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Snowy wooden church.

Lapland Travel Guide

Go on an adventure north of the Arctic Circle where reindeer roam wild and the Northern Lights illuminate the sky…

What you'll find in this guide:

Top things to do in Lapland

Facts about Lapland

Practical Information

Weather in Lapland

When to visit

Getting there

Getting around Lapland

Where to stay in Lapland

What to eat in Lapland

LGTBQI+ travel in Lapland

Top things to do in Lapland

  • 4-hour husky safari in the Finnish Lapland

    4-hour husky safari in Finnish Lapland

    This guided experience in nature with Arctic huskies will take you on a memorable and fun adventure through the Lappish wilderness.

  • Traditional reindeer safari in Lapland

    Traditional reindeer safari in Lapland

    In this tour you'll go on a sleigh ride pulled by reindeer, a special experience for all ages.

  • Hunting northern lights with Lappish barbecue

    Hunting Northern Lights with Lappish barbecue

    Of course you want to view the Northern Lights from the best possible location. Let your guide take you out to one of the best lakeside viewing spots.

  • Arctic forest sauna and hot tub experience with Northern Lights

    Arctic forest sauna and hot tub experience with Northern Lights

    Enter the Arctic forest and participate in a firewood sauna. After the sauna experience, you will continue to a frozen lake where the hunt for the northern lights begins!

  • Santa Claus Village guided tour with lunch

    Santa Claus Village guided tour with lunch

    Visit Santa Claus Village and meet the real Santa! See Santa's post office, where you will have the chance to send a postcard to your friends or family.

What time zone is Lapland in?

GMT +2

What currency do they use in Lapland?

Euro EUR

What languages do they speak in Lapland?

Finnish, Swedish & Sami

What power adaptors do you need for Lapland?

Type C and E

What is the average flight time to Lapland?

3hr 30

Some facts about Lapland

Lapland is a huge region in northern Europe that spans four countries – Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland. For this guide we're focussing on Finnish Lapland, the majority of which lies north of the Arctic Circle and where, according to actual facts that we can corroborate, the real Santa Claus lives.

It's characterised by endless evergreen forests sprinkled with countless lakes and home to many curious reindeer that make a habit of stopping traffic. And when the snow comes it all transforms into a literal winter wonderland that's lit up at night by twinkling stars and the Northern Lights – if you're lucky enough to spot them.

Practical Info

Culture and etiquette


A bit over half the population of Finland are members of the Church of Finland, with the majority of the rest not following any religion.


Do you need to tip in Finland? As a rule tipping is never expected in Finland but nobody will object if you do want to tip. It's common to round up when paying in cash.


Smoking is illegal in most enclosed public spaces, including shops, restaurants and public transport.

Sauna etiquette

Saunas are everywhere in Lapland and the chances are there'll be one in your hotel. If you do want to use it make sure you follow these simple guidelines:

  • Shower before you go in – there will be a shower right outside.
  • You can sit in the nude if you want to, or go in a towel or swimwear. Either way make sure there's something between you and the sauna bench – this can be a towel or a disposable paper seat cover which is usually provided.
  • If you're sharing the sauna with others it's polite to ask before adding water to the coals.
  • If it's your first time using a sauna, don't overdo it with the steam. It gets very hot very fast and it can take some getting used to.
  • Take a shower once you've finished, you will be sweaty. Make it a cold shower if you want a more authentic experience.

Jabs, visas and other advice

For up-to-date advice on jabs, visas and other foreign advice, we recommend following the government's website.

Emergency numbers



Finland has two official languages – Finnish and Swedish, but the indigenous Sami language is also spoken particularly in Lapland.

Here are a few phrases in Finnish to get you started.

Hello - Hei

Excuse me - Anteeksi

Yes - Joo

No - Ei

Please - Ole kiltti

Thank you - Kiitos

Do you speak English? - Puhutko Englantia?

How much? - Kuinka paljon?

