There’s something about the cold and snow that just makes everything more magical. Case in point: Finnish Lapland in winter!

If you’re heading to Finland this winter and looking for things to do, I’ve got a great list of some of the best things to do in Finnish Lapland.

This Arctic region is home to some truly amazing winter activities that’ll leave you feeling like a kid again. From husky sledding through the snow-capped forests, to chasing (and hopefully spotting) the elusive Northern Lights, these are some things you can’t miss when you visit Lapland during the colder months.

I travelled to Finnish Lapland in March of 2020 and it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve taken. I’m going to share all my tips on what to do in Finnish Lapland in winter, as well as how to get there, where to stay and what you’ll need to pack.

If you want to skip ahead to the activities, click here.

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Where is Finnish Lapland?

When we say Lapland, it’s usually Finland we’re talking about. However, Lapland also spans into neighbouring countries Norway, Sweden and even Russia.

Finnish Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland and makes up around one third of the country. It’s located above the Arctic Circle and is known for its pristine landscapes, snowy winters and reindeer population.

The main city in Finnish Lapland is Rovaniemi, which is also the capital of Lapland province. Rovaniemi is about a ten-hour drive from Helsinki, Finland’s capital city, and is the official home of Santa Clause.

How to get to Finnish Lapland?

By Air

The easiest way to get to Finnish Lapland is to fly into Helsinki and then fly into one of the five main Lapland airports:

  • Kittila
  • Rovaniemi
  • Ivalo
  • Kemi-Tornio
  • Enontekio

I flew from Dubai to Helsinki with FlyDubai (ah the flight where they offered me a vegetarian sandwich as they didn’t have gluten free…). From Helsinki I flew to Kittila with Finnair.

In winter, some European destinations have direct flights into Rovaniemi.

I highly recommend staying in Helsinki for a day or two on your way to Lapland or on your way back. I stopped there on my way back and, even if you don’t have much time, it’s a great city to explore.

By rail

There’s a pretty good network of railway lines linking the areas of Lapland with major cities in Finland. If you’re looking for an adventurous way to travel by train, take the night train from Helsinki.

By road

While you can and drive to Lapland, the trip will take you between 10 and 15 hours. If you have a few days to spare to do this, it would be the best way to see the country. But, if you don’t have a few extra days to spare, take the train or fly to Lapland and rent a car there instead.

Unless you plan to stay in the one small area, renting a car is the best way to get around the different areas in Lapland.

What is the weather in Lapland?

Tall pine trees stand silhouetted against the early evening sky in a Finnish forest, with the tranquil hues of sunset and snow-covered ground in Lapland.

The weather in Lapland varies depending on the time of year. But, as you can imagine the winter months are COLD! From December to March is the coldest, with average temperatures ranging from -10°C to -15°C. January and February are the darkest months, with only about three hours of daylight each day in January and around six hours in February.

While Lapland has the usual seasons we all know: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, the locals of Lapland use eight different seasons to differentiate between the weather. Here they are, with their Finnish translations

  • Dálvve: True Winter (December – March)
  • Gidádálvve: Spring-Winter (March – April)
  • Gidá: True Spring (April – May)
  • Gidágiesse: Spring-Summer (May – June)
  • Giesse: True-Summer (June – July)
  • Tjaktjagiesse: Summer – Autumn (August – September)
  • Tjaktja: True Autumn (September – October)
  • Tjaktjadálvve: Autumn-Winter (November – December)

Best time to visit Finnish Lapland?

The best time to visit Finnish Lapland is during the winter months from December to March. But, be prepared for colder temperatures and a higher chance of snow. Of course, that’s all part of the fun!

You’ll have more chance of seeing the Northern Lights if you’re visiting Lapland during the winter months. Of course, it’s never guaranteed. I visited in early March and unfortunately didn’t get to see them. Which is why I need to go back again!

What to pack for Lapland in winter

A woman dressed in a pink jacket and winter hat, playfully posing on a snowy path, with cozy yellow cabins and a pine forest in the background in Finnish Lapland.

