When you think of your ideal winter, what do you imagine? For some of us it’s endless piles of powdery snow. For others it may be Santa Claus and reindeer. Or, perhaps you may even imagine vibrant ice covered nature that sparkles under the sun like a billion little diamonds. Whatever it may be, you can rest assured that you will find it in the vastness of the Finnish Lapland.
Lapland is a region that spans from the northern territories of Sweden and Norway, all the way across Finland and even into Russia. It is the ancestral home of the Sami people, and hosts untold wonders and miracles of nature. That is precisely why it is the ideal destination for those seeking a magical winter getaway unlike any other.
But, what about Lapland makes it so special? Well, let’s dive in and explore the Finnish Lapland alongside what you can expect to find there when you arrive…
- Untapped Nature.
Lapland itself is massive, even more so than many people think. In fact, the region is larger than Belgium, Switzerland and The Netherlands combined. This land is filled with extraordinary nature that spans from crystal clean lakes, to mountainous terrain. With less than 200,000 people residing in the region, you will find almost as many reindeer as you will other humans. It truly is a haven for those looking to get away from their busy life.
The bulk of Lapland is situated in Finland. It is in Finland that you will experience most of the wonder of the region, and you can be sure that there is a lot. Visitors will immediately recognize how breathtaking the endless stretches of trees, land, and sky are throughout their time there. If you wish to experience this planet without the harsh touch of human cities, Lapland is truly a step back in time.
Even more exciting is how clean all of this nature is. Finland ranks as one of the cleanest and most eco-friendly nations in the entire world. In Lapland you will find unpolluted air, snow, streams and lakes. You can get away from the smog and fumes of city life and breathe pure air and drink crystal clear water. Lapland is a pure natural experience, just as the world was meant to be.
- Once in a Lifetime Views.
When ticking off your bucket list ‘sights’, you may have included a lot of things from monuments all the way to historic to art. While we all have our own preferences, it’s pretty safe to say that we can all agree on one particular bucket list sight… The aurora borealis. Otherwise known as ‘the northern lights’.
In Lapland you will find that the region is no stranger to the breathtaking hues of purple and green at nighttime. During the ‘high’ season from December to February you will find that the northern lights are incredibly common, and you will even be able to spend your evenings sleeping beneath them.
Lapland is home to northern lights villages that feature luxury accommodations paired with glass domed ceilings specifically for viewing this ethereal wonder. There truly is nothing more romantic and otherworldly than sleeping beneath the crystal clear skies filled with stars and dancing lights.
On top of seeing the northern lights, you can also see all of Lapland from the top of the towering mountains and ski slopes. You don’t have to be a skier to head to the top of the highest points and witness the vastness of the snow covered hills and trees all around you. The views themselves are exceptional all across the region from Rovaniemi to Saariselkä.
- Unique Experiences.
Those who are seeking a real adventure will find it in spades in the Finnish Lapland. Here you will find people who embrace the winter to its fullest extent. You will find people cross country skiing to work or the store, as well as for fun. You will find people grilling sausages and enjoying a beer in the middle of massive snow piles. But most importantly, you will find people enjoying one of the most iconic pairings in all of Finland… Sauna and a swim.
The word ‘sauna’ is a Finnish word. This makes sense as the Finns invented it. In Finland you will find 3.5 million saunas compared to a population of only 5 million people. Almost every home, hotel, apartment and cottage has a sauna to be used and enjoyed. But in Lapland, they take it a step further into the extreme.
You see, Finland is the land of a thousand lakes. Or, more accurately, over 180,000 lakes. In Lapland it is very common for locals to enjoy a hot sauna and a swim in the frozen lakes through a carved out hole in the ice. Sounds insane? Well it is. But it is also incredibly invigorating and a one-of-a-kind experience! These are experiences that can be had alone and with locals–but are themselves very uniquely Finnish.
Among the sauna and ice swimming trips you can also find a whole host of exciting experiences to enjoy in Lapland during the winter. For example, you can take a husky pulled safari across the vast snow-covered wilderness; you can ride reindeer and feed them from your bare hands; you can get a drink in a hotel made entirely from ice. All of this and so much more can be had in Lapland during the winter!
- Exotic Cuisine.
Lapland is known for its very exotic cuisine. Most of the traditional foods in Lapland are derived from the ingredients that are abundant there. This means lots of fish, reindeer meat, and berries. Yes, berries! Lapland is home to an abundance of all types of berries due to its ideal summer and spring climate. You can find raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries, and even the very rare cloudberries.
The people of Lapland have survived on the land and nature for thousands of years, and you can see how resourceful they have become in their traditional dishes. But don’t worry, you will still find some amazing 5-star dining in the cities and resorts as well!
- The Home of Santa Claus.
Lapland is the only official home of Santa Claus. It is registered as the place of residence for old Saint Nick, and you can actually visit his home in the Santa Claus village! All you need to do is make the trek to the largest city in the Finnish Lapland, being Rovaniemi.
In Rovaniemi you will find the magical village of Santa Claus. It is situated directly on the border leading to the arctic circle, and you can clearly see yourself entering the ‘north pole’ when you arrive. As soon as you step over the line into the arctic region, you will see this winter wonderland in all of it’s colorful and cheery glory. Oh, also, you can meet the real Santa Claus.
What’s more, you don’t have to visit Lapland in December to experience this uniquely fun village. You can stop by anytime to see the ‘home’ of the legendary figure, and buy plenty of Finnish treats while you’re at it!
- The Home of an Ancient and Beautiful People.
Lapland has long been the home to a very ancient and wonderful people–the Sami. The Sami people are the original inhabitants of this region, and indeed even Finland and Sweden themselves. Having migrated to the region over 3,000-4,000 years ago, they truly are the caretakers and guardians of the region.
The Sami people are known for their vibrantly colored attire and their ability to tame the harsh lands in the area. They have long been herders of the local reindeer, and to this day are the only people who can legally herd the animals. In fact, there are no ‘truly’ wild reindeer in all of Lapland. Each one belongs to a Sami person or family, and they are allowed to roam the region freely as they please.
The Sami people are incredibly lovely in culture, personality, and more. In Lapland there are many places where you can go and see them and experience how they live their lives. You can meet their reindeer, taste their food, and talk with them face-to-face. It’s truly marvelous to experience the lives of those who have lived in this ancient area of Europe for as long as human history can remember.
- A Safe Experience.
When traveling, safety is always a concern–especially for solo travelers. That is why many travelers spend a whole lot of their time researching safe neighborhoods, cities, local safety practices, etc,. Well, none of that is particularly necessary in Finland. You see, Finland is one of the safest countries in the entire world.
For multiple years in a row, Finland has been rated the happiest country on Earth. It has also been ranked as one of the most safe and secure countries for both locals and visitors. In Finland, 9/10 lost wallets and mobile phones are returned… You wouldn’t believe how honest and kind the Finns truly are!
A trip to Finland in the winter is a trip to one of the safest places on the planet. Whether you are going solo or as a family, you can rest assured you won’t run into any danger from the locals or other visitors.
- Final Thoughts.
Everything there is to love about winter resides in the Finnish Lapland. If you are looking for the ultimate winter getaway, you can’t find a better place on Earth for it. Lapland is the heart and soul of all things winter magic.