31 Amazing Things To Do In Finnish Lapland (For All Seasons)

There are so many things to do in Finnish Lapland that creating a comprehensive guide is almost impossible… but I have tried my best!

This guide will take you through nearly everything you can do in Arctic Finland throughout the year. Some things are season-specific, and others are more general.

If you think I have missed anything on the list of things to do in Finnish Lapland, please leave a comment below!

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Why Finnish Lapland?

Visiting Finnish Lapland may seem like a challenging and difficult trip, but fortunately, the Arctic in Europe is incredibly accessible compared to other places in the world.

Finnish Lapland is easy to reach with multiple small airports dotted throughout the towns and cities in the north. During the high season in winter, regular flights arrive at these airports directly from numerous cities throughout Europe.

Aurora hanging over trees
See the northern lights is one of the best things to do in Finnish Lapland!

Throughout summer, you will likely need to transfer through Helsinki. The Finnish Arctic is unbelievably beautiful with lakes spread out across the land and small peaks rising out of the forests.

Throughout the land, there are several settlements where you can find outstanding accommodations and plenty of activities to do during all seasons. This makes the Arctic in Finland one of the best places to visit year-round, in my opinion.

Season in Finnish Lapland

Past the Arctic Circle, seasons morph into a different beast, with long drawn-out winters that encroach well into what would normally be spring and summers that burst into life with never-ending days before fall quickly sneaks in.

Winter dominates the year running from December through to as late as the middle of May, when a thick blanket of snow covers Lapland. This is the perfect time for enjoying the many winter activities offered in the Arctic.

Wild Flowers
Wild flowers spring up everywhere during summer

Spring and summer merge into one as the never-ending daylight speeds up the melting of the snow and life springs into action. The long days are perfect for hiking and exploring the countryside, but it does come with swarms of mosquitoes.

Fall arrives in early September, spreading from the north of Lapland down to the southern reaches quickly. This is one of the best times to see the northern lights. Called ruska in Finnish, the arrival of fall foliage brings out a new level of beauty in the Arctic.

When does it snow in Lapland?

The arrival of the snow that lasts throughout winter is becoming harder and harder to predict with the warming planet. It tends to arrive first in the northern areas of Lapland, around mid-November.

Then by late December, the snow should be further south in places like Rovaniemi. However, between September and November, you will see many snow flurries that will most likely not stick around long.

The snow will stay until April or May depending on how thick it is and how warm the weather gets. Most snow-based tours will stop in April.

Snowy path in Rovaniemi
A road after late March snowfall in Finnish Lapland

Temperatures in Finnish Lapland

Lapland covers much of the northern reaches of Finland and temperature differences between the southern limits and the northern reaches can be around up to 10°C different.

I have provided average temperatures below for rough seasonal parameters.

  • Winter: November to March temperatures are on average around -13°C
  • Spring: April to May temperatures generally hover on average around 0°C
  • Summer: June to August temperatures are in the high teens and often go above 20°C
  • Fall: September to October average temperatures are around 10°C

Naturally, temperatures will wildly fluctuate depending on where you are. For example, winter in Rovaneimi is not as cold as Inari, given both its location and the size of the city.

Best things to do in Finnish Lapland

Here is my list of the most amazing things to do in Lapland.

This list is a mixture of year-round, summer, and winter activities. Is there something I have missed? Please add it to the comments below!

1. Explore the lakes and rivers of Finnish Lapland

One of the best summer activities in Lapland is canoeing. Known as the land of a thousand lakes (187,188 to be exact), there is no shortage of water throughout the country. Many of these lakes are located in Lapland with connecting rivers that flow south towards the northern edge of the Baltic Sea.

Thrill seekers should head to Kuusamo or Savukoski, where rapids form and white water rafting is the only way to travel down the river, especially once the meltwater starts to arrive.

Canoes on the side of a lake
Canoes on the side of a lake in Lapland

For those looking to attempt rafting for the first time, I recommend visiting Kuusamo. Alternatively, the Teno River, which forms a natural border between Finland and Norway, is the perfect place to do multi-day kayak trips, with the river eventually tipping out into the Arctic Ocean.

For those looking for a more chilled-out experience or just wanting to learn to canoe, I recommend taking a tour canoeing under the midnight sun. There is something so peaceful about paddling through the water as the midnight sun basks upon you.

2. Try to land a catch ice fishing in Lapland

The clean clear waters of Lapland are the perfect habitat for fish. Once the lakes become encased in ice, the fish slow down and move to the warmer water towards the bottom of the lake. However, this does not mean they cannot be caught.

