22 Dec Lapland – Arctic Winter Wonderland
Welcome to Lapland
After living in the hot climate of Australia for many years, the thought of a Winter Wonderland in Lapland was a dream destination.
Imagine seeing the Northern Lights in all their magnificent glory was a burning ambition, while the opportunity to visit Santa’s Village appealed to the big kids in both of us!
Lapland’s cold and wintry climate fascinated us, too, with a magical winter wonderland of pine, spruce and conifer trees, reindeers and huskies; it seemed a million miles away from the subtropical climate of Australia.
The perfect destination to be mesmerised by the magical glow of the Northern Lights. From late August until late April, a long eight months of darkness and clear skies, there’s always a chance to experience the miraculous aurora borealis.
After many years of planning, we finally made this trip a reality for our Christmas celebrations and made our way to Lapland. It was a fantastic experience and proved to be one of the best trips we have ever done.
Location & Brief History
Lapland is located in the most northern part of Finland. Occupying a border with Norway, Sweden and Russia, and offset by the Baltic Sea, it falls largely within the arctic circle and bears a subarctic wilderness.
Archaeologists believe that Lapland was first inhabited about 7000 years ago when the Scandinavian ice caps started to melt. Among the first settlers were the native Sami people, who are thought to have left evidence, via rock carvings of practices like reindeer herding.
Despite its association with Father Christmas, Lapland has a more sinister past. During the Second World War, the Nazi Germans were allowed to station themselves here, by the government of Finland, as part of Operation Barbarossa.
After being forced to withdraw during the Lapland War of 1944 the Nazis destroyed upwards of 40% of the infrastructure of the region – including roads, bridges, telephone lines and houses.
Thankfully, since then, and the subsequent period of decline that followed, the area has started to bounce back as a major tourist destination.
How To Get There
Finnair Flight – Helsinki to Ivalo
Given its remote location within the arctic circle, you could be forgiven for thinking that Lapland is quite difficult to get to. But it is surprisingly accessible by air, rail and road, which is probably why it has grown significantly recently as a tourist destination.
Most visitors to Lapland will arrive by air from Helsinki, which will take you to regional cities like Ivalo, Kemi, Enontekio, Kittila and Rovaniemi.
This is what we did on a Finnair flight from Helsinki to Ivalo. Arriving at around 2 pm – to be welcomed by temperatures of minus 10 degrees!
If you prefer not to fly, once in Helsinki, you can travel pretty much anywhere in the country, particularly in Lapland, on the excellent rail network. The trains here run like clockwork and are very clean and efficient.
Other ways to get to Lapland include buses and hire cars, of which a few rental companies are located all over the country.
** Check out EconomyBookings.Com for some great prices **
Where To Stay
Located at the edge of the wilderness, along the road to the Arctic Sea, a magnificent setting framed by the beautiful snow-clad pine trees awaits you.
Around Lapland, there are quite a few amazing accommodation options in Rovaniemi, as well as Kemi, Inari and Saariselka.
If you are looking for something a little more unique, the Santa Claus Village is in the heart of the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. Alternatively, you might be interested in staying at the famous Snow Hotel in Sinettä.
If you plan a trip to Lapland, use Booking.com to find great hotel deals.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
We stayed at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, one of the most well-known resorts open year-round. There are options to stay in a Glass Igloo, Log Chalets or Snow Igloos.
We stayed in a fabulous log cabin called the Kelo-Glass Igloos, which had a rather lovely, homely, authentic and old-fashioned feel. Luggage is transported on toboggans and pulled through the snow to the igloos or log cabins. What a fun experience to see that!
The Kelo-Glass Igloo is a nostalgic place to create beautiful memories in this winter wonderland. Combine the warmth of a cosy log chalet with a sensational view from the world-famous glass igloos.
The Kelo-Glass Igloo features a rustic body with a private sauna, bathroom, fireplace, kitchenette and a bedroom with a stunning glass roof and can sleep up to six. From the comfort of your private hideaway, enjoy the enchanting beauty of the northern lights and the Lappish wilderness for a memorable experience.
The Glass Igloos is worth experiencing. They come in two-person igloos, which include a toilet and the option of an extra bed. Saunas and showers are available for your use in a separate building. Or you can opt for the four-person igloos, which include the toilet and shower. What’s fascinating is that the igloos are made of thermal glass, so even though it might be cold outside, it’s always deliciously warm inside.
A great option with a group of friends or, for the romantics, a memorable experience snuggling with your loved one to admire the northern lights and twinkling of the bright starry arctic sky!
Many alternative charming cabins, cottages, and rooms are available at the resort.
Most of the buildings and cabins in the resort are built of large kelo pines designed in a rugged style that perfectly fits the wild surroundings. There are no TVs or dishwashers, but one can enjoy a fireplace and a sauna.
