Lapland Bucket List | What to do and what to avoid

Oh Lapland, home to Christmas itself and all the goodness that is winter scenery. Today’s post is a Lapland Bucket List – we’re chatting about all the things you have to do, and some of the things you can skip on your trip there. I have a few posts up about how much an average trip will cost to Lapland, along with what we did there, how to get the best deal and more. Check out the Lapland tab of my blog to read all this greatness. You can also follow me over on my YouTube channel Explorersaur, for travel videos and Lapland festivities!

Our first trip to Lapland quickly became one of my all time favourite holidays, and I can’t wait to talk to you all about it! (And go back: again, and again.. and again!) Lapland is located up North over in Finland, in the Northernmost region of the country. Its population is under 200,000, and it is the home to the big man himself; Santa Claus. (Specifically Rovaniemi, pronounced roh-veh-nyeh-mee.) Rovaniemi is the capital city of Lapland (but don’t let that fool you, it’s still teeny tiny for a city!) The country surrounding the city is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. ever!

Let’s get into our Lapland Bucket List!

What to include in your Lapland Bucket List:

  • Have a walk in the snow (and fill your hard drive with pictures!) A slightly obvious one, but on your trip to Lapland make sure you get out in the snow every single day, make snow angels, throw snowballs, enjoy the scenery. Most of us can only dream of snow this good, let’s dive in!
  • Go on a snow mobile safari. There are TONS of tours taking you on different routes at different times – some to stop off at a different destination, some to hunt the Northern Lights, some to fully get a need for speed. Choose one that suits you best and add to your Lapland bucket list. It’s such an epic experience… I just wish our winters were cold enough to own one – the best mode of transport I reckon!!
  • Visit a national park or animal sanctuary. Now, be super careful where you visit as some places really do exploit the animals. (More on that later!) But there are some stunning places to go for a walk and see some beautiful animals you’d never get the chance to elsewhere.
  • Try the local food! As with all holidays, we recommend you try some of the local delicacies. There are lots of different breads, pies, and pastries Finland is famous for, so dig in! We also love trying out different foods from the supermarket when we’re abroad, as it’s always interesting to see what different flavours and foods are the most popular in different places. (I also just bloody love a supermarket trip – top tier activity haha!)
  • Go husky sledding. This is another to be careful with, do your research and find a place that talks lots about welfare of their animals. Huskies absolutely love to run, and being out in their little back is like epic walk-time for them, when you’re in the right place. So long as everyone’s happy, this is one of the most fun things you can do!
  • Lounge in the sauna – oh, and jump and roll in snow after – in your swimming costume! A Finnish tradition and soo funny to try out. Spend a good half hour in the sauna, and top it off with a snow roll. When in Rome! Saunas are super popular in Finland and pretty much all holiday accommodation if going to be equipped with one – make sure to pack the swimmers. (Or go au naturale, whatever floats the boat!)
  • Try and spot the Northern Lights. “Try” will always be the key word. We’ve heard lots of people getting the wrong idea about the Aurora. Some think you’re guaranteed to see them, some say you can’t really see them with the naked eye. I can fully hand-on-heart tell you they are wrong! Whilst they’re not guaranteed, the Northern Lights can be incredibly bright and so very beautiful. You can check their likelihood online before going out searching, but it’s so worth trying all for the fun.
  • Make a snow angel – it’s obligatory! And whilst you’re here film a slow-mo-snow-throw shot!
  • Sit by the roaring fire with a Christmas film and cosies. Bring a laptop or iPad if you’re accommodation doesn’t have a TV for this. When you’re in Christmas land you should absolutely live your Christmas fantasy with this one.
  • Go sledding! Most accommodation will provide you with sleds, but different day trips will also provide an abundance, so you’ll be sure to get the chance. Find a hill and sled down slopes that sleds were INVENTED for!
  • Visit one of the local huts the government provides for Aurora watching. Do a little research and check with a tour if needed! Lapland has lots of public huts equipped with fire pits anyone can use to go an hunt the Aurora – how magical is that!
  • Visit Santa!! You can take a trip (or even stay at!) Santa’s village. This is the real deal people! There are tons of activities and cute little shops here. You can even write your future self a Christmas card to be sent from the North Pole! (Whaaaat that is so cool we must all do this at once!)
  • Visit a frozen waterfall. Perhaps one for the older groups among us, but there are lots of tours letting you go and visit a fully frozen masterpiece!
  • Walk on a frozen lake! You’ll be spoilt for choice! Lots of tours include frozen lakes too.
  • See sunrise and sunset. Okay so this one is VERY easy – as in Winter Lapland only has around 5 hours of sunlight a day. But I mean, go out and really watch it, be out playing snowball fights or on a forest-y walk through the transitions. So festive and gorgeous to see the snow shine in the sun through to glittering in the moonlight.
  • There are tons more excursions like skiing and go kart ice tracks, see all the activities on offer near you and ENJOY!

Things you can skip in Lapland:

Let’s chat about some of the things you can skip in your Lapland bucket list. Honestly it’s hard to find a fault in such a magical place, but there certainly are a few things to be aware of.

You should avoid Reindeer farms. This almost hurts me to say because I love those beautiful souls so much. The reason being this is they are just not treated well, and that is not something we should be supporting. They are often kept in poor conditions and tied tightly to allow everyone to go and touch them – which can scare them, naturally. To Finnish people, Reindeer are the equivalent of the UK’s cows or pigs. (Who are also very poorly treated which makes me so sad.) It’s a similar concept, but I wouldn’t support animal cruelty anywhere.

Likewise, check out how the animals are treated in any activity or zoo style place animals are kept. A quick Google will usually let you know if they’re good, and it’s always worth it.

Optionally, I would say you can skip Rovaniemi town. Especially for shopping. The city does have some great restaurants so if that’s your jam go right ahead! But, the city is pretty small and the exchange rate makes shopping extortionate. We visited on our first trip here, and I’d be more than happy to miss out in the future. It is beautiful and Christmassy though so totally up to you. I’d just personally prefer spending that time walking around in the deep deep snow!

Optional again you can skip hiring a car. Whilst this is always usually a recommendation of mine, driving here is another level! It’s nothing to do with traffic or driving etiquette, but the roads are basically just massive ice rinks. Cars do come with studded tyres but even then, skidding is likely. We drove an hour from the airport to our hotel and saw a few cars that had skidded off the road into a ditch! They have great recovery services and so long as you’re not driving fast it’s actually fine to skid off the road as you’re hitting a fluffy blanket of snow. But still, something to avoid! I would hire a car here again personally, but it’s one to be aware of if you’re a nervous driver. Stay safe! (There are lots of transfer buses, taxis and other options to travel.)

Avoid overspending! We always plan our activities ahead of time and get the early bird deals. Doing a little research will always save you some mazuma, and getting the biggest bang for your buck is satisfying AF.

I hope this has helped you build out your dream Lapland bucket list! Have the best holiday of your entire LIFE!

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