Lapland: unforgettable winter break
Lapland, the magical winter village on the northernmost borders of Europe, is an exceptional place to spend winter holidays, see the Northern Lights, try unique activities and meet Santa Claus. This region of Europe crosses the north of Finland, Sweden, Norway and the Kola peninsula in Russia, and is unique in the Arctic Circle, with its 200 long days of winter, huge expanses of snow, wild fauna and pristine shows that take your breath away; It is a magnificent winter destination and a fascinating experience with no ifs and buts. For this reason I have collected the 10 things that will make your winter break in Lapland unforgettable:
The Northern Lights
Often considered the most incredible spectacle of nature, the Northern Lights can be seen playing in the arctic sky of Finnish Lapland between January and April. Unfortunately, the mysterious phenomena cannot be predicted, but when the night is clear and dark, do not forget to keep your eyes wide open! Some of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Finnish Lapland are definitely the resorts of Kittilä and Saariselkä.
Santa Claus Village
Although many would call it a tourist trap, one thing is certain, you cannot leave Lapland without visiting Santa Claus’ Village. After all, this is the only official Santa Claus house and a unique experience. It is located on the Arctic Circle, 8 km north of Rovaniemi, and can be reached within 30 minutes by bus from the city. Highlights include Santa Claus’ post office, where children are greeted with tons of Christmas-related items, as well as Santa Claus’ official office, the place where visitors can actually meet Santa Claus. Another special attraction is the painted white line that marks the Arctic Circle. In addition, the village hosts a wonderful variety of restaurants, souvenir shops and colorful ice sculptures.
Located just a short walk from Santa Claus’ Village, Santa Park is an underground amusement park and one of Rovaniemi’s most popular tourist attractions. The Christmas theme park welcomes guests with fascinating attractions and activities, including sleigh rides, ice galleries, elven shows and all kinds of family workshops. In addition, it houses an ice bar, a special Christmas carousel and the famous kitchen of Mrs. Gingerbread, where children can decorate cookies in a magical atmosphere.
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be dragged by a husky or reindeer sleigh while enjoying the fabulous Lappish landscapes? Well, a winter trip to the land of Santa Claus will surely offer you the biggest husky safaris, the best reindeer sleigh rides and the most exciting snowmobile adventures. Husky and reindeer hikes are common activities in Lapland and are often organized in all populated areas. Whether you opt for a short trip or a longer ten-mile journey, accompanied by traditional lunch and hot drinks, a reindeer safari in Lapland will give you the chance to explore the icy nature and get the unique local culture.
Levin Lapinkyla is a traditional farm in Lapland, where guests can immerse themselves in the enchanting culture and traditions of Finland. Attractions range from saunas to rides, to beautiful restaurants and cafés serving authentic Lappish delicacies in a traditional atmosphere. The highlight of Levin Lapinkyla, however, is the pet farm rich of alpacas, reindeer, sheep, goats, rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs and all kinds of birds. They also offer accommodations in modern glass-roofed huts designed especially for enjoying the Northern Lights.
Lainio Snow Village
Nestled in a stunning setting, about 200 km above the Arctic Circle, it is no wonder that the Lainio Snow Village offers visitors a typically Lappish experience. Built entirely with snow and ice, the village has a magnificent ice hotel, an elegant ice bar and restaurant, amazingly illuminated snow and ice sculptures and all kinds of slides for the enjoyment of kids. However, this winter wonderland can be a little pricey, but it’s a unique experience. Therefore, even if you cannot afford the full package, a stop here is highly recommended.
Beautifully situated on the bank of the Ounasjoki River, Arktikum is not only one of the major cultural sights of Rovaniemi, but also the fourth best tourist attraction in Finland. The museum shows the history and culture of Finnish Lapland and the Arctic region, offering complete information on lifestyle, folklore and local traditions, from prehistory to the present day. Other attractions of the Arktikum Science Museum include the Arctic Center Library, a delightful gift shop selling Sámi crafts and reindeer leather accessories, as well as an elegant café where visitors can enjoy specialty coffees and delicious Nordic food. Rich in alpine vegetation, the scenic Arktikum Beach Park nearby is a great place to observe the Northern Lights during the winter months.
Ylläs Ski Resort
Home to Finland’s longest slopes, Ylläs is a popular ski destination in two villages: Äkäslompolo and Yllasjarvi, a paradise for skiers and snowboarders. Tourists looking for alpine landscapes will probably be disappointed, but those looking for high-quality snowboarding, off-piste skiing, Telemark skiing and lots of fun in the snow, they will be amazed at the variety of opportunities available here. In addition to winter sports, the Ylläs Ski Area offers a good selection of bars, restaurants and accommodation, as well as various entertainment activities such as reindeer and husky safari, snowmobiling, horse riding and even winter swimming in an ice hole, certainly for the bravest visitors.
The Ultimate Sauna Experience
Often considered a landmark in Finland, the sauna has always been used for bathing and relaxation in this part of the world. But if many countries have embraced and modernized this practice, for the Finnish, the same custom has remained, deeply rooted in their culture. According to Wikipedia, in Finland there are more saunas than personal vehicles, so, thankfully, you can enjoy a sauna anywhere: in local homes and cottages, in hotels or public places. For an exceptional sauna experience, however, you should definitely try the Ylläs’ sauna gondola (the wooden one): an extraordinary 2-hour experience that allows you to admire the breathtaking snow-covered surroundings from a special gondola equipped with an electric sauna.
Ice Music Festival
A wonderful party takes place in Luleå, in Swedish Lapland. The City’s Park, Gültzauudden, hosts this excisiting event called Ice Music, which pays homage to the region’s winter wonderland. Everything happens in a single igloo concert hall where a professional orchestra plays classical music using some exceptional instruments sculpted in the ice. The result is a new form of art that combines music, color and ice in an unforgettable experience. The concept took shape a couple of years ago when the famous ice artist Tim Linhart had the idea of creating musical instruments with ice. He began to study the unique properties of ice and built his first ice tools in 2003. While the project grew in complexity, Tim founded Ice Music. You can attend the event, which is unique in its kind, from December until the beginning of April.