If you are seeking a true winter break in a landscape that could have been transported straight from a Narnia book, then I would highly recommend Finnish Lapland. A never-ending blanket of glittering white set against faded blue skies, it's no wonder that some of the visitors we met during our stay return year after year. Here's my tips for visiting this spectacular region...
- Arrange an Aurora hunting session with an experienced guide if possible. As you may have realised from previous posts on this site, F and I are usually in favour of 'going it alone' and are dubious about paying for a tour in an area that can be easily explored solo. However, when it comes to the unpredictable, notoriously tricksy Northern Lights, I'd definitely advise getting all the assistance you can. Having someone by your side who knows the region well, is willing to drive for hours through all conditions to find a clear patch of sky and studies forecasting maps daily is a luxury that will almost certainly pay for itself multiple times over in incredible memories.
- Sample some of the hearty and delicious Lappish cuisine. Reindeer is a popular choice and has the novelty value, but fresh salmon broths, creamy mashed potatoes, tangy berry sauces and dense breads are also staples of local diets. My personal favourite was the combination of tart, juicy berries against rich gamey meat common throughout Scandinavia. Yum!
- Visit the wonderful Sami museum in Inari to learn about the history and culture of native peoples in Lapland. With interactive exhibitions and beautiful photography, it provides an informative context to the landscape, wildlife and way of life all around you.
- Visit on a tight budget. Northern Europe is extremely pricey compared to the rest of the continent, and Lapland is no exception. If you are eager to experience a husky ride, snowmobiling or reindeer experience, plus a couple of nice meals, then expect to pay as much in a week as in two or three elsewhere.
- Miss out on a sleigh ride. The quintessential winter activity, watching the world slip by as you are pulled along by powerful dogs is an incredible experience. Just remember to wrap up warmly, and be prepared to eat and mouthful or two of snow if you end up with a feisty pack of huskies.
- Forget to choose your season carefully. If seeking the Aurora, then October/November and February/March are considered peak times with less cloud coverage. The temperatures are extremely low in January, but so are the visitor numbers. December will be full of families visiting Santa on day or weekend trips, with flights booking up quickly. And if you'd rather avoid the cold altogether, I heard great things about hiking during the summer months (just watch out for mosquitoes during July!)
Missed any posts on Finnish Lapland? Find them all here:
Arriving in Lapland
Dancing colours in the sky: The beautiful Northern Lights in Lapland
How to photograph the Northern Lights
A huskie sleigh ride through a winter wonderland
A day with the Reindeer
Winter in Lapland: A photo-blog