Where is? - Missä on…

One - yksi

Two - kaksi

Three - kolme

Four - neljä

Five - viisi

Six - kuusi

Seven - seitsemän

Eight - kahdeksan

Nine - yhdeksän

Ten - kymmenen

Goodbye - Hyvästi

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    Lapland Airport Transfers

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    Lapland Car Hire

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    Lapland Ultimate Experiences

    Make the most of your trip and book the top Lapland experiences for you and your family before you go.

  • Lapland Travel Insurance

    Travel Insurance for Lapland

    You'll want a reliable travel insurance policy for your trip to Lapland.

What's the weather like in Lapland?

It would be easy to say cold, and you'd mostly be right, but Lapland can be quite pleasant in summer with average temperatures around 15ºC. You won't need to dress in as many layers but you will need a waterproof jacket for the inevitable rain.

In winter the temperature drops, as you'd expect, and it can comfortably reach -20ºC and lower in the northern reaches. Of course the low temperatures bring snow and that's really what you go for.

Tips for a winter holiday

If you're going on a winter holiday then we've got some excellent tips to help you make the most of your winter wonderland adventure.

Find out more

When's the best time to visit Lapland?

The winter season in Lapland lasts from November to March, so if you're after a winter wonderland this is the time to go. For guaranteed snow it's probably a safer bet to go in December or later. This is when all the winter activities become available as many of them are reliant on there being enough snow on the ground. This is also true of the ski resorts.

If you're going for snow you can chance visiting in November when there won't be so many crowds, but you may end up with rain instead. To avoid this we'd recommend heading further north where the chances of snow are much greater. And while Santa Claus Village is open all year round (he doesn't get a day off), it's not quite the same without the extra magic that a layer of snow adds.

Tips for spotting the Northern Lights

If you're heading to Lapland to try and see the Northern Lights then the best time of year is usually around February to March, but they say you can see them every other night from September to April. Take that with a pinch of salt as there are a few factors you have to think about, like the weather and light pollution.

We've put together a few tips to maximise your chances of seeing them when you're there:

  • Book a Northern Lights hunting trip – these can be quite affordable if you don't mind sharing a minibus with other people for a few hours. While on the trip go on Google Maps on your phone and stick pins at all the viewing spots you visit. Then, if you've hired a car, you can drive back to them on your own every night until you see the lights.
  • Download the Aurora forecast app on Android or iPhone which will tell you the best chance of seeing the lights and where.
  • Check the weather before you go hunting – even if the lights are happening you won't be able to see them if it's cloudy. You need clear skies and no light pollution.
  • Be prepared to not see them. Sometimes things don't go to plan, and that's ok. There's so much to do in Lapland outside of seeing the Northern Lights – so don't let your trip be ruined if you aren't lucky enough to see them.

Getting to Lapland

Flying is the quickest way – it takes about three-and-a-half hours to go from London to Rovaniemi, which is the main airport in the region. You can also fly to Ivalo, which is the northernmost airport in the EU, but you'll probably have to stop over in Helsinki on the way.

Getting around Lapland

Back-seat view of car driving in snow

It's really worth hiring a car if you can – Lapland is a huge place with not much traffic so driving is a breeze. Once you get used to being on the right side of the road. There are main roads that connect all the cities which are mainly single carriageways, so be wary of other drivers overtaking you. These roads are quite long which makes it very difficult to get lost, but it does mean you sometimes have to go a while without a break so make sure you take provisions for the journey.

You won't find many service stations like we have in the UK, but each town you go through will have more than enough fuel stations and they all tend to have toilets.

Don't let the thought of driving in the snow put you off. If you hire a car it will most likely be equipped with winter tyres and if anyone knows how to grit a road it's the Finnish. Even in the far north the roads are shovelled and gritted and free of snow and ice.

There are two main things to be aware of when driving in Lapland – while the roads are generally kept ice-free, snow can blow in at a moment's notice, reducing visibility and covering road markings. The other thing is wild reindeer. They will fearlessly walk into traffic and you will be expected to stop and wait for them to pass.