When packing for a Lapland winter, you’ll want to make sure to bring your warmest clothes. Layers are key when going from the freezing outside to the heat of the indoors.

Lapland in winter will be freezing so please opt for warmth and comfort over fashion!

Thermals: Thermal underwear is an absolute must to keep you warm in these freezing temperatures. Opt for Merino Wool thermal top and leggings

Jacket: A good quality, warm winter jacket is a must. Down jackets or parkas are perfect as they are both lightweight and keep you very warm.

Snow pants: If you’re going to be spending time outdoors in the snow, snow pants are a must too to keep your legs warm and dry.

Socks: Bring plenty of socks! You’ll need to have woolen socks for when you’re outside and some thinner cotton socks for when you’re inside. Again, Merino Wool is best for your outdoor socks as the last thing you want is to get cold feet.

Gloves: Mittens are better for keeping your hands warm, our guide told us this. But if you prefer gloves, make sure they are at least waterproof.

Hat: A good quality hat that covers your ears is essential to keep your head and ears warm. I actually wore two hats the majority of my time in Lapland.

Shoes: Make sure you have a good pair of waterproof shoes or boots as you will be walking in the snow a lot. I brought a pair of hiking boots and snow boots with me and they were perfect for my stop in Helsinki afterwards too.

If you’re like me and suffer from the cold a lot, I highly recommend getting some hand warmers, and even some foot warmers to bring with you. I also brought my hot water bottle for the night, but we had wood burners in our lodges so it was actually quite toasty at night.

Don’t worry if you forget something or don’t have the appropriate clothing for the cold weather, as you can usually rent these at your location.

Where to stay in Finnish Lapland

Ice Hotel

A corridor inside an ice hotel lined with draped fabrics at each door and illuminated by a string of warm fairy lights, creating a magical and ethereal atmosphere.

Rovaniemi is home to one of the largest ice hotels in the region. This hotel is made entirely of snow and ice and is a unique experience that you’ll never forget. You’ll be sleeping on a bed of ice but there’s no need to worry about being cold with the extreme weather sleeping bags and reindeer furs they provide.

Read more about the Arctic Snow Hotel in Robaniemi

Read more about the Snow Castle in Kemi

Read more about the Snow Village in Kittilä


Twilight descends on a snow-covered Finnish lodge nestled among the trees in Lapland, with warm lights glowing from windows and reflecting off the serene snowy landscape.

For something a little more traditional, a lodge is a great place to stay? There are lodges throughout various villages in Finnish Lapland but I stayed in the lodges at Torassieppi and they came equipped with a wood burner to give that cosy, homely feeling.

Read more about lodges in Torassieppi

Read more about lodges in Rovaniemi

Read more about the lodges in Ylläs

Read more about the lodges in Kemi

Aurora Dome

"Inside view from an Aurora Dome, featuring a cozy interior with fur-covered chairs facing a large window overlooking a serene, snowy landscape and clear skies.

If you really want to go all out and experience the best of Finnish Lapland, then I suggest booking a night in an Aurora Dome. These are glass igloos that sit on top of a hill, giving you the most amazing view of the Northern Lights

Read more about the Aurora Dome in Rovaniemi

My recommendation would be to base yourself to stay in a lodge and spend one night each in an Aurora Dome and an Ice Hotel.

Important info about visiting Finnish Lapland in winter

Currency: Euro(EUR)

Language: Finnish is the official language, but English is also widely spoken.

: Some of these activities are quite dangerous and, while I would always recommend travel insurance for any trip, you should most certainly have it for an adventure like this. You can to get you started.

Is Lapland expensive: Unfortunately, yes. It won’t be the cheapest of destinations. It’s one of those once in a lifetime trips you take so if you can save up for it, I highly recommend.

Things to do in Finnish Lapland in winter

Get out in the snow with cross country skiing

A smiling woman cross-country skiing on a snowy plain in Lapland, with a backdrop of a forest line under a subdued winter sky.

Cross-country skiing is a hugely popular activity in Finnish Lapland during the winter months. There are kilometres and kilometres of trails to explore, so you’re guaranteed to find a route that suits you.

