Welcome to Lapland – a place that seems to have come straight out of a magical snow globe. Lapland makes every winter dream come true thanks to its landscape, the Northern Lights and the guaranteed snow. In this article, I’ll tell you the best travel tips for Lapland and the most beautiful activities you must experience during your Lapland winter vacation!

Lapland covers a much bigger area than most people assume: Lapland begins just before the Arctic Circle and extends beyond the borders of Norway, Sweden, Finland and even Russia. When travelling to Lapland, however, most people think of Finnish Lapland, which makes up almost half of Finland. In this article, I focus on the Finnish part of Lapland, where you find the most beautiful places to visit and the best activities.

What is the best way to travel to Lapland?

To get to Finnish Lapland, you usually fly to Rovaniemi, right on the Arctic Circle, or to Ivalo, which is around 250 kilometres further north. The Santa Claus Express is also very popular. This train runs overnight from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. 

Rovaniemi or Ivalo – Which city is the better choice for your Lapland holiday?


+ Advantage: With around 65,000 inhabitants, Rovaniemi is the largest city in Finnish Lapland and therefore also has the largest airport. This offers the advantage that there are direct flight connections from Germany. This saves you the journey via Helsinki and you can be in winter paradise within 3 hours by plane. In addition, the popular Santa Claus Village is located in Rovaniemi – just a few minutes by car from the airport.

– Cons: Although Lapland is generally very quiet and deserted, Rovaniemi is the more “touristy” part of Lapland with the most travellers, tour buses etc.


+ Advantage: The region around Ivalo is incredibly quiet. You won’t see any tour buses and generally won’t even meet another soul. In addition, the best ski resort in Lapland, Saariselkä, is located here in the far north.

– Disadvantage: There are hardly any or no direct flight connections from Germany to Ivalo, but you will usually have to fly via Helsinki which makes for a longer journey.


Depending on which accommodation you choose, I would choose Rovaniemi Airport or Ivalo Airport. We ourselves travelled in both areas as we didn’t want to miss out on any of the advantages of either region. That’s why we flew directly to and from Rovaniemi on the way to Lapland and on the way back and rented a car there. From Rovaniemi, it is around 3 hours (288km) by car to Ivalo.

watching the reindeer in a snowy forest in lapland
the view out of a car in lapland, seeing the blue sky and snow trees

Is it worth renting a car for Lapland?

This question depends very much on how flexible you want to be during your trip to Lapland and how much you want to travel around. A rental car in Lapland is not cheap, but the local taxi fares should not be underestimated either: Friends of ours had to pay 100 Euros for a 10-minute journey to the hotel. However, you can also get your own rental car in Lapland for an average of 90 – 150 Euros per day. Even if it seems expensive at first, having your own car pays off in most cases and offers you more flexibility.

When is the best time to visit Lapland?

Lapland is a beautiful destination all year round. However, to experience the snow paradise and the Northern Lights, I recommend the winter months. The first snow falls in the far north as early as October, but it is usually not really snowed in until December and the white winter blanket remains until March. However, it is very dark from the beginning of December to the beginning of January. In Rovaniemi you will only have around 2 hours of daylight, while 300 kilometres further north in Ivalo the sun never rises during that time of the year. Whilst this is ideal for high chances of seeing the Northern Lights, you won’t have much time to see the glistening snow in the sunlight.

The most popular time to visit Lapland is therefore mid-January to early March. These months offer the perfect mix of winter weather, dark nights for the Northern Lights and daylight with fantastic sunrises and sunsets.

How many days are ideal for a Lapland trip?

The perfect length of your Lapland trip depends on how much you want to explore and relax and whether you want to go skiing. If you are focussing on just one region and only want to experience the basics, three nights is enough. However, if you want to travel around, have a higher chance of seeing the Northern Lights and explore more remote places, then six to seven nights are ideal.

watching the northern lights in lapland
a small red hut in a snowy landscape in lapland during sunset

What to pack for your Lapland Trip

… you absolutely must have these essentials in your suitcase:

