Finland is a dream destination for many of us and a Lapland winter vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime trip! Snow covers the North of Finland for almost half of the year, the Northern Lights light up the dark skies, snow-capped pine trees, and Santa Claus is around every day never letting us forget the Magic of Christmas is around. Does it sound dreamy to you?
Lapland is one of the most enchanting winter wonderland destinations on the Planet, stretching across the northern part of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. Therefore, if you are consider to visit Lapland in December, you will find plenty of unique things to do in Lapland in winter. From catching the Northern Lights from your bed (yes you can do it here in Lapland), to going on a magical reindeer sledding, and of course, visiting Santa Claus!
I always wanted to visit Lapland in winter, and I had high expectations. But I have to say that everything I have done in Lapland exceeded my expectations! And now I am glad to share with you all I have experienced in Lapland winter time. This guide covers all the best winter activities in Lapland you cannot miss, what to pack, and all the essential tips for you to plan your perfect Lapland winter vacation!
You may also enjoy these articles:
- Everything you need to know about reindeer farms in Rovaniemi + Best Tours
- 15 Amazing Glass Igloos in Lapland to see Northern Lights
Is it Worth visiting Lapland in Winter?
If you are wondering if it is worth it to visit Lapland in winter, my answer to you is ABSOLUTELY YES!!!! You will just see from this list of my top things to do in Lapland in winter, to see why I am trying to convince you to add this destination to your bucket list!
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO GET TO LAPLAND?
One of the most popular ways to get to Lapland is by taking the overnight train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. I paid for a dormitory cabin and took my rental car with me on the train, and it was expensive! But I wanted to have the option to have my own car to explore more of Lapland and to chase the Northern Lights too.
IS LAPLAND EXPENSIVE?
Yes!!! Keep in mind that visiting Lapland in winter is not cheap, as it is a popular destination. My trip to Lapland was the most expensive part of my whole vacation in Finland. So keep in mind, if you are planning to visit Lapland in winter, you need to plan your budget in advance. In order to have fun in Lapland, you will be spending money on activities. Most of the fun of Lapland in winter involves paying activities. So, if you are planning to visit Lapland on a budget, you will miss the best part of the magic!
You also have the option to stay at one of the amazing ice igloos, where you have the chance to see the Northern Lights from your bed. But such an amazing opportunity comes with a cost! But consider that most of the ice igloos accommodations offer breakfast and dinner, and some even offer activities, which will lower your cost.
The best way to save some money if you are planning to visit Lapland in winter is by booking your activities, accommodations, and transportation way in advance and trying to take advantage of the discount prices!
Quick Tips for Your Lapland Winter Vacation
- The days in Lapland in winter are shorter with the sunrise around 9:30 AM and the sunset around 2:30 PM
- Lapland in winter is cold, so dress accordingly and plan your winter Lapland activities for during daylight time.
- Lapland in winter is a popular destination, so I recommend booking our tours and accommodation in advance.
- Temperatures in Lapland in winter vary depending on the location, Rovaniemi ranges from -20°C to +5°C, and further North you can even get as low as -30°C
- 200 days of snow per year is the norm, with peak snow cover usually in late January and February
- According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Lapland has a better than 90% chance of a White Christmas every year
- You don’t need a car to explore Lapland, as all the tours offer transportation. But if you decide to rent a car, you can get a 15% off your rental car when you book through this site. I use and recommend RentalCar because it is the most reliable rental car source, and it allows you to compare the prices of different places.
17 Unmissable Things to do in Lapland in Winter
1. Enjoy Rovaniemi in Winter
Rovaniemi in winter is a perfect definition of Winterland. When I first arrived here, it took me a while to catch on to the views of seeing a whole town covered on a white snow blanket. Yes, I have seen snow many times before, but never so white as I saw in Rovaniemi in winter. The reason is that the snow doesn’t melt before it gets more snow again.
Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland. It’s one of the best places to stay for a white Christmas in Lapland, as it’s the official hometown of Santa Claus! Here, you’ll find a variety of activities, reindeer farms, and of course Father Christmas which makes it a fantastic option for every kind of traveler.
Rovaniemi is located near the Arctic Circle and is one of the best places in the world to spot the Northern Lights. In fact, the Aurora Borealis is visible here for around 150 days of the year which is crazy! Here you will also find excellent restaurants, cafes, shopping opportunities and even an ice skating ring in the center of the city!
