Magical ski, Santa and Northern Lights holidays to Lapland
Landscape like real-life Narnia, Northern Lights dashing overhead and the magical mythology of Santa and his reindeer – Lapland’s an incredible winter wonderland.
Experience the midnight sun, learn cross country skiing, husky sled through wilderness and take a reindeer-powered sleigh ride… All beneath the clearest skies on the planet.
Lapland is not a country but a region at the top of Scandinavia in Northern Europe. It spills across the borders of three Nordic countries: Finland (the most popular Lapland holiday destination), Sweden and Norway and also parts of northern Russia.
Spanning an area of around 300,000 km2 (bigger than the UK), the majority of the region lies within the Arctic Circle and is known for its subarctic climate with long, cold winters and ‘nightless’ summers. Defined by a number of national parks and often described as a wilderness, it has some seriously stunning landscape including Norwegian fjords, thick Swedish forests and treeless Finnish fells and the air here is among the clearest in the world.
Add Scotland and Wales together for an idea of the vastness of Finnish Lapland. In the far north, it’s a third of Finland, yet only 3.5% of the population live here. For every square kilometre there is just 1- 2 people on average and there are famously more reindeer than humans - a deeply peaceful and un-commercialised region.
The landscape is comprised of rolling mountains (known as fells), thick forests, level plains and expansive lakes. With six national parks teeming with wildlife there’s plenty to explore, from the famous Lake Inari waters right up to Halti Fell the highest point in Finland. The River ‘Tana’ (the Sami name for ‘Great River’) is claimed by many to have the best Salmon fishing in Europe.
Lapland’s natural wonders of the world are enough to draw people to this part of the planet alone - the Polar Night, Northern Lights and Midnight Sun.
The Polar Night usually happens in deep winter, when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon at all. Rather than casting everything in pitch black darkness, the glow of the moon creates an eerie, magical glow.
The Northern Lights, dancing colours in the night sky, can be seen over the winter period and are an absolutely arresting sight. Read more about Northern Lights holidays.
The Midnight Sun or ‘nightless night’ as it’s also known can be experienced on approximately 70 days over summer where the sun refuses to set, floating suspended above the horizon.
Skiing and cross-country skiing are popular pastimes here and the snow stays in excellent condition all season. Alpine skiing is usually limited to smaller, gentle ski areas - ideal for families and first timers while cross country trails stretch for miles and miles and are absolutely stunning. Snowboarders will love the world class snow parks in Levi, Ruka, Yllas and Pyha.
The fun doesn’t just stop at the slopes with snowmobiling, husky sledding, reindeer safaris, ice fishing and even ice swimming among the unique life experiences you can have. Read more about the different things to do on our Lapland activities page.
Lapland is famously the land of Christmas with Santa Claus calling it home and Santa holidays and short breaks specifically tailored to meet the great man and experience the magic of a Lapland at Christmas. These holidays last for 3-7 days and are filled with incredible winter activities (including meeting Father Christmas) to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
From the dark and cold of the six winter months dropping down to -40oC, to the bright and colourful summer days with temperatures around 12oC, there are actually 8 different seasons and the weather is a world away from what we’re used to here. With the magical twilight of the polar night in the winter and otherworldly midnight sun in the summer, the geography and climate create some pretty unique conditions. Autumn starts to see the frosts and shortening days which lead into a spectacular winter, whilst spring sees the stirrings of greenery as the snow begins to melt as the sun is out for longer. Our Lapland weather and climate page explains in more detail.
Originally the Sami people roamed freely across the borders, and now they are the largest ethnic group in the region with their own national day of celebration on the 6th February. The Sami way of life is tied to their natural surroundings with age old traditions of fishing, hunting and reindeer herding still being important parts of the economy and their colourful traditional costumes are easy to spot. You can read about Lapland culture and Lapland history, but the best way to discover this ancient arctic wilderness and its people is to go there.
Meat and fish are big on the menu in this neck of the woods and there’s a Reindeer dish for every day of the week - look out for ‘bithos’ (a kind of reindeer soup) ‘poronkäristys’ (sautéed reindeer) and ‘souvas’ (dried, salted meat).
With fishing at the heart of traditional life, we love the wonderful whitebait, salmon and grayling dishes served in Lappish restaurants.
‘Squeaky’ Lapland cheese is also popular and goes down a treat with cloudberry jam. Berries are a big thing here – buckthorn, bilberry and cloudberry (which looks like an orange blackberry) often appear on the dessert menu.
You’ll find lots of berry juices to drink and for something stronger, cloudberry liqueur is a sweet traditional tipple and a mug of Finnish glögi (like mulled wine) is another favourite.
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