If you’re planning a truly magical winter holiday, head to Lapland for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’ll never forget. Dramatic snow-covered scenery, fun attractions for all the family and unique wildlife experiences all combine to create the ultimate winter getaway. Here are five locations in Swedish and Finnish Lapland to build your trip around.
Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland
The capital of Finnish Lapland and the home of Santa Claus, it’s no surprise that Rovaniemi is one of the most popular destinations during the winter months. Families flock here all year round, but especially during the build up to Christmas so that their children can meet Santa Claus in the Santa Claus Village. If this magical festive experience isn’t enough, Rovaniemi is also the perfect destination for viewing the Northern Lights, taking a husky dog tour or enjoying a reindeer sled ride.
Levi, Finnish Lapland
If you’re looking for all the magic of Lapland but would also like to enjoy a skiing holiday, Levi in Finnish Lapland offers both downhill and cross-country skiing. This is also the location of the purest air in the inhabited world, offering visitors the opportunity to take a deep breath and appreciate the difference in air quality to back home. Visitors can visit the Lainio Snow Village to admire dramatic sculptures carved from snow and ice and to consider spending the night in an ice hotel.
Kemi, Finnish Lapland
Also in Finnish Lapland, Kemi is located in the middle of the Bothnian Arc, offering the same snow-covered landscapes as the rest of the region, but with a few slightly different activities. Visit the SnowCastle, SnowRestaurant and SnowChapel for a completely unique experience and the perfect photo opportunity. Then take a cruise on the Sampo icebreaker ship, where you have the option of swimming in the icy Arctic waters, if you dare! Don’t worry, you will be issued with a thermal flotation suit, so you can enjoy the strange experience safely.
Abisko, Swedish Lapland
Over in Swedish Lapland, Abisko is another of the most popular Lapland locations, thanks to its proximity to the famous Ice Hotel. Even if you aren’t a guest, you can still visit and admire this landmark structure, rebuilt every year. Located north of the Arctic Circle, Abisko is a bucket-list destination for anyone interested in snow-covered scenery, dog sledding and snow mobile rides. It’s also the perfect place to get to know the indigenous Sami people and to understand their culture. Head to the National Park and visit the Aurora Sky Station for one of your best chances to spot the elusive Aurora Borealis.
Kiruna, Swedish Lapland
Finally, Kiruna is one of the northernmost settlements in Swedish Lapland, with the very interesting story that the entire town is currently being moved two miles to the east over the next 20 years. This includes relocating its 18,000 residents, building new structures and moving 21 heritage buildings. Surrounded by beautiful rivers, crystal clear lakes, ancient forests and towering mountains, this is the perfect base to explore the wilderness.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.