The multitude of things to do in Lapland is surely impressive. Equally impressive are the prices of such activities if one had to book them with a tourist company here. After starting our trip in Levi where we slept in a glass igloo (for more info on this experience read my previous blog post), we decided to spend most of our trip in Rovaniemi since after the research made, this location offers more variety of activities. Basically when visiting Lapland you have 3 choices:
1. The first option is to go for the easy way out and book all your activities with companies like Lapland Excursions. The advantages of booking with such companies is that the activities available are very numerous, you do not have to worry on how to get there and some of these companies also offer adequate clothing that you can wear during your trip (not just during the activities).
2. The second option is to rent a car. This is the middle range in terms of costs and variety of activities you can do. Driving has its perks as you are free to go wherever you want at whichever time you prefer to. However driving in Lapland may not be everyone’s piece of cake. In the morning you have to clean your car from the snow and you have to be careful where to drive as you can get stuck in the snow (it happened to us and we had to be rescued with a snow cat!). You will surely save money as you will be able to do a good range of activities at lower costs than booking them with a local company.
3. The third option is to rely on public transport or private transfers to the locations where you can do your preferred activities. At first I was going to do a mix between public transport and excursions booked with a tourist company. However we enjoy too much the freedom of driving when we are abroad, therefore we then decided to drive in the harsh conditions of Lapland and even though we had a couple of mishaps we do not regret it!
Below are my top things to do in Lapland, however this list is surely not exhaustive as there are a lot of other things you can do while visiting the area.
10. Try out ice skating in the centre of Rovaniemi
Visiting the centre of Rovaniemi is a must. You can enjoy a warm cup of coffee, visit the small Christmas market with vendors selling local handicrafts, go for some shopping in one of the shopping centres or just take a walk along the frozen river. You can even try ice skating in Lordi Square.
9. Taste local grilled salmon in a traditional Lappish Kota
Who said that you cannot have a barbecue in Winter? Trying local salmon is a must in all Scandinavian countries. And which better way to taste it if not in a Kota? This is a traditional hut, at the centre of which there is a fire that serves both to warm up, as well as a grill. The above Kota can be found right inside Santa’s Village and serves truly delicious salmon. As all the restaurants here however, beware of the prices. The above serving comes at the price €22!
8. Warm up with some Glögi
I am not able to bear the cold for more than a certain amount of time. My hands and my face (although I was adequately dressed) started to freeze! So Glögi (together with hot chocolate) was the solution. This drink originally consists of warm grape juice with spices such as cinnamon, cloves. There is also another version, which is alcoholic, where you can add Brandy or another liquor to your Glögi.
7. Meet the real Santa Claus in Santa’s village
Meeting the real Santa Claus is one of the reasons many people travel to Lapland. His home is just outside Rovaniemi and getting to it can be conveniently done by bus, booking an excursion or by car. The entrance is free and apart from his house there are a lot of other activities that you can do like writing letters to Santa (extra cost), shop for the most beautiful Christmas decorations I have ever seen, and a a lot of activities for kids. You can find more details on the website of the Santa Claus Village.
6. Get your elf certificate after attending the elf school
A couple of minutes away from Santa Claus village is Santa Park, the underground cavern of Santa Claus. Here the elves manage the show and by paying your entrance fee of €33 you can participate in all the activities inside the park, like gingerbread decorating, visiting the ice sculpture museum, assisting to the acrobatic elf show, riding the magic train etc. You can check out all the activities here. This place will surely bring back the child in you!
5. Go for a husky safari
This is surely another must. Husky safaris are several and once again you have to book an excursion with one of the local companies or else drive yourself to one of the parks where you can do this activity. The most convenient option is going to Husky Park that is next to Santa Claus village. You can choose the length of safari you prefer or you can choose to roam around the park and just pet these adorable cuties.
4. Experience the silence of the Lappish forests on a reindeer sleigh
This is one of those experiences during which you truly feel you are in a fairy tale. The forests are so silent and being carried around by a reindeer is priceless! There is no need to fear the cold as the carriage goes slow and you will be given a warm cover all made of reindeer skin. Once again this is one of the activities that can be done near Santa Claus park, although you can choose from other reindeer farms or excursions that are offered by local tour providers.
3. Visit an ice hotel
There are several ice hotels in the area and the one in the above photos is quite far away from Rovaniemi (around 2 hours drive). There are several snow hotels in the area where you can go. This one featured several sculptures with the Game of Thrones theme and an ice bar where you can buy a drink served in an ice glass. However you can choose to spend the night on an ice bed. Obviously there is no central heating here!
2. Sleep in a glass igloo
This was the highlight of our trip in Lapland as sleeping in a glass igloo is an experience out of this world. Enjoying the marvellous arctic scenery and the snow falling on the roof of the igloo, cosy from the comfort of our bed was too awesome. You can read more on this experience by visiting my previous post with tips on sleeping in an igloo in Lapland.
1. Take in the marvellous arctic scenery
I live in Malta, an island graced with plenty of sunshine but lacks snows. Therefore seeing snow will always be special for me. I always try to organise a trip at least once a year that includes experiencing some snow. But the landscapes in Lapland are beyond just seeing snow. If you are lucky enough to have at least one sunny day (like we had on our first day) you will be amazed by the hues of pink and oranges that cover the skies and are reflected on the white snow for over 3/4 hours. This is a dream for photographers! Although days are short it’s as if the golden hour lasts all day long!