Finland – A winter adventure in Lapland

I had an absolutely magical experience this winter when my boyfriend Lukas and I visited Lapland for about three days. Lapland is an area in the north of Finland, and it truly is a winter wonderland. We stayed in and around Rovaniemi on our trip. The first thing to know when planning your trip to Finland is that this is certainly one of the more expensive countries to visit in Europe. It won’t bankrupt you in one trip but it will certainly give it a good try. As with any trip to an expensive place, I recommend planning an appropriate budget beforehand that suits the time frame. This way you can enjoy your time there as much as possible and to the full extent without breaking the bank.

On this trip, I was again able to cross off some fantastic things off my travel bucket list:

  • Stay over in an Igloo hotel
  • Visit Santa in Lapland
  • Visit a Finnish sauna in Finland
  • Drink the best tap water in the world
Igloo hotel experience

An amazing thing I was able to cross off my travel bucket list on this trip was a stay in an igloo hotel. We only stayed in this kind of hotel for one night as it is pretty expensive, but we got a good deal on and it was certainly worth it. We stayed at the Santa’s Igloo Hotel that is really close to the airport and also very close to the lovely Santa’s village. The staff were incredibly friendly and really helpful and the room was great. The deal we had included one meal at the hotel restaurant (drinks excluded) and that was fantastic! The dinner we had there became even more magical when the staff came to the tables during the meal and told us that the northern lights were visible outside. You’ve never seen people leave their dinner tables so fast. Unfortunately, this was the only time we saw the northern lights this trip so we didn’t actually get to see them from our igloo but the igloo room was still a fantastic experience. It’s just incredible to sit or lie in a bed in a wonderful room and look up and see the stars. It’s also wonderful to be able to take a beautiful short walk to the reception and the restaurant knowing that you have a wonderful and very private room waiting for you when you get back. When you’re in the room, you feel like it’s just you in this cozy room in the middle of a winter paradise. I couldn’t quite imagine it being the same kind of experience in the summer time but for the winter it is absolutely ideal, although quite pricey. My recommendation is that you should check out the deals for where you want to go and then evaluate if it’s worth it to you. It was certainly worth it for us but we couldn’t really do more than one or maybe we could have done a maximum of two nights because of the price but even just that one night was worth it.

Santa’s village

This is certainly one of the highlights of a Lapland holiday – Santa’s village. The main thing you can do in Santa’s village is, of course, meet and have a quick chat with the man himself. Santa is a lovely guy and it’s free to go and see him. It is anything other than free however to get the photos or the video of your visit. The offers for that range from 30 – 50€ if I remember correctly. The village is obviously a highlight if you’re doing a trip with children but it’s also definitely worth a visit if you’re not travelling with kids. It’s a beautiful area and visiting Santa I think is always a cute add on to a Lapland trip. There’s a lovely little souvenir shop in the village and in Santa’s cottage where there are of course some very expensive things but they also offer some very reasonably priced gifts and keepsakes. We didn’t really spend too much time in the village but it’s lovely to walk around the area and take in the fantastic christmasy atmosphere.


Rovaniemi is one of the biggest cities in the Lapland area of Finland. It is quite easy to fly into and can often be a pretty cheap place for flights in general. We stayed quite centrally in the city after our night in the igloo hotel and it was quite nice. The hotel we stayed at was great (Rovaniemi Vaakuna) and the staff was lovely! There was breakfast included and on our departure day we couldn’t stay for breakfast as our flight was super early, so they packed us a breakfast bag to take with us. There aren’t really a lot of actual sights to see in Rovaniemi and it’s not exactly a large city but I’d recommend taking a bit of a wander and exploring. The local restaurants were averagely priced and the quality of the food and drink was great. We tried to get into a restaurant called “Gustav” which seems to be very popular, so if you get the chance, maybe give it a try and let me know. It’s on my list for next time at the moment.

