Top 5 Things to Do in Lapland in Winter

Many people will say you have to do this or you have to that when you go on holiday. At the end of the day though, its your holiday so always do what YOU want to do. But if you're having trouble deciding, here are 5 things recommended to try that are unique to Lapland (although can be done in some other parts of the world). These are my favorite things to do and maybe they become yours as well. In no particular order...
To Do #1: Meet (and eat) the Reindeer!
Reindeer are animals not found in every part of the world and are a common sight in many parts of Lapland. Contrary to Lapland myths, Reindeer are not wild animals. They have been domesticated over the past several hundred years and each reindeer belongs to a reindeer herder. The reason you see them in the wild is that essentially all of Lapland is a grazing ground for them. Reindeer herders round up their reindeer at various times of the year to administer and attend to the herds as necessary, with meat and hides from the herds sold commercially to provide income. In the winter, many also offer reindeer sleigh rides, giving tourists a chance to travel like the indigenous Sami traveled in the past (and sometimes do today). Besides meeting reindeer, its also recommended to eat them - they are very tasty! You can try poro (reindeer in Finnish) at Laanilan Kievari in Saariselka. Its one of the top restaurants in Lapland so you can try some other local Lapland cuisine at the same time.

To Do #2: Visit Santa Claus!
As you probably already know, Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa Claus in Lapland. His office is open 365 days a year and you can visit him when you are in Rovaniemi. According to Finnish folklore though, the original home of Santa Claus (Joulupukki in Finnish) is Korvatunturi fell, which is located in Savukoski and inside Urho Kekkonen National Park in eastern Lapland. You can read more about Santa's real home here. But due to accessibility, its still best to travel to his office at Santas Village at the Arctic Circle. If you are visiting another part of Lapland during the winter months, Santa has also been known to make appearances at these other locations as well (if you holidaying else where).

To Do 3: See the Northern Lights
One of the attractions that brings millions of visitor to Lapland each year is the chance to see the Northern Lights. You can try to learn how to predict aurora forecasts yourself and can always go aurora hunting on our own, but keep in mind there is no guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights during winter because they are a natural phenomena that are sporadically visible from the Autumn to Spring each year, when its dark outside. However, many people are able to see them so keep a positive attitude! If you want some assistance in aurora hunting, you can take guided tours with Beyond Arctic in Rovaniemi.

To Do #4: Take a Sauna and a Swim
Sauna is very popular in Finland. Most homes or apartment buildings have saunas. While you can take sauna anytime during the year, the chance to roll in the snow or take a dip in a frozen lake or river make the experience that much more special and exhilarating! While in Lapland, its highly recommended to give sauna and ice swimming/snow rolling a try. Its a great chance to relax and refresh after a long day of winter activities. Some places you can try sauna include Laanilan Kievari in Saariselka.

To Do #5: Enjoy the Unique Nature
Lapland is a ridiculously beautiful region. With only a small amount of people living there compared to its massive size, there is plenty of untouched wilderness and solitude. And as with many places of extreme location, there is extreme phenomena and moments to be experienced. Of course the northern lights are one phenomena to be viewed but there quite a few others to been encountered should you be lucky, such as experiencing Kaaaamooss (polar night), seeing a sun dog or moon dog, or simply exploring Laplands national parks and wilderness areas, either by snowshoe, snowmobile, or skis. During the winter, it can be difficult to explore many wilderness areas because of the extreme conditions (snow, ice, and freezing temperatures) so sometimes its practical to acquire the services and help of locals. If you need assistance Beyond Arctic can help you explore the area around Rovaniemi.