Best time to visit Finnish Lapland


Most of our vacations suggest that the best time to visit Finnish Lapland is from Sep-Mar or April. The Northern Lights start to flicker around the September equinox, also gorgeous for autumnal leaf changes. For fun in the snow, end Jan-end Mar are prime months as Dec days are very short, although Jan has clear, crisp skies. Temperatures do go as low as -18°C though. If you want to enjoy natural Finnish Lapland, avoid the mass Santa hysteria. March is also prime time for the Lights but don’t overlook the summer, with hours of mountain biking or hiking in days that never ‘finish’.
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Things to do in Finnish Lapland


Things to do in Finnish Lapland…

It's hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't want to go on a husky safari vacation, although forget any notion of high end husky life. If you want to travel through wilderness with your own team of dogs, you will be caring for them after they have cared for you, helping them settle for the night before you cosy up in your wilderness cabin, reindeer blankets to hand. Dashing through the snow, in a four dog open sleigh - this is Lapland with bells on.

Experts say this is one of the best regions to see the Northern Lights, thanks to its very dark, inland terrain. On Northern Lights vacations, you can stay in remote lakeside cabins with glass roofs to see the lights, your guides will have ‘Aurora alarms’ and you can go on night time snow shoeing safaris into ancient woodland to keep your spirits high and your body warm as you wait. Lake Inari and Menesjarvi are two of the most special spots to lap it all up.

Children are pretty much born with snow shoes on in this part of the world, so this is your chance to enjoy winter sports even if you have never felt a need to be part of a piste posse. Because snow shoeing in Finnish Lapland is another world completely. It’s all about nature, exploring the forests and fells of Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park or the exquisitely frozen environs of Lake Inari.

Things not to do in Finnish Lapland…

Daytrips to see Santa are about as soulful as Oxford Street the week before Christmas. You'll be whizzed around from pillar to post, and gain no idea of what Finnish Lapland is all about. Plus, in many cases, you'll do little to support local communities. Go for a real Finnish Lapland Christmas instead, husky riding, reindeer sleighing, ice fishing, kick sledding and snow shoeing. This is magic that lasts a lifetime. Not just for Christmas.

Don’t ignore Sámi culture; this is their home and has been for centuries. There are a lot of reindeer involved, with over 10 percent of Sámi people still herding, and you will be given reindeer blankets to keep you warm, reindeer milk to drink and meat to eat. All fabulous. As is being in a reindeer driven sleigh, and listening to Sámi mythical musings as you wait for the Aurora to appear. For many Sámi, this is still a spiritual experience, believing the lights are souls of the dead. The new Siida Sámi Museum in Lake Inari region is a must see.

It should go without saying, but don’t moan about the weather. You might need to adapt your itinerary due to weather. You may get wet. You will get cold. But you will be given the best gear to cope with it all, and if you go with the flow, you’ll be taking saunas and rolling in the snow naked before you know it.

Finnish Lapland travel advice


Laura Greenman, from our supplier, Magnetic North, gives her advice on when to go and shares her opinion on cultural Finnish Lapland vacations.

Advice on when to go

“There is such a big contrast between the seasons in Finnish Lapland and they all have their own unique pull. In winter and spring, you have bright white and glistening snow, which makes way for the lush greens of summer and then during autumn the landscape is a vibrant red and orange. Our general aim is to promote the wonderful seasonality of the region, so there isn’t such a big demand for visits to Lapland over just a few weeks per year. The more that people start to understand the seasonality of Lapland, not only will it open their eyes to the incredible amount of vacation possibilities across the region, but it will also help to sustain the livelihoods of the locals there too.”

Cultural tips

“When we organise trips or experiences with Sámi people, we have to be really careful that what our travelers are seeing is genuine. Sometimes they might see Sámi in traditional costume for example, but we believe they should only see it if the locals were going to be wearing it anyway; we don’t want people on our trips to experience a ‘show’. We want people to spend time with reindeer herders and see what their day is like and see how they live with their families. These experiences aren’t forced and are in fact very personal and we find that people get so much more out of that than being shunted around a set-up situation.”

Ali McLean, from our supplier, Activities Abroad, shares his Finnish Lapland travel tips:

Family vacation tips

“A couple of years ago I was at Lake Inari, standing on the frozen lake waiting for the Northern Lights. It was -27°C and the kids were sitting inside a hut under blankets and next to a fire. About midnight the Lights came out and I ran in asking them to come and see the display. My daughter looked at me and said, ‘nah dad, we’ve already seen them.’ Kids have to be a certain age to appreciate them; I’d say anyone below their teenage years doesn’t have enough of a grasp of what they are and gets too tired and too cold for the hunt. It tends to be a trip for the older generation while the kids get stuck into all the great winter sports.”

Taking in the scenery

“The view from Tankavaara Fell in Finnish Lapland is absolutely sublime. It's a big hill in the middle of the landscape and on top of it stands Europe's only working amethyst mine in which I actually have a share. The view is almost ridiculously incredible; endless lakes and mountains draped in snow stretching as far as the eye can see. You feel as if you can see Finnish Lapland in its entirety.” For more details of Ali’s Northern Lights Short Break vacation in Luosto see an interview with him here.
Tom Wilkinson, snow shoeing expert at our supplier, Exodus: “If you can walk you can snow shoe. There are of course techniques/tips for going up and down, and through deeper snow, but really this is the winter sport anyone can do. With snowshoes a beginner can access places usually reserved for red hot off-piste skiers – and you’re far less likely to crash into a tree! Aside from thinking you’ll be using tennis racquets (modern snowshoes are sleek and light) people can forget that if you’re walking in deep snow, walking in single file means the person at the front does all the work breaking the trail, though good etiquette is to take turns doing that!”

Finnish Lapland travel advice


At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with ing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Finnish Lapland travel tips that our guests have provided over the years help you make the very most of your vacation – and the space inside your suitcase.
“You can rinse out your clothes if you get too sweaty and dry them in electric dryers that each hotel has. So you don't need to go over the top with too many winter clothes.” – Thomas White on our Northern Lights short break, Finland

“Pack light – the outer gear provided is good. Get fit – chopping frozen reindeer meat, lugging wood and water to the wilderness cabins is hard work in deep snow. Bring a camera - our camera worked but our phones switched off in the cold.” – Ruth Stevens on a husky safari vacation

“Really don't bother bringing cold weather gear. The clothing supplied includes comfortable boots – even in very small sizes; two good warm layers (thick and thin, top and bottom) plus a waterproof outer layer, excellent inner and outer gloves, rucksack, thermos flask and head torch. They recommend your bring your own vest and longjohns - I'd add a decent warm hat, pull up neckscarf, sunglasses and thin gloves so you can operate your camera without your fingers falling off” – Jay Sivell on a snow shoeing vacation. Read our detailed interview with Jay about her vacation

Get some hand warmers for your mittens. – Steven Hirst on a husky safari vacation

“We stayed in the lodge which was convenient as you don't need to ' dress' to go to breakfast etc. Avoid room 101, it is next to the boot room and can be noisy before and after activities, although it only happens a few times a day. Also ask for a room facing the woods, much nicer outlook.” – Jodie Douglas on a tailor made Northern Lights vacation
Photo Credits: [Best time to visit: Greenland Travel] [Adivce on when to go: Jann Kuusisaari] [Family vacation tips: Chris] [Snow shoeing tips: Jennifer C.] [Husky: bluesbby] [Northern lights : Vincent Guth]
Written by Catherine Mack
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