Lapland travel tips: How to plan the perfect winter holiday

Posted on

Lapland is another world. An arctic winter wonderland of snow and ice. Anyone who has ever been to Lapland in winter will become addicted. Addicted to seclusion, the special magic of the Northern Lights, the squeaking snow under your feet and the pure, freezing cold air.

Are you planning a trip to Lapland in winter and looking for the best travel tips? We have packed all the information and many personal tips into this travel guide so that you can plan and prepare your winter holiday perfectly.

By the way: The focus of this article is on Finnish Lapland. If you are planning a trip to Swedish Lapland, you will definitely find helpful tips here.

1. Finnish Lapland in winter: What you need to know in advance It can be very cold in winter. And by cold we mean really freezing cold. So cold that your hair freezes and snow not only crunches under your soles, but actually squeaks. So cold that the air you breathe becomes ice on your glasses and hot water in the air becomes snow dust.

How low the temperatures in Finnish Lapland in the Decline in winter depends on which location and month you travel to. Northern Lapland is usually colder than the south and March naturally tends to be milder than January, which is said to be the coldest month in Finnish Lapland.

Roughly speaking, in winter you have to expect daytime temperatures of about -10 until -20 Set degrees. That sounds harsh at first glance, but we can give the all-clear in two respects:

Expect you to be dry cold (and not wet), so it tends not to feel that cold, andAre you with the right one Clothes packed so warm that the cold (almost) doesn’t stand a chance. There is no guarantee of Northern Lights. Everybody wants them in the sky see dancing polar lights. Or Northern Lights, as they are called here in the northern hemisphere. The moment they appear is pure magic and for many the reason to plan a trip to Lapland.

The good news: The chance of seeing the Northern Lights during your winter holiday in Finnish Lapland is quite high.

The bad news: It’s quite possible that you spend a week in Lapland and don’t see her once. In addition to a clear sky, you also need aurora activity for the lights to show up.

There’s just no guarantee. Point. Therefore, we would really advise you not to travel to Finnish Lapland with too high expectations of the Northern Lights. There is so much more to Lapland’s appeal than the Northern Lights. I promise!

The length of the day varies greatly from month to month. The assumption that Finnish Lapland is pitch black all winter is a misconception. In fact, the length of the day fluctuates strongly within a few weeks .

Let’s take the example of Salla village in south-eastern Lapland. While the day length is just 2.5 hours at the beginning of January, it is already a good 9 hours at the end of February.

Some even come to Lapland especially for the polar nights (“kaamos”), i.e. when the sun doesn’t even rise. In Lapland this is only the case in the northern regions, around December and January.

Before you book your trip, make sure to check the length of the day so you know what to expect. Don’t worry: many activities are also possible after dark (e.g. cross-country skiing on illuminated trails or snowshoeing under the starry sky).

The sauna is a Finnish cultural asset. No winter day without a sauna – at least when it comes to the Finns. The sauna is practically a sanctuary of the country. It is not for nothing that UNESCO has declared the Finnish sauna culture as an intangible cultural heritage.

Many accommodations in Finnish Lapland have a private sauna. And once you are in If you have had this pleasure, then you understand the hype in a certain way.

2. Which place in Finnish Lapland in winter? Once you decide decided to travel to Lapland in winter, then the next challenge quickly comes: Where exactly should the journey go?

To briefly illustrate the dimensions: Finnish Lapland is larger than Austria in terms of area. In addition, the individual Regions are sometimes very different from each other – on the one hand in terms of landscape, but above all in terms of tourist infrastructure.

Good to know: Most of the Lapland highlights that are buzzing around in your head (Husky sledding, cross-country skiing, Northern Lights etc.) can be experienced anywhere in Finnish Lapland. From this point of view you can’t make a wrong decision, but we will briefly introduce you to a few regions.

Salla This quite extensive region is located in the south-east of Finnish Lapland, near the Russian border. The special thing about Salla is that you will find a wide variety of vegetation zones here. Salla is therefore often referred to as Lapland in miniature. We ourselves spent a few days in Salla and can warmly recommend this region.

Here you can find our detailed blog article: Salla Reisetipps

Posio The Riisitunturi National Park in Posio is one of the most beautiful fells in Finnish Lapland. Our hike past the snow-covered trees beyond recognition will stay in our memories forever. Posio is also known for Finnish ceramic art – you can take part in a ceramics course here, for example. We really liked this fantastically untouched region.

