Spanning the northernmost reaches of mainland Europe, this Arctic region is unspoiled and spectacular. Silent forests and crystal-clear lakes transform by winter into a vast frozen landscape. With more reindeer than people, it’s a magical wilderness to experience two of the world’s most thrilling phenomena: the Northern Lights and the midnight sun.
Lapland Holiday Ideas
With direct flights from London and Manchester to Lapland during the winter months, you can reach the glittering wilderness in Finland, Sweden and Norway in just a few hours.
Tell me more
Everyone has heard of Lapland but few can pinpoint it on a map. Tucked away within the Arctic