10 things to do in Lapland at Christmas
10 things to do in Lapland at Christmas
Lapland is one of the most popular Christmas destinations, partly because of the legend saying that Santa Claus lives there, and partly due to the many attractions created by the Finnish just to attract tourists. Some of the recommended Christmas activities will cost you some money, while for others all you need to do is go out and admire the amazing sight, similar to the one you know from Christmas cards.
1. Northern Lights
Lapland is located north of the Arctic Circle, which means you can witness here a spectacular show every night between January and April. Going to Lapland does not guarantee you will see the Northern Lights, as the phenomenon is unpredictable, but keep an eye on the sky when the night is clear and dark and you might be lucky.
Lapland is not a destination for pretentious skiers looking for giant slopes; if you are a beginner or you just ski pretty well and that’s all, the snow covering Lapland from October to April will be perfect for you. In Lapland, cross-country skiing is practiced, which means you’ll have to move across on your own instead of using ski lifts.
3. Visiting Santa Claus
Santa Claus does live in Lapland! His official home is in Rovaniemi and children accompanying their parents to Lapland are always rushing in to visit the joyful red-coated old man. The main attractions in the area include the Santa Claus Village where you can see the post office where letters from around the world end up, the Santa Park, a Christmas-themed park, and Jolukka, a rural attraction where children can meet Santa’s elves, see reindeers, and pick berries.
4. Visiting the Ranua Zoo
In this wildlife park you can see 50 different arctic animals, including foxes and polar bears. Accommodation is available and here you will find the perfect winter holiday mix, all in one place: holiday villages, camping sites, conference rooms, shops, dining facilities, cafes, and wildlife safaris. The Ranua Zoo is different from your average zoo, where animals are just locked in cages. The staff is running protection programs for endangered northern animal species, such as the polar bear, the arctic fox, the musk ox, and the snowy owl.
5. The Pilke Science Centre
The exhibitions at the Pilke Science Centre are dedicated to northern forest issues. Here you’ll find unbelievable things about wood and its uses (for instance, medicines and many other products contain products obtained from forests). Forests are an important part of the Finnish culture and even if you didn’t have in mind updating your general knowledge on Christmas, the Pilke Science Centre is a must-see if you really want to understand more about the country you are visiting.
6. Reindeer and husky excursions
A visit at the Arctic Circle is nothing without getting into direct contact with the Lappish nature in a traditional and friendly manner – moving around on a sledge pulled by huskies! Or you can travel just like Sami people did, on a reindeer pulled sleigh.
7. Staying in an ice hotel
The Snow Village in Lainio hosts a large construction made of snow and ice, including a restaurant, hotel rooms, and ice sculptures. If you are lucky, you can watch the Northern Lights show from the inside of an igloo. Don’t worry about the cold – ice hotel rooms are comfortable enough to stay in if you are equipped properly and you can gather with other vacationers around an open fire and have a snack.
8. Ice fishing
Many tourists visiting Lapland try their luck at ice fishing. You’ll probably get to the spot on snowmobile and have the possibility to take a break every once in a while beside an open fire. You have good chances of making a catch in these pristine waters and finding species such as salmon, trout, and grayling.
9. Praying in the Rovaniemi church
This Evangelical Church has been completed in 1950 and is known for its unusual interior and pictures. Here you can also listen to a 4000 pipes organ and admire a huge fresco behind the altar, called the Source of Life. The church can seat 850 people and is visited by tourists who need a place to pray or just a purpose for their walk along the river. The church is peaceful, and the painting is different from what you would expect from a church interior. If you get there on Christmas Day, maybe you can attend the service.
10. Visiting the Urho Kekkonen National Park
The Urho Kekkonen National Park is one of the largest protected areas in Finland (2550 square kilometres). Tourists choose this place for hiking, admiring the wilderness, and trying various outdoor adventures. Routes are well marked and there are also easier ones for people with less experience. You’ll probably meet reindeers getting close enough to make you feel thrilled, but not threatened. If you come here in less crowded periods, you may not even meet a single person during your walk and feel like you are the only person left on earth.
Lapland is an amazing place to visit for Christmas, especially when you are a winter destinations lover. Our advice is to spend here more than just a couple of days – there is a lot more than Santa’s home to visit and anyone getting to Lapland should also learn how to appreciate arctic animals and scenery.