Known for its icy beauty, starry skies and Santa’s surrealism this arctic paradise was one of the best trips of my life. There is something so unbelievably abstract and intangible about Lapland that captivates your imagination and memories long after you are back to the city lights.
The winter in Finland’s heart, Lapland, is everything that snowy fairy tales are all about. It’s freezing but there is warmth by the firewood and there are tiny snowflakes whispering lullabies all night long. For those who think there’s not much to do, well you are wrong! You can spend two weeks in Lapland without getting bored. From living in an igloo to looking up at the starry sky and speeding with the huskies to maybe getting enamored by the dance of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) you can never get enough of this place. These are just a few things that make this strange Arctic paradise seem almost like a lucid dream.
The wings of the my Lapland fairytale were spread across three little Finnish towns of Rovaniemi, Saariselka and Ivalo and here I found magic. This trip made me believe a little more in Robert Frost’s ‘All those who wander are not lost’. Here’s a glimpse of all the activities I tried in Lapland:
Not only is Rovaniemi the capital of Lapland but also the official hometown of Santa Claus, oh yes, the real Santa Claus! Located right on the Arctic cirlce this is also the beating heart of Lapland. Well here’s the lowdown of all my adventures in this enchanting town.
1. Husky Safari:
Hands down the coolest adventure ever! These tough, fast and beautiful dogs took us through the wonders of the snow-capped forest. I swear I never wanted to get off. We took this ride with a tour company called ‘Lapland Safaris’. They are the best with all kinds of adventures in this city.
The tour started at their office where we had to throw on our jumpsuits and get on a bus ride because the husky village was a forty-minute drive from the city. In the bus, we were briefed about the entire safari. I can’t tell you about the fireworks that were exploding in my belly throughout the ride. Once we got off, it was a sixty-minute safari where each couple got a team of six huskies where in one person sat and the other rode it. Then off we went exploring the white beauty of the snow and the magnificent wilderness of the dreamy forest. After the safari, we got to spend a few minutes with the huskies. This was followed by a mini tour of the camp and the most delicious lingonberry tea in a cozy little hut where the guide told us some interesting facts about the huskies.
The tour includes a pick up and drop from the main office to the husky farm, warm insulated clothing and boots, lingonberry tea and cookies.
Time: Around 2.5 to 3 hours
Price: Eur 159 per person (you get a better deal if you book in advance or many activities together)
Tour Operator: Lapland Safari (www.laplandsafaris.com)
2. A Visit to the Arctic Snow Hotel
Located forty-five minutes away from Rovaniemi, this hotel is simply unreal. We did not get a chance to stay here because of the tight schedule but we made sure to take a tour atleast. The Arctic Snow Hotel is unique in every sense because the entire hotel is made of ice (ever dreamt of sleeping on ice?) It also has a chapel, a restaurant and an ice bar. The guided tour was phenomenal because we got a chance to see so many rooms, all so different from one and other. We were so amazed to know that they rebuild this hotel every year, can you imagine!!! I highly recommend a visit here, to either stay or just take a guided tour of the property or dine, it’s simply beautiful. If you get a chance make sure to try their sauna.
Time: Around 2.5 hours
Price: Click here
Tour Operator: I booked mine from the Lapland Safari Office (www.laplandsafaris.com) but you can also check the hotels website. The transfers are included along with hot tea.
3. Santa Claus Village
Ever dreamt of visiting the real Santa Claus? What if I told you that he is available all year round and you can visit him in his personal office in Lapland? The thought of this got me excited like a kid. It was like all the childhood dreams coming true in a second. Well, I still believe in miracles, I still believe in Santa Claus and I believe that all wishes come true. This village is dreamland for everyone who believes in mystical stories and fairytales. The sound of bells, icy landscapes, a Santa post office, little reindeers hanging around and happy cheery people, the Santa Claus Village is like a dream!!! You know you can even officially cross the Arctic Circle here and you get a certificate for it too. The village also has accommodation, so if you don’t want to stay in the city centre you can rent a beautiful cottage here. I recommend you to spend an entire day here as there is so much to do. There are tons of restaurants, shops, a post office, activities like reindeer safari and snowmobile, traditional Finish restaurants and Santa’s real home. The queue to meet him might be a little long but its worth it. You aren’t allowed to take photos but the Elves take it for you and you can purchase it later…
Time: Spend the whole day here, its beautiful
How to reach: A private car or cab will take 10 mins. We used public transport (bus no 8) which dropped us right outside the Santa Village. Check the bus time table for your return to the city because the last bus is at 5pm approx.
