Lapland is at the TOP of my favorite destinations in the world since I visited it at the beginning of the year. If you visit it, you will for sure experience one of the biggest contrasts you can possibly get in Europe. Not because of the cold but mostly because of its’ breathtaking landscapes. It is, really honestly speaking, a unique experience.
It’s true that Lapland is mostly visited during Chrismas holidays. Many travelers arrive in Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, to visit Santa Claus in his official residence. Despite this fact, I highly recommend you to visit it outside the Christmas holidays period. You can go in January or February and with 4 or 5 days you will have enough. The sun will shine and you will be able to do the same activities but prices will be lower. Plus, January and February are usually the best months to spot the Northern Lights.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION TO PLAN YOUR TRIP
Where is the Finnish Lapland?
Finish Lapland is the furthest north region of Finland and it is the bigger geographical region inside the Lapland territories, which also include other countries like Norway or Russia. The Finnish municipality located furthest north is Utsjoki. In this village, located even norther than Iceland and some regions of Canada and Alaska, is among the least inhabited of Finish Lapland.
How to get to Finnish Lapland?
Before exploring the region, you first need to get there. The easiest, most comfortable and used way is to fly to Rovaniemi, capital of Lapland, via Helsinki, as I did. During winter, due to high season, there is at least 1 daily flight.
This is how:
- I took a flight from BCN Terminal 2 to Helsinki-Vantaa (the main one) with Norwegian for only 104€ (round trip/ return on Tuesday).
- We spent the night in a private room with shared bathroom in the EUROHOSTEL of Helsinki for 52,60€.
If you are thinking of booking a room soon through Booking.com, you might be interested in this 15€ discount. With your discount, I will also gain a 15€ discount and both of us will be able to travel cheaper!
- I flew from Helsinki-Vantaa to Rovaniemi with Norwegian for only 120€ (round trip/return on Tuesday).
If you are looking for more practical information like how to get from/to Helsinki airport by public transport, what to visit in a short layover or which other airline options you might have for flying to Rovaniemi, I will have a post on that very soon.
Once in Lapland, how to move around?
The magic of Lapland is discovering their untouched and spectacular landscapes, full of immensity, and to freely lose yourself in their roads. With no hurry. That’s why I strongly believe that the best way to move around Lapland is by renting a car. I did it like this and I would have not enjoyed it so much if I had been in another way.
Skandia Rental is a local car renting company and it’s the one I used. We could book without a credit card, they confirmed the booking soon after that and the service was great. We rented a car with unlimited kilometers for 4 days for only 201,25€! It was a great price given the season but we would not have got it if we had traveled in December and not in February.
If you finally decide to explore Lapland by car, I highly recommend you to book the car as soon as you can. Not only because of the prices but also because of the car availability. Despite the fact that there is some car renting companies at Rovaniemi airport, the availability of cars is still scarce.
Also, if you decide to move around by car, please pay attention at your fuel level. Running out of fuel in such a cold environment can become a really big problem.
Day 1 – From Helsinki to Rovaniemi and from there to Äkäslompolo:
We woke up in a very snowy Helsinki with very little time to explore. We headed first to Helsinki Cathedral and later to Uspenski Cathedral, the two main icons of the city. After that, we had to go straight to the airport.
By midday, we were flying to Rovaniemi. The flight was calmed and it took us a bit more than an hour. The views before landing were just spectacular. Once we stepped out of the airplane, we went straight to the renting car counter. We had to wait for some minutes until the guy from our car rental arrived. He had turned on the car and the car heating for us… so nice!
After some minutes we were already leaving behind the airport and Rovaniemi while we headed north to Äkäslompolo. That night we stayed in a private room with shared bathroom at the 7 Fells Hostel and it cost 64€. The hostel was really nice and cozy and the rooms were simple but well decorated in a Nordic style.
Day 2 – From Äkäslompolo to Muonio:
We woke up surrounded by lots of snow and some spectacular views of the woods from the entrance of our room. Once we were in the car ready to start our day, we noticed that the exterior temperature was falling close to -30ºC.
On that day, we were going to attempt to visit an ethical reindeer farm but it ended like that, as an attempt. Despite that, we decided to keep enjoying our trip and the amazing views that Lapland has to offer.
For lunch time we stopped at Levi (or the Finnish Aspen, as I call it). Differently, to other places, Levi was full of life. People were going around the shops, restaurants and ski station without being affected by the cold – at least apparently! With no doubt, if you are around this area, visit Levi. For lunch, for curiosity, for whatever you want. You won’t regret it!
That night we arrived in Muonio. We had rented a small cottage with a Finnish sauna in the middle of nowhere and very close to the border with Sweden. We paid 124€/night/2-pax. and, although we only stayed one night, it was a great experience. Unfortunately, that night we kept having zero luck in seeing the Northern Lights.
Day 3 – From Muonio to Enontekiö:
When we planned the trip, we wanted to maximize our chances to see the Northern Lights. That’s why we tried to get the furthest we could and, on the following day, we drove 80km more to Enontekiö. In that small village lost in the north of Lapland, we stayed at Hotelli Jussans Tupa for 95€/night/2-pax.
Since there is not much to do in this area of the world and it was so cold outside, we took the car again and drove more up north. We drove so much to the north that we ended up in a Norwegian village named Kautokeino. We found nothing special in the way but it was fun to see we were getting to the most northern areas of the world. At the same time, it was also a bit frightening to contemplate the sunset in the middle of such an immense view and harsh climate.
Once we returned to the hotel, we grabbed a bite and waited for the time scheduled as the best to contemplate the Northern Lights. It had to be the day. We had no better chance than that one so we went out to find them… and they were not there!
Day 4 – From Enontekiö to Rovaniemi:
After missing our best chance to spot the Northern Lights, I could not help being a bit disappointed. I told myself that maybe next time but I could not understand how a small group of tourists who came back to the hotel when we were going out saw them and we didn’t… In any case, I like to think that everything happens for a reason.
When we were done with breakfast we headed to Hetta, where we learned and experienced mushing culture with the company Hetta Huskies. We discovered the different roles that each dog plays when pushing the sled, how they learn the paths in summer, etc. We also learned how to “drive” the sled and even did a small route afterward.
When we finished, I could not help cuddling with all the dogs of my little team, they were amazing! With NO DOUBT, it was one of the best experiences of my life, although it was also one of the toughest (we were at -30ºC for 1:30h)!
We spent the rest of the day driving back to Rovaniemi. We had zero time so we didn’t see anything in the city. On the following day, we had two flights to take before arriving home.
Día 5 – From Rovaniemi to Barcelona:
The last day of the trip. We said goodbye to the Finnish Lapland but before… we visited Santa Claus at his home in Santa Claus Village! Since every Christmas he travels around the world, he has learned many languages. We could exchange some words in Spanish with him and we even got a picture!
After this, we could not avoid anymore saying goodbye to such a snowed paradise. It had captivated me. A harsh way of living due to nature and climate but, at the same time, so beautifully enriched by nature… Lapland is amazing and if you go… you will fall in love!
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