There are plenty of places to rent cross-country skis and poles, as well as boots and other equipment. So, if you’re new to the sport, don’t worry – there’s no need to buy all of the gear beforehand. Just head to one of the many rental shops and get kitted out for a day (or more) on the trails.

If you’re an experienced cross-country skier, there are plenty of challenging routes to test yourself on. Be prepared for some tough climbs and long descents.

A person in winter clothing kindling a fire near a traditional Finnish log shelter with a thick snow-covered roof in the serene forests of Lapland.

As a newbie who had never even put skis on before, it took me some time to get used to not falling over, but once I got into the swing of things, it was so much fun! Others in our group gave up and went back to our lodge but the rest of us continued on and stopped in a makeshift shelter for hot chocolate around a campfire.

Visit Santa Claus Village

Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland, with a tall, cone-shaped building and traditional log cabins adorned with Christmas decorations and surrounded by a snowy landscape.

The man himself, Santa Clause’s Village in Rovaniemi is a must-visit destination for anyone spending time in Finnish Lapland during the winter months (no kids necessary!). Located in the town of Rovaniemi, it’s home to Father Christmas and is the perfect place to pick up some Christmas souvenirs.

The village has all sorts of festive activities on offer, from meeting the man himself to visiting his elves’ workshop and of course the all important post office where all his mail gets sorted. There’s also a reindeer park, husky sledding and a snow hotel. So you can go on a dogsled ride through the forest or relax in the ice spa.

For a Christmas-themed adventure that the entire family will love (not just the little kids!), Santa Clause Village is definitely the place to go. As a Christmas-aholic, I was beyond excited!

Get adventurous with a snowmobiling safari

Two people on a snowmobile ready for adventure, with the driver looking at the camera, set against a backdrop of sparse trees and snow

If you’re looking for a real adventure, then a snowmobiling safari is definitely the way to go. These tours are offered all throughout Lapland and can be tailored to suit your needs, so you don’t need to worry if you’ve never done it before.

You’ll get to explore the forests, hills and valleys of Lapland on a powerful snowmobile. This is a great way to see some of the most remote and beautiful areas.

Be prepared for some high speeds. And, make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife, as you might get lucky and spot some reindeer or elk along the way.

Alt text: "First-person perspective of snowmobiling, with a clear view over the snowmobile's windshield of a vast snowy landscape and a line of snowmobilers ahead under a bright blue sky.

The guides who accompany you on these safaris are experienced riders and will make sure that you have a safe and enjoyable ride.

I won’t lie, I was a bit hesitant at first as I didn’t trust myself to drive one of these things. I opted to share a snowmobile with another member of our group and he took the first shot at driving. Once I got comfortable on it, I was raring to drive myself and I didn’t crash!

Cosy up on a reindeer sleigh ride and visit a reindeer farm

A joyful visitor feeding lichen to a friendly reindeer behind a fence on a sunny day, with snow blanketing the ground and forest in the background.

Reindeer are an essential part of the Sami culture, who have used them for centuries to travel and hunt in the Arctic region. In fact, there are around 200,000 reindeer in Finnish Lapland, which is more than actual people!

When you’re in Finnish Lapland, a visit to a reindeer farm is a must. These farms are scattered all throughout the country and are a great place to learn about these animals and their importance.

You can even take a ride on a sleigh pulled by reindeers for an extra special experience.

A reindeer pulling a sleigh through a tranquil snow-covered forest in Lapland, with a view from the sleigh showing the path ahead and other sleighs in the distance.

The guides who take you on these sleigh rides will teach you all about the reindeers. They’ll also tell you all about the Sami people, who have been living in Lapland for centuries and rely on the reindeer for their livelihood.

Did you know that Santa’s reindeer are all female? The male reindeer lose their antlers in early December, while the female still has hers for Christmas.

Sip hot chocolate in a teepee

A cozy group of people wrapped in warm clothing, sipping hot drinks around a crackling fire inside a traditional teepee

If you’re looking for a unique and cosy experience while in Finnish Lapland, then why not enjoy a hot chocolate in a teepee? These traditional tents are made from animal skins and are a popular way to spend an evening in Lapland.

