Who wouldn’t want to visit Lapland. A beautiful snowy wilderness, filled with reindeer and best of all, Santa. Today I am very excited to share Jetlag & Mayhem’s first Lapland adventure! Nayla, her husband and two children (age 6 and 3.5) spent just under two weeks in this snowy wonderland in February. If you are considering a similar trip, make sure you bring sufficient warm weather clothes for freezing temperatures. Her other tip was to get a gps when you rent the car!
Travel day. We flew to Helsinki and then to Rovaniemi, about 170 km from the village Äkäslompolo, where we stayed.
Better option, if you go to the same village: fly to Helsinki and then to Kittilä, 50 km away.
Recommended accomodation: beautiful and cozy log cabin The Berrystay
Snowmobile Family Safari with Destination Lapland, in Äkäslompolo
Paid 210 Euro for 2 adults and 2 children
Booked online a few days before. Great way to start the holiday. We booked shared snowmobile and switched driving on the way back. The kids have to be in the sled with the guide. Lovely break in a wooden hut in the middle of the white forest with warm juice and biscuits. Very friendly guide.
Spent the day at the petting zoo in the village: Konijänka’s Kinderzoo
- Pony rides (10 Euro each child), the other rides like reindeer or horse sled not so worth it (rather lame)
- Minisnowmobile for kids (10 € / 5 minutes, a bit on the expensive side but heaps of fun once they know how to drive it)
- They also offer wonderful horseriding trips for adults and kids over 12. I did this on my own and loved it. Cantering on the snow feels like flying and makes you laugh like you’re 13. With or without riding experience. About 2-3 hours approx. 150 Euro. If you can go with Jaana, she is the friendliest person in the world. She will gladly talk and explain if you’re in the mood, but will immediately get your meditative “just enjoying the silence in the forest”-moment and respect it.
WONDERFUL Reindeer ride – ice fishing – fish soup lunch – snowshoeing with http://www.reindeerandfishing.fi/
Paid 225 Euro for 2 adults and 2 children, very worth it. Many hours there. Lovely people, great food, beautiful nature. Pure Winter wonderland.
The reindeer ride was so magical. We loved it.
Ice fishing: the best fun was making the hole in the ice, which was actually quite hard. Just do not expect to fish anything!
Snowshoeing: so great. We had a rather warm day and we were not cold at old when throwing ourselves on the snow and just goofed around the beautiful forest with the snowshoes. It was really fun.
Day in Levi. We did not want to ski, but if you do, this place is incredible for it and has amazing slopes. The Ski World Cup is held here.
We just went to:
- Ice karting in http://www.levi.fi/en/enjoy-levi/motors-running/karting.html. Huge fun for my husband while the kids and I cheered. He said it would have been even more fun had there been someone else on the tracks to have a friendly competition with. He was alone and they let him drive with the kids a little (only because he was alone). Everyone loved it.
Paid 55 € for one adult, about 1 hour.
- Kids’ Land by the ski slopes – Lovely staff make kids very happy and they run fun games and activities every day at 10:30 and at 2pm. Super fun sled hill too. And friends, which my kids were looking forward to (because apparently their parents aren’t fun enough…)
- Samiland Museum (Tunturitie 205, Levi). We did not go there in the end, but were initially planning to. The website looks scary, but apparently it is quite interesting and includes an (or some?) original Sámi huts.
Adults 12 Euro, kids until 6 free
It was February 6th and that is the Sámi National Day Celebration.
- We went to Hetta in Enontekiö and met the very friendly and open Sámi people at the Fell Lapland Nature Centre, about 130 Km from the cabin in Äkäslompolo, really not that far if you do not get lost (which we did). Really lovely people. We were honoured to be the only non-Sámi in the place and they managed to not let us feel awkward. Sámi songs concert, lots of reindeer soup free for everyone, great exhibition, happy kids running in the museum and happy smiling adults enjoying watching them.
- Even better if you can celebrate it in Inari, the capital of the Sámi, which is 261 km away (large Sámi Museum with traditional Sámi houses open for free the whole day, Northern Lights multivision shown every hour, free Traditional Sámi music concert, ceremonies at the church, small films and movies for children during the day at the Sajos museum)
- Another great option: Jokkmokk’s market in Sweden . It is very well-known and offers many activities and handicrats. If you want to stay overnight, since it is almost 300 km away, better plan way ahead (guess who didn’t). Here you can book private accomodation if the few hotels are booked out, but start early! http://www.boende-jokkmokks-marknad.com/
Snowvillage – Beautiful, stunning and even relaxing. If you can afford a night in the Snow Suite (Double suite / night 320 €, 4 person suite / night 420 €), I am sure it will be amazing. The Standard Rooms are not that magical though.
Entrance fee to just look around: 12 €/adult, 6 €/child (4-14 y)
Husky sledding with http://www.ramishuskies.fi/safaris.html. The kids and one of us had to be on the guide’s sled (because our son is under 4) and the other one of us drove another sled with about 6 huskies. We switched in the middle so the other one could drive. Wonderful relaxing experience to feel like you actually drive those dogs (which you of course don’t, they just follow the track!, but it does feel like you do). If you leave some space with the person in front of you, even better, because then you think you are moving around in your sled as if you did this every day and as if you were just so authentic Finnish (I mean, some people might think that…).
5 km husky sled trip (enough with kids and also the maximum they allow with kids under 6) followed by grilled sausages and coffee in a traditional hut.
Price: Adult € 55, child € 42
Rent some cross-country skiis at the one of the sport shops and then try to beat the 3 minutes our son tried to use them. You can always return them and go with the sleds down some hills or make a snowman!
Drive to Rovaniemi, 170 Km
Ranua Zoo, about 80 km after Rovaniemi. Great place to walk around and see beautiful animals that are not often seen in other zoos, especially after sitting in the car for a couple of hours. Healthy-looking animals and polar bears playing around. We loved the high platforms that let us observe the animals very well, while they moved in their space rather undisturbed.
Plus, they have sleds for the kids so you can pull them around the park (not that you will need to…)
We slept at Gasthaus Ranua, which is really close to the zoo, mainly because we did not want to have to drive again after the already long trip. Very cheap, 85 Euro for a 4-bed apartment. I would say the price says it all
BIG DAY for the kids!
We finally drove to: Santa Claus Village to meet our very dear friend Santa Claus. There are several places where you can see him, but the very real one is in Joulumaantie 1, 96930 Rovaniemi.
No entrance fee, Open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., 30-40 Euro to get the pictures and video they take of your stay.
Because we knew we would meet him at the last day and our kids would be looking forward to is all the other days, “Santa Claus” had very kindly sent a letter to them to the cabin where we were staying, which we found under the front door on our first morning in Lapland. In the letter it said how happy he was that they had travelled so far and how much he was looking forward to meeting them. When we met him, 11 days later, my daughter was talking super excited about the letter and Santa was so well trained that he went with it like a pro.
The Kota restaurant in the Santa Claus Village offers great food and a lovely ambience. It is not very expensive either. We paid about 120 Euro for us four hungry people. It was more than we spent any other day, as we used to buy food at the store and cook at home.
We then went to the Arktikum Museum. After seeing so many stunning natural places the last few days, this did not seem to amaze us.
Adults 12 €, kids under 7 free
We stayed at a place that we will not recommend to anyone because it was very dirty! So better not name it.
We flew back home to Hong Kong very early in the morning. The whole flight(s) back the kids only talked about the amazing trip and the precious time spent together as a family. OK, who am I kidding? They only talked about how happy they were to see their friends soon…
BUT! We really did have some precious days together and absolutely loved the holiday.