Top Things to Do and See in Lapland, Finland

Northern Lights in Ruka, Lapland
Northern Lights in Ruka, Lapland | © Timo Newton-Syms / Flickr
Jessica Wood

Lapland is rich in culture, covering four countries and with history of the indigenous Sami people dating back to the Stone Age. In recent years, Finnish Lapland has become a tourist hot spot for winter sports enthusiasts and families visiting Santa Claus. No matter where your interests lay, you will find something to satisfy your curiosities in Finnish Lapland. Here we introduce the things to do and see in Lapland, Finland.

For an expertly curated exploration of Finnish Lapland, join Culture Trip’s five-day arctic adventure. Highlights include visiting the Santa Claus Village, husky sledding, and passing ice waterfalls as you hike through the Korouoma canyon.

Santa Claus Village

Most people have wondered whether or not Santa Claus is real from a very young age. Indeed, Santa Claus is real, and he lives in Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland. The Santa Claus Village is cut through by the boundary of the Arctic Circle. The ambiance of the village resort is warm and cosy, with magical lighting illuminating the snow at night. You can chat and take photos with Santa Claus in Santa Claus’s Office. If you want to send some special gifts, you can mail them from the Santa Claus Post Office with an official Arctic Circle postmark. There are also many charming restaurants and shops to give you an exceptional Christmas experience.

Santa Claus Holiday Village


Situated seven kilometers away from the city centre of Levi, Luvattumaa is a wonderful place to free your mind from stress and chill out. It is a natural spa and sauna, which uses the water coming from the clean and natural Lappish river. The spa also provides hot and cold open-air baths and compartments with traditional saunas. The main attraction of Luvattumaa is the ice gallery, which is rebuilt from snow and ice every year with a different theme. There is also a huge ice castle comprised of a snow chapel, ice gallery and an ice bar.

Sunset over Levi Fell

Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

Located in the municipalities of Enontekiö, Kittilä, Kolari and Muonio, Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park is one of the oldest national parks and the third-largest national park in Finland. Muonio is a good place to start hiking as the landscape is relatively flat and there are sufficient village houses where you may find food and necessities. While hiking you can see highland flora and fauna, which emerge during the brief Lapland summer. The most common plant is the Dryas octopetala, which is considered to be the most beautiful flower in Lapland.

View of Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

The Midnight Sun

The Midnight Sun is one of the most iconic natural phenomena in the Nordic region, even if it is a pain for the locals. The inclination of the Earth’s axis makes it possible for the northern regions of Finland to experience daytime constantly during summer with the sun not setting for several weeks. Sodankylä in central Lapland is one of the best places to see the Midnight Sun. There is an incredible view and usually a clear sky with warm and mild sunshine. It also hosts the Midnight Sun Film Festival, which launches every year in June and plays 20 to 30 modern movies from all around the world nonstop, and is surely a great way to keep yourself entertained when the sun keeps you up all night.

The Midnight Sun over the Finnmark, Lapland

The Aurora Borealis

A journey to the Arctic Circle is never complete without watching the Northern Lights. The colourful lights dancing in the sky are often considered a symbol of Lapland and have been held in spiritual reverence for thousands of years. The long nighttime hours of Midwinter are the perfect time for viewing the Northern Lights. There are multiple aurora tours provided by different travel agencies. You may choose the one that suits your schedule, or one with additional activities which you are interested in such as aurora photography.

The Northern Lights over a cabin in Ruka, Lapland

Ranua Zoo

If you want to see the wild animals of the Arctic, Ranua Zoo is surely a place you don’t want to miss. Ranua Zoo showcases 50 species found in the region, including its iconic polar bears who welcomed a new cub in 2017. The zoo layout is a replica of the natural surroundings, providing the most authentic living environment for the animals. You will never feel that you are even in a zoo.

Pregnant polar bear near water in Ranua Zoo


Kemi is situated beside Bothnian Bay and at the mouth of the River Kemijoki in the southern part of Lapland. This town perfectly demonstrates the Lappish culture. Kemi Church is a classic Finnish Evangelical Lutheran church, which showcases the northern Finnish architecture styles of the past. There is also a snow castle with an ice bar, which is constructed in different styles every year. The Icebreaker Sampo takes short tours from Kemi cutting through the sea ice.

The Snow Restaurant from 2016

Saariselkä Sport Resort

Saariselkä Sport Resort is an excellent ski resort for both beginners and advanced skiers, providing routes of different difficulties. There are two sections, Kaunispää and Lisakkipää. Each section consists of around 20 different slopes and street settings modified according to the day’s snow conditions. The resort offers many exciting routes for ski-lovers.

Cross-country skiing at Saariselkä Sport Resort, Lapland.


Situated in Rovaniemi, Arktikum is an integrated facility that comprises a museum, a science centre and a conference venue all topped with a magnificent glass roof for viewing the Northern Lights. The museum showcases Lappish culture and artefacts from the Sami people of Finland. Their culture seems like a living history book that allows us to study how the people of Lapland lived in the past. Arktikum is definitely a door to knowledge about Lapland.

View of the Arctic Garden at sunset

Lake Inari

There are at least 1,000 lakes in Lapland and Lake Inari in the far north is the biggest. During the summer you can go to the river near the lake and partake in the tradition of mining for gold, which has been going on since the Lapland Gold Rush of 1868. During the winter you may try another Lappish tradition: ice fishing, which involves drilling though the ice to catch fish. If you are lucky you may catch whitefish, rainbow trout or perch, which are delicious when cooked fresh on a campfire.

Lake Inari in winter

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