Truly Finnish

Finland is a beautiful European country with a rich culture. Finnish is one of the most unique languages in the world but luckily for tourists and travellers like myself, pretty much everyone in Finland speaks fluent English. My standard recommendation still applies though, so saying hello and thank you in the local language is still appreciated.

“Hello” is “hei” and “thank you” is “kiitos”

Those are just some basics that I find it’s polite to use but generally all you need is a reasonable level of English and you’ll get by very well.

Something you should definitely put on your Finland bucket list is a visit to the Finnish sauna. Most hotels in the area include a sauna but make sure to check that when you book your hotel. Finnish saunas separate men and women so if you’re travelling with a partner or travel buddy of the opposite gender, the sauna is an experience you’ll be doing by yourselves. I understand that a sauna visit isn’t for everyone but if there was ever a place to try it, then Finland is certainly one of the top 3. While you’re visiting the sauna, you should stay hydrated by drinking the certified best tap water the world has to offer. As in pretty much every country in the EU the standard tap water is always drinkable but the water in Finland is truly delicious.
When it comes to food, the Finnish have certainly perfected various ways to prepare reindeer and of course are the masters at most things fish. It can be a little difficult to try traditional Finnish food as a vegetarian but there are a couple of vegetarian options that are more cheesy. In case the food isn’t your thing, you can definitely find something you’ll like on the drinks menu. My favourite was certainly Glögi which is basically Finnish mulled wine and it is delicious but it’s always worth checking out the drinks menu and asking for recommendations at the bar if you’re up for trying something new and/or local.

An amazing part of visiting Finland is that the people are fantastic! They’re incredibly friendly, truly polite and exceptionally helpful. This is such a bonus that makes going on holiday here such an easy thing. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help or advice whenever and wherever as you don’t want to miss out on things because you were too afraid (and the Finnish are really among the last people you need to be afraid of ;)).

Arctic experience

I went over some of the amazing points of a trip to the arctic in my post about Murmansk in Russia but there are certainly a few more things to take into account. A great bonus of a winter wonderland trip is that most places look absolutely magical. The forests near Rovaniemi looked like something out of a fairytale. Luki and I spent an entire afternoon walking and exploring. It was one of my favourite experiences and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who plans on visiting the arctic.

Another fantastic activity we did was husky sledging. We visited the husky park that’s located directly by the Santa’s village. To be completely honest, this is quite an expensive experience but I’d say it’s worth it and the fact that it’s expensive can be a good sign. We were able to see the facilities where the dogs were being kept and meet the people who work there and asked loads of questions. I am aware that things aren’t always what they seem, especially when it comes to the way animals are kept. However, this park seemed so well kept, the dogs seemed so happy and the caretakers were so devoted to their job and responsibilities that it certainly made a good impression. We also took a lot of time to question the conditions, the health and feelings of the animals and in addition to being able to ask the staff there is a lot of information posted all around the park. Take the time and be informed to make a responsible decision on how or what you want to feel when it comes to the facility.

Last but not least, the fact that there’s only a few hours of sunlight here in the winter can make for some beautiful sights and some lovely, cozy evenings. The sky takes on colours that keep looking more and more surreal every day which is just fantastic to see and can make for some great pictures. The darkness in the evening makes everything seem a bit smaller and I find it slows things down with such an amazingly cozy feeling. I love being able to start the whole evening process earlier by going to dinner and taking your time and not having to rush without ending the evening too late. Also, it’s the perfect weather to curl up with a good book or a great partner and just relax and watch the stars or just a movie or whatever you’d like.

Our experience in Finland was a wonderful one and it was so magical on so many levels. I’ve never been anywhere that’s felt so much like a winter wonderland and of course, it was amazing to get that Christmas-feeling in December. If visiting Lapland doesn’t make you want to believe in some winter magic and the tales of Santa Claus, then nowhere will.

If you’re interested in more travel tips, more information on different destinations or packing tips, then check out some of my other Meg’s Places articles and stay tuned for more! In case your questions aren’t answered here, or you have any comments or personal experiences you’d like to share, don’t be afraid to get in touch, comment and let me know. 

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