  • Warm clothing! At minus 25 degrees Celsius it is important to be wrapped up warm and wear several layers of clothing: long merino underwear, merino wool socks, fleece jumper, ski trousers and thick winter jacket, scarf, hat and warmly lined mittens (your fingers get cold much faster in gloves), insulated winter boots that are suitable for the arctic cold.
  • Hand and foot warmers to warm up
  • A tripod for your camera or smartphone to take better photos of the Northern Lights
  • A thermos flask in which you can take hot tea during longer tours

Tip for a special accommodation in Lapland – The Valo Finland

The brand new “ice cube villas” at Valo Finland can accommodate up to 10 people – but the accommodation is also great for couples! It is located near Ivalo, right on the slopes of the Saariselkä ski resort. Spread over three floors, the villas offer absolute luxury and cosiness, as they have their own wellness area with a panoramic Finnish sauna and a jacuzzi. The centrepiece of the villa is the large living and dining room on the first floor with an open-plan kitchen, a fireplace, a large dining table and an incredible view. There are three bedrooms in total: the two master bedrooms have a panoramic glass roof so that, with a bit of luck, you can see the northern lights from your bed. Thanks to its own washing machine and tumble dryer as well as the fully equipped kitchen, the accommodation is ideal for longer stays! We are absolutely in love with the Valo Finland and will definitely be returning again with our family!

a white villa in lapland surround by a snowy landscape with trees
inside a cozy living room at the Valo Finland Villas in Lapland

These are the best things to do in Lapland

Aurora Borealis – See the Northern Lights duirng your Lapland vacation

See the mystical Northern Lights with your own eyes. This dream is probably on many people’s bucket list! Lapland offers the best conditions to make this dream come true – but no 100% guarantee. In addition to the strength of the solar activity, the visibility of the Aurora Borealis depends on many factors: Where are you located? Is it dark enough? Do you have a clear view to the north? Is it cloudy? Are the lights strong enough to see them with the bare eye?

seeing the northern lights in lapland
sitting at the fire place on a reindeer farm in lapland: seeing the northern lights in Lapland

You can see the most amazing Northern Lights, while a person just a few kilometres away from you will only see a dark sky.

To increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Lapland, I recommend the following:

  • → This live weather and cloud radar – it gives very reliable information about the cloud density in your area
  • A rental car with which you can drive to cloud-free spots
  • A compass – the Northern Lights are only visible when you are facing north
  • Patience – the Aurora Borealis moves at an average speed of 400 km/h!!! The sky above your head can therefore change constantly.
  • A tripod and a camera or smartphone with long exposure – while the lights are barely visible to the eye when they are faint, you will be able to capture them much more clearly thanks to long exposure.

The easier alternative? Book a guided Northern Lights tour. 

The tour guides know the best spots in the area, provide camera equipment and warm clothing, stay in contact with their colleagues and therefore greatly increase the chance of seeing the Northern Lights with your own eyes! The guides are also experienced in night photography and will help you to take the perfect souvenir photo. This was a great challenge even for us – as experienced travel photographers – as the conditions and camera settings vary greatly.

→ Book the best Northern Lights Tours in Lapland here:

Powered by GetYourGuide

My highlight: Visiting a traditional Sámi reindeer farm

My personal highlight of our trip to Finnish Lapland was a visit to a traditional reindeer farm run by a Sámi family. The Sámi are the indigenous people who still live in Arctic Lapland (called Sápmi by the Sámi), which stretches across the borders of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Reindeer herding and handicrafts made from natural materials are an important part of their culture. By chance, I came across a small family tour where the reindeer herder Jenni welcomes her guests and guides them through the day.

First we are kitted out with warm equipment, then we take a snowmobile through the forest to the reindeer herd. The animals are semi-wild. In summer they roam the forests on their own while in winter they are dependent on being fed. It was an indescribable feeling to sit around the campfire, enjoying homemade food and tea, listening to stories from the Sámi culture while countless reindeer walked around us. Some even lay down near the fire to rest in the midday sun. You can tell that although the animals are very shy by nature, they have an intimate relationship with Jenni. Afterwards, we warmed up in the warm wooden hut with homemade cake and glögg and admired Jenni’s mum’s handicrafts. The whole family is so warm and welcoming. An unforgettable experience!

the best things to do in Lapland: visiting a traditional Sami reindeer farm
sitting at the fire place on a reindeer farm in lapland

→ I have linked Jenni’s website here, where you can book a private tour. The cost is 120 euros per person, which I think is an absolutely fair price. In addition to the day tour, this also includes equipment, warm clothing, food and drinks.

