Lapland -Things to do
Places to Visit
Lapland is covered in small towns and villages, but a number of settlements are especially popular with visitors because of their particular attractions.
Kiruna in the far north is renowned for its pristine landscapes of lakes and rivers, snow-capped mountains and ancient forests.
Rovaniemi is the Finnish Lapland capital, best known as the official home of Santa, and young families flock here over Christmas to visit the famous Santa Claus Village.
Kemi is home to the SnowCastle and the famous Sampo icebreaker ship, with which visitors can enjoy an Arctic swim in thermal suits.
Levi is a winter resort town renowned for its cross-country and downhill skiing slopes. You’ll also find the Lainio Snow Village here, famous for its astonishing snow and ice sculptures.
Things to Do
There’s certainly no shortage of things to do in Lapland whatever time of year you choose to visit, though in winter you’ll have a greater choice of festive season activities to enjoy with the kids. Check out a few of these ideas.
The traditional way of getting across the snow and ice of Lapland is to be pulled by a team of huskies, with a two-man sleigh with three or four dog pairs. These remarkably resilient dogs were bred originally in northern Siberia and pulling sleighs is a piece of cake for them. It’s an exhilarating way of getting around, and you can opt for short taster tours or journeys of an hour or more.
Snowmobile safaris follow a network of routes that criss-cross Lapland and are ideal snowmobile territory. All you need is a valid driving licence and to be over 18 years of age. Protective clothing and helmets are provided and tours generally take the form of a convoy, following the tour guide at the front.
On Northern Lights safaris you’ll use a snowmobile or snowshoes and stay overnight in a remote log cabin with no light pollution to dim the incredible views of the Aurora Borealis in all their glory. For the best chance of seeing the phenomenon, go between November and April.
The kids will love seeing Santa in his home village of Rovaniemi, where they can meet the great man and his elf helpers as they pack and sort presents, and play games in and around the village.
Cross-country skiing follows well-maintained routes across a magical landscape of lakes and forests, offering the opportunity for novice as well as experienced skiers to improve their technique in glorious surroundings. There’s a choice of half-day excursions and dedicated skiing getaways with sleepovers in remote log cabins along the route. You can either take your own equipment or hire it from sports shops, hotels or ski resorts.
Reindeer sleigh rides involve being pulled on a traditional open sleigh by a single reindeer attached to a decorated harness and wooden shaft. You’ll be snugly wrapped in furs as you join a leisurely procession along the winding forest tracks. You can sometimes drive yourself, following the guide up in front, but usually you’ll have your own driver. The ride also often involves a visit to a rural reindeer farm and an introduction to Lappish culture.
Another activity high on the list of Lapland things to do is the traditional sport of ice fishing. This usually involves getting to an isolated and stunningly beautiful rural area by snowmobile and then using an ice auger to drill a hole, then settling down to catch zander, pike, turbot, whitefish or perch. Patience is a definite virtue, and it’s the perfect sport for contemplating the gorgeous natural surroundings as you wait for a tug on the line.