Here you can find our detailed blog article: Posio Travel Tips

Rovaniemi Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland and probably the most urban and tourist destination here in the north. The city is considered the official home of Santa Claus, so in addition to outdoor activities, you can also visit the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. Be sure to pay attention to the location of your accommodation: In the city center there is not much of the idyll of Lapland.

You can find a detailed overview of all regions and many other travel tips on the Lapland Tourism website .

3. Highlights in Lapland: What to do in winter? Lapland is a outdoor travel destination. Yes, despite the freezing cold, the nature experiences are clearly what you will remember most. Typically, during a winter holiday in Lapland, you book different experiences or tours, depending on your interests, be it a husky sled ride, a cross-country skiing course or a guided snowshoe hike.

A good place to start booking all of these experiences is with your accommodation. Of course, you can also search for regional tour providers on your own. Good places to go here are Getyourguide and Viator.

We would recommend that you don’t pack your time too full. One to a maximum of two experiences per day are completely sufficient according to experience. Personally, we would try to book everything as spontaneously as possible in order to be able to take the weather into account. In the case of particularly popular tours, you should of course secure a place in good time.

By the way: We would personally recommend a period of recommend five to seven nights. This gives you enough time for a wide variety of activities in Finnish Lapland.

Husky Sled Ride So fluffy! A sled ride with huskies is usually high on every traveller’s bucket list. And rightly so: The rapid ride with the four-legged friends through the wilderness of Lapland is an experience that will be remembered forever.

Huskies are naturally used to running. Although we are otherwise very skeptical about experiences with animals, a husky sled ride is an exception. We were actually not aware beforehand how much the dogs love to run.

Nevertheless, of course, there are differences in the way the animals are kept. We therefore recommend that you do a little research before you decide on a provider. A good sign is, for example, the Sustainable Travel Finland or Green Key award.

Snowshoeing A wonderful close-to-nature experience is to trudge through the snow-covered wilderness of Lapland on snowshoes. We can only warmly recommend that you put on your snowshoes at least once during your trip.

Many places in Lapland offer guided snowshoe hikes . Personally, we can only warmly recommend a tour with a guide, because he or she often knows exactly where to go and often finds the best route through the deep snow.

Alternatively, you can of course “only” borrow snowshoes and start your adventure individually. In many regions of Lapland there are trails that are specifically designed for snowshoeing.

Cross-country skiing Finland = cross-country mecca. Finns love cross-country skiing! It is not for nothing that “skiing” in Lapland is the term for cross-country skiing, not for alpine skiing as it is here.

Groomed trails are omnipresent in Lapland. Many trails are even illuminated, so you can use them in the dark. You can rent the necessary equipment almost everywhere.

If you want to learn cross-country skiing , then we definitely recommend a beginner’s course. From experience we can confirm that the movement is unfamiliar at first and that with a few tips you can achieve success much faster.

Skiing Im Compared to cross-country skiing, downhill skiing in Finnish Lapland is not that popular. Of course there are still some ski areas. However: You must not compare these with those here in the Alps.

Skiing in Lapland is much more comfortable (this is shown by the fact that there are even green slopes here that are even easier to master than blue). The gentle fells of Lapland offer a completely different terrain to the rugged Alps. The largest ski area in Finnish Lapland is si ch in Ylläs, the most famous in Levi.

Snowmobile Tour Fancy some action? Snowmobiles are ubiquitous in Lapland. Many locals use them to get around. Teens also love to go snowmobiling on weekends, to the chagrin of some parents. Because one thing is clear: a ride on a snowmobile is not without its dangers.

Nevertheless, it’s just fun to rush through the snowy wilderness of Lapland on a snowmobile. The driving experience is a bit unusual at first. You also have to get used to the engine noise of the snowmobiles. You can book snowmobile tours all over Lapland.

Fatbiking Ride a bike in the snow? Is working! And how that works. Fat bike is the name of the bike that provides good grip in the snow thanks to extra wide tires. For those who don’t want to be quite so sporty (we feel you), there are also e-fat bikes.

There are trails in different regions of Lapland, which are specially designed for fat bikes or can often be used together with others (e.g. snowshoe hikers).

After a short period of getting used to it, you quickly got used to the somewhat slippery driving experience. It’s definitely more difficult with fresh snow. We can definitely recommend a guided tour with a guide to all beginners.

Visit reindeer Unfortunately, the idea that reindeer are waiting for you on every street corner in winter in Lapland is not correct. In the winter months, many reindeer are in fenced areas. (But of course it can happen that you spot some, so always drive carefully.)