Extra Costs: You only have to pay for the photos you buy, the food you eat and any activities you cover.
4. Reindeer Safari
A visit to the Santa Village is incomplete without meeting his little reindeers. There are other reindeer safaris in the city too but the vibe of the Santa Reindeer Resort was just unreal. We opted for a 30 min safari in the arctic forest. While the reindeers made their way in to the enchanting Arctic Forest we cozied up in a soft and fuzzy fur blanket in the carriage and all my inhibitions started to frizzle. While we sipped on cognac and just looked at the mellowed sky and the tall trees, I felt I was literally living a fairytale.
Price: 30 Euros (way cheaper than the city)
5. Wander around the Rovaniemi Lake and City Centre
After all these activities you can take a pleasant walk around the icy lake and soak in the beauty of the Arctic world. This was the perfect spot for our post dinner late night walks, super romantic too! Also explore some shopping options around the centre of Rovaniemi.
Activities In Saariselka:
In Saariselka we stayed at the one and only Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort (Read the review here – Click), a unique hotel where one can spend the night in a glass igloo. Now imagine, when you have a room giving you the splendid view of the ubiquitous sky, the snowy forest on the sides and white flaky grounds till the farthest reach of your eyes, would you want to leave it? I definitely did not. So, I rolled in the snow around the igloo, thanked my stars for such a magical experience and was simply happy to be there. I spent the entire day exploring the property and sliding in the snow. Incase you’re interested the resort also offers husky safari, reindeer rides and snowmobile tours. Honestly I preferred doing these in Rovaniemi and Ivalo.
Activities In Ivalo:
Ivalo is a small bustling town to the south of Lake Inari. Here are some fun activities that I did here:
1. Hotel Activities
When I decided to stay at Hotel Ivalo, I never knew that I would be in for a grand adrenaline treat. The free access to Club Nord made my dormant adventure junkie roar, because they had a ton of activities like snowshoeing, skiing and they also had plastic boards to slide down snow slopes.. How amazing is that! The frozen lake near the hotel made for a perfect landscape to watch and play.
Riding a snowmobile was such a thrilling experience! Our instructor, Juoko from Club Nord in Hotel Ivalo was the sweetest person ever. He took us on an action packed ride deep into the dark and dense snowy forest and on the frosty lake. This exciting ride was definitely the best way to explore the surroundings.
Duration: 60 mins
Price: 100 euros per person
Tour Operator: Club Nord, Hotel Ivalo
3. Ice Fishing
Since we had such a blast with Juoko we booked ourselves for the Ice Fishing Tour from Club Nord in Hotel Ivalo. This was a three-hour tour with a group of 20 people riding double seat on 10 bikes. We started this trip on our snowmobile from Lake Ivalo to Inari. Once we reached there, our instructor explained the basics of fishing and that of the fishing gear. By the end, we were all game for this adventure. We had to drill a hole in the ice until there was finally some water, then tie the bait to the rod and catch a fish. It sounds quite easy but it was not, yet it was a really exhilarating experience. Well it was too freezing to wait for some fish, I gave up in literally 10 mins. We were then treated by the warmest Lingonberry tea in the forest and once again we mounted on the snow mobile for a ride back to our hotel Ivalo. Highly recommend trying this out, oh what an experience it was!
Duration: 120 mins
Price: 100 euros per person
Tour Operator: Club Nord, Hotel Ivalo
4. Northern Lights
You definitely can’t leave the arctic without experiencing the Aurora Borealis. Click here to read all about my Northern Lights fairytale, from how to trace it, where to see it, what to pack and much more.
I was lucky enough to spot the lights three nights in a row all thanks to the Aurora Hunters.
Duration: 3 to 5 hours
Price: 100 euros per person approx
Tour Operator: Club Nord and Ivalo Trek Lapland
So, all in all, this Finnish trip was hands down the best trip of my life. It made me realise that beauty and magic have more than one mould. It taught me to expand my heart to a lot more than what can be experienced and felt. It connected me to nature in every way possible and made me believe that experiencing such magical moments can totally change your life.
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