The Good Trip Index

Finland ranks 5th on the Good Trip Index

This score is calculated based on Sustainability, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Press Freedom, Quality of Life, LGBTQI+ Rights and Animal welfare

Find out more

Where to stay in Lapland


Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland and it sits just a stone's throw from the Arctic Circle. Literally, you could probably throw a stone from Rovaniemi and it would land in the Arctic if your arm was strong enough.

The city is officially Santa's hometown and if you want to meet him then this is where you'll need to go. About 10 minutes outside the city is Santa Claus Village where you'll find the man himself busy in his office.

Outside all the Christmas magic if that's just not your vibe, or you need a break from it, the city boasts a fascinating science museum, some really good restaurants and a fair few hotels that make it an ideal base for exploring.

If you're in Lapland for the Northern Lights you'll find loads of opportunities to search for them here, and there even a viewing spot in the park near the science museum – if you're lucky enough you'll see them dancing above the frozen river that divides the city.

Santa Claus Village

An easy 10-minute drive from Rovaniemi is Santa Claus Village where, along with friendly reindeer, huskies and elves, you can meet the man himself. And it's not just for kids, the magic here is real and there's plenty to do that will fill a day or more with fun. The main event is of course meeting Santa, which you can do in his office.

He's a very busy man so you will have to queue but don't worry, the line takes you through his workshop where you can see elves busy at work preparing for the most important night of the year. After you meet him you can pay for the video of your encounter as well as a photo. Tip: bring a present with you and give it to the elf at reception – they'll pass it along to Santa and he can give it to a special someone when you meet him.

You can also go on short husky and reindeer sled rides, but if you want a more authentic experience we'd recommend going a bit further afield for these.

There are a few places to eat too, but the first choice has to be Santa Pizza and Burger – the North Pole's answer to everyone's favourite fast food chain. Just don't tell Rudolph what's in Santa's special burger.

Santa Claus Village


Really far up in the north of Lapland you'll find the little village of Ivalo which, like most other places in Lapland, is surrounded by dense forests and lakes. The only difference is that you can more reliably expect snow in the autumn and winter months. And when it does snow, you're treated to some of the most gorgeous and sometimes otherworldly landscapes as the snow and ice turn the trees into frosted monoliths.

Being so far north and out of the way also makes it one of the best areas for spotting the Northern Lights and stargazing, or witnessing the midnight sun if you visit in summer.

Stay in one of the many resorts up here and you can cosy up in an igloo cabin with a glass ceiling so you can watch all the celestial magic popping off in the sky above.

Ivalo cabin


A little bit south of Ivalo, Saariselkä is one of Lapland's most popular ski resorts boasting around 35km of slopes in a range of difficulties. You can learn to ski here or tackle the more difficult slopes straight away. Or don't ski at all.

Explore the stunning surroundings by snowmobile or go old school and explore by dog or reindeer-pulled sleigh. Either way, the scenery here is jaw-dropping and an absolute delight to wander around.

Saariselka ski slope Top

What to eat in Lapland

The food in Lapland is actually very, very good. You can expect lots of fish, mainly locally caught trout and salmon, which is often smoked and served with fresh veg.

Berries are a big thing too, particularly cloudberries, which have a distinct sweet and tart taste. They're in everything from jams and juices to cocktails and stews. And they're quite delicious.

Reindeer is quite common and you'll find it on most menus in one form or another, typically dried, roasted or stewed. It's got a gamey flavour similar to venison, but a bit leaner.

Make sure you try Lappish potatoes as well, which are a kind of creamy, pureed potato topped with dried reindeer or whatever is in season.

Lapland for LGBTQI+ travellers

Finland is one of the most welcoming countries we've visited and there was a genuine warmth and friendliness that can be felt everywhere. This applies to everyone, regardless of who they love or how they identify.

For an idea of Finland's queer credentials, same-sex sexual activity has been legal since 1971, discrimination in employment has been illegal since 1995, same-sex marriage has been legal since 2017, and most recently in 2023 adults now have the right to change their legal gender on official documents like passports and birth certificates without having to undergo gender-affirming surgery.

Rovaniemi hosts the annual Arctic Pride event which happens in March – it's the northernmost pride event in Finland and each year it has a different theme.