Top things to do during winter in Lapland

3 minute read

Credits: Juha Laine

Lapland is utterly magical in the winter

Everything is tucked under a blanket of snow, and on clear nights, the Aurora Borealis often lights up the sky. There’s also an abundance of activities for the entire family, from skiing and safaris to meeting Santa and more. Here are some of the top things to do during winter in Finnish Lapland.

One of the most magical things to do in Lapland is cross-country skiing under the Northern Lights!

Ski, snowboard, or sled at Lapland’s winter resorts

Lapland has the best slopes in Finland, and there are plenty to choose from. Ski season typically begins in late October, and as the days get colder and snow starts to fall, more and more slopes open up. Even when southern Finland and Helsinki are already green and in bloom, you can still hit the slopes in Lapland, as the season runs until May (and sometimes even until June!). The highest peaks are Ylläs, Pallas, Levi, Pyhä and Suomu. The destinations with the most kid-friendly slopes are Ylläs, Levi, Paljakka, Iso-Syöte, Ruka and Pyhä. For night life and apres ski, Ruka and Levi are your best bets. And for a quieter, less-crowded atmosphere, try Salla, Iso-Syöte, Suomu, Saariselkä, Olos or Paljakka – to name just a few. Discover the eight seasons of Lapland.

But skis and snowboards aren’t the only way to enjoy the slopes. At Kaunispää by Saariselkä, you’ll find the longest toboggan run in Europe at 1200 metres. You can borrow a sleigh or a toboggan from your hotel or bring your own to try it for yourself. The Kaunispää fell also has a scenic restaurant that’s worth a visit, but remember to bring your sled with you – there are none at the top!

The longest toboggan hill in Finland is in Saariselkä at Kaunispää fell.
Credits : Rob Smith
Lapland’s ski season is long – it typically starts in November and lasts until late spring or early summer.
Credits: Olli Oilinki

Blaze through Arctic nature

At Pyhä, you can take a guided electric snowmobile tour that’s fast and fun – without noise or fumes! Hop aboard one of these Finnish-built eSleds in Pyhä – one of the first places offering them – to see for yourself.

Looking for a more traditional way to get around? Try a reindeer safari. You’ll take a seat inside a comfy sleigh and watch as stunning scenery passes you by. Plus, reindeer herders usually carry treats, including traditional Finnish cinnamon buns and coffee, which you can enjoy alongside a roaring campfire while you learn all about reindeer.

Credits: Juho Kuva

Hop aboard a mighty icebreaker

Arctic Icebreaker Sampo previously ploughed the frozen seas of Finland for trade before becoming a tourist attraction in Kemi in the late 1980s. Today, this majestic vessel takes visitors on truly unique cruises. Prepare to be awestruck when you hear the thundering sound of more than 3,500 tons of steel breaking through the thick ice of the Gulf of Bothnia!

But that’s not all Sampo cruises have to offer. You’ll also get a guided tour of the ship, complete with visits to the engine room and the captain’s bridge, and have the chance to swim in the freezing sea. Yes, you read that right, but don’t worry – it’s not required. If you do take that leap of faith, though, rest-assured that you’ll be wearing a survival suit.

Credits: Visit Sea Lapland
Credits: Glass Resort

Experience the magic of Christmas in Santa´s hometown

Santa Claus Village is one of Lapland’s best-known attractions, and for good reason – where else can you meet Father Christmas in person, all year round? While seeing Santa is obviously the main attraction, Santa Village has plenty of shops, restaurants and cafés to keep visitors busy and entertained. Hop in a sleigh and go for a husky or reindeer ride, or take an exciting snowmobile tour. For a dose of adorable, visit the petting zoo to interact with rabbits, alpacas and other furry creatures. Mrs. Claus even has her own cabin where you can decorate gingerbread cookies alongside the elves! For a unique overnight experience, stay in an Arctic accommodation, such as a glass hut. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the Northern Lights from bed!

Credits: Visit Rovaniemi

Sleep, drink and dine in castles of snow and ice

Thanks to an abundance of the white stuff, Finns are expert snow-builders. In Rovaniemi, you can sleep in a snow hotel, get married in a snow chapel, or build a snow hut under expert supervision (then sleep in it!). You can also dine in a snow restaurant, have a drink in an ice bar, and play in a snow castle.

One place to do it is the Lapland Hotels Snow Village, near Ylläs and Levi. This unique and magical world is constructed each year from ice and snow – about 20 million kilos of snow and 350,000 kilos of ice, to be exact! The design changes annually but often includes things like ice sculptures, snow suites, and ice restaurants and bars.

Similarly, Finns have been building an astonishing snow and ice castle in Kemi since the mid-90s. This structure’s glittering walls, shimmering pathways and sparkling snow sculptures will definitely leave you awestruck. You can even stay overnight in the Snow Hotel! And don’t worry – if you happen to visit Kemi during the summer months, you can still take part in the fun at the year-round Snow Experience.

Credits : Kemi Tourism
Credits: Timo Laapotti / Kemi Tourism Ltd