A Guide to a Magical Christmas Break in Finnish Lapland

<a href = "https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Levi_Center_Night.jpg"> Levi at night | © Levimatkailu/Wikimedia Commons
<a href = "https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Levi_Center_Night.jpg"> Levi at night | © Levimatkailu/Wikimedia Commons
Instead of using the ‘betwixmas’ period (the time between Christmas day and New Year’s Day) to nurse hangovers, watch Christmas films, and hit Boxing Day sales, more and more families escape to the far north for the ultimate Christmas break. Late December is an ideal time for this type of holiday, as people are free from the stresses of planning Christmas and can enjoy Lapland at its peak time of year.

Getting there

Travelling so far up north and being greeted by ice and wilderness may seem like a big hurdle, but it isn’t all that complicated. Even for a location so remote and widespread, Lapland is still well connected. Many holiday package deals include airport and road transfers in their cost. Most will need to fly to Helsinki’s Vantaa Airport and arrange a connecting flight to the airport nearest to where they will be staying—probably Rovaniemi, Kittilä, or Ivalo.

Reindeer on a road in Lapland / Heather Sunderland / WikiCommons

Where to stay

As there are many different types of accommodations available throughout Lapland, the next decision is which of the unique villas, hotels, and cabins to stay in. There is the Snow Village, which is re-constructed entirely from snow every year, the Aurora Kota with its glass pyramid-shaped roofs for aurora viewing, or the rustic cabins of Harrinivia Wilderness Hotel to name just a few. Or book a combination for a few days at a time and travel around Lapland. Either way, be sure to book in plenty of time, as these accommodations are very popular and fill up quickly.

Lapland cabin / Greenland Travel / Flickr

What to do

The best thing about Lapland during winter is there is an almost endless number of things to see and do to satisfy everyone in the family—and not everything is Christmas-related.

There are rare chances to watch the Northern Lights, ride a snowmobile, learn traditional Finnish cooking, or just take in the unique winter landscapes while children can enjoy visiting husky and reindeer farms and going on sledge rides. Sports enthusiasts are in their element with opportunities for hiking, snowshoeing, tobogganing, and skiing that can’t be found anywhere else. Taking a swim in an ice-covered lake is a particularly exhilarating thrill for those brave enough to try it. For learning about local culture, there are places to visit the indigenous Sami people, particularly at the Siida Museum in Inari. And of course, no trip to Lapland is complete without a visit to Santa Claus.

Cross country skiing in Lapland / Michael Sean Gallagher / Flickr

Where to eat

Even at the top of the world, there are still plenty of places to eat including fine dining restaurants. The Arctic SnowHotel in Rovaniemi contains a particularly unique ice restaurant where the walls, furniture, and even the plates and glasses are made from ice.

Not all Lapland dining has to be fancy, however. Rustic cooking with fresh local ingredients that warm the body and soul is much more common in the region. Nothing can beat the experience of cooking a meal over a campfire and enjoying it under the winter sky in a beautiful landscape while trading stories.