Exploring Lapland: 5 Things To Do In Finland’s Snowy North

Renowned across the world for it’s beautiful snowy scenery, reindeer and Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), Lapland in the north of Finland is truly a magical place.

As there are four commercial airports in Lapland flying is the most fastest and often cheapest means of getting to and from the north. There is also a train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, Kolari, and Kemijärvi. Once you arrive in Lapland it’s often important to have access to a car to get around. You can either take your car on the train (wow!) or hire one once you arrive. What should you do once you get there? Here’s some inspiration.

5 of the best things to do in Lapland


Snowy road in Lapland


1. Skiing & Sightseeing in Ylläs

Ylläs not only boasts two of the best cross-country and downhill ski resorts in Lapland but is also a beautiful spot to visit for those who are less winter-sport inclined. There’s a cable car at the Sports Resort which can be ridden by sightseers for a 10€ fee. If the view from the ride itself weren’t enough incentive, there are also two cafes at the top with amazing views. You can even go snowmobiling from the summit.


Cable Car at Ylläs

Skiing at Ylläs

2. Aurora Hunting & Reindeer Riding in Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi, a city at the southern end of Lapland, is large and busy compared to other more sparsely populated regions. As such, the city feels a little less relaxing than the rest of Lapland.

Possibly most famous for the Santa Claus Village– an amusement park dedicated to all things Christmas, Rovaniemi also has many other interesting tours and activities, as well as many accommodation options.

During our visit we took a reindeer safari through the forest and spent an evening at Apukka Aurora Borealis Resort where we were able to try out some traditional Finnish winter activities. It was fun and challenging to try snow-shoeing, tobogganing and pushing a sled (at very high speeds!) around a circular track. There’s also a snow ‘train’ over a frozen lake.

While we waited for it to get dark enough to glimpse the elusive Aurora Borealis (northern lights), we kept warm by an open fire in a traditional Lappish tent. Roasting sausages and drinking hot blueberry juice kept us warm and cosy while we waited.

Reindeer in Lapland

Reindeer in Lapland

A traditional tent in Lapland
A traditional Lappish tent by the frozen lake

3. Experience Winter Trails in Saariselkä

Heading further north, Saariselkä again regains a feeling of being immersed in nature. There’s a small village with everything you’d need for a short stay, including cross-country ski rental. We stayed at Kuukkeli Porakka Lodge and it was exactly the type of charming log cabin, among the snow and pine trees that I’d hoped for. The place also had it’s own log sauna- best enjoyed with intermittent snow frolicking!

The main activities in Saariselkä revolve around the love of skiing. The downhill skiing resort is the northernmost in Europe and provides a stunning backdrop for snowboarding or skiing. As a snowboarder surrounded by extremely competent skiers, I now have a slight phobia of t-bar lifts. Somewhat reassuringly, I’m not alone in this- these videos made me laugh and feel less awkward! here and here.

Then there are the cross-country trails. Wow! An array of beautiful paths of varying distances, for beginners or experienced skiers. You can rent skis from the village for around 15€ for 24 hours. There are huts along the way (with open fires and wood supply) if you need to stop for a snack or to get warm and there are also cafes, restaurants and nearby towns to stop at.

Trying cross country skiing
Trying cross country skiing
The ski fields at Saariselka

4. Enjoy Some Solitude in a Lakeside Cabin in Inari

Want some time to relax and unwind after all the winter sport activity? Then a cabin in the Inari area is perfect. I stayed in a cottage for 3 days between Ivalo and Nellim and it was a magical spot to read, relax and let my soul breath!

Of course there’s always the opportunity for more skiing on nearby.


Lapland at sunset

Cabins in the snow


5. Sleep in a Room Made of Ice

On the outskirts of Kittilä there is a hotel made entirely out of ice! It was by far the thing I was most looking forward to in Lapland and it definitely didn’t disappoint! Youc an find out more information here.


Lapland is expensive. To give you an idea of what to budget for, on this 10 day trip I spent around 1370€ all up (roughly $2200 AUD). That includes all transport (420€), accommodation (450€), tours & activities (300€), food, drinks & other spending money (200€).

Despite being on the higher end of what I normally budget for holidays, the experience was worth every cent!

An Alternative Day Trip From Tallinn: three interesting sights

While Tallinn’s old town provides an enchanting time-warp, if you’re visiting Estonia and want to get out of the city to see an alternative side of the area then here are a few lesser-known options. As each place is quite far from the next, you will either need to hire a car for the day or join an organised day tour. I decided to do a day trip with Traveller Tours and had a wonderful experience.

1. Keila-Joa Manor House and Waterfall

Built by a German aristocratic family on banks of the Keila river in 1833, the neo-gothic manor house and surrounding walking paths provide a beautiful place to relax on a sunny day.

Just up stream you’ll find a wide waterfall- touted as Estonia’s most romantic. In winter the waterfall often freezes over, creating a beautiful icy curtain.


Keila Waterfall
Keila Waterfall

2. Padise Abbey and Manor house

In the 14th century, monks who had been dispossessed from their Latvian Dünamünde Abbey founded this Cistercian Monastery. Over the years it became a fortress and then a country house in the 18th century. Now, abandoned ruins are all that remain.

Like most places in Estonia, you have free reign to explore the site, including the musty dirt-floor cellars and high tower, reached by old wooden and stone steps.

Padise Abbey

Padise Abbey


3. Rummu Sunken Prison

Rummu quarry was formed in the late 1930s, with prisoners from nearby prisons used in the excavation of limestone until the 1990s. To stop flooding, groundwater was pumped out during the quarry’s operation. However, after it’s closure the water built up to form a lake, submerging part of the utility buildings and machinery.

The quarry is not accessible to the public as it is now private property. However, tour companies do offer diving and kayaking in the lake during summer, and day tour options in colder months. By far my favourite alternative site!

Rummu Sunken Prison

Rummu Sunken Prison

Rummu Sunken Prison

Rummu Sunken Prison

Rummu Sunken Prison

Rummu Sunken Prison

Rummu Sunken Prison

Finnish Summer Cottages: The Perfect Escape From City Life

Everything about Finnish summer cottages screams relaxation and rediscovering what is important in life. Families often spend all summer at their cottage and then sporadic weekends during the year. Some even choose to live there permanently.

Often nestled in the woods beside a lake, the cabins usually have no running water or mod cons. However, in typical Finnish style, there’s nearly always a sauna. This combination of simple pleasures and lack of modern technology helps to truly relax and unwind.

Here’s a taste of what to expect from a weekend away at a traditional Finnish Summer Cottage


Summer Cottage by a Lake

Lake Views

Usually summer cottages are found by pristine lakes

Access to a sauna is critical, as is a jetty to jump into the lake between sauna sessions!

Lake side jetty with sauna in background
The sauna house in the background and a jetty for cooling off in the lake


Good food shared together is another key part of the cottage experience


Shared dinner at the summer cottage

Summer cottages are just one of the things to love about Finland. For more reasons to visit check out this post.

Relaxing by the lake at the summer cottage