In Finnish Lapland there are actually more reindeer than people. Visiting these elegant animals is one of the absolute highlights for many holidaymakers. There are countless reindeer farms where you can also book a variety of tours.

We would definitely recommend keeping an eye on the sustainability of the reindeer farm in question throw. For example, you can look out for the environmental certificates “Sustainable Travel Finland” or “Green Key”. Personally, we would book a visit to the farm (e.g. feeding) or a snowshoe hike with reindeer instead of a ride on a reindeer sleigh.

4. Watching Northern Lights in Lapland Aurora Borealis. This melodious name is the scientific term for that natural wonder that one longs for when traveling to Lapland: the Northern Lights. They are also called the Northern Lights up here in the northern hemisphere.

First of all, we would like to dampen the high expectations a bit: No one can guarantee that you will see Northern Lights on your Lapland trip. We really advise you to consider Northern Lights as the “icing on the cake” of your trip. Because believe us: Lapland is magical even without the Northern Lights!

What are the requirements for Northern Lights? First of all, the most important thing is that the sky is dark and clear. If you can see stars, that’s a good sign. With a few clouds, the northern lights can often flash through. (We experienced that ourselves.) However, a thick cloud cover is definitely a hindrance. The clearer the sky the better.

That’s not all: The northern lights only appear when there is aurora activity. There is a key figure for this called the Kp index. This ranges from 0 to 9, with 9 being the strongest.

Roughly speaking, you can see the Northern Lights in Lapland about every second clear night. This also coincides with what we locals say have said place. They said that you can see the Northern Lights about twice a week.

App tip: Aurora Forecast To keep an eye on the aurora probability, there are countless apps. We have tested several ourselves and have had the best experience with the Aurora Forecast app.

It is important to know that apps can definitely be wrong . If the sky is clear, we would always try our luck – even if the Kp index might be too low according to the app.

Download the app here: iOS Android

Where in Lapland can I see Northern Lights in winter? All over! When the sky is dark and clear, you have a chance to see Northern Lights all over Lapland. In any case, you should stay away from light sources. (By the way, this also applies to the moon, but of course you only have limited influence on that. Don’t worry: we saw the northern lights incredibly intensively despite the extremely bright moonlight.)

We found it the best personally frozen lakes to watch the Northern Lights. With a correspondingly extensive area, you usually have a view in all directions.

5. Accommodation in Finnish Lapland Where to stay: glass igloo vs. hut vs. hotel You probably already have luxurious glass igloos that have been springing up like mushrooms in Finnish Lapland for a number of years. These glazed accommodations promise a very special experience of the Northern Lights – provided, of course, that the lights show up.

The disillusionment with research often comes quickly: glass igloos are incredibly expensive. Prices start at approximately 150 until 683 euros per night and only very few can or want to have one afford such accommodation for several days or even a week at a time.

The compromise for many is to spend most of the Lapland holiday to spend the night rather cheaply and treat yourself to a glass igloo for one or two nights. Very important: It must be a special stroke of luck that the northern lights show up on this very night. So when you book, please don’t expect too much.

Don’t worry if it’s too expensive for you: staying in Finnish Lapland is also cheap possible. For example, we stayed in Salla in an incredibly cozy, modernly furnished hut with a private sauna and fireplace (Sallatunturin Tuvat). Cost item: 125 Euro for the cottage per night.

There are also many classic hotels in Lapland – from cheap to luxurious everything is there. For example, we stayed at the incredibly secluded Wilderness Hotel Kirikeskus in Posio (and incidentally saw the Northern Lights through our window – without a glass igloo).

Our tip: No matter what you decide – when choosing your accommodation, be sure to pay attention to the location. In our opinion, the more secluded and closer to nature, the better. (Provided you are mobile with a car.)

Tips for special accommodation in Finnish Lapland Arctic TreeHouse Hotel: Great design accommodation in Rovaniemi with huge panoramic windows on the edge of the forest including a view of the countryside. Magical Pond Nature Igloos: These are located near Ruka, directly on a lake glass igloo. Really very special! Northern Lights Village Levi: This very stylish accommodation in Levi offers Glass igloo overlooking the night sky Finnish Lapland. Wilderness Hotel Kirikeskus Sallatunturin Tuvat 6. Travel costs: That’s how much a winter holiday costs Unfortunately, Finland is not exactly known as a budget travel destination and – spoilers – Lapland is no exception. However, we can reassure you: You really don’t have to spend a fortune for a wonderful winter holiday in Finnish Lapland.

