Lapland holidays

Experience Lapland

Best Places to Visit

Visiting a Sami village, especially in winter, is a highlight of any Lapland holiday. Tours can be taken from most of the tourist towns, and it's also possible to have one of the Sami people (inhabitants of the Arctic area of Sápmi) guide you around their home village. Here, they will show you the traditional life in one of the most inhospitable climates on earth.

Ranua Wildlife Park is set some 80kms from Rovaniemi and is home to over 60 northern and Arctic species of animals, including polar bears, Arctic foxes, wolves, wolverines and lynx. It's the perfect opportunity to see the wild occupants of the Arctic in a natural setting, and far safer than meeting up with members of the larger species in the wilderness!

The Lampivarra Amethyst Mine lies in the popular visitor centre of Luosto and introduces visitors to the ancient techniques used to mine the beautiful semi-precious stones. Legends and tales are part of the presentation, and visitors can comb a surface area where the stones are found.

The Arctic Snow Hotel at Lehtojärvi Lake is known as the only hotel in the world carved out of ice. Overnight visitors can sleep warmly in specially-designed sleeping bags surrounded by walls of sparkling ice crystals.

Many visitors arrive in Lapland during the winter for one reason - to see the Aurora Borealis in all its splendour. Known as the Northern Lights, this fantastic natural phenomenon has fascinated humanity for millennia. North of the Arctic Circle is the best place to view the ribbons of unearthly green light as they weave across the sky.

Located on the northernmost shores of the Gulf of Bothnia, the towns of Kemi and Tornio have become better known as Sea Lapland. Home to the largest snow building in the world, the Snow Castle, Sea Lapland also attracts visitors to its spectacular whitewater rivers and the Bothnian Bay National Park archipelago.

Levi offers a traditional, Finnish experience. While it might be home to the biggest skiing facility in Finland, the pretty village at the base of the mountain is packed with character and plays home to a range of excellent shops. The numerous restaurants offer traditional Lappish delicacies.

For those interested in local culture, a visit to Inari is well-advised. A tiny village, it is the cultural centre of the Sami people and the seat of the Finnish Sami Parliament.

Top Landmarks

To find out more about the history and traditions of the Sami people, SIIDA is the perfect place to visit. Home to the Sami Museum and Northern Lapland Nature Centre, it is a meeting place for local Sami, and boasts fascinating exhibition space. The complex gives a glimpse into a way of life that has remained mostly unchanged for centuries.

Arktikum in Rovaniemi is both a science centre and museum dedicated to all aspects of the Arctic.

As every child knows, Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. But he also has a second home in Lapland, where he and his helpers prepare for their annual trip across the skies. Families can meet Santa Claus and his reindeers in Rovaniemi.

Lapland is home to a plethora of national parks, with the best known in Swedish Lapland. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Laponia holds two parks, the largely untouched Muddus National Park with its primaeval forests, ravines and swamps, and the Padjelanta National Park, set above the tree line.

Kittila's landscape is quite mountainous and is stunning in the winter season. It's also the home of Lapland's famous Levi ski resort and a popular tourist destination for UK holidaymakers.

Entertainment

Nightlife in Lapland is concentrated mainly in the little towns of Rovaniemi and Kevi, and consists of cosy pubs and taverns. The best way to find what's hot and what's not in Rovaniemi is to wander down to the main square and interact with the locals. Hanging out with locals for the night or attending a house party is common practice here, and gives a glimpse into life in this remote land.

For a hot night in a cool climate, Rovaniemi's Doris Disco comes recommended as friendly and fun, and features a great choice of beers. Paha Kurki is a favourite haunt for locals, set near the centre and offering domestic and international rock music. Beer is the traditional drink here, with Koff, Karhu, Olvi and Lapin Kulta the favourite brands.

Nightlife in the ski resort areas during the winter season may not be as lively as in the Alpine resorts, but it has its own charm. Laplanders adore karaoke and can often be found belting out a few local favourites in bars and pubs.

Rovaniemi Theatre is the northernmost professional playhouse in Finland, set in the Lappa House and hosting regular performances of works by Finnish playwrights. The Maxim movie theatre shows films in English with Finnish subtitles. while the Lapland Chamber Orchestra holds several concerts a year.