It’s the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring, most of them come with a firepit, so you can warm yourself up while you sip on your hot chocolate. For an extra little buzz, try some Minttu Peppermint – it’s a local liqueur and goes perfectly with hot chocolate.

We did this one night with our guide and learnt so much about Finnish culture and the Sami people. It was a really cosy and fun experience.

Search for the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) casting a vibrant green arc across a starry night sky above a serene, snowy mountain landscape by the sea in Lapland

Let’s be honest, this is the main event. This is why most of us want to travel to Lapland (not downplaying meeting Santa of course).

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are one of the most amazing natural phenomena in the world. These incredible lights can be seen in the Arctic sky and Lapland is one of the best places to view them.

If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, you’ll never forget the experience. The colours are stunning and change all the time, making every display unique.

Finnish Lapland is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, with its dark skies and remote location. The best time to see the Northern Lights is during the winter months. Make sure to check the weather forecast before you go, as you need clear skies to see them.

Unfortunately, it’s never a guarantee and I didn’t get to see them while I was there. I thought it would have an effect on the rest of my time there, but it really didn’t as there are no many other amazing things to do in Lapland in Winter.

You can head out on your own, or you can book a guided tour with a local who knows the best spots to see the dancing lights.

Have fun dog sledding

View from a dog sled adventure in Finnish Lapland, with a team of huskies pulling the sled along a snowy trail flanked by sparse pine trees under a clear blue sky.

Dog sledding is another exciting activity in Finnish Lapland. No matter where you choose to stay, you’re likely to find a husky sled tour taking you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the area.

You’ll be able to meet the dogs who will be pulling your sled and learn all about them. You’ll also get a chance to drive the sled yourself, which is a lot of fun. It started out a little difficult though.

Basically, you’re stood on either side of the brake and to slow down you need to almost jump on the brake (especially if you don’t have much strength), which I found really hard. But after a few minutes I got the hang of it and it was so much fun.

Two husky dogs resting on the snow in Lapland, one lying down and the other sitting upright, both wearing harnesses, showcasing their roles as sled dogs in the snowy landscape.

If you’re looking for an adventure while in Finnish Lapland, dog sledding is definitely an activity you won’t want to miss. This is a great way to explore the Arctic landscape and get up close to the animals.

Afterwards, we were able to play with the huskies, which was my favourite part. We were told that the huskies love to get out for a run in the morning – this is why we had to wait until the end to play with them.

Try your hand at ice fishing

Group of people in red and black winter gear participating in ice fishing on a frozen lake under a clear blue sky. The landscape is serene with the stark white of the ice and distant treeline contrasting the vibrant winter jackets.

Fishing is a popular pastime in Finnish Lapland and ice fishing is one of the most challenging ways to do it. This is where you fish through a hole in the ice, so you need to be brave (or crazy) if you want to try it.

But, if you’re successful, you’ll be able to catch some super tasty fish. The locals know all the best spots to go fishing and they’re more than happy to show you how it’s done.

There are many ice fishing tours available in Lapland, so you can try your hand at this challenging sport. It’s a great way to get out into nature and experience the local culture.

Drink in an ice-bar

A bartender in a fur hat serving sparkling drinks at an ice bar in Finnish Lapland, with a bottle of Lapland Bilberry liqueur visible, enhancing the authentic arctic experience.

If you’re looking for a unique place to have a drink in Lapland, then head to one of the many ice-bars. These bars are made entirely from ice and are a really cool (excuse the pun) way to experience Finnish culture.

Most of the bars have an igloo-like structure, with ice walls and furniture. They also have ice sculptures and drinks served in ice cold glasses. It’s a really fun experience and a great way to spend the evening.

Relax a sauna

Interior of a traditional Finnish sauna with wooden benches and walls, a heater filled with stones, and warm ambient lighting, inviting a relaxing experience

Get this…this are over 3 million saunas in Finland! That’s an average of 1 sauna for every two people who live there.

