Things to Do in Lapland
With its beautifully designed glass tunnel stretching out to the Ounasjoki, Arktikum is one of Finland's best museums, albeit with a hefty admission fee. Exhibition spaces include superb static and interactive displays focusing on Arctic flora and fauna, as well as on the peoples of Arctic Europe, Asia and North America. It tells the story of the people of the North.
The level of information is very impressive; this is really a place to learn about the unique northern environments, and there is an excellent research library. There are also good displays of canoes, dwellings, fishing materials, and costumes of various northern peoples (including a good exhibition on the Sámi), as well as a room devoted to the history of Rovaniemi itself. A scale model shows the destruction wrought by the Axis retreat in 1944. There's also a multi-vision theater and a good restaurant. You should allow yourself at least a couple of hours to get around it all.
Lapland has long proclaimed itself the Official Home of Santa Claus, and the Santa Claus Village is the ultimate destination for festive visitors, a unique theme park devoted to the red-suited fellow and located right on the Arctic Circle.
Children are sure to be swept up in the magic as they explore Santa’s workshops, where his elves are hard at work, pet Santa’s friendly reindeer and have their photo taken with the big man himself, but there’s fun for all the family too. Get in the festive spirit exploring a series of Christmas-themed exhibitions, shop for gifts at Santa’s official souvenir shop, take your photo at the border of the Arctic Circle (denoted by a white line running through the village) or take a ride on a husky sled or snowmobile. Don’t forget to send a letter home from Santa’s official post office too, hand-stamped with the special Santa Claus postmark and guaranteed to arrive in time for Christmas.
A circle of latitude marking the southern boundary of the Arctic region, the Arctic Circle has long been thought of as the gateway to an icy, uninhabitable wilderness, but for visitors to Finland, it’s also the entry point to one of the country’s most breathtaking region. The majority of Finnish Lapland lies within the Arctic, with popular destinations like Rovaniemi and Suomu lying directly on the Arctic Circle and attractions like Santa Claus Village even marking the location of the circle on the ground for the benefit of tourists.
The unique location of the Arctic also lends itself to a number of natural phenomena, most famously the otherworldly Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, which can be seen in and around the Arctic region during the winter months. Equally unusual is the Midnight Sun, a period during midsummer when the sun appears to never set, while conversely, the midwinter months appear to be in a perpetual state of twilight.
Located about 155 miles (250 km) north of the Arctic Circle, Saariselkä is one of Finland’s northernmost ski resorts, a remote spot that is an ideal choice for those looking to get off the beaten track and escape the crowds.
Saariselka is best known for its winter sports, and the nearby fells of Kaunispaa and Iisakkipaa offer 11 ski and snowboard slopes, along with more than 155 miles (250 km) of cross-country skiing trails. Other popular activities include snowmobiling, snowshoeing, husky sledding and reindeer safaris, while summer visitors can make the most of the abundant hiking and mountain biking trails. Saariselkä also makes a great destination for viewing the Northern Lights, with its northern location offering some of the highest sighting rates from September to March.
More Things to Do in Lapland
As Finland’s most popular ski resort and host of the annual Alpine World Cup Race, Levi makes a top choice for winter sports, equipped with an impressive 43 slopes and 26 ski lifts. Set atop a 1,700-foot (531-meter) fell, this is one of the largest ski areas in Lapland. There are ample opportunities for both first-timers and seasoned skiers, including more than 124 miles (200 km) of cross-country trails, several black runs and the country’s largest snowboard park. Winter visitors can also take a Nordic walking excursion, ride a husky sled or visit the reindeer park.
Levi might be at its liveliest during the winter months, but the resort town is still worth a visit when the snow stops falling, with year-round activities including mountain biking at the Levi bike park, dry-slope sledding and zip-lining at the Levi Adventure Park.
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