Vast wilderness covered in snow and filled with lakes and forests makes Finland one of the most beautiful and scenic European countries. If you have any doubts why Finland should be on your radar than first read my previous fairytale post about how Finnish Lapland stole my heart, forever! If you need more convincing, here’s a list of top 10 unique things you must do in this magical dreamland. Don’t miss any!
1. Say hello to a real Santa Clause
It wouldn’t be Lapland without him! Start your fairy tale with meeting the Santa in his village, at the arctic circle near Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. You can meet Santa every day of the year, it’s free of charge (except photos with him, that you must pay to his elves).
In Santa village you can easily spend a week! It’s a huge place with a hotel, a few restaurants and shops, Santa’s post office, reindeer and husky farm and snowman’s world (+ Santa Park). This is an arctic kind of Disneyland and if you are visiting Lapland with kids than plan to stay here more than just a day!
Find out more about Santa on his web page HERE
2. Meet Sami, the reindeer people
Lapland is not just home to Santa! It’s also a home to one of the oldest people in Europe, the Sami! Sami’s rich culture and long history are a true gem of the Northern Lapland.
Find out more of this amazing indigenous European ‘tribe’ HERE
3. Enjoy the magic of the Northern Lights
Oh, Lady Aurora, you ‘dirty’ dancer! How you amazed me! You are really too beautiful for words!
If you are planning your visit to Lapland during winter, from November till the end of March, then don’t miss to look up in the sky! You might see the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world – the magical dance of the Northern Lights!
Read more about the Northern Lights and watch my Aurora time-lapse HERE
4. Spend a night in a glass igloo or ice hotel
This one is really unique! There are just a few places in the world where you can experience spending a night in the ice hotel or glass igloo! Glass igloos are even more fun as during night you can watch through a ‘glass roof’ one of the best movies ever, Aurora dance in the sky! Aaaamazing!
5. Learn how to ride a dog sledge
Husky sled tours are probably the most fun winter activity that you can do in Lapland. Don’t just sit and let someone else ride your sledge, do it yourself! It’s so much fun! Don’t worry, the mushers will show you how to do it. First 100 – 200 meters is a bit scary as dogs can’t wait to start running, but after a few minutes when you all figure it out you’ll be amazed how cool is to ride a sledge with a 6 – 8 huskies in the middle of a snowy fairy tale.
I’ve visited Husky Guesthouse near Ivalo, you can check their page HERE. Prices for the tours start from around 100 EUR.
6. Get your own Reindeer Driver’s Licence
Go on a reindeer safari and experience unique reindeer sledge ride after which you’ll get your own international reindeer driving licence! How cool is that! So when you come back home, you can sell your car and buy a Rudolph to drive you around.
I visited Purnumukka reindeer farm near Saariselkä. You can participate there in reindeer safaris of various lengths and kinds, enjoy lunch or coffee in the ‘kota’ (Lapp tepee), discuss reindeer and reindeer management, listen to traditional Lappish chanting or even try your hand at throwing the lasso. Prices are lower if you contact a farm directly. I paid 50 EUR for a 3 – 4 hours reindeer safari.
7. Taste reindeer (from meat to droppings)
Yes, you read it right – when in Finland beside delicious reindeer hamburger you have to try a reindeer droppings too! That’s not a joke, they sell it in a store, next to chocolate and pasta. Beside reindeer an essential role in the Lappish cuisine play salmon, whitefish, mushrooms and wild berries. Very simple but delicious! Don’t miss it!
Photo: Lauri Rotko
8. Experience combination of sauna & ice swimming
Going to the sauna is among the oldest of Finnish traditions. In winter you can ‘spice’ a bit classical sauna by combining it with a refreshing dip in the frozen lake through a hole in the lake. Sounds pretty scary, but it is actually very healthy for the body!
There are many lakeside cottages with a sauna to rent in Lapland where you can experience this thrill. Another option is to book yourself a sauna program from a local tour operator or from a hotel you’ll stay in.
9. Relax in a cabin
No visit to Lapland is complete without spending a few days in a cabin in the middle of nowhere! Go into the woods, find a cabin with a fireplace and just relax doing nothing.
I’ve spent 4 unforgettable days in the Tankavaara village in a small wooden cabin surrounded by pure nature. What a life! During the day you can ‘get lost’ in the spectacular scenery around you while at night you can watch Aurora dance by the fireplace.
Find out more about ‘my’ cabin in the Tankavaara village HERE
10. Get lost!
There is no better place on Earth for getting lost and enjoy the silence than a vast wilderness of Lapland. Being able to roam free in ‘white vast desert’ is one of the most unique experiences I have ever had. Go further north from Rovaniemi and spend few days in Tankavaara or Saariselkä where you can ‘get lost’ in the most scenic wilderness ever!