Saunas are a big part of Finnish culture. I had the opportunity to visit a traditional smoke sauna, which was an interesting experience. The sauna is heated with wood and the smoke from the wood gives the sauna its name. I wasn’t as hard core as the locals and had to leave this one to go breathe in the cold air!

We were able to rent our own private sauna also and it was nice to relax in there with our small group. We learnt that it’s a ‘rule’ in Finland that the last person to throw water on the sauna should be the last to leave. Each time you throw water on it, the temperature gets hotter so whoever does it last has to be brave and stick it out!

Take a dip in a frozen lake

A serene winter sunset with hues of orange and blue over a frozen lake in Finnish Lapland, featuring a snow-covered dock and tranquil, icy surroundings.

After you’ve had time to relax in a sauna, it’s traditional to pop outside and take a dip in a frozen lake. It’s meant to be quite good for you, but it’s definitely not for the faint hearted. The water is usually freezing, but it’s a really fun experience.

Back view of a woman with long hair with raised arms wearing a winter hat and a bikini, celebrating the twilight view over a snowy landscape with a frozen lake and a dock in Finnish Lapland.

I surprised myself by doing it twice, but then I love a challenge (I later went on to do the same in Antarctica!).

Of course, I had to get the bikini shot in the snow afterwards.

Learn about the Sami culture

A Sami person in traditional purple and blue attire caring for a reindeer against a snowy forest backdrop, capturing a moment of cultural significance in the wintry landscape of Finnish Lapland.

The Sami people are an indigenous group who have been living in the Arctic region for centuries and have developed a unique culture that is based on their environment and way of life. Their culture is rich in folklore and traditional arts, which they have passed down through the generations.

The Sami are also known for their skills in hunting and fishing, which they use to provide food for their families. They live in close harmony with nature and the land is an important part of their culture.

There are many activities you can join to learn more about the Sami people and be sure to ask your guide about the culture too.

Ice floating

People in red survival suits floating on their backs in dark waters, gazing up at a spectacular display of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in the night sky above a frozen landscape.

One of the most surreal experiences you can have in Finnish Lapland is ice floating. This is where you float in a hole carved out in the ice on a river or lake.

You’ll be wearing an insulated wetsuit with no chance of water getting through to your skin so don’t worry about getting hypothermia (leave that to diving in the ice lake).

You can even opt to do ice floating at night with a chance of seeing the Northern Lights as you float in the water, purely relaxed and calm.

14. Snow Shoeing

Three people snowshoeing through a pristine snowy landscape, with snow-covered trees and a clear blue sky. The foreground shows a person with snowshoes mid-step, creating a sense of movement against the serene winter backdrop.

If you want to experience the quiet and untouched nature of Finnish Lapland, then snowshoeing should be on your bucket list. With snow shoes attached to your feet, you can walk on top of deep snow and explore the snowy forests and landscapes.

Don’t worry if you’re not a gym bunny, I’m not either. It’s actually a lot easier than it looks and you’ll be having so much fun that you won’t even realise that you’re getting some great exercise in.

On top of the physical activity, snowshoeing also gives you the opportunity to see different types of wildlife like reindeer and maybe even some arctic foxes.

15. IceKarting

Two individuals in full protective gear racing on ice go-karts on a frozen track, with number 8 visible on the leading kart. The focused expressions and the icy backdrop with soft sunlight highlight the intensity and thrill of the race.

If you’ve never heard of this, it’s exactly what it sounds like! Gokarting on the ice! And it’s just as fun as you’d guess.

With a special ice kart, you get to race around an ice track with your friends, competing for the fastest lap time. It’s definitely a unique experience that combines speed and skill with the icy landscape of Lapland.


featuring a person snowshoeing with a backdrop of snow-covered trees, overlaid with the text 'Best Things to Do in Lapland, Finland' and the website ''

So there you have it, 15 things to do in Finnish Lapland in winter. There really is something for everyone and it’s a great chance to see and experience some of the unique aspects of Finnish culture.

I absolutely fell in love with Finnish Lapland and I’m sure you will too!

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