Lapland is definitely a magical experience. With snow covered forests, the chance to see the northern lights and the pleasure of meeting Santa, it’s a winter wonderland. But it is also a place to know your stuff before you go, as it’s not somewhere you want to be only to realise you forgot to pack snow boots or warm waterproof gloves, it’s also somewhere to have a good idea on the costs prior to going as it is expensive.
I have laid out some tips below to do and keep in mind prior to going over to help anyone else.
Advice and Tips For Lapland
- Pack the right things. As I said above, Lapland is not somewhere you would like to be only to realise that you forgot half your stuff. Depending on where you have booked to stay, there might not be any shops near you, as unless you are staying in the city a lot of accommodation options may be 10 – 20 minutes outside of the city (at least). For more on advise on what to pack including a printout check list click into What To Pack For Lapland. The other thing to keep in mind, when packing is to make sure your outer wear (jackets, boots & gloves etc) are all rain proof, so the snow doesn’t soak through, but also breathable so that you don’t sweat in it.
- Do you research into your accommodation before booking. Some accommodation can really be out there in the countryside, which is great, especially if that is what you want. But if you are staying in one place for the duration of your stay and you want to do multiple different activities, just make sure there are tour / adventure companies that work with your accommodation, that can pick you up and drop you back. That there is an on site restaurant or shops near by and even if you are renting a car, check how far away it is from local towns so you won’t be driving all day.
- If you are vegan or have any special dietary requirements, make sure to let your hotel/ tour company know in advance. As a lot of food is grown and picked over the summer months and frozen to be used over the winter months. Traditional and common Laplandish food are mostly reindeer meat and wild salmon, neither of which I eat, but everything was easily organised for my breakfast, lunch and dinner, with some prior notice. I actually informed everyone with whom I booked anything with (hotels, flights and tour companies) that we were vegan and had no problems. The only thing was some of the meals became slightly repetitive, as avegan diet wasn’t a common thing for the chiefs to cook for whilest keeping traditional twists in mind.
- Adventure Company Clothing. Most companies will provide you with the right clothing. We booked our tours through Wild Nordic, which provided us with all protective outer clothing needed and we certainly were not in anyway cold, but not all companies are the same, so do check with whom you are booking what you need to take, as the last thing you want is to start getting cold or wet.
- Research Your Husky & Reindeer Tours. You want to experience all the magic Lapland has to offer and some of the most magical moments are with the animals in the region such as huskies an reindeers. But what you don’t want to do EVER is support a company that exploits animals for money and greed, this happens world wide. So before booking in to do your tour RESEARCH the companies. We were lucky in that the companies we booked with bought us to farms outside of the city, in big open spaces with plenty of space to roam around. The owners knew EVERYTHING about each of their animals and their animals came first. One great company to research is a husky sanctuary – Hetta Huskies, which will also advise you in what to look for when booking tours with different companies to make sure they are ethical.
- Northern Lights. Definitely book a northern lights tour, but keep in mind that, even though these tours are expensive you may not see the northern lights. We barely saw them on the first night of our arrival from our room, but when we did our northern lights tour it was snowing and cloudy (but we still had fun). So just keep in mind that you will still have to pay (obviously) as people are working to take you out to see them. The best time of the year to see the northern lights in Rovanieimi, Lapland are between autumn and spring. We didn’t have luck on our night out as it was snowing and cloudy, but we still had a great time in a snow covered forest with a nice vegan picnic.
- Ice Hotel. If it stretches out of your budget or if you are traveling with children, you on’t have to stay overnight in The Ice Hotel to experience it. You can book tours during the day to view the Ice Hotel, get a guided tour around and to dine in it. This must be booked in advance and our day tours as obviously people need to come back and sleep in the rooms at night. Every year the hotel is different, as it is built from scratch every year. Visit The Snow Hotel for more information.
- Book in advance and book early. This is an obvious one, but I literally mean book EVERYTHING in advance and try to book it quickly, as people plan these trips months in advance. Luckily I had booked mostly everything in advance, the only thing I messed up on was a transfer from the airport to our hotel, we ended up having to wait about 30-40 minutes for a taxi for a 15 minute drive to our hotel. The only thing we didn’t need to book in advance was a trip to Santa Park as that was just walk in and pay. It is essential to book in advance for any trips and activities as spaces do fill up quickly. Here is a list of things to book in advance
- Food on the plane
- Airport transfers to/ from your hotel
- Adventure tours (snowmobile, northern lights, Ice Breaker cruise etc etc)
- Restaurant reservations (depending on where you are dining)
- Hotels & accommodation, especially if you are moving around and staying at different types of accommodation: Ice Hotel, glass igloo, tree house cabin, city hotel or a wooden cabin.
- Car rentals
- Ice hotel tours
9. Have A Cost Breakdown. Lapland is expensive. Booking and paying for everything in advance will help to keep costs down when you are there, but also keep in mind that eating out and taxi etc can be expensive, especially the more remote you are. To give you an idea of our cost break down:
2 Adults & 1 Child // Monday 28th November – Friday 2nd December
- Arctic Tree house Hotel, half board x 3 nights = €1,600.
- Lilla Roberts Hotel x 1 night = €350
- Snowmobile Safari to Search for the Northern Lights = €344.00
- Fun Day Combo = €530.00
- Dublin -> Helsinki // Helsinki -> Rovaniemi
- Rovaniemi ->Helsinki // Helsinki -> Dublin
- On flight meals
- Finnair total = €1,590.90
- Travel Insurance
- AA Travel Insurance = €56.00
10. The Right Camera. This tip is for those of us who love taking picture. For the post part in Lapland your phone will do fine, just keep it very safe and don’t let it fall in the snow. Camera’s will be ok to take around for someone who is used to carrying them, put extra packaging around your case if you can and make sure your bag is water proof. But if you have an action camera such as a GoPro, I highly recommend taking this with you. This is the sort of holiday they are made for, you can let them fall / rest in the snow (but watch the battery as the coldness will run it faster), They can be taken on your snow mobile tours, if you do the Ice Breaker you won’t be worried about it getting we, the list is endless, because even thought it’s freezing out there are so many activities to do outside. The only thing a GoPro or phone camera won’t be great for is catching the Northern Lights, some tours will take pictures for you, but most don’t so if you do want to get a picture, bring your camera if you have one and get it onto a slow shutter speed on a tripod, but just keep it safe.
So they are all my tips. If you have been and have anymore you would like to add please get in touch.