Even though we could enjoy some lovely springdays, some of us will think about cold or a winterholiday. What about a beautiful holiday in Lapland?
Lapland is a large area in the northern part of the countries Norway, Sweden, Russia and Finland. An area which means the land of the Sami, but from the Arctic circle in Finland it is a province and it’s to everyone’s imagination. When we mention Lapland, we think of forests, snow and very cold temperatures. But also, and above all about reindeer, snowmobiles and the northern lights.
Lapland seems so far away but is so nearby. With the change in temperatures in the Alps, Lapland seems to be a more upcoming and attractive alternative for a ski holiday. It takes only a 3.5 hour flight from Amsterdam. There are no direct single flights to Lapland. You can only book a trip through an organization including hotel with or without excursions. Lapland has no less than 5 small airports. Kuusamo, also a ski resort in the East, has an airport but is situated just outside Lapland.
If you want to stay longer in Lapland than you have the option to fly to Helsinki. From there you can take the night train or a domestic flight with Norway air or Finnair. However, the night train is much cheaper. It has an easy online booking system and many Finns use this possibility to travel to the North. The trains are luxurious. There are sleeping compartments that are equipped with heating, internet connection, radio, electricity connection and a little box with a water faucet. There is a restoration coupe where you can eat and drink. The train will leave even if there is a lot of snow.
From the final destination at 922 km from Helsinki each passenger continues his own way. With taxi, bus, rental car or is picked up by relatives.
Buses in Lapland always drive. In the high North where many months a year the roads are covered with a layer of snow, drivers are not afraid to drive on the snowy roads. With 80 km per hour the cars and buses find their routes on the roads like there is not one bit of snow. Pretty scary because we are not used to that speed. Lapland has several small ski areas. Not comparable with Austria but the wide slopes with beautiful views are lovely. The facilities are good and there are several ski shops where everything is for rent. Prices are comparable to Austria which is rather high as the ski areas are much smaller. If you book an organized tour you can take your own ski equipment with you.
Almost everyone speaks English in Lapland. Useful because the Finnish language is difficult. The shops are modern and the supermarkets are less expensive than expected. In the restaurants you can order everything from pizzas to burgers and fries, but it is certainly recommended to eat salmon or the traditional reindeer meat, just to try. You can eat reindeer stew to soup. Leipäjuusto is another traditional dish. Cheese that is fried, grilled or flambéed.
Most tourists visit Lapland for the snow and activities. A must to do are snowmobile and dog sledge rides. The dogs are generally Alaskan huskies. They are faster and strong and specially bred to pull a sled. Do not make the mistake to spear money and make small trips of 2 or 4 km. This is definitely too short and is over before you know it. And, of course, you’ll visit a reindeer farm. The animals have the same character as cows. They come to you to eat moss. You can pet them but if there is no more moss they walk away again. A reindeer is relatively small. They are semi wild. This means that they are herded during wintertime because they can’t find food in the snow.
The temperature in Lapland changes per day and can drop in short time from -1 to-35. All you need are good waterproof hiking boots (snow boots are not recommended because they can be slippery). Also ski clothing that you can wear off-piste and thermal underwear.
And if you’re lucky you’ll see the northern lights. The more northern you are the better the chance you have to see the northern lights, however it depends on the solar winds that throw small plasma particles into space. If these penetrate the atmosphere and collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms some energy is released, which can be seen in the form of beautiful light shades. The northern lights has a cycle of 11 years. Now it is in a declining phase. If the weather is clear and you have an eye for it then you can just see the bright green spots appear. A magical happening that we have admired no less than 3 times.