Throughout winter, locals head out onto frozen lakes, drill a hole through the thick ice, and patiently wait for a fish to bite. The most common fish you will catch are perch and Arctic char, both residing in the freshwater lakes and rivers of Lapland.

While those visiting Lapland may not be able to head out on their own to ice fish, many great tours will take you ice fishing and provide you with all the equipment you need.

Ice Fishing
Waiting for a bite…

Ice fishing is generally great all over Lapland, but the waters around Inari and Saariselkä are well stocked with fish.

Ice fishing tours generally run from December until April. However, this is entirely dependent on when the lakes freeze over and thaw.

The advantage of an ice fishing tour is it is often combined with another activity such as snowmobiling or snowshoeing, like the Rovaniemi ice fishing tour with snowshoeing I took.

3. Make your own path while snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is a great way to explore the countryside of Lapland. Much of the countryside becomes completely inaccessible during winter apart from maintained paths, but with a pair of snowshoes, you can access places that haven’t seen humans since the start of winter.

Snowshoeing can be done from when the snow first starts to settle until the end of winter, but it is most fun when the snow is deeper and impassable by other means.

Snowshoes on feet
Snowshoes on and ready to go

The best places to snowshoe are the Finnish national parks located in Lapland, like the famous Riisitunturi National Park. With over 40km of marked trails that will take you through the snow-covered forest, you can see the famous popcorn trees here.

With snowshoes, you can leave the more congested paths and head deeper into the national park to find picture-perfect scenes. When snowshoeing, be sure not to walk on marked cross-country skiing trails.

Snowshoeing can be done on a tour, or you can alternatively rent a pair from most places and head out on your own.

4. Experience the thrill of dog sledding in Finnish Lapland

Dog sledding is one of the most exhilarating activities in Lapland. There is something about seeing the joy in the huskies as they get ready to run, barking with excitement as the breaks are taken off.

When choosing a husky tour, the most important thing is to consider the sustainability credentials of the tour operator. One of the most ethical tour operators in Lapland is Hetta Huskies based out of Enontekiö.

Located in the northern reaches of Lapland, Hetta Huskies offer short husky rides and multi-day trips where you venture out into the taiga or out onto the tundra for three to five days.

Huskies waiting to run again
Impatient huskies waiting to get running again

Alternatively, Bearhill Husky located close to Rovaniemi prides itself on being a sustainable farm whose top priority is the dog’s health. While the most popular time to visit husky farms is winter, the farms are open for visitors year-round.

Visiting during the snow-free months is just as fun as you can spend time getting to know the dogs and, if you are lucky, meet any new puppies born that spring!

Visiting a husky farm during the summer months is a great way to help the husky farms sustain themselves until winter. To learn more about sustainable dog sledding, I recommend reading this informative CNN article.

5. Learn about Sámi culture

For thousands of years, the Arctic has been home to the Sámi, the Indigenous people of the north. Their historical lands are referred to as Sápmi and stretch from Norway to the Kola Peninsula in Russia.

In Finland, there are around 10,000 Sámi with the biggest population being in Inari. Inari is the best place to learn about the Sámi people in Finland, with the Siida Sami Museum being at the forefront of preserving the Sámi culture.

Traditional Sami Clothing
Traditional Sami Clothing

While Inari is known as the cultural capital of the Sámi, Utsjoki is the only area where the majority of the population is Sámi.

The area is a great place to learn about other aspects of the Sámi culture such as salmon fishing practices, with the Teno River being one of the best salmon spots in Europe.

6. Put the pedal to the metal snowmobiling

One of the most fun and exciting things to do during winter in Lapland is snowmobiling. Powering through the snow at speed along designated snowmobile tracks or your own path is unbelievably exhilarating.

Throughout Lapland, there are some amazing places to go snowmobiling where you can explore different landscapes. Kuusamo and Ruka are the best for those wanting to weave in and out of the trees that make up the taiga.

Alternatively, the frozen rivers that run through Rovaniemi make for incredible snowmobile highways, allowing you to concentrate on traveling at speed (within the speed limits naturally).

Tearing through the forest on a snowmobile
Tearing through the countryside

In the north, Lake Inari, Finland’s third largest lake, is another great place to explore. Snowmobiles allow you to reach areas of the lake that are generally only accessible by boat.

In my opinion, the best way to enjoy snowmobiling is on a tour, where your tour guide will take you to the best spots and ensure you stay on the correct trails.

