The Ultimate Guide to visiting Finnish Lapland in winter

A lamp post reading Arctic Circle

If you are looking for the Ultimate Winter Wonderland you cannot go passed the Finnish Lapland. It is of course the home of Santa Claus and one of the most magical places in the world. Lapland is filled with snow, fairy lights, warm food, igloos, tree houses, husky sleds and snowball fights.

Finnish Lapland in winter makes you feel as though you are in a different world. It is a place where all of your Christmas and winter dreams can come true (as lame as that sounds!). When we visited Lapland last winter, I didn’t want to leave and I cannot wait to go back.

But, is Finnish Lapland in winter really worth the cost?

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The Best guide to Finnish Lapland in Winter

Here’s a few posts to help you plan your winter trip:
The Santa Claus Express to Lapland
8 of the best places to see the Northern Lights
The Best European Destinations in Winter
The Dreamiest Hotel in the world: The Arctic Treehouse hotel
The Ultimate Guide to visiting Santa Claus Village

Finnish Lapland in Winter

A red post surrounded by snowing showing a thermometer reading -6 degrees

Finnish Lapland in winter is a magical experience but it is also a very different experience, especially if you are not used to the short day light hours and the weather! We visited in January and being Australian, our January’s are usually very hot!!!

Each day the sun rose at approximately 10am and began to set again around 2pm. This does not mean that it was only light between 10am and 2pm, twilight seemed to last a lot longer than normal. We had some kind of day light between 9am and 3pm.

Finnish Lapland in winter was a very unusual winter in Finnish Lapland with the lowest temperature reaching -12°. Normally in January the maximum temperature for the day is -20°. During the day the temperature was about -2°. As long as you bring some good cold weather gear and lots of layers the temperatures are bearable. If you get too cold it is a great excuse to head inside and warm up with a hot chocolate or Glögg.

Travel Insurance

sunset over a frozen lake

I always recommend travelling with travel insurance but I think in a place like Lapland it is super important. The amount of snow around and the activities that you can participate in are likely to increase your chances of having an accident or needing your travel insurance. I always use World Nomads because it is an insurance company by travellers for travellers.

How to get to Lapland

There are a few options for getting to Lapland but we took the Santa Claus Express Night Train. Waiting at Helsinki Train station I have never been so excited. I felt like a little kid the night before Christmas.

The train journey takes around 12 hours from Helsinki and to Rovaniemi, we loved going to sleep in Helsinki and waking up in a Winter Wonderland.

If you choose to fly you can fly to Rovaniemi airport which is just a short trip from the city center, and many hotels outside of Rovaniemi will do transfer to or from the airport. Rovaniemi is approximately three hours from London.

Where to stay

We stayed three nights in Lapland and in two different locations. The accommodation was not cheap at all but it was something that we allowed for in our budget.

Arctic Fox Igloos, Ranua

The Arctic Fox Igloos were an amazing experience. Laying in a nice warm, cosy bed whilst looking out at the snow and the stars above. This has always been a dream of mine and I was super excited to be able to wake up on my birthday inside my very own igloo.

Situated on the shore of the frozen Lake Ranuanjärvi and surrounded by a snow covered woodland forest.

Each igloo consists of a bedroom for two, a small kitchenette (it is possible to cook a meal in these kitchens), a bathroom which includes a private sauna and a view out of the igloo.

The glass walls are heated which prevents snow or frost from lying on the igloos. There is a timber box at the back of the igloo to provide privacy in the bathroom and sauna and you can pull curtains around the bottom two thirds of the glass walls.

The igloos are approximately a one hour drive from Rovaniemi but they do offer return transfers for 48€ per person.

One the way from Rovaniemi the driver will stop at the supermarket for you to pick up some supplies.

The restaurant at the igloos is nice but they have the same menu every night so if you like variety I would buy some snacks or a meal to cook.

The igloos were built in 2018 and it seemed that the customer service was still being worked on.

However, we absolutely loved out two night stay here and would stay again.

When we weren’t out doing activities (see below) we were content to sit in our igloo with the lights off gazing out the moon lit frozen lake.

It is possible to see the Northern Lights from your igloo and the second night were there the Northern Lights did put on a show. However, we were on a Northern Lights trip so we did not see them from our igloo.

Room Tip: As soon as you book your igloo ask for a front row igloo.

We noticed that some of the front row igloos were empty but people were still staying in the second row so it is important that you ask for the front row.

Most of the rooms have twin beds but you can push these together.

The Arctic Treehouse Hotel

Arctic Tree House Hotel is a slice of heaven. Located 2km from Santa’s Village if feels as though you are in the middle of no where.

The Tree Houses (or nests) are beautifully decorated and it feels as though everything has been thought of. Each nest has a full length window to enjoy the beautiful snowy view outside the window.

The inside of an arctic hotel room

The staff seemed as though they couldn’t do enough for you. We had mentioned that it was my birthday whilst we were staying with them and we arrived to a beautiful bottle of champagne.

Champagne and glasses in a wine bucket

The food at the restaurant is amazing and so is the restaurant itself. On the day we were leaving we spent a few hours enjoying lunch and a few drinks by the fire place. It was just amazing.

The only downside to our stay was that we were only staying one night! We will most definitely be back to stay at the Tree House.

Room Tip: After reading some reviews saying they were facing a car park I emailed (maybe more than once!) to request a front row room facing the forest.

When we were walking around the hotel we did not notice any rooms facing a car park. If you want be sure I would ask for a room facing the forest, we stayed in room 51.

