These are Reasons to Visit Finnish Lapland
Before finally deciding to visit colder places this winter, after fully experiencing my first winter of life (in my thirties, I know. I’m after), I realized that this is actually one of my favorite seasons.
There are so many things you can only do when it’s really, really cold outside, and Finnish Lapland is the perfect place to do them all. From playing in the snow to all the adrenaline activities and cool things you can do solo or with friends, I was really impressed by the offers there and I found myself fantasizing about renting a small chalet there next winter, just so I could ski on these quiet slopes and look at the sky hoping for the northern lights.
Here are 13 things that I have tried and that I have a feeling that you will also like when you visit Lapland:
The best things to do in Lapland:
1. Throw boiling water into the air and watch it turn into icy steam
I’ve been wanting to try this trick since I saw it on YouTube. If you are cold enough somewhere, you can throw boiling water into the air and it will immediately turn into icy steam. It’s like a magic trick! It got down to -27°C/ -16.6°F while I was in Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland, so it was just cold enough to work.
Tip: Try throwing in a small amount first to make sure it really works so you don’t get burned if it’s not cold or dry enough.
2. Visit (or stay in) a hotel made entirely of snow and ice
I visited two nice hotels in Finnish Lapland – Snowman World Igloo Hotel in Rovaniemi and SnowVillage in Kittilä. The really cool thing is that they change every year with new designs and new ice sculptures. It took a team of 30 people about two weeks to build them, and each was so large that it had at least a dozen themed rooms, plus an ice cream parlor, a restaurant, and snow art.
SnowVillage even had a church where several people got married this year:
3. Go snowmobiling
In Lapland, the snowmobile is a way to get from point A to point B. Many locals use the snowmobile as the main mode of transport in winter, which I thought was pretty cool! You can even do multi-day explorations to Sweden or Norway, which I would like to try next time I’m there.
It is quite easy to control snowmobiles, and they are also quite stable. I took one on a frozen lake in Rovaniemi with Lapland Safaris (which is also in Ylläsjärvi) and I completely mastered it after a few minutes. If you have ever driven a motorcycle, you will find it even easier.
4. Go to dogsled
Dog sledding is actually a North American tradition, but of course, I had to travel to the other side of the world to try it. The conditions in Lapland are perfect for dogs, which do best in solid, dry snow, which happens when it is especially cold outside.
If you’ve had a lot of interactions with Huskies, you know how energetic they are. These guys were eager to escape, and it was surprisingly quiet, which I didn’t expect, to sit on the back of their sleigh. Book your dog sledding adventure here.
5. Snowshoeing in the silence of the night
Finland is one of the safest countries in the world, especially Lapland, so it’s not a problem to walk around with snowshoes (you know, so as not to sink into the snow up to your thighs) and go for a night walk. I did it a few times when I was there, and it was so peaceful – I didn’t really want to leave. Book here
6. Opt for a gondola ride to the sauna
The Finnish sauna is a big part of the culture and to be honest, the idea of walking into a small wooden room and sweating my brain didn’t appeal, but I think it’s because it wouldn’t appeal in the hot climate where I come from. If it’s cool and cold outside, it’s delicious.
In the ski resort of Ylläs you can rent a sauna gondola, then drink beer, go out to a jacuzzi and use the other sauna inside. It doesn’t make much financial sense for one or two people, but with a group of 12 and 4 gondola trips, plus the VIP room inside, it’s actually a really cool idea that only costs each. Contact them here if it piques your interest.
7. Then, roll in the snow or take a dip in an icy lake afterward
I almost refused to run outside and jump into the hole in the ice of a lake after my first sauna, but that’s the flip side of the coin as far as Finnish tradition is concerned. After the extreme heat, you need to experience the extreme cold, then warm up again and repeat. Some people jump into an ice lake, others roll in the snow. I ended up doing both and felt so relaxed afterward-it’s actually something I would do now without hesitation.
It is particularly appreciated for its detoxifying benefits, but athletes even use this method for endurance training! (Note: This is not for people with heart problems).
8. Admire the trees in Äkäslompolo
One of the most exciting things for me while visiting Lapland was that I could see what I call the Whoville trees. These are tall thin trees with ice on their branches and at certain heights, they look different.
In Äkäslompolo, a village near the Ylläs ski area, you can climb high enough to see them and even walk through them at night. Several are lit up and they look cool.
9. Go skiing
The Ylläs ski area had some really nice slopes, especially since they go through these really cool trees and there is so much snow! I also had a few descents where I didn’t see anyone else all my descent.
I was also able to do four red runs in Ylläs, officially graduating from the blues I had when I learned to ski in Austria a week earlier. Skiing on these dreamy, wide, and powdery slopes in Finland without the crowds gave me a great opportunity to continue learning.
If you prefer Nordic skiing or snowboarding, you can do both. Backcountry skiing and snowboarding are also popular for more advanced boys. There is also this awesome skiing and photography excursion that I would have loved to do.
10. Go on a reindeer safari at sunrise
The inhabitants of Lapland used reindeer as the main means of transportation. The animals have given, and still, give, a lot to the inhabitants in terms of food, warm clothes from their skins, and even tools from their antlers, which they lose and regrow every year.
I loved learning that reindeer are actually semi-wild and that every winter they voluntarily return to their “home” stables because they know they can find food there. In spring and summer, they live in the forest where they feed and give birth to their young.
11. Catch the Northern Lights
Of course, this is never a guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights, but Finnish Lapland is one of the main places where people will catch them.
I was a bit unlucky with the weather and had cloudiness for most of the trip, but fortunately around midnight on my penultimate night there, the clouds cleared and there was a bit of aurora activity! It’s something we never get tired of.
12. Say hello to Santa Claus.
I bet you didn’t know, Santa’s official residence is in Rovaniemi, Finland. You can visit him for free if you wish.
13. Playing with fire
There is so much snow everywhere in Lapland and there are many hours of darkness, so you can try the steel wool trick without risking burning a forest.
The first step, tear off a piece of steel wool. Step two, stick it in an egg beater. Step three, tie a string to it so that you can twist it. Step four, cover your head and arms. Step 5, Put On the fire and turn it over. That’s how I get my kick!