to travel to that cold winter wonderland was 100% seeing that phenomenon called the northern lights or aurora. Of course, to see them you will need few factors to meet:
- The lights can be seen only when it’s totally dark, so you need to get away from any light pollution.
- The sky must be open (you must see the stars). The Aurora Borealis is happening in space, so if there’ll be clouds, you won’t be able to see a thing.
- The KP index should be high enough to the location you are visiting (the KP index shows the strength of the solar winds blowing – the higher the KP= the stronger the lights are)
So if you decided like us, going all the way to see them, we strongly suggest you renting a car so you can drive to a remote dark place or going on an “aurora hunting safari” provided by tour agencies in every corner, who has the best equipment for finding the lights.
You might also want to try a SNOW TANK that can take you where the vehicle can’t go in deep snow https://www.kakslauttanen.fi/winter-safaris/snow-tank-safari/
4. Sail “Sampo- The Ice Breaker”
That’s an amazing experience hearing the sounds and seeing the thick ice breaking beneath you. This ship replaced the first ice breaker which was the first in Europe, equipped with a bow propeller. In its first 30 years, it used to break the ice in the Baltic sea so ships can sail through the lanes.
Since winter 1988, it’s used for tourism purposes and docking in the port in Kemi town.
The ship retained it’s original form from the 1960’s so you can feel the feeling as if you’re really back in time.
And of course the main highlight:
- Floating inside the water in a unique survival suit by the freshly-broken pieces of ice made by the ship (don’t worry, you won’t feel the cold at all)
5. Visit Ranua Zoo
A really must experience in Lapland! This Zoo is located only one hour away from Rovaniemi and over there you will meet all of the wild animals you can meet in the arctic part of the world, including cute guys like the arctic fox, moose and reindeers and of course few animals that you don’t really want to encounter when they are out of their cages like wolves, polar bears and many others.
It’s a big fun both for adults and kids. in the entrance you can grab a sledge and just enjoy all the way from one place to another on a sledge, and after a long time when you’re feeling frozen already, you can sit next to a fire places(you’ll find many, all around the park), take off your shoes and warm up. Cause there’s nothing better than the feeling of the fire on your cold skin.
6. Reindeer safari
When we all are fantasizing about Santa, the first image we get is the image of Santa, way up in the skies, delivering gifts riding a flying sleigh, led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen (in the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”), or Racer and Pacer, Fearless and Peerless, Ready and Steady, Feckless and Speckless (in the story ” The Life and Adventures of Santa Clause by L. Frank Baum). Or you may all know the famous Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
For us, seeing this majestic creature after knowing it just from fairytales and nice Christmas drawings, was so unique, because you can never find this kind of animal in any other place in the world.
All the deer, located in the arctic part of the world, called “reindeer”.
They are extraordinary for their ability to survive in extreme cold weather conditions and of course for their beautiful horns. Our first encounter with a reindeer was while driving on the highway on our way to Inari lake in north Lapland, on a stormy day. He just stood in the middle of a narrow road, while it was dark outside, we were lucky enough to notice him and stop the car on time, despising the slippery road.
In Lapland, there are around 20 accidents, involving reindeers every day! (we thought it’s some healthy info, so you will beware when driving).
On a sleigh, the reindeer are much more relaxed than the huskies, and the ride is very easy, you can sit together in the sleigh, covered by fur, and enjoy the nice and relaxing ride through the snowy landscapes.
There are places where you can feed the reindeer and have some nice photos with them. REMEMBER that the reindeer are wild animals and need their own space, so while you’re next to them, be careful and move slowly.
7. Sleep under the stars, in a glass igloo
If you always wanted to sleep inside an igloo, here you have the chance. Exclude all the ice and sleeping with dogs to warm up and add 360 degrees of panoramic transparent windows that allow you to see the northern light whenever they appear. And oh, in case you fall asleep, you’ll wake up because of the “Aurora alert” they have in every single igloo, isn’t it awesome?!
The Finnish Lapland is blessed for having the inventor of those igloos, who owns the biggest igloo resort ” Kakslauttanen”.
Be sure to pre-book your room a long enough time before your trip if you want the chance to stay in one of them.
8. Snowmobile safari
If you’re looking for some extreme on your trip, be sure not to forget a snowmobile safari! We have been doing these each and every time when we were in Lapland. So fun!! These types of machinery are very easy to drive and all you need is your driving license with you.
The tour agency where you book the snowmobiles will provide you all the warm clothes you need and if your suffering from cold, the snowmobile handles are warmed up as well. So all that’s left is to enjoy the ride, Be safe!
9. Try Finnish Smoke Sauna
Saunas are an integral part of life in Finland, but we can call this sauna “the mother and father of the saunas”. This is a very ancestral type of sauna which doesn’t have a chimney. The wood is being burnt inside a stove and the rooms are getting filled with smoke which leaves the walls of the internal totally black. The heat and steam that comes from the stove mix with the scents of smoke and fresh birch leave from the sauna whisks that are used to gently whip your skin to stimulate circulation.
10. Dip in an ice river
I won’t lie and say I didn’t have any second thoughts about that and imagining the scene from Titanic in my mind didn’t help me pushing myself to do it, but how glad I am that I made up my mind to try it! While it’s freezing outside, the temperature of the water is around 2 degrees so it’s much warmer than outside(that was around minus 12 degrees when I tried that). This experience gives you an enormous energy boost for your body and soul and helps your immune system become stronger. Actually many people in Finland are starting their days this way.
And if you want to be even more extreme, you can roll in the snow after you’re exiting the water.
11. Meet the Sami people
The Sami are the descendants of nomadic peoples who had inhabited northern Scandinavia for thousands of years, They Also known as Laplanders. the Sami people have a unique culture, traditions and 9 different, very ancient languages. And they linked with the traditions of stone-age people!
They always had such a deep connection with Mother Nature that they never once claimed possession on the land.
The colorful and unlike any other style, Sami clothing is also unchanged through time, and the same “kofte” is still worn by locals for celebrations. And of course, their clothing also needs to be suitably insulated to withstand the freezing temperatures of Lapland.
Traditionally, most Sami people have supported themselves through fishing, livestock farming, and hunting. Reindeer herding is a central part of the Sami culture.
Did you know that the Sami people used to think that the Northern Lights were living beings with a soul and ability to hear and understand the humans? Some believe that the lights are souls of people who were killed in a war, and the northern Finland Sami used to think the Northern Lights were made by the Fire-Fox running over the lands swinging its red tail around it. In the old days the women did not dare to go out without a hat or a cloth on their head so they won’t catch fire from the Fire-Fox.
If you’ re interested in meeting a completely different culture, to hear ancient stories and beliefs, and to visit a traditional Sami tent, I really recommend you to take part of a tour that includes meeting the Sami people.
Lapland is a place where magic exists. Every time it leaves us with the appetite of experiencing more, exploring more parts of it, and just enjoying the snow.
There’s a reason we keep on returning.
With so many things to do, so many kinds of activities and adventures. The beauty of this white land is addictive and it’s the place where imagination is going wild.
If you have any questions/suggestions about other activities that are must do in Lapland you can write us in the comments section below.
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