Dining Out

Although Lapland isn't a hub for fine dining, even the smallest towns have a few eateries serving warming, filling food. Rovaniemi and the winter ski villages have the best choice, with restaurants located in hotels as well as in the centres.

Fish, reindeer, game meat, and a variety of berries form the basis for much of Lapland's cuisine. The cloudberry, in particular, is highly valued and used in desserts. Rich, warming soups such as bierggojubttsa are made with root vegetables, potatoes and meat, and suovasbierggo is smoked meat, usually served fried.

Fish dishes include salmon (fresh, smoked or salted) and cod is also popular. Favourite desserts involve cloudberries, served either fresh or as warm jam with ice cream, and jabma uses the stewed leaves of the mountain sorrel, served with milk and sugar. To end a meal, coffee is served with the unique and delicious Lapland cheese.

Traditional restaurants are often set in wooden Lapp huts and offer entertainment such as Sami storytelling and traditional music and dance. Many hotel restaurants have a choice of international cuisine, including pasta and salads.

Parks

Lapland is home to unspoilt natural wonder, encompassing a good number of national parks. Sarek National Park in Swedish Lapland is a true wilderness, great for hiking in summer and views of the Sarek Mountain chain in winter. Perameri National Park is set on a huge, isolated bay with offshore islands and fishing points, and the wildlife-rich, Urho Kekkonen National Park borders Russia.

Romance

Perhaps the most romantic Lapland setting of all is a snug, warm log cabin in a snowy forest. Even cuddling down onto a layer of reindeer skins at the famous Arctic Snow Hotel can be romantic. Why not try taking a dog sledding trip to your private cabin, complete with a Finnish sauna, as the Northern Lights dance above? For the most romantic, snowy-white wedding ever, choose a lakeside, ice hotel or igloo village destination.

Family

The famous Santa Park in Rovaniemi may be the most popular family destination in Lapland, but there's much more to keep kids amused in this snowy wonderland. Dog sledding and reindeer sleigh rides are exciting and fun, and are available at all the large towns. Family-friendly skiing holidays are on offer at all the resorts, with the villages themselves smaller and less frantic than the popular Alpine resorts in Europe.

Adventure

The wild, untamed expanses of Lapland are perfect for outdoor activities at any time of year, although for the magic of a unique Arctic experience, a winter visit is best. Popular activities include safaris across vast snowfields by snowmobile, learning to drive your own team of huskies, reindeer sleighing, downhill or cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. For summer visitors, horseback riding, hiking and trekking the vast wildernesses make for the perfect break.

Need to know

Language

Set in the Scandinavian Arctic, Lapland covers large areas in Finland and Sweden, and a small part of Norway, with Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish the local languages spoken. Finnish is spoken by about 5 million people on the mainland. The nomadic, reindeer-herding Sami people are its principal inhabitants and have their own Sami language. Although an important reminder of the Sami culture, only around 15,000 people speak the Sami language. English is spoken by many of those working in the tourist industry in towns and cities across the region. However, it is always worth picking up a Finnish phrasebook, as the Lapps tend to favour those who make even the most basic attempts.

Currency

The euro and Swedish krona are the main currencies in Lapland, and all major credit cards are accepted in cities and towns acfross the region. In the Finnish/Swedish and Finnish/Norwegian border areas, the krona is the most accepted currency. However, it's advisable to use a credit card for most payments, keeping small change for buses and small purchases. ATMs are readily found in the towns, and currency exchange is best done at banks or airports. While exchange rates are consistent between banks, there may be a variation in the rates of commission. Notes are available between 5 and 500 euros.

Visas

Finland, Norway and Sweden are all members of the Schengen Agreement. This is an agreement between 26 countries, allowing citizens to pass to and from each member country without a visa. Additionally, nationals of EU and EFTA countries, including the UK, do not need a visa. Nationals of certain other countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, may enter visa-free for a stay of up to 90 days. All other nationals should contact their nearest Finnish, Norwegian or Swedish consulate or embassy for further visa details.

Climate

It’s no secret that Lapland can be more than a little chilly, with temperatures dropping to lows of around -12°C during the winter months. When summer arrives, temperatures can hit highs of 21°C - with July the hottest month. Throughout June and July travellers can expect to witness the ‘Midnight Sun’, where the sun doesn’t fully set for several weeks.

