Finland is the only Nordic country I haven't visited yet. Shocking, right? Well while I'm still dreaming of playing in the snow of Finnish Lapland one day, Mae-Gene from The Wandering Suitcase has already spent a vacation in a Finnish winter wonderland and is here today to tell you all about winter activities besides watching the Northern Lights!
The elusive Northern Lights bring hordes of travellers every year to some of the coldest parts of the world. Tourists travel for hours to stand outside in freezing temperatures in complete darkness just to catch a glimpse of the lights glimmering across the sky.
While there is no doubt that the Northern Lights are a phenomenon to experience, there is so much more to Finnish Lapland than cold nights staring at the night sky.
Here are some of the experiences that make Finnish Lapland so unique:
Often cited by travellers (including myself!) as their favourite part of their Lapland travels, standing on the back of a husky sled and steering the pack can be an exhilarating experience.
As much as this may seem like a tourist trap, throughout history, Huskies have been crucial to the survival of communities living north of the Arctic Circle.
Huskies work in packs of 6 and what the photos can’t show is how excited these dogs are to go out.
Upon arrival at the Husky kennel to start our expedition, we were greeted by a group of dogs jumping on top of each other and barking loudly. Whenever we stopped during our sled trip, they would bark as if to say to us “let’s keep going!”
The dogs get excited to go out on a trek, and any previous concerns I had about making a group of dogs pull my sled for a couple of hours dissipated quickly!
I like to think of snowmobiles as modern day huskies.
They’re easy to use, and they’re not as loud as a pack of huskies. For the slick city dweller, these can be an exciting way to experience Finnish Lapland.
While the navigation of a snowmobile can take some getting used to, operating one is not too different to using a car or a motorbike. Some models even warm up the handle bars!
At night it can be incredibly cold on the back of one of these, especially since you are not doing much moving. Dress appropriately - that includes bringing little packs of hand warmers if you’re travelling in the peak of winter.
SNOW SHOE WALKING
You don’t need to know how to (or want to!) ski to enjoy the vast landscape Finnish Lapland has on offer.
As much as hiking in the snow sounds like a painful experience, with the aid of snowshoes, this is quite the opposite.
But what are snowshoes, you ask?
Snowshoes are basically like fat skies – they allow you to walk on powdery snow without sinking into the ground.
Your boots are strapped into your snowshoes, and while this may require a bit of legwork to get used to, can be a great way to see sights that you may miss from a snowmobile or husky sled.
Concerned about the cold? Fortunately, when snowshoe walking, your body produces enough heat through walking to counter any shivers you might otherwise experience.
Our snowshoe walking experience finished with summit views and a fire where we toasted cheese sandwiches. Who can resist melted cheese in temperatures like these?!
Speaking of reindeer, who could travel this far and miss visiting a reindeer farm?
Thankfully, reindeer in Lapland don’t exist purely to pander to tourist interests.
Sami have been living alongside reindeer for thousands of years, and they are an important part of the on-going preservation of the culture. You can learn about how reindeer are kept, what they eat and if they’re not afraid of you, you might even get to feed some!
There are various tours which you can join to see the reindeer, but most outdoor adventure companies in Lapland will have some form of reindeer experience.
SPEND THE NIGHT IN A GLASS IGLOO
Even though this post is about experiencing Finnish Lapland beyond the Northern Lights, I couldn’t write this without mentioning glass igloos.
While this is an experience that is not always wallet friendly, sleeping in a glass igloo with an unobstructed view of the night sky can be the best way to experience the Northern Lights.
Many of the glass igloos are eco-friendly (hello composting toilet!) and are built to be stayed in for either one or two nights.
Having your own view of the Northern Lights and falling asleep watching them flicker across the night sky can be a romantic way to spend your holiday.
Have you been to Finnish Lapland? What are your must-do experiences?
Leave a comment below!
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About the author:
Mae-Gene Yew is an Australian traveller, freelance writer and blogger. She is an avid lover of snow and is always chasing a white Christmas. Currently based in Boston, Mae-Gene is travelling through the USA, and you can read about her travels on her blog or connect with her on Instagram.
Would you like to write about your Nordic adventures on this space? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!