Close your eyes and dream of a winter wonderland. What do you picture? Perhaps you see pine trees covered in freshly fallen powdery snow. Or maybe you envision a quiet walk in the woods to a frozen lake with snowshoes on your feet. If you’re a nature person, maybe there is bear or reindeer that wanders into your mind. You might even visualize a ribbon of the Aurora Borealis sparkling across the sky of your winter wonderland.
This is Lapland. Lapland is about as close as you can get to a winter wonderland.
Lapland is Finland’s northernmost region, a good portion of which lies north of the Arctic Circle. Lapland is a sparsely populated area of raw, wintery wilderness. As we landed on the runway at Ivalo Airport, I looked out the window to see a blanket of snow. Even the runway was just snow packed down. The rolling forested hills were all I could see and they were all covered in powdery thick snow. This was just how I had pictured Lapland. I couldn’t wait to get off the plane and feel the cold rush of dry frigid air hit my face.
Lapland is renowned for its vast wilderness, herds of wild reindeer, and Northern Lights viewing. Legend has it that the capital of Lapland, Rovaniemi, is also the “hometown” of Santa Claus. You can find Santa Claus’s Post Office in this city where each year, all of the Christmas letters addressed to “Santa at the North Pole” wind up.
The hometown of Santa Claus? Yeah, you can’t get much more wintery than that.
Prior to my trip, many people seemed puzzled when I said that I would be spending a week in Finland in January. But Lapland was one of the things I came to Finland for. I didn’t come to Lapland for the Christmas kitsch. Well… I wouldn’t have minded a wild reindeer sighting or two, but what I really wanted to experience was the winter wonderland. In an ever warming world, there are less and less places where you can be guaranteed to see snow, but Lapland is one of them (at least for now). I was relieved to see lots snow. It was a comforting vestige of my childhood.
As we drove down the main highway to Kakslauttanen Resort from the Ivalo airport, my eyes were glued out the window. I was totally awestruck by the beauty of the nature around us. Lapland is a hilly region, so there are some good look out points where you can enjoy 360 views of snow-covered pines, frozen lakes and the slightest peak of the sun over the horizon. I wanted to pull off at every opportunity to get the ‘gram but also to soak in the quintessentially Finnish surroundings. Now this was winter.
I’m a Midwestern girl at heart, so the frigid cold temperatures and snowy surroundings don’t really bother me. In fact, I forgot how romantic snow can be. It is truly stunning. Also, an igloo hotel? That’s pretty damn romantic. Our last night in Lapland greeted us with nearly a foot of new snow, and staying in our glass igloo allowed my husband and I to soak in all the beauty and romance of it.
Your days in Lapland should be spent outdoors. That’s what you come here for! There are an endless assortment of winter excursions that you can do to enjoy the snow-covered scenery. Husky and reindeer safaris are popular, Northern Lights hunting is a must, and maybe you’re even interested in riding a snowmobile. See what my top six winter experiences to try in Finland are here.
Reflecting on my time in Lapland, I realized that much of the allure that stood out to me about this region was the contrast. It is a place defined by intense contrast. The summer sees nearly endless sunlight while the winter barely has any daylight hours. The brightness of the snowy white surroundings are only broken up by the slight pops of brown and black from the hibernating trees. The bustling ski and arctic resorts contrasted against the stillness and quiet of the surrounding woods only a few minutes away. This is a place you can come for clarity. Lapland is good for the soul, good for the mind.