Skip to content Skip to footer navigation

Lapland: Europe’s Last Great Wilderness

Sami matias uzopp yhe9q unsplash.

Hand-crafted, luxury experiences curated by our team—speak to our concierge to learn more

Speak to Our Concierge Concierge avatar.
By Lucy Cocoran on 29th November 2023

One of nature’s greatest untapped treasures is at the top of everyone’s travel agenda for Christmas and beyond..

If you were to close your eyes and imagine a place where the spirit of Christmas truly comes to life, you would likely conjure images of Lapland. Fondly known as Santa’s homeland, this surreal landscape is an enchanting winter wonderland with snow-covered mountains, towering pine trees, and a breathtaking nightly aurora.

In spite of Lapland’s popularity, tempted travellers may not be wholly aware of the extent of its offerings. With an incredibly rich history and even richer cultural scene, Lapland is far greater than just the home of Santa Claus. Read on for everything you need to know about this magical, bucket list-worthy destination.

Where Is Lapland? 

Situated in Northern Finland within the Arctic Circle, Lapland offers an abundance of unspoiled nature. The region's name is derived from ‘Lapp,’ which is a term Scandinavians use to refer to the indigenous Sami people who inhabit Lapland, Norway, Sweden, and Finland as well as the Kola Peninsula of Russia. 

Offering unparalleled opportunities to view natural phenomena including midnight sun and the northern lights, Lapland has cemented itself as a must-visit destination for any adventure-seeking traveller. And, given that much of the area is unpopulated, the region boasts a large selection of undisturbed wildlife from Arctic huskies and foxes to reindeer.  making it a hotspot for fauna lovers. 

The town of Rovaniemi, (known as the home of Santa Claus), is the administrative capital of Finnish Lapland, with a population of around 63,000.

What To Do In Lapland

While the Northern Lights are most commonly synonymous with Lapland, the region has far more to offer beyond this light-filled spectacle.

Feel the wind in your hair aboard a husky-sled safari tour, allowing you to enjoy a dose of adrenaline while savouring the natural beauty of the surrounding area. If you’d rather see the sights at a slower pace , snoe-showing is the most common  means  of travelling on foot  in Lapland, allowing you to navigate the landscape without sinking too deep  into the snow. A traditional ice-fishing experience is also a must-do if you’re interested in learning more about this ancient ritual .

For something a little more relaxed, book a traditional Arctic sauna, which have long been enjoyed by the Finnish population for their myriad wellbeing benefits. 

When it comes to dining, Lapland Restaurant Kotahovi is located in Santa Claus Village, making it the perfect pitstop after your day's long festivities. Enjoy a range of traditional cuisine which spotlights the unique flavours of Finnish meat. Similarly, Nili Restaurant and Arctic Restaurant are  renowned for their championing of authentic fare, if you’re looking for a true taste of the region.

While the Northern Lights are most commonly synonymous with Lapland, the region has far more to offer beyond this light-filled spectacle.

Feel the wind in your hair aboard a husky-sled safari tour, allowing you to enjoy a dose of adrenaline while savouring the natural beauty of the surrounding area. If you’d rather see the sights at a slower pace , snoe-showing is the most common  means  of travelling on foot  in Lapland, allowing you to navigate the landscape without sinking too deep into the snow. A traditional ice-fishing experience is also a must-do if you’re interested in learning more about this heritage activity..

For something a little more relaxed, book a traditional Arctic sauna, which have long been enjoyed by the Finnish population for their myriad wellbeing benefits. 

When it comes to dining, Lapland Restaurant Kotahovi is located in Santa Claus Village, making it the perfect pitstop to round off your day. Enjoy a range of traditional cuisine which spotlights the unique flavours of Finnish meat. Similarly, Nili Restaurant and Arctic Restaurant are renowned for their championing of authentic fare, if you’re looking for a true taste of the region. 

When is the best time to visit Lapland? 

From the end of September through to mid-March, visitors are most likely to experience prime aurora viewings, between 9pm and 2am, as the sky darkens and the lights become more active. Narrowing it down further, the end of September and mid-March are more specifically the best months of the year. Between December and January, conditions are likely to be more snowy which often means more clouds and lower visibility. 

Locals have long hailed Autumn (beginning in mid-September) as the best time of year for Northern Lights viewing due to clearer skies and darker nights with minimal snow. Solar activity is known to increase during the autumn equinox, improving your chances of an incredible viewing experience.  

According to statistics drawn from the last several decades, the Northern Lights can be seen roughly every three out of four nights during the season. This means the total figure of Aurora nights per year can be around 150. 

Of course, weather is an undeniable factor and the biggest obstacle when it comes to visibility. The key to circumnavigating this is to ensure you have at least four nights in Lapland to avoid any disappointment should unpredictable weather changes prove troublesome. 

How do you travel to Lapland? 

The most efficient means of reaching Lapland is largely dependent on the region you’re travelling from. Domestic flights serve airports in most of Lapland’s major urban cities, with direct flights operating from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, and Stockholm to Luleå.

Arriving by train is another option (albeit longer).A direct train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi takes around 8-12 hours, while a sleeper train from Stockholm to Luleå typically takes just over 12 hours. 

Alternatively, travelling to Lapland by car is arguably the best option for making the most of your trip, giving you the freedom and flexibility to explore more of the area. Rentals are readily available, but drivers are urged to be mindful of the freezing temperatures as engines often require warming up before use. 

If you’ve been thinking of visiting this whimsical wintry landscape, consider this your sign to book a trip today. And, if you’d like a bespoke itinerary created for you, enquire via our Lapland package

Frequently Asked Questions:

What are the top destination of Lapland?

Rovaniemi is the capital city in Lapland, dubbed the 'official hometown of Santa Claus" making it a popular destination for tourists, especially during the winter.

Kemi, which is found on the Gulf of Bothnia is famed for its breathtaking natural surroundings and wide range of outdoor activities.

Salla is a small town located in eastern Lapland, which is well-loved for its ski resort offering.

What is the ideal length of a Lapland trip?

On average, most people spend around four nights in Lapland. This is widely considered enough time to not only see the Northern Lights, but to enjoy a wide range of activities including snowmobiling, husky sledding, snowboarding, a visit to the amethyst mine and reindeer farm or a trip to the spa.

Where to go in Lapland to see the Northern Lights?

Lapland lies above the Artic Circle, meaning that geographically, you have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. That being said, Utsjoki, as the northernmost region of Lapland, is the heavily regarded as the best place to spot them.

Share this Article

You Might Also Like

Learn more about luxury lifestyle by signing up for free

For our latest experiences and editorials, be the first in the know. You'll learn about upcoming experiences happening worldwide and the secrets and lifestyle of a sybarite.

Create an account

By registering you agree to our privacy policy and terms and conditions