What to do

We did all of our activities in Ranua at the Arctic Fox Igloos, however, the same activities were available at The Arctic Tree House/Santa’s Village

Reindeer Sleigh Ride

When I think of Lapland I picture Reindeer, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a Reindeer Sleigh ride.

Whilst it is slightly awkward sitting nice and warm in a sleigh while someone walks a Reindeer 3km it is a pretty cool experience that you don’t get to do every day!

The reindeer sleigh ride is 55€ per person for 45 minutes

Ranua Zoo

Three owls sitting in an green box

Located approximately 10 minutes (by car) from the Arctic Fox Igloos is Gulo Gulo Village.

This is where all of the activities are done and the home of the Ranua zoo. We absolutely loved walking around the zoo with the snow falling.

There are so many arctic animals to see that you don’t get the chance to see any where else such as the arctic fox!

Tickets are 18.50€ per adult in the summer and 15.00€ per adult in the winter.

If you go after 2pm in the winter it is recommended that you take a torch with you.

Husky Sleigh Ride

In my view, a visit to Finnish Lapland in winter would not be complete without a Husky Sleigh Ride across the beautiful snowy landscape!

Learning to “drive” a Husky sled and then putting all your trust in a foot break as the gorgeous husky fly off is an amazing feeling.

The Husky Safari last for two hours and all of your warm weather gear is included in the price.

Huskies standing on snow

As you steer the sled yourself you are required to have two people per sled. There is the chance half way to change drivers so you can both have a go at steering.

At the end of the safari as you take the husky’s back to the kennels you get the opportunity to pat and play with the huskies!

The price per adult is 114€ and 70€ for children. The cost includes the two hour safari and the warm weather gear.

The gear is optional but I highly recommend that you use it, it is warm when you are steering the sled but pretty chilly when you are sitting in the sled.

Hunting for the Northern Lights Snow Mobile Safari

Seeing the Northern Lights has always been something that I have wanted to experience and see with my own eyes so this activity was a must for me.

We were given a brief lesson on how to drive the snow mobile and then we drove out to the wilderness before pausing in a snow covered field to light a fire and cook some sausages!

Fire pit in the snow

As soon as we reached our break spot the Aurora’s made a slight appearance. The sight of the lights, albeit the very faint sight, was an indescribable feeling.

We were very lucky to see the lights and a few times throughout the tour.

You are not guaranteed to see the Northern Lights and I am not sure how much I would have loved it if we didn’t see the lights!

I was super uncomfortable driving the snowmobile but my partner loved it!

It costs 132€ per adult and 93€ per child. These costs include your snowmobile, the food and drink you consume during your break and your cold weather gear.

They do offer extra liability insurance for 15€ per person but we did not take this as it seemed unnecessary, so make sure you ask a few questions before purchasing the extra insurance.

Santa’s Village

Santa’s Village is really worth a visit if you are in Rovaniemi. There are plenty of shops to look at, activities such as the ones above, crossing the arctic circle but the most exciting thing was…..visiting Santa Claus.

I felt like I was 7 again going to have my Santa photo taken and he was the real deal!! Don’t forget to stop by Santa’s Post Office and post yourself a letter that will be sent to you next Christmas

Is Lapland Really worth the cost?

I have found that there are many experiences and accommodations that you pay a lot for and they don’t quite seem worth it.

In total (transport, accommodation and activities) Lapland cost us $4001.73 for three nights.

Please note this cost includes our overnight train, which we received a huge discount on because we had a bought a Eurail pass.

Read more: The Ultimate guide to the using the Eurail Pass

$4001.73 for three nights? Was it worth it? Yes! 100% it was worth it. We were travelling for four months on a BUDGET but we put aside money for especially for Lapland.

We said it would be a once in a lifetime trip but we have already said how we are saving to go back to Lapland again. We wouldn’t change a thing about our trip.

I would suggest to anyone who is considering going to Lapland in the winter to save as much money as they can to go to Lapland.

If you would like to do it on a smaller budget, I would recommend staying one night in the Tree House (if this is possible) and then staying in an Airbnb and saving your money for activities.

Even without staying in fancy accommodation you will still have an amazing time.

Have you been to Finnish Lapland in Winter? What was your favourite thing? Let me know in the comments below

Fiona xoxo

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Finnish Lapland in Winter

My BEST Travel Resources

Here are my favourite travel resources for planning travel like a pro

Flights: To find the best flights I always search on Google Flights or Skyscanner. For even cheaper flights, fly mid week and pack in a carry on!

Accommodation: I always use booking.com (I love their price match and flexible cancellation policies) or Airbnb (if I want a little more space) to book trip. If you prefer hostels, I suggest Hostelworld.

If you are new to Airbnb you can get an awesome discount using this link

Travel Insurance: After a few hairy moments on my travels, I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance. It may seem like a big cost now, but if the worst happens, it will save you a lot of money and heartache. I personally use World Nomads (and love them!), but I recommend that you do some research to find the insurance company that suits your needs.

Tours: While I prefer to travel independently, I do love doing some tours once I’m in a destination. It is a great way to find out history, hidden gems, taste local food and get a local insight into your destination. I always use Viator to book my tours.

Train Travel: If you are planning on taking the train in Europe, I cannot recommend the Eurail enough! Check out The Ultimate Guide to the Eurail Pass to find out why

Car Hire: Planning an epic road trip across the US or through Europe, or anywhere! Check out Europcar, they are my go to for car hire all over the world!

Luggage Storage: Some times when we are travelling our check in and check out times don’t match with our departure times so we have to put our luggage into storage. Stasher Luggage Storage is the biggest Luggage Storage Network across the UK, France and Germany

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