Although the cabins and igloos are located in peaceful natural surroundings, they are all within walking distance of the resort’s restaurants and other services.
Wi-Fi is available in the reception area but not in the rooms.
Where To Eat
We found the food in Lapland to be enticing, with quite a few restaurants in and around the main areas of Lapland.
Some restaurants to dine at include Aanaar in Inari, which was named ‘restaurant of the year in 2020’ by the Finnish Gastronomic Society.
Also, Rakas in Rovaniemi, and Tenojoki in Utsjoki, are perfect places to try out. Between them all, they serve up intriguing menus that heavily feature reindeer and fish, cooked in the most innovative ways.
Arctic Dining in Kakslauttanen
Restaurant Aurora (with Glass Igloo bar) in the West Village Aurora is one of the most prominent log restaurants in the world and is home to the Glass Igloo bar, where one can enjoy drinks under the arctic sky.
Restaurant Kelo (with piano bar) in the East Village offers local Lappish cuisine and is open daily for guests. It has a charming, rustic feel with beautiful Lappish art pieces and has separate rooms for private events.
Santa’s Celebration House is Finland’s largest log building and accommodates up to 300 guests for dining, celebrating a wedding or enjoying a concert. The Celebration House provides an ideal setting for customer events with state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. Advanced bookings are required.
Restaurant Korsu located in the middle of the woods, is a mystical forest with fairytale-like decorations, including lanterns of reindeer skin. The impressive fireplace is embedded with seven smaller fireplaces, which completes the beautiful arctic ambience. You can avail the services of a horse-drawn sleigh to take you from the reception to the forest. Advanced bookings are required.
Smoke sauna restaurant lets you dine in a magically rustic environment by the Kakslauttanen river before visiting the world’s largest smoke sauna and a refreshing dip in the arctic water.
At the glass igloo bar, we tasted a range of Finnish alcohol (namely Salmiakki Koskenkorva (Salmari), vodka cocktails and Lapin Kulta, which is a type of Finnish beer). A great setting and ambience while enjoying magnificent views of the stars above.
The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort offers a range of activities when it’s icy outside, from playing in the snow to adrenaline activities, including meeting Santa and staring up at the sky, hoping for the amazing aurora borealis.
Imagine sledding through the wilderness drawn by beautiful amazing Arctic Animals? There are two major husky farms next door to Kakslauttanen, where you will have an opportunity to meet puppies at the puppy park and friendly, eager huskies ready to take you through the wilderness.
Once you have met the huskies, you will get instructions on how to handle them and then enjoy a 30min ride on a sled pulled by these beautiful animals. Discover the peace and tranquillity of the breathtaking Lappish scenery for a thrilling experience while being in control of your team of dogs.
Reindeer Safari, Saariselka
Being pulled along by reindeer as we hurtled past an incredibly breathtaking scenery of snow-covered forest trees, was simply amazing.
And we learned some interesting facts about reindeers during this experience;
- Reindeers don’t like to be touched.
- Both male and female reindeer grow antlers and reindeers can live up to 15 years.
- There are more reindeers than people in Lapland and
- The reindeer fur is the second warmest in the animal kingdom, behind the polar bear!
Want to experience the thrill of snowmobiling through snowy forests, over frozen lakes, rivers and open terrains (which almost feels like flying!?
Professional guides lead snowmobile safaris. So you will feel safe to enjoy an unforgettable experience in the breathtaking Lappish nature. You could also try an exotic drive in the moonlight under the starry Lappish sky, searching for the Northern Lights.
Let horses lead you to the magical sceneries surrounding you and take a step back on the pages of history by travelling the way our ancestors did.
As the song goes, “Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh?
A perfect way to experience the winter wonderland all around us!
The Santa Claus village, located on the Arctic Circle, is just 9 km from Rovaniemi. Here you can visit Father Christmas any day of the year and find Santa in his office. Depending on the season, you can reach him by snowmobile, car, or a traditional reindeer-pulled sleigh.
At the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, we visited Santa’s House, embedded amongst idyllic surroundings within a deep forest. The idyllic red chalet invites you after walking through a beautiful wooden bridge spanned a narrow river.
As we crossed the bridge, jolly Santa, his elves and his reindeer greeted us with open arms. They invited us inside, and the inner child came jumping out to experience the magical world of Christmas.
After some time inside Santa’s warm house, getting photos of Santa and exchanging presents, one of the Elves took us to Santa’s workshop ‘SAMPO‘, where we observed the busy Elves happily making gifts for all the children around the world.
Igloo Observation Tower
The 30-metre-high Glass Igloo tower is the only one of its kind in the world, allowing you to enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding arctic wilderness and get even closer to the magical arctic sky. It also perfectly showcases the incredible natural landscape of the Kakslauttanen area.
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