Modern advancements in snowmobiling mean that many tour providers are switching to electric snowmobiles, which are not only better for the environment but also drastically cut down noise pollution.

7. Spend the night bear-watching in Lapland

One of my all-time favorite experiences in Lapland was going bear-watching. While bears inhabit all of Finland, the population is largely concentrated in Eastern Finland and Lapland.

One of the best places to see bears is Kuusamo, right on the Russian border. During the bear-watching season between May and September, bears travel over the border in search of food.

A bear wading through a swamp
A bear in Kuusamo taking a swamp bath

In the carefully situated huts around Kuntilampi (bear pond), where the bears know there is the possibility of finding food, you can spend the evening watching these majestic animals going about their daily business.

Ninety-nine percent of visitors will see at least one bear, although occasionally, you will need a fair bit of patience as the bears can arrive late at night.

Fortunately, during the midnight sun, the constant daylight is perfect for photographing the bears throughout the early hours of the morning.

8. Go on a moose safari in Lapland

Moose are fairly prevalent throughout Finnish Lapland, but seeing one is often challenging. For such large animals, they hide themselves superbly. One of the best places to see moose during the summer and early fall is just south of Rovaniemi. Set your satnav to the northern end of the Pisantie Road.

Once you have reached your destination, follow Pisantie Road south, until it kind of forks and you will want to turn right onto Louejoentie. Follow the dirt road and scan for moose, which inhabit this area in large numbers due to a hunting ban.

Keep an eye out on the verges as sometimes they come out of nowhere, which has happened to me the two times I have seen them in the area. Once you reach the end of the road turn left onto the main road and rejoin the Pisantie road to finish the loop.

Flying a drone to try and spot moose
Enlisting the help of a drone to spot moose

The best time to see moose is early fall during the mating season when they are most active. During summer they are around, but seeing them is hard due to the overgrowth, there is a higher chance during the evening and morning but I did see one in the middle of the day.

Alternatively, you can book a moose-watching tour that departs from Rovaniemi, where a guide will take you to the area and drive the circuit. The advantage of taking the tour is that the guides are well-adapted to seeing moose. You will also be provided with binoculars.

9. Explore Lapland while cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is the national pastime of the Finnish people, and there are ski tracks nearly everywhere! Saariselkä village alone has more than 200 km (124 mi) of ski tracks! For those wanting to learn to cross-country ski, it is best to stick around a ski resort such as Ylläs.

In Ylläs there are 314 km (195 mi) of cross-country skiing trails, throughout the resort and into Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. Some of the trails through the national park are only maintained by snowmobiles as they head deep into the more inaccessible parts of the park, so after heavy snowfall, they may not be accessible straight away.

The Pyhä and Luosto National Park has 150 km (93 mi) of cross-country skiing paths that take you between the two sectors of the national park. The designated cross-country skiing routes should never be walked or snowshoed on!

10. Visit Rudolph at a reindeer farm

There are around 200,000 reindeer in Finland, nearly all of which are semi-wild. They spend spring, summer, and fall out in the forests and tundra, before being brought back to the farms for winter where they can be fed and kept safe.

Unlike the rest of the Nordics, reindeer farming in Finland is not reserved only for the Sámi. However, some of the best places to see reindeer are around Sámi-populated areas like Inari and Utsjoki.

In Utsjoki, there are around 10,000 reindeer to the 1,400 residents, and you will often see them on the roads or even hanging outside of hotels. To get up close to the reindeer and have the chance to feed them, you can visit a reindeer farm, like Reindeer Farm Petri Mattus close to Inari.

Baby reindeer feeding
Stopping for a little snack

Here, you will be taken out to the forest to meet the reindeer and learn all about the Sámi traditions around reindeer herding. Further south in Finnish Lapland, Luosto is a great place to see reindeer, with a large herd often found wandering through the town and sitting outside of the Lapland Hotels Luostotunturi.

On the road between Rovaniemi and Luosto, you will often find yourself in reindeer traffic jams as they trot down the roads seemingly with no fear of cars. While reindeer are all owned, they are still wild animals and should be treated with respect and not disturbed.

11. Visit one of the best museums in Lapland

Many of the bigger settlements throughout Lapland have a range of interesting museums that you can visit throughout the year. The museums generally focus on life in the Arctic, the environment, and the Sami.

Museums are open year-round and provide the perfect getaway from the cold during the winter. Here are a few of the best museums located in Finnish Lapland.