2. Visit a Reindeer Farm & Go Reindeer Sledding
Reindeer sledding is an experience that often figures quite highly on anyone visiting the Arctic bucket lists. You will be able to experience something magical when you go on reindeer sledding in Lapland. You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in authentic Lapish culture, while you connect with the gentle reindeer, and experience the tranquility of the local forests as you travel along the glittering magical, and snowy trail.
During my trip to Lapland, I visited this farm and I was fascinated to learn that the farm belong to the family for the past 400 years old. This farm is an authentic and original Lappish reindeer farm, and the family has been practicing reindeer herding in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland since at least 1800.
I would say that reindeer sledding is a must-do thing in Lapland in winter and is a great fit for anyone. Kids, adults, couples, or if you travel solo. But, please, do your research and choose a tour that offers an ethical experience by treating the animals with respect. So, if you are an animal lover, like me, and wondering if reindeer sledding is ethical, I have written an article about it that I recommend you read.
Read More: All you need to know about reindeer sledding in Lapland
3. Go Dog Sledding
One of the most popular activities to do in winter in Lapland is to go on husky sledding. While reindeer sledding is very relaxing, husky sledding is perfect for anyone looking for more adventurous and exciting snow activities. It is a great activity for any age!
When you go on a dog sleigh you will ride through beautiful frozen forests, and also, have the opportunity to learn and interact with the energetic Siberian Huskies. They are very friendly and playful.
I am a big dog lover and have 2 puppies myself, I always worry about not engaging in any activities that do not treat the animals with respect. And one thing I learned during my first interaction with dog sledding while I was in Alaska, is that these dogs are not like ordinary pets. They are born to be in cold temperatures, and they get super excited about running and pushing against the harnesses. But I recommend doing our research about the tour company and making sure the dogs are well taken care of and healthy.
Recommended Tour: Snowy Trails Husky Safari from Rovaniemi
4. Visit Santa Claus at the Santa Claus Village
The Santa Claus Village is at top of the list of the best-known attractions in Lapland in winter. Go Figure! Besides meeting Santa Claus in person, you will find many things to keep you entrained for hours, or if you have more time, for days. I found that the Santa Claus Village is not only kid-friendly but also, fun for adults!
I have a secret to share. I live in Florida, I don’t like Theme Parks, and I still loved visiting Santa Claus Village every day! That was one of the highlights of my visit to Lapland.
There are plenty of things to do in Santa Claus Village such as shops, restaurants, cafes, and ice bars. Also, you can go visit the Siberian Huskies, go on a reindeer sledding, or take a snowmobiling tour. You can even bake gingerbread cookies at Mrs. Claus’s house. Also, I just loved coming here for picture opportunities too. The lighting of the buildings, covered with white snow made me take so many magical pictures.
Recommended Tour: Santa Claus Village tour + Arctic animals adventure.
5. Visit Santa Part II at The Home Cavern of Santa Claus
If you are looking to have a Santa Claus overdose, Lapland is a perfect location! The Santa Park Arctic World is a theme attraction in Rovaniemi, very close to the Santa Claus Village. The park is at a pretty cool location, hidden underground where you go through a tunnel, and where Santa and his Elves build toys for children from all over the world – cute right?
This is an indoor attraction where the kids can have plenty of fun, even on the coldest day. Right in the center of the building, you will find a big cafeteria and a stage where you can catch the magic of Christmas shows several times per day. Here you will also find Santa’s Office, Elve’s Post Office, the Ice Princess gallery with ice sculptures, and a couple of other activities.
Personally, I didn’t enjoy my visit. I paid 34,00 €/adult and I spent only 1 hour here. So, if you don’t have kids, I would skip this activity as you will find plenty of amazing things to do in Lapland in winter.
6. Hike to Frozen Waterfalls at Koruoma Canyon
If you are looking for one of the best adventures, you will also find it here! Not far from Rovaniemi. The Koruoma Canyon is 30 kilometers long and up to 130 meters deep valley. After a moderate hike, you will find a wonderful path leading down to the Korumo Canyon. You will be mesmerized by the views of the frozen waterfalls.
You can join a tour to go hike the canyons and forests, or ice climb the frozen waterfallsHike among the striking frozen waterfalls of Korouoma. Besides the amazing adventure, you will learn about the Arctic’s flora, fauna, and geology as you travel through canyons and forests. Really, one of the collect things to do in Lapland in winter!
7. Catch the Northern Light
This is one of the most magical things you can experience during your winter in Lapland. But let me start by saying that the Aurora Borealis is unpredictable!