Currency and payment in Finnish Lapland In Finland (and thus also in Lapland) the Euro is used to pay. Curious side fact: 1 and 2 cent coins are not in circulation, but are usually accepted.

Payment is mostly by card – even in remote regions. However, we would recommend always having some cash with you. You should keep in mind that the density of ATMs and banks in Lapland is rather low.

Price examples: How much does it cost in Finnish Lapland… ? Flight from Vienna via Helsinki to Kuusamo (there and back): approx. 400 Euro per person Car rental for one week (mid-range): approx. 150 Euro (excluding tank) Overnight stay in a cosy, traditional hut: from approx. 125 Euro (ie 20 Euro per person) Overnight stay in a luxurious glass igloo: from approx. 200 Euro (i.e. 200 Euro per person)Main course in a restaurant: approx. 20 until 25 EuroLarge beer (0.4l) in a restaurant: approx. 7 eurosHusky sled ride (2 hours): approx. 100 until 150 Euro per person 7. How to get there: How to get to Finnish Lapland How to get to Finnish Lapland is faster and easier than expected. There are several airports. Depending on where you are traveling to in Lapland, you can easily fly to the nearest airport.

The biggest and busiest frequented airport is the one in Rovaniemi, Lapland’s capital. Also popular is Kuusamo Airport (e.g. for a trip to Salla or Ruka-Kuusamo) or Kittilä Airport (e.g. for a trip to Levi or Ylläs).

The flight from German-speaking countries to Lapland usually includes a stopover in Helsinki. From Helsinki you are only about an hour’s flight from Lapland. (Or 1.5 hours if you fly all the way north.) From selected destinations (e.g. London, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich) there are even direct flights to Rovaniemi at certain times of the year.

You can search for cheap flights here: Skyscanner

To get from the airport to your accommodation , we personally recommend a rental car. The reason is that you are much more flexible on site and can move around individually. (Don’t worry: Driving on the snowy roads of Lapland really isn’t half as wild as we will show you in the next chapter.)

If you don’t want to drive yourself, then it’s best to turn around to your accommodation. Many accommodations offer transfers to and from the nearest airport.

8th. Driving in Lapland: Tips & Interesting Facts Road conditions in winter in Lapland Snowy road olé! What you can expect: Most roads in Lapland are covered with snow and/or ice in winter. Driving on a snowy road in winter in Finnish Lapland is the absolute rule and not an exception.

However: cars in Lapland are equipped with special winter tires (similar to spikes) fitted. (By the way, this also applies to rental cars, but to be on the safe side, it’s best to get more information from the rental company before picking up the car.) Thanks to these tires, you’ll have surprisingly good grip on the snowy and icy roads.

In general, the roads in Lapland is incredibly light traffic. It can easily happen that not a single car comes towards you for half an hour because there is so little going on.

A few specific tips for driving The maximum speed in winter is at 20 km/h – but often lower. We strongly recommend that you stick to it. Braking distances in wintry conditions are significantly longer. Take curves always slowly – you slide faster than you thought (despite a good grip).Oncoming trucks can throw up massive amounts of snow as they pass, causing visibility to be zero in an instant. You should be prepared for that.Consider , that you should clear your car of snow before leaving and, if necessary, ice scrape. (Brooms and ice scrapers are available in every rental car.) Plan enough time for this. There are significantly fewer gas stations in sparsely populated Lapland than here. Therefore, do not delay refueling forever when the tank filling is slowly coming to an end. As a driver, you should definitely have sunglasses at hand. The snow can be incredibly blinding when the sun is shining. Book a car rental in Finnish Lapland You can easily book your rental car online. We like to use Sunny Cars here. Sunny Cars is a comparison platform that compares cheap offers from local rental car companies (e.g. Avis, Europcar). You book through Sunny Cars and then simply pick up your car on site at the rental car company.

No matter where you book – make sure you have the appropriate insurance cover! It is important that you book comprehensive insurance without excess (or alternatively with reimbursement). This guarantees that you will not incur any costs in the event of damage (or that you will be reimbursed for the costs). Conveniently, Sunny Cars comes with this option automatically.

In Finnish Lapland there are car rentals at every airport. The airports are also tiny, so you don’t have to travel any significant distances and you can load your luggage into the rental car in no time.

Transparency: Advertising & Affiliate Left Our trip to Finnish Lapland was created in cooperation with the two regions Visit Salla & Posio Lapland. Of course we are free to report. This cooperation has no influence on our honest opinion.

This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links . If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Do you have any other questions about planning a trip to Finnish Lapland? Or would you like to add your personal travel tips? We look forward to your comment!