Artikum

Located in Rovaniemi, Artikum is a great place to learn about everything to do with the Arctic, from the animals of the far north to how we need to protect it for future generations.

Address: Pohjoisranta 4, 96200 Rovaniemi

Siida

Siida is an incredible Sámi museum in Inari. For those staying in the region around Inari, it is a must-visit so that you can learn about the history of the Sámi and Sápmi. Tickets for Siida can be purchased in advance or at the museum.

Address: Inarintie 46, 99870 Inari

Särestöniemen Museosäätiö

Särestöniemen Museosäätiö is a museum dedicated to displaying the artwork of Reidar Särestöniemi, one of Lapland’s most famous artists. The museum buildings themselves make visitors feel like they are stepping back in time, having been in the Säarestöniemi family since the 19th century.

Address: Särestöntie 880, 99110 Kittilä

12. Relax in a Finnish sauna

Saunas in Finland are a big business. Nearly every single housing building will come with a sauna for the residents or individual saunas in the apartment. For visitors, it is a must-do experience while staying in Lapland. While it can be done pretty much everywhere, here are a few more unique sauna experiences throughout Lapland.

The inside of Sauna
Heating up a Sauna to escape the cold

Kiilopää Sauna World

Kiilopää Sauna World is located close to Saariselkä, forming part of the wonderful Suomen Latu Kiilopää resort. In the resort’s little world of saunas, you will find both a traditional smoke sauna and an electric sauna. After warming up in the sauna, take a plunge into the Kiikopää River pools.

Address: Kiilopääntie 620, 99830 Saariselkä

Apukka Ice Sauna

At Apukka Resort, you will find one of the world’s most unique sauna experiences, an ice sauna. Built each winter, the sauna is made up of ice logs and creates an odd feeling of both cold and hot.

Address: Tutkijantie 28, 96900 Rovaniemi

Floating Sauna

During summer, there is a chance for another unique sauna experience, the floating sauna. Departing from Rovaniemi, Nordic Unique Travels offers a special sauna lake cruise where you can spend the evening on their special sauna boat in the middle of the lake.

Once you are sufficiently hot, plunge into the lake under the glow of the midnight sun.

13. Eat traditional food from Finnish Lapland

The gastronomic scene in Lapland is superb, with plenty of incredible dishes that utilize fresh local ingredients. Despite short growing seasons, the lands in the north are productive and many fresh ingredients are unique to the Lapland and the Arctic.

Reindeer meat has sustained the people of the north for millennia. It is considered to not only be healthier lean meat, but it is also a more sustainable way of consuming meat.

Here are a few of the dishes you must try while in Lapland:

Sautéed Reindeer (Poronkäristys)

One of my all-time favorite dishes is sautéed reindeer, consisting of thin shavings of reindeer meat that have been sautéed and cooked in a delicate sauce, served over mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam.

A plate of sauteed reindeer on a bed of mashed potatoes
Sautéed Reindeer on a bed of mash… my favorite dish in Lapland

Salmon Soup (Lohikeitto)

Finland’s rivers in the north produce some of the most incredible salmon, and this traditional hearty soup is a great way to consume salmon in a delectable creamy sauce.

Finnish Squeaky Cheese (Leipäjuusto)

While not necessarily a dish of its own, Finnish squeaky cheese is a great way to finish off a meal and can make up part of a cheese board or be served with cloudberry jam for a traditional dessert.

14. Take a road trip during the midnight sun

Summer in the Arctic is perfect for epic road trips as the midnight sun shines throughout the night. The long days make road trips easy as you don’t feel the constraint of wanting to finish driving for the day before nightfall.

Take the opportunity to drive as far north as you can, taking in the sights and towns of the high Arctic. One of the most amazing road trips I have done is from Rovaniemi to Vardø in Northern Norway.

A road with a reindeer winding through a forest
Waiting for the Finnish Lapland traffic jam to clear

The journey from the Arctic Circle to the Arctic Ocean can be done in around eight hours without stops. Instead, I took the time to experience the towns of Ivalo, Inari, and Utsjoki along the way before heading into Norway and marveling at the drastically different scenery.

You can choose to stay in hotels along the way or you can wild camp on public land along the way.

15. Hunt for the Aurora Borealis in Finnish Lapland

The chance to see the Aurora Borealis draws visitors in their droves to Lapland every year. Seeing this natural phenomenon is incredible and really should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Lapland is one of the best places to see the northern lights in the world. However, seeing the aurora does involve a little bit of luck, requiring both solar activity and clear skies that no one can control.

