9 Reasons Why You Should ABSOLUTELY Visit Lapland
Lapland, the land sprawling across the extreme northern part of Finland, is so uniquely different from other places, that at times one wonders if it has been brought to Earth from another planet! It offers an assortment of unique and varied attractions which are hard to find elsewhere, and that is reason enough to visit Lapland.
Though Lapland is wonderful and unique at all times of the year, the best time to plan a Lapland holiday is during winter, from December to March, when both the snow conditions and the Northern Lights displays are at their best.
Along with the changing attractions of the seasons, Lapland offers so many diverse activities such as skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and reindeer sleighing. All these attractions and activities make a holiday to Lapland an unforgettable experience.
Here are the 9 best reasons to visit Lapland, though in reality you really don’t need reasoning to visit this beautiful place.
1. View the spectacular Northern Lights
2. Experience the Midnight Sun
In summer, Lapland is bathed in continuous sunlight for a period of three months, a total contrast to the dark days in winter, when the sun bids adieu to this part of the world. The phenomenon of the midnight sun is a one of its kind of experience.
3. See the phenomenon called ‘Ruska’
With the setting in of autumn, Lapland again transforms itself with the changing hues of the leaves. Lapland is undoubtedly the best place in Finland to witness ‘ruska’, or fall colours, when the leaves turn into various shades of red, orange and yellow. The ideal time to witness the spectacular ‘ruska’ is around the middle of September.
4. Walk around the capital city of Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi with its riverside location, is the transport hub of the country, and is the perfect starting point of a dream Lapland vacation. The Arktikum Museum in Rovaniemi is undoubtedly the best place to get an introduction and overview of this northern paradise and the culture and traditions of the Sami natives of Lapland.
5. Take in the charms of the delightful Santa Claus Village
Santa Claus Village is the prime attraction for all ages. The Arctic Circle cuts right through Santa Village. This is demarcated by a white line painted across the park. Cross the white line, and you enter the Arctic Zone! This line is a ‘must click’ photo point!
Santa Claus Village has a Santa Claus Post Office where Christmas cards and other items are sold. Anything mailed from this post office will be unique, as it will bear a special Santa Claus post mark.
Inside the main building of the village, you will find Santa Claus’ Office. There is also an Office Hour for meeting Santa Claus!
Santa Claus Village is open every single day in the year. It can be easily reached by bus from Rovaniemi. However, if you want to start your Lapland tour by saying hello to Santa immediately upon landing in Rovaniemi, the good news is that Santa Claus Village is only three kilometers away from the airport!
Santa Claus Village attracts 300,000 visitors annually. It is an amusement park which is well equipped with shops and restaurants. Reindeer rides, husky rides, snow mobile tours and an igloo hotel are some of its other attractions.
6. Tour the Arktikum Museum
Arktikum is a science museum and a popular cultural destination in Rovaniemi. A visit to this museum familiarizes one with Sami culture and history. A show with multi-visual aids depicts the beauty of all four seasons in Lapland. It also exhibits a wonderful photographic display of Arctic birds.
A permanent exhibition termed ‘The Northern Ways’ is a presentation of Sami life and culture from prehistoric times to the present day.
‘The Arctic in Change’ is yet another exhibition which takes you on a tour of the Arctic World and introduces you to the beauty and significance of climatic changes to the Arctic world.
7. Enjoy the diversity of fauna at the Ranua Wildlife Park (Where to stay)
Ranua Wildlife Park is Lapland’s primary tourist destination. Also known as the Ranua Zoo, it has the distinction of being the world’s northernmost zoo! It is home to fifty species of wild life and two hundred individual animals. Lynx, deer, European moose, and Finland’s only polar bears housed in artificial snow are found here.
Ranua Wildlife Park is open throughout the year, and enables visitors to see the Arctic wild life in an authentically created environment. It also has provision for arranging safari rides in the park.
8. Marvel at the lifestyle of the first settlers in this area at the Siida Museum
Wikimedia/Manfred Werner – Tsui
Siida is a museum located in the original area where the first settlers in Northern Lapland lived, It is from this site that the archaeological finds going back to almost nine thousand years ago, have been discovered. The word Siida is north Sami, and means a Lapp or reindeer village.
Siida is best described as an insight into Sami culture and life. It organizes various exhibitions on the diverse nature of Lapland and the art and culture of its people. Additionally, Siida also has an open air museum which was originally known as the Inari Sami Museum, which is functional in the summer months. It is home to the Sami Museum and Northern Lapland Nature Centre.
9. Explore the breathtaking National Parks
Lapland has more than its fair share of National Parks such as the:
Pyhä-Luosto National Park
A visit to the Park at any time of the year is wonderful. A trip in winter gives you the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Northern Lights. In summer, this spectacle is replaced by the sky being illuminated by the midnight sun.
Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park
You can visit this Park at any time of the year to avail of its scenic beauty and seasonal attractions. The Park offers facilities for skiing as well as hiking. Additionally, services for campfire sights, rental huts and cafes are available at all times.
Urho Kekkonen National Park
This Park takes its name from Urho Kekkonen, the late President and Prime Minister of Finland. One of the largest protected areas in Finland, the park has a river flowing through its northern part.
This vast park stretches through the wilderness of Lapland right up to the Russian border. Trekking through this fell region, you will see eroded river beds, hanging bridges, rapids and waterfalls with wild trout jumping in and out. It is truly a visual delight.
Oulanka National Park
Oulanka National Park is one of the more popular national parks. It has a fantastic amalgamation of northern, southern and eastern features, which give it a unique landscape. You can see pine trees, waterfalls, rapids, and sandy river banks along with vast stretches of muddy swamps in the northern part of the park.
The area is richly endowed with plant and animal species. Mushrooms, bilberries and wild orchids are found here in the summer months. You can even go mushroom and berry picking here!
Rare species of butterflies and birds such as the Siberian jay can be seen here in the summer months. Certain endangered species like moose, lynch and bear can also be spotted here.
Riisitunturi National Park
This park has been built on a hilly area and has some hilly swampland as well. One of the most distinctive features of this park are its gently sloping mires and bogs, which are considered the best in Europe. In fact, the finest specimens of wilderness fell, forest landscapes and enthralling views of a lake in the area, can all be seen in Riisituntun National Park.
In winter, the spruce trees growing on its hill slopes look like a white forest, when they are totally spruced with the purest white blanket of snow. Winter activities such as cross country skiing and snow-shoeing are popular in this national park.
Syöte National Park
Out of all the thirty nine national parks in Finland, Syote National Park is the only park which has trails marked for mountain bikers.