Finnish Lapland in Winter
8 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Day 1 Helsinki
Welcome to Helsinki, Finland. If you’re in the city early, head out and discover a wealth of historical sights and gastronomic wonders in Helsinki. Surrounded by the sea, Helsinki is a modern European city that offers an endless array of options. Maybe check out the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Senate Square or catch a performance at the National Theatre. You may want to consider purchasing the Helsinki Card – an economical way to travel on Helsinki City Transport (HKL) services, as well as free admission to the main Helsinki sights and nearly 50 museums. Throughout its 450-year history, the city has often been the buffer between the east and west. This is shown in their cuisine, with a mix of root vegetables, berries and fresh fish. Perhaps head out in the evening to sample some traditional dishes with the other members of your group.
Day 2 Helsinki / Overnight Train
Join your leader on an orientation walk around Helsinki in the morning. Once you get the lay of the land, the rest of the day is completely free for you to explore Helsinki in your own time. A few options to consider during your time here are a visit to the city's cathedral or the Design Museum. Don't miss the historic harbour-side market and market hall for local oddities. If you didn’t have time yesterday make sure you take a short ferry ride to the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a World Heritage-listed site that was once an important point of defence for the city and often referred to as the Gibraltar of the North. Later in the evening, you’ll board the comfortable overnight train to Rovaniemi (approx 12 hours), a quaint town in Finland’s far north, known to many as the hometown of Santa Claus, located just 6 km south of the Arctic Circle.
Day 3 Rovaniemi / Yllastunturi
The train arrives at Rovaniemi early this morning. Continue by private vehicle to our base at Yllästunturi, a popular cross-country and downhill skiing location. Perhaps sweat out the rest of the day in a traditional sauna. Finnish saunas have a millennia old history, and are integral to the Finnish national identity. It is common for locals to visit a sauna at least once a week, and most apartment buildings in the cities have saunas for residents. Even the parliament building in Helsinki has one.
Day 4 Yllastunturi
Make sure you rug up for today’s adventures, as you’ll be pulled across the landscape at high speed on the back of a dog sled. These incredible huskies are doing what they love most – making a lot of noise before rushing along sprawling trails. With the wind in your hair, ride through the snow as your new four-legged friends pull you onwards in a truly memorable experience. After the ride warm yourself by an open fire and chow down on sausages and drink some coffee or tea. If you’re lucky, you might get to give the dogs a pet and a cuddle – just be sure to ask the sledmaster first!
Day 5 Yllastunturi
Your next adventure in Yllästunturi takes you on a visit to a traditional local family, who will guide you through their world and lifestyle. Their reindeer farm has been operating since 1861 and you may have the opportunity to feed and watch these cute animals go about their daily routine. You will be shown their skills in reindeer herding with the option to get close and personal with some of the animals on the farm. If the skies are clear tonight, why not take a stroll out into the snow and look skywards for the dancing green lights of the Aurora. Far away from the city lights, the guesthouse is an ideal base to see the Northern Lights. The natural display of coloured lights in the night sky are often visible in the high northern hemisphere, and there is even an open-top shelter nearby from which to observe the lights. Grab a hot drink, rug up and head out into the winter wonderland.
Day 6 Yllastunturi
Yllästunturi is home to the largest skiing resort in all Finland, boasting some of the longest downhill skiing runs through its rolling snow parks. Today you’ll have a free day to explore this winter wonderland with plenty of optional activities that your leader or the accommodation owners can help organise for you. You may want to explore the snow-dusted wilderness with a snow-shoeing expedition, or alternatively ice fishing is also an option for anyone who’s after a more relaxing experience, with the added bonus of a self-caught dinner to boot. If it’s very cold (around minus 30 degrees C) try throw boiling water in the air and see it freeze before it hits the ground. It’s called the ‘Mpemba effect’ and it’s free to try.
Day 7 Rovaniemi
Depart in the morning to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, by private vehicle (approx. 3 hours). This city is an urban oasis amidst the Arctic wilderness, full of culture and stunning scenic hikes. With a free afternoon to explore the city and its surrounds, you have the option of visiting Santa’s workshop, or taking part in the numerous activities that the city has to offer. Maybe meet Siberian huskies at the Arctic Circle Husky Park, or go hiking and witness spectacular rapids and aapa mires. Make the most of your time here as tomorrow is your departure day – perhaps meet up with your group afterwards for a farewell dinner.
Day 8 Rovaniemi
Your adventures through Lapland come to an end today after breakfast. If you would like to extend your stay in the region we are happy to book additional nights for you (subject to availability).
All This Included
Lapland, home of the indigenous Saami people, is a magical place of pristine peaks and snow-dusted woodlands. In this Arctic wonderland, the cold air is cut only by the sound of rushing rivers and panting huskies as they prepare to rush across this impossibly vast, white wilderness. Strap on your hiking boots and crunch a path through Finland’s spectacular taigas, get cosy with the locals over a glass of salmari and experience the rush of a real dog-sled. From the docks of Helsinki to mountainous Yllastunturi and Santa’s workshop in Rovaniemi – witness a beautiful part of the world where Christmas feels always close.
Hotel (6 nights)
Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.