While clear skies are the most important thing, the location you choose will make the photo.

huge aurora explosion
One of the best aurora displays I have ever seen

Lakes are a great place to view the lights early in the season before the water freezes as they reflect the aurora in the sky, making for epic pictures. Given the size of Lake Inari, it makes for an incredible picture.

During the depths of winter, the famous popcorn trees of Riisitunturi National Park make for incredible pictures. Rovaniemi is one of the best places for starting a northern lights adventure as the well-connected city has roads heading in pretty much every direction and makes it more convenient to hunt for clear skies.

I always try and take a Rovaniemi northern lights tour when I am there.

16. Pick wild berries

Throughout summer and fall, you will find thousands of berries that are growing wild and ready to pick!

Seasons for berry picking vary depending on the type of berry, but normally, by the end of July, you can find plenty of edible berries and the supermarkets will start selling numerous tools that help you pick them!

berries growing in the forest
Out berry picking!

I have included some information about some of the berries you can expect to find in the Arctic.

Blueberries

Blueberries are abundant throughout Lapland. They start appearing in August and can be pretty much found everywhere in the forest. As they get older, they start to ferment a little, and they say they get the moose and reindeer a little drunk.

Cloudberries

Cloudberries are some of the most valuable berries in the world. They grow sporadically and are generally some of the first to be harvested due to their worth. Generally, they are best to be picked in August.

Lingonberries

One of the most iconic berries of northern Europe is the lingonberry. This sour berry is great in sauces and the perfect accompaniment for reindeer and moose dishes. They can be found pretty much anywhere and are picked from late August into fall.

17. Spend a day hiking

Hiking in Lapland is awesome. The terrain throughout Lapland is not super challenging with relatively small peaks that rise out of the boreal forest. Given the importance of nature in the Finnish way of life, there are plenty of marked trails and boardwalks that keep you raised above the boggy lands.

Along the routes, there are often little huts where you can light a fire and cook food on the grill; dry wood is generally available for free or for a small cost.

Hiking trail in the Arctic Circle Hiking Area
An accessible hiking trail in the Arctic Circle Hiking Area

Here are a few of the best hikes in Lapland:

Karhunkierros Trail

Located largely in the Oulanka National Park, Karhunkierros Trail is one of the most famous and popular hiking trails in Lapland, full of scenic sites such as rapids, forests, and fells.

The route is an 82 km (51 mi) multiday hike that can begin In Ruka or Hautajärvi and is generally done over 4 days. Alternatively, you can take the shorter 12 km (7.5 mi) day hike that is a circular route from Oulanka Basecamp or Juuma village parking area.

The hikes are both quite demanding but can be done by those with basic hiking skills. They are not suitable for those with mobility issues.

Saana Fell

Saana Fell popular hiking destination located in northern Lapland by Enontekiö. This short 4 km (2.5 mi) hike takes you to the summit of the Saana Fell at 1,029 m (3,376 ft).

Saana Fell is the starting point of the Scandinavian mountain range, offering incredible views out over the tundra below. The hike is not too strenuous but is not suitable for those with mobility issues.

Arctic Circle Hiking Area

The Arctic Circle Hiking area is a great location close to Rovaniemi where you can enjoy many different trails that are all well-marked and range from easy to medium difficulty.

This area has accessible trails for those with mobility issues, such as the Könkäänsaari Accessible Nature Trail. This trail is a 1.5 km (0.9 mi) circle trail and has access to accessible toilets too.

18. Stay in a Lapland glass igloo

Glass igloos are one of the most sought-after accommodation types in Lapland, with their promise of stunning views of the aurora overhead as you lie in bed.

However, not all of them are igloo-shaped! These hotels are generally on the higher end of the budget spectrum but are a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I highly recommend for at least a night if your budget allows it.

Here are three glass igloo hotels that I highly recommend staying at throughout Lapland:

Glass Resort

Located behind Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi is Glass Resort, which offers multi-level igloos that are perfect for those wanting to enjoy a luxury stay while visiting Rovaniemi.

Each igloo comes equipped with a sauna, kitchen, living area, and mezzanine bedroom. On the outside, every igloo has its own secluded outdoor hot tub.

Address: Tähtikuja 16, 96930 Rovaniemi

Relaxing at the Glass resort
Relaxing in my glass igloo

Aurora Village

Aurora Village is situated just outside of Ivalo and is, in my opinion, one of the best aurora resorts in Lapland. The glass-roofed cabins are cozy, with a large double bed, coffee and tea-making facilities, and a nice bathroom.