After my two previous experiences trying to see the Nothern lights in Iceland and then in Alaska, I was very determined to see them in Lapland. I spent 5 nights here, and I was only able to see it one night. But let me tell you, after driving for 9 hours, following an app on my phone for the best conditions. To increase your chances to see them, you can book a glass igloo and keep an eye on the sky.
The lights might unexpectedly appear and disappear at any time, and if you’re lucky, they might come out to play on your visit. Winter brings the best long nights and clear skies for viewing them. The Northern Lights in Finish Lapland are unpredictable. The best way to increase your chances to see it is to go on a Nothern Lights Safari. You can book a midnight husky sledding experience as you can combine two bucket list experiences in one night.
8. Sleep under the stars in a glass igloo
Hands down one of the most amazing things to do in Lapland in winter is to stay in a glass igloo. This very unique accommodation is popular here in Lapland, especially when you consider catching the Northern Lights from your own bed!
Due to the region’s location, Finnish Lapland is one of the best places in the world to spot the Northern Lights. For this reason, you’ll find a wide variety of glass igloos in Finland that offer the ultimate experience in spotting the Aurora Borealis.
The majority of glass igloos options are located in and around Rovaniemi as this is where the Arctic Circle runs through! Some of them, are located even further north and in more remote areas of the country.
Read More: 15 Incredible Glass Igloos in Finland to Experience the Northern Lights
9. Sleep in a Snow Castle
If you want to spend the night at a Snow Castle you should check out the Arctic Snow Hotel, considered one of the best snow hotels in Finland. With an excellent location, it is just a 30-minute drive from Rovaniemi. It is also a great place to spot the Northern Lights, due to its location in the Arctic Circle.
This hotel includes three restaurants, an ice bar, a snow sauna, and an outdoor jacuzzi. You can also get involved in plenty of activities including snow sculpting, snowshoeing, and ice fishing. Fun for everyone!
10. Dine at a Snow Castle and Drink at the Ice Bar
Another very cool (or cold) thing to do in winter in Lapland is to dine at a snow restaurant, have a drink at an ice bar, and why not, sleep at a snow castle. Oh, and if you feel romantic with your partner, you can also get married at the snow chapel.
The world’s most beautiful and professional Snow Castle is located in Kemi, and you can take a day tour from Rovaniemi. The majestic castle of Kemi rises up as in a fairy-tale world of the frosty Finnish winter. Each portion of the castle is lit with colorful lights that add splendor to the ethereal ice walls. Many artists come to lend their talents to the castle by creating ice sculptures throughout the waterside structure as well.
11. Take the Santa Claus Express Night Train
This is in fact the best way to travel from the Finnish capital of Helsinki to Lapland. The overnight double-decker train, Santa Express, is a perfect travel choice for anyone wishing to immerse into a come-to-life fairytale. The journey takes about 10 hours.
The night train is run by VR (Finnish Railways), and it features comfortable compartments you will find facilities such as Wi-Fi, a restaurant, sitting coach area. But you can also book a cabin where you can comfortably sleep, and even take your car with you.
12. Icebreaker Cruise and Ice Floating
One of the greatest adventures in Lapland in winter is to go on a cruise in the frozen waters of the Bothnian Sea. You can take a day trip from Rovaniemi, to Sweden and get started with a sightseeing cruise through the ice in the Bothnian Sea, while you watch and feel the icebreaker and take incredible pictures.
During your cruise, the ship will stop and you can safely walk on the frozen sea, and you can also enjoy floating in the freezing water. But don’t you worry, as they appropriate survival suits in the middle of the Arctic Sea. At the end of your adventure, the captain of the icebreaker ship will reward you with a certificate!
Recommended Tour: Icebreaker Cruise with Lunch and Ice Floating from Rovaniemi
13. Visit the National Park Pyhä-Luosto National Park
“This is the farthest North I have ever been in my life!!!” – This is precisely what I was saying in the picture below, while I stood in awe sank in snow up to my knees, and was surrounded by giant pine trees covered in a snow cap!
Pyhä-Luosto National Park is located about 90 minutes from Rovaniemi, making it a perfect day trip. But keep in mind that driving your own car can be challenging, considering the snow conditions on the road – yes, even with experience driving on snow, I got stuck at one point and had 3 cars stop to help me (Thanks to the kind Finnish people)!
The park area covers 142 km2, and the most important features are geological specialties, old forests, and wetlands. If you are really serious about exploring the winter trails at the park, you have plenty of options such as cross-country skiing, snow-showing trails, and winter bike trails. But the most important thing to consider is to follow the safety rules & regulations.