Main Airports

Lapland is served by six main airports. Collectively, the Rovaniemi, Kittila, Ivalo, Kemi-Tornio, Kuusamo and Enontekiö airports handle around one million passengers annually, each featuring their very own draw.

Rovaniemi airport sits right on the Arctic Circle, and is often referred to as ‘Father Christmas’s airport’. Kittila is located close to many tourist centres, while Ivalo is a haven for trekkers seeking wilderness. Kuusamo holds some of Lapland’s most picturesque scenery, making it a bit of a tourist hub.

Flight Options

A host of airlines have routes to Lapland airports, with some offering winter seasonal charter flights. Helsinki is the hub for flights from the UK, with onward flights to Rovaniemi Airport. Some airlines offer a direct seasonal route from London Gatwick and Manchester to Kittila, while others operate seasonal flights from Manchester and London Gatwick.

Travel Advice

Many Lapland airports don't offer daily flights to destinations outside the region and, during the high winter tourist season, fares rise considerably. The shoulder seasons see special offers, but the melt from the winter snows can put a dampener on outdoor activities. Summer sees many thousands of Scandinavians flock to Lapland for fishing, hiking and trekking, with travel costs rising as a result.

Other Transport Options

It's possible to travel from the UK as far as Helsinki, by train and ferry, although not all ferries operate during the winter season. The fastest route is by Eurostar to Brussels, picking up the ICE high-speed express to Cologne and continuing to Copenhagen via the Borealis night sleeper. The Copenhagen express to Stockholm is the next step, followed by a ferry trip to Turku in Finland and an inter-city train to Helsinki. Once there, a flight to one of Lapland's airports can be arranged.

Getting Around

Lapland is sparsely populated, with considerable distances between destinations and dangerous driving conditions in winter. In the Finnish and Swedish regions, trains, buses and planes are the most-used options and, in the Norwegian area, planes and long-distance buses are popular.

A scenic way to travel along the coast in Finnmark, Norway's Lapland, is by ferry, calling at all the little harbours spread out along the coastline.

Bus

ExpressBus, Ketosen Liikenne Oy and Matkahuolto Bus give a wide network of links between inhabited areas. TThere are fewer bus networks in Finnmark, but good connections can be found by checking Boreal Transport Nord timetables. Swedish Lapland has LTN buses and Lanstrafiken buses.

Train

Finnish Lapland trains run as far north as Rovaniemi and Kemi. Visitors can travel from Helsinki to Rovaniemi with VR, Finland's national rail service, which takes at least 12 hours. Sleeping cars are provided.

Air

The only way to travel between the popular towns across Lapland is to fly to Helsinki and pick up a connection. The exception is Kittila Airport, which offers domestic flights to Ivalo, but Kuusano, Kemi-Tornio, Enontekio and Rovaniemi airports only offer services to Helsinki.

Ferry

A scenic way to travel along the coast of Finnmark is by ferry, calling at all the little harbours along the way. Some routes are considered among the world's best sea voyages.

MAP

LAPLAND`S WEATHER TODAY

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MONTHS

AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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FACTS

  1. Lapland is Finland's largest region.
  2. For 73 days a year, the sun doesn't set, and In the month of June, there are between 21 and 24 hours of sunlight a day.
  3. The number of reindeer in Lapland is roughly equal to the number of people.
  4. There are 21 municipalities of the Lapland region.
  5. Lapland is home to Sweden's highest mountain, Mount Kebnekaise.
  6. Lapland has its own, gourmet cheese, known as 'Squeaky Cheese' because of the noise it makes when eaten. It is the oldest cheese in Finland.
  7. Lapland's Ice Hotel aims to be carbon-neutral within the next year.

FACTS

  1. Lapland is Finland's largest region.
  2. For 73 days a year, the sun doesn't set, and In the month of June, there are between 21 and 24 hours of sunlight a day.
  3. The number of reindeer in Lapland is roughly equal to the number of people.
  4. There are 21 municipalities of the Lapland region.
  5. Lapland is home to Sweden's highest mountain, Mount Kebnekaise.
  6. Lapland has its own, gourmet cheese, known as 'Squeaky Cheese' because of the noise it makes when eaten. It is the oldest cheese in Finland.
  7. Lapland's Ice Hotel aims to be carbon-neutral within the next year.

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