At night, the resort is away from any natural light. They also minimize their own light pollution as much as possible.

Address: Aurorakuja 38, 99800 Inari

Arctic Skylight Lodge

Found in Äkäslompolo, the Arctic Skylight Lodge has 10 secluded forest lodges, where you can look out over the forest and hopefully at the clear skies above.

Each lodge offers uninterrupted views of the sky and forest from a comfortable bed.

Address: Äkäslompolontie 2748, 95970 Äkäslompolo

19. Hit the slopes in Finnish Lapland

While Finland may not have the reputation of the Alps or even its neighbor Norway for skiing and snowboarding. there are several great resorts in Lapland that are perfect for beginners and those looking for a more relaxing ski trip where you can mix in some other winter activities.

Below I have listed some information about three amazing resorts in Lapland:

Ruka

Located close to Kuusamo, Ruka has the longest ski season running from early October until May. Snow from the previous season is preserved so that the ski season can start in October before the snow arrives.

There are about 19 km (11.8 mi) of slopes in Ruka, most of which are blue runs, although there are some reds and blacks available for more advanced skiers and riders. The snowpark is known to be one of the best in Finland. The closest airport to Ruka is Kuusamo.

Levi

Levi is one of the most famous resorts in Finland and each year hosts a leg of the women’s alpine skiing World Cup. The winner of this stage of the World Cup is given a reindeer that they can name and visit whenever they want!

There are 38.5 km (23.92 mi) of ski slopes of varying difficulty with just under 50% of those being red runs. There are also several snowparks in Levi for those looking to improve their freestyle technique. The closest airport to Levi is Kittilä.

Ylläs

Ylläs is the largest resort in all of Lapland, boasting 53 km (32.93 mi) of slopes. Most of the slopes are of red and blue difficulty, but there are about 6 km (3.73 mi) of black runs.

There are also four snowparks in the resort. The closest airport to Ylläs is Kittilä.

20. Cook in the wild

Lapland is a paradise for those who love to spend time outdoors. Be it the well-built hiking routes or the endless summer days, there is very little reason to spend the day inside even during the middle of winter.

To make an outdoorsy life easier, there are hundreds if not thousands of public fireplaces located throughout the countryside. These little huts come in various sizes from small lean-to shelters called laavu to larger enclosed buildings where you can even spend the night.

A cooking hut in the middle of Korouoma Canyon
Stopping to cook some sausages

Near many of the laavu is a shed containing free or cheap firewood so you can enjoy your meals outside.

There is nothing better than heading out into the wild with some food for grilling, knowing at the end of your hike or hunt of the aurora you can stop and warm and fill up by a roaring fire. Some of these laavu are located in the most scenic spots such as the Kuninkaanlaavu lean-to near Rovaniemi or Otsamo, Inari.

21. Celebrate Midsummer the Finnish way

One of the most significant dates in the Arctic is the arrival of Midsummer or Juhannus in Finnish. This is the day when the sun officially does not set and you can enjoy the endless daylight.

Experiencing the midnight sun is truly a unique experience and you will easily lose track of time. On the actual day of Midsummer, there are normally plenty of activities going on as people celebrate outdoors.

Look out for bonfires on the beach or sauna experiences where you slap each other with birch brushes, to name a few activities! As this is a celebratory time, there is often plenty of cake going around, utilising strawberries that are in season during this period. These are some of the best strawberries in the world!

Midsummer is a different day each year, but it is always between the 20th and 26th of June. Despite the potential for all-day sunshine, it will not necessarily be warm and it has snowed on occasion.

22. Revel at ruska

While Lapland may be known for its picturesque landscapes during winter, fall might just be the most beautiful time of year.

Known as ruska, the forests of Lapland begin to change their colors at the start of September. Ruska arrives in the north first where places like Utsjoki start seeing the trees with their fall foliage in early September.

Fall trees reflecting in a river
Fall foliage reflecting on to a river

By the end of September, ruska reaches the southern end of Lapland and the dense boreal forest is transformed into autumnal hues. During this period, the northern lights tend to be at their strongest, the forests are abundant with food, and the weather is perfect for hiking.

The ruska period ends when the snow starts to arrive and a white blanket is laid over Lapland.

23. Marvel at the Polar Night

When people imagine the Arctic during the winter, they assume it is plunged into complete darkness. However, this is only true for the high Arctic in places like Svalbard. The polar night in Finnish Lapland is dark, but during the middle of the day, there is a glimmer of light on the horizon as the sun fails to rise above it.