Recommended Tour: Trip to Pyhä-Luosto National Park and Amethyst Mine
14. Enjoy the Lapland Winter Ski Resorts
One of the best things to do in winter in Lapland is to enjoy snow sports. In fact, Lapland has the best slopes in Finland and with that, you are left with plenty of choices to choose from. The ski season in Lapland normally begins in late October and lasts until around May. If you are into skiing or snow sports, you can check Ylläs, Pallas, Levi, Pyhä, and Suomu, where you will find the highest picks in Lapland.
No visit to Lapland in winter is complete without a ski run down the region’s snowy slopes. You can join this full-day small-group tour, with a round-trip transfer from your Rovaniemi hotel. Lunch, ski passes, and gear rental are all included in the price, leaving you free to focus on your skiing skills as you explore the site’s 43 slopes.
Recommended Tour: Full-day skiing adventure in Levi
15. Experience the Traditional Finnish Sauna
If you are visiting Finland, you might know that the Finnish Sauna is part of the country’s culture. You will find them everywhere – from the shore of lakes, in private homes, and even at corporate offices. Yes, I was surprised to learn that they do business meetings inside saunas.
By Finn’s definition, it’s the place you strip down and go to sweat it out and relax. The traditional Finnish sauna is heated up to 80-110°C by burning wood inside a sauna stove. You will find the smoke sauna located by a lake so we will always go for a dip to cool down – even in the wintertime! Dipping in the icy lakes and rolling in the snow are said to be good for your blood circulation. Do you want to try it?
16. Marvel with Twilight (or Polar Night)
Catching the twilight during your Lapland winter vacation is magical, and also known for the Polar Night.
Because the days in Lapland in winter are shorter with the sunrise around 9:30 AM and the sunset around 2:30 PM, it takes the twilight time last longer. Around 3-5 PM should be the best time to catch the beautiful sky colors. First, a deep violet, then blue, and it brightest the sky glows cotton candy pink, and only an hour later the stars show up and the night falls.
The pictures you see below are from around 3 PM at the Pyhä-Luosto National Park, and for all the days I spent in Lapland, this was the most beautiful twilight I have ever seen. Being in the silent wilderness, with the deep snow cover and away from the artificial light of the city, it was truly a breathtaking photogenic experience.
But don’t you worry, you don’t need to be so far North to see the Polar Nights in Lapland. You will be able to see the phenomenon from anywhere during your Lapland winter vacation, including if you are staying in a glass igloo.
17. Go Ice Fishing Like a Finn
Last on this list of magical things to do in Lapland in winter, but not least, Ice fishing is a true Finnish experience. During the winter season, the ice-fishing safaris take you to a remote frozen lake that you will reach by snowmobile. In the breathtaking, peaceful surroundings it’s time to break the ice and try your luck at ice fishing.
The fun starts when you have to trek across the frozen lake, drill a hole into the ice, and try your luck at fishing beneath the thick ice. At the end of your adventure, you will have the opportunity to cook the catch of the day over an open campfire and tuck into a tasty fish brunch.
What to Pack for Lapland in Winter
Winter in Lapland is cold! But as we say: “There is no such a thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”. This fits perfectly for your packing rule for Lapland in winter. Therefore, to maximize space in your luggage, here are the best items to pack for your trip:
- Heavy coat
- Down jacket: Check here for the Best Travel Jackets
- Merino base layer
- Long sleeve tops
- Fleece jacket
- Fleece-lined leggings: Check here for the Best Travel Leggings
- Denim jeans
- Beanies, scarves, and gloves
- Merino socks
- Winter/ snow boots
- Bikini – if you are doing sauna
Winter in Lapland Conclusion
A Laplant winter vacation should be on your travel bucket list! From husky and reindeer sledding to hunting the Northern Lights to visiting Santa Claus and enjoying the fairy tale forests covered in white snow, Lapland in winter is pure joy!
If the cold weather intimidates you, all you have to do is to dress appropriately and pick your best winter activities in Lapland to keep you moving and warm up by the fire. Or watch the Northern Lights from the comfort of your bed, when you choose to stay in an ice-glass igloo. Everything about Lapland in winter is magical!
If you have any further questions, leave me a comment below and as always, I will do my best to make your dream trip, be the trip of a lifetime!
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2 thoughts on “17 Magical Reasons to Visit Lapland in Winter + Tips”
So magical. And love the clothes you posted links too. So informative.
Hey Kelly, so glad you enjoyed this article. Yes, Lapland is magical!