Finnish Lapland in Winter
8 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Day 1 Helsinki
Welcome to Helsinki, Finland. If you’re in the city early, maybe check out the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Senate Square or catch a performance at the National Theatre.
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 day, you’ll board an overnight train to Kemi, a quaint town in Finland’s far north, sitting close to the border with its neighbour Sweden. The cabins on the train are very comfortable, with 4 berths to a cabin.
Day 3 Kolari / Yllästunturi
The train arrives at Kemi early this morning, from where you will connect to a bus to Kolari. In Kolari you’ll have some free time to explore the town and take in some of the beautiful natural landscapes surrounding the area. The town sits close to the Torne River, the longest free flowing river in all of Europe. The modern Church of Kolari is worth a visit for its unique architecture. Maybe round out your time in town with some excellent local gingerbread cookies or blinis. In the afternoon, board a local bus to Yllästunturi, a popular cross-country and downhill skiing location. Perhaps sweat out the rest of the day in a sauna before turning in for the night.
Day 4 Yllästunturi
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. You’ll get a stop at lunch for a picnic, where you’ll warm yourself by the bonfire, chow down on sausages, pulla (Finnish sweet rolls) 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 Yllästunturi
Your next adventure in Yllästunturi takes you on a visit to a traditional Sami family, who will guide you through their world and lifestyle. Known as the northernmost indigenous people of all Europe, the Sami are the only native group in Scandinavia to be recognised and protected by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDIP). They’re known for their rich cultural heritage and a close connection to the land they live on, shown through their skills in reindeer herding, fishing and foraging for foods such as mushrooms and the rare golden cloudberry. You’ll also get to explore one of their traditional lavvu tents. In the evening, head outside for the opportunity to see the famous aurora borealis – flickering majestically with shades of red, green, yellow, violet and blue. The town turns off their street lighting at 10pm from November to mid-February, so the Northern Lights can be seen better. Please note that while there is a good chance of seeing the lights of the aurora this far north, there is no guarantee, as they are a natural phenomenon.
Day 6 Yllästunturi
Yllästunturi is home to the largest skiing resort in all Finland, boasting some of the longest downhill skiing runs through it’s rolling snow parks. Today you’ll have a free day to explore this winter wonderland with plenty of optional activities that your leader can help organise for you. There’s plenty of options on hand – you may want to explore the snow-dusted wilderness with a snow-shoeing expedition. 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.
Day 7 Rovaniemi
Depart in the morning to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland. Known also as the official home of Santa Claus in the Arctic Circle, 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, go hiking and witness spectacular rapids and aapa mires, or even trek down to Auttikongas to witness one of Finland’s most magnificent waterfalls in the depths of the taiga forest. 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 Sami 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.