The Santa Claus Village – a highlight during your Lapland Vacation

Even though it is the most touristy attraction in Lapland, a visit to the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi is, in my opinion, a must for both young and old on a trip to Lapland! It is located just 20 minutes from Rovaniemi Airport and lies directly on the Arctic Circle, which you can officially cross in the Christmas village. Because of this special location, it is known as the official home of Santa Claus, his elves and the magical reindeer.

The Santa Claus Village in Lapland is open all year round and is festively decorated 365 days a year. Of course, it is particularly magical in winter when it’s covered by snow. In the village there is Santa’s post office, where letters from children all over the world arrive, numerous souvenir shops, restaurants and cafés with a festive atmosphere, a hotel, a small reindeer farm and of course you can visit Santa in his office! A photo with him costs 30 Euros, but it was worth it 🙂 He greets all guests in their native language (of course Santa speaks all languages!) and the ambience is lovingly decorated with lots of details. I immediately felt like I was a little child again and sat next to Santa in total awe!

Finnish sauna

Finland is the home of the sauna, so a sauna session should definitely be on your Lapland bucket list. Almost all hotels offer a sauna for their guests, some of them even with cosy outdoor hot tubs. The sauna with outdoor hot tub at the small Hotel Levi Foxfires, which can be booked privately, is particularly well-known.
From 345 Euros, you can book this special sauna experience for up to four people privately. This service is also available to guests who are not staying at the hotel.

→ Here you can find the website for the reservation. As this spa is incredibly photogenic and popular, you should book your preferred date early to make sure you get a spot.

Other activities not to be missed during your trip to Lapland:

Skiing in Lapland – the perfect winter activity

The guaranteed snow in Lapland offers a wide variety of winter sports activities that you can experience during your trip. Starting with alpine skiing in the small ski resort in Saariselkä. Although there are no mountains in Lapland, there are hills, which are ideal for beginners. You can also enjoy cross-country skiing, which is popular in Scandinavia. Many picturesque trails run through the snow-covered winter forest for an idyllic ski tour.

the skiing slopes in snowy lapland

A snowmobile tour through the winter landscape

Those who like a little more adrenaline will love a snowmobile tour! After a short briefing and being equipped with warm protective clothing, you set off on your own snowmobile through the winter landscape. There are special paths for this so that you can enjoy the ride without worrying about disturbing pedestrians. We booked our tour in Saariselkä. The view from the “top” of the hills over the endless white expanse was impressive!

→ Book your snow mobile tour in Saariselkä (North)

→ Book your snow mobile tour in Rovaniemi (South)

driving with the snow mobile through the snowy landscape of lapland

Snow Mountain Biking

Lapland offers ideal conditions for cycling tours in winter! With so-called “e-fat bikes” with particularly wide tyres and a battery drive, many cycle paths can also be used in winter. However, you shouldn’t underestimate the extreme cold when cycling – after just under two hours I was completely frozen and could no longer feel my fingers. This activity is therefore not suitable for children or older people.

→ Book your e-bike tour in Levi (North)

→ Book your e-bike tour in Rovaniemi (South)

Husky and reindeer sledding in Lapland

Even though snowmobiles have almost complety replaced sled dogs and reindeer sleds in everyday life, there are still some traditional husky and reindeer farms that offer sled tours through the forest. Unfortunately, we didn’t do this ourselves due to lack of time and decided to visit a Sámi reindeer farm instead (see above), but for many visitors this activity is simply a must do duirng a trip to Lapland in winter!

a reindeer sleigh in lapland, Finland
a husky sleigh tour in lapland, Finland

→ Book the best tours in Lapland here:

Powered by GetYourGuide

My Map for the best things to do in Lapland:

Experience Lapland in winter! This dream of mine has finally come true. The magic of Lapland in winter is just as enchanting as I had always imagined. With the right clothing, even the freezing cold has a special charm.

I hope this post with my travel tips and the best things to do in Finnish Lapland will help you plan your own trip. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or send me a message on Instagram.

Save this post on Pinterest to find it back later!

the best things to do in Lapland during winter
the best things to do in Lapland Finland

post a comment