The further north you go in Lapland, the earlier the polar night starts and the longer it lasts. In Ruka there is an incredible Polar Night Light Festival, where light installations are lit around the resort, most of which can be seen for free. Others you will need to hit the slopes to experience. The festival runs every year throughout January.

24. Chase frozen waterfalls

As the winter freeze starts, little trickles of water down the sides of canyons and hills build into giant frozen waterfalls. This incredible transformation is one of the coolest things to see in Lapland and there is no better place to see frozen waterfalls than Korouoma Canyon in southern Lapland.

Numerous frozen waterfalls line the canyon, but most people, including myself, take a Korouoma Canyon hiking tour to see the three most famous ones. You will head down into the canyon approximately 5 km (3.11 mi), passing three frozen waterfalls.

A frozen Waterfall
A frozen waterfall in Korouoma Canyon

The hike is relatively easy, but there are some challenging icy sections where you will need spikes on your shoes or help from a guide to navigate. Some of the waterfalls are used for ice climbing, which makes for pretty epic views as people attempt to get to the top of the frozen waterfall.

The frozen waterfalls form as the big freeze sets over the Arctic. However, I recommend going to see them in later winter when there is more daylight to really enjoy the hike and scenery.

I advise taking a tour of the canyon from Rovaniemi as the challenging parts are very difficult. I personally do not think I would have completed the hike without the knowledge of my tour guide.

25. Try local drinks

When it comes to the national drink of Finland, there is only one winner… black coffee. It is available everywhere, comes with free refills in most cafes, and seemingly powers the whole population.

As someone who doesn’t drink coffee, I do not understand the obsession! However, there are a few other must-try drinks when visiting Finnish Lapland.

Glögi

Glögi is a spiced berry drink that can be with or without alcohol. This is traditionally consumed around Christmas time, but is a great winter warmer throughout the long Arctic winter.

Lapland Brewery

Lapland Brewery is Finland’s most northern brewery. They look to be inspired by their Arctic surroundings, which are reflected in the names of their brews such as the Pyhä-Luosto Wilderness Lager.

A bottle of beer on a table with a fire in the background
Relaxing with a beer waiting for the Northern Lights to appear

The brewery is located in Rovaniemi and is open every day apart from Sundays. Tours of the brewery are offered every Friday, but you will need to book your visit in advance via their website.

Address: Teollisuustie 14 B, 96320 Rovaniemi

26. Visit incredible national parks

Lapland is home to some of Finland’s most amazing national parks. The great thing about the national parks of Lapland is they can be visited in every season! Summer is perfect for hiking with long drawn-out days, while fall brings the beautiful changing of colors, making for awe-inspiring and colorful vistas.

In winter, the thick covering of snow turns the parks into a winter wonderland, where you can enjoy various winter sports. Here are a few of my favorite national parks in Lapland:

Lemmenjoki National Park

Located in northern Lapland, Lemmenjoki National Park is the largest nature reserve in Finland. Located in the heart of the Finnish part of Sápmi, it’s a great place to see reindeer roam wild.

Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park boasts to have the cleanest air in the world! The Taivaskeronkierros Circle Trail will lead you to the top of the Fell with panoramic views of the surrounding nature.

During winter, this is a great place to see the famed popcorn trees like those found in Riisitunturi National Park.

Sign for Ylläs national park
Driving through Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

Oulanka

Hugging the Russian border, Oulanka is one of the most beautiful parks in Lapland, especially during fall. The park is home to awesome waterfalls that are some of the best in all of Finland.

27. Take an icebreaker cruise

During winter the Bothnian Bay, in the northern Baltic Sea freezes over, with thick sea ice blocking the shipping routes for busy ports.

To clear passages in the ice, special ice-breaking ships are called into action. This provides an opportunity for one of the most unique experiences in Lapland, where visitors can spend a day onboard an ice breaker ship.

Numerous tours depart from Rovaniemi, Kemi, and Tornio. These tours will either take you to a ship located in Kemi, Finland, or Axelsvik, Sweden. I recommend taking an icebreaker cruise that takes you to the port in Sweden, as onboard you will get a three-course dinner included in the cost of the tour.

Once on the boat, you will receive a guided tour of the seven decks and learn all about how these ships function in such challenging circumstances.

