5 things to do in Lapland other than meet Santa

Family travel


Watch as photographer Frode Sandbech takes girlfriend Mari and new baby Mille on their first snowy adventure as a family. They spend their ultimate winter escape gazing at starry skies, snowboarding across the arctic wilderness and taking in the breathtaking views from Kakslauttanen Igloo Arctic Resort in Lapland, Finland. And then plan your own getaway with our guide to Lapland.

See the northern lights

See the northern lights reflected on a still lake at night

See the northern lights reflected on a still lake at night

The good news: winter is the best time to catch the northern lights. And the not-so-good news: Mother Nature doesn’t always play ball. To maximise your chances of seeing them, remember the three Ls – latitude, length and light. Stay north in Inari and Utsjoki where they appear most nights. The longer you stay the better the chance of a cloud-free night. And escape light pollution for the brightest view, take a snowshoe hike into the forest.

Travel by husky

A thrilling way to get through the snow

A thrilling way to get through the snow

Racing along at an impressive 28 miles per hour, huskies are the best guides to Lapland’s frozen tundra. Take your sled dog safari from Levi, which is surrounded by breathtaking Narnia-esque landscapes. Levi is also Finland’s biggest ski resort, with plenty of gentle green runs for beginners. By the end of the week you’ll be gunning to try its world-famous world cup slalom run.

Sleep in a cosy igloo

A night in an igloo is surprisingly cosy, particularly if your igloo has a private sauna

A night in an igloo is surprisingly cosy, particularly if your igloo has a private sauna

Being deep in a snow-clad forest, a scatter of stars for a canopy, dressed in just your swimming trunks might seem a bit unwise. But not if you’re at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. Its Kelo-Glass Igloos have private saunas that give you the feeling of being transported right out of in the Arctic forest.

Meet Arctic animals

Come face to face with polar bears and other Arctic wildlife at Ranua Zoo

Come face to face with polar bears and other Arctic wildlife at Ranua Zoo

Ranua is not your average wildlife park (it’s the world’s most northerly for a start). See Arctic foxes, polar bears, eagles, owls, musk deer, lynx and wolverines at their happiest – in sub-zero temperatures. And don’t miss the kids’ snowmobiling centre – it makes go-karting look a bit tame. Address: Rovaniementie 29, 97700 Ranua, Finland.

Spot carved ice wolves and sip cocktails

Enjoy cocktails in a solid ice bar at SnowVillage

Enjoy cocktails in a solid ice bar at SnowVillage

SnowVillage makes Superman’s Fortress of Solitude look positively cramped. Built from scratch every winter, 1.5 million kilos of ice and snow goes into making this maze of arched corridors, ice restaurants and halls so cavernous that gigs and motorbike competitions have been held inside. Kids love it – there’s another giant carved-ice wolf or spiraling slide round every corner. SnowVillage also has an ice restaurant and an ice bar. When ordering a drink, don’t do the ‘Can I have ice with that?’ gag – they’ve heard it.

Visit Santa

And of course, the obligatory trip to see Santa Claus

And of course, the obligatory trip to see Santa Claus

You can’t come to Lapland without visiting Santa. And quite rightly, he has a whole village dedicated to him. After the kids have personally delivered their list of demands to the man himself, parents can indulge in a spot of retail therapy. The shopping here ranges from reindeer jerky to Swarovski crystalware. Have you been good this year?

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