The Ultimate Winter Holiday: Exploring Finnish Lapland and Artic Circle
The winter is here already, and my thoughts are flying away to winter holidays, Christmas time and New Year Eve Party which have just passed, but also to all the snow and gatherings around the fireplace with friends and family drinking hot wine and telling stories.
When it comes to winter, nobody has more experience than the people from the North, from Lapland, also known as the country of Santa Claus, which became a very popular destination for winter holidays. Lapland is not an actual country, but rather a region shared between Finland, Sweden, and Norway above the Arctic Circle, where more than 6 months per year everything is white and the nights are so long that in December, there is sun on the sky only for 2-3 hours per day. So, it’s the perfect place to stay next to a fireplace, with a great book in one hand and a mug of hot wine/chocolate in the other.
After first two weeks of the new year, I have experienced a highlight of 2018 by going up to the Arctic Circle and also an emotional one since I got to see Santa in the flesh. I have to admit, I found him exactly how I imagined him in my childhood dreams, so I will continue to write him letters every year. The meeting was short, but pleasant since I was not the only one wanting to meet him, and it was only fair to give priority to the little ones!
About the Trip
My friends asked me questions like: Why do you go somewhere where you know it’s always winter and cold? Or why do you go there, do you want to make friends with penguins? For me, the Northern countries have always been something very far away, unexplored by many, and what I only knew about them was that the locals are good at skiing and most obvious of all, that it’s always cold and never warm.
The takeoff took place a bit after 6 in the morning, when the sun was almost ready to shine on top of Amsterdam…
The sunrise in Amsterdam (first day)
The flight was smooth, but I slept most of the time, it’s one of the habits I got from traveling quite often, so I can’t tell you much about it, but after the 3 hours of flying I have to say the beautiful white area in front of me was filling my heart.
Flying above Finland
After passing the Golf a beautiful and authentic winter landscape started to be visible! The closer I was getting to the destination, I got to see the first “wonder” of the what was going to be the Lapland experience, which is after the first sunrise in Amsterdam, I got to see a second one from the north of Finland!
Lapland during sunrise
The landing was shadowed by the hibernated white landscape that stretched before my eyes and which had captured the attention of all the people on the plane.
We have announced that the temperature at the destination is -18 degrees Celsius. We came from positive temperatures, so the physical impact was pretty tough, but I assure you, dear reader, that I was feeling good and was looking forward to starting the Great Experience in Lapland!!!
The traditional houses in Lapland are generally barns (wood is something that is not missing in this region), with large, decorated Spartan windows and those houses give you a feeling of safety and warmth. If you dream of a luxury vacation, you must know that every home in Lapland has a sauna and when tradition merges with elements of modern architecture, the result is spectacular. A log cabin with large windows is the perfect place to spend your holiday. The hibernating white landscape and Aurora Borealis will make your vacation unforgettable, for sure this is how I feel about my holiday here. Beyond the visual show, Rovaniemi offers a classic Lappish experience, including a traditional Finnish sauna, husky and reindeer sleigh rides in traditional style. Snowmobiles, ski expeditions and even rides on a Finnish icebreaker are also available on the winter list.
Whoever wants to dine in an igloo can go to the ice hotel, carved every year following a different theme. The temperature does not go up more than minus 2 degrees Celsius but, Lapland is a magical realm, one of the few places where you can find snowdrifts like in fairy stories and reindeers that are walking freely through forests or crossing the highways.
What's good to know? In Lapland, temperatures drop very easily below 0 ° C, so it's good to take your warmest clothes. If not, there are a few options to rent.
Let yourself be captivated by the unique beauty of Aurora Borealis
Lapland is an ideal place to witness the fascinating and spectacular show of nature in the wilderness of a National Park. Thanks to the incredibly clear, pollution-free sky, the place is ideal for watching the Northern lights.
Aurora Borealis is a unique experience in life, and one of the best places to witness this spectacular phenomenon is Finland, especially the Northern part of the country. To my surprise, the roads are not 100% cleaned of snow or ice, but there are some cars that scratch with a kind of ice claw on the streets making some not too deep trenches for you not to derail.
Some technical details: when I was researching for Santa Claus Village from home, I found on a website that Sunday and Monday is closed, and on another one that it’s open 24 hours a day. After all, both versions were true: Santa Claus's village is open 24 hours a day, and Santa's Park, in fact, a cave where he lives is closed on Sundays and Mondays. At the post office, I had some surprisingly pleasant moments: Romania was the second country as the number of letters sent to Santa, in 2016 and also the longest letter received by Santa is written by 2200 children from 8 schools in the Romanian city of Brasov. We are up there in the top and in Santa’s heart.
Letters can be sent and by Christmas time, Santa Claus will reply, with a handwritten letter. For a 7,5 euro, you get to write your address and Santa in person will write back to you for Christmas. Also, and this is very important dear reader, as I expect you to act and promote this concept. Since millions of children are writing to Santa, the empty envelops of those letters can be purchased for a modest 5 euro, as part of a partnership project between Santa Claus and UNICEF to help kids from undeveloped countries.
There is a lot of stories to be told, and if time will allow me I will come back with other reviews in the hope that it could be useful to those of you who want and will be able to go look for the northern lights and Santa.