The boat will eventually stop and you will be given the opportunity to stand on the sea ice and then enjoy ice floating in the path the boat has cleared in the sea (providing the captain deems it safe to do so). If you take the tour from Rovaniemi, it will last for around 10-11 hours.

28. Forage for mushrooms

As summer in the Arctic draws to an end, the forests of Lapland become a treasure trove of forgeable mushrooms, which, thanks to everyman’s right, can be picked by anyone!

While most mushrooms in Lapland are edible, it is advisable to go with an expert the first time you head out to forage mushrooms.

Mushrooms growing on the forest floor
A milk cap mushroom growing in the undergrowth

You can also read a little more about mushrooms on the Arktiset Aromit website.

Matsutake (Pine Mushroom)

Matsutake is one of the most expensive types of mushrooms in the world. They are found amongst the pine trees and can be harvested between the end of July and October. You must partially boil them before they can be consumed.

Northern Milkcap

The northern milkcap is a common variety of mushrooms that can be found throughout Lapland. They can be harvested in August and September and should be boiled before being used. The water they are boiled in should be disposed of and not reused.

29. Visit a unique ice hotel in Lapland

One of the coolest things to do in Finnish Lapland during winter is visit an ice hotel. Built every year, these sculptured structures are both a functioning hotel and a work of art. Many of the rooms are individually designed by ice sculptors.

Staying in an ice hotel is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and while the outside might be incredibly cold, the inside temperatures are comparably warm at -1°C (30.2°F) compared to up to -30°C (-22°F) outside. While staying the night in an icy room might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the hotels are open during the day for visitors to just walk around the structures and admire the rooms.

Below I have listed the best ice hotels in Lapland:

Arctic Snow Hotel

Arctic Snow Hotel is probably the most well-known of all the ice hotels in Finnish Lapland. Located close to Rovaniemi, it opens each year in mid-December and sleeps around 70 people.

Address: Lehtoahontie 27, 97220 Sinettä

Lapland Hotels Snow Village

Each year, close to Kittilä airport, the Lapland Hotels Snow Village is built. Every year the designers think up a new theme, taking inspiration from cities like New York to more mythical themes.

There are 12 ice rooms that sleep between 2-4 people and an on-site restaurant serving delicious three-course meals.

Address: Lainiotie 566, 99120 Kittilä

30. Meet Santa Claus at his office

Every year thousands of tourists flock to Lapland, to meet Santa Claus. Finnish Lapland is widely known to be the home of Santa Claus and you will not be short of opportunities to meet him.

While many locations in Lapland offer the chance to meet the big man, Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi is the official home of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus Village is a free-to-visit park on the outskirts of Rovaniemi, where you can meet Santa Claus in person, cross the Arctic Circle, and send mail from Santa’s own personal post office!

Meet Santa Claus at his office
Meet Santa Claus at his office

While Santa Claus Village is free and so is visiting Santa Claus, there are up-charges. For example, you can’t take your own photos with Santa. Instead, you must pay around 40 euros for the one they take.

Santa Claus Village is primarily designed for children, although adults love it just as much. Along with the numerous activities available, there are some fantastic places to eat.

My favorite by far is Santas Salmon Place, where you can devour a huge piece of salmon that has been cooked over an open fire in the middle of the restaurant.

31. Dive into culture at a festival

Throughout the year, some incredible festivals in the Arctic celebrate its rich culture, look to entertain after a long dark winter, or take advantage of the never-ending summer days.

Here are some of the best festivals and events that are held in Lapland each year:

Poro Cup

Held between February and March, the Poro Cup is a reindeer racing event that guarantees to be entertaining.

The racers hold on behind the reindeer with skis as they compete in races across frozen lakes. However, reindeer are stubborn animals, so if they decide they don’t wish to run, they will not move, creating an open playing field, to say the least!

The event moves around with the final race always being held in Inari in March.

Midnight Sun Film Festival

Held in Sodankylä each year during Midsummer, the Midnight Sun Film Festival brings the heavyweights of Finnish and international cinema to the Arctic. Spread across four venues, you can watch films for 24 hours a day for five days straight.

The highlight of the festival each year is their silent movie concerts.

Ijahis Idja

Hosted in Inari, Ijahis Idja is the only Sámi music festival in Finland. Each year, new and established Sámi artists have the chance to perform for the crowds at this two-day festival.

After the live music stops, the night doesn’t end, with club nights featuring Sámi DJs, keeping the revelers going until the early hours.

I hope this post has helped you decide how to spend your time in Finnish Lapland! If you have any comments or additional things you feel should be included, please let me know in the comments below!

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