Lapland is mystical. The midnight sun, the aurora borealis, the Sami tribe, and reindeer roaming everywhere it is magical. Plus, it houses the most popular mythical character ever- Santa Claus.
When to travel to Lapland in Finland?
Christmas with Santa Claus in Lapland sounds appealing, but it is dark and cold during December; if traveling, visitors should entrust their needs to a professional. This a perfect time to see the aurora borealis, and Lapland is famous for its visits to Santa Claus (Joulupukki).
Top Attractions in Lapland:
One of Finland’s most engaging museums, state-of-the-art Siida offers a complete overview of the Sámi and their surroundings. The central exhibition hall comprises a wonderful nature display around the edge, describing northern Lapland’s environment by season, with information panels and beautiful photos. The room’s center has detailed information on the Sámi trine, from their former nomadic existence to present-day times.
In 1868 the detached area of Tankavaara on the Ivalojoki, 32km south of Saariselkä, underwent a gold rush, with a population of up to 500 panners trying their luck. The story is described in this museum, which also covers gold production globally. A cubic meter of sand is on exhibition, along with the 2g of gold it carries. In summer, try your luck and mine for gold. There are an octagonal hut and an original smoke sauna.
Kevo Strict Nature Reserve
Some of Finland’s most majestic landscape is within the 712-sq-km Kevo Strict Nature Reserve along the beautiful 40km gorge of the Kevojok. The central trail is 63km long (four days one way) and goes through the canyon, from the Sulaoja parking zone 11km east of Karigasniemi on the street westbound from Kaamanen, to Kenesjärvi, on the Kaamanen–Utsjoki drive. Be aware that hikers cannot fish, hunt or collect berries or plants, and must stay on marked tracks.
At the end of Myössäjärvi, 16km south of Inari, look out for the Karhunpesäkivi rest station. From here, a 300m timber boardwalk (mainly including steps) heads through the woods to Finland’s largest tafone, the only one globally known to have moved from its original base during the last ice age. You can walk the hollow boulder; although you have to crawl to start your journey, the honeycomb-like structure is just high enough to stand upright.
Arctic circle and the Santa Claus Village
This place is on the most common to-do list of every traveler coming to Finnish Lapland. Originally mounted on the Arctic circle, the Village is situated 2 kilometers from the Rovaniemi airport and about 10 kilometers north of the Rovaniemi city center. Here you find Santa’s official post office, restaurants, souvenir shops, reindeers and husky rides, and of course, the good old Santa himself. Fancy bar built entirely of ice in the winter, an uncanny feeling caused by constant Christmas during the summer. The official place to take your ‘Look, I’m at the Arctic circle’ picture and upload on your social media platforms.
What to eat in Lapland?
Lapland is the best place to sample poro (reindeer) dishes, which are not too familiar elsewhere in Finland. The traditional way to eat this is as poronkäristys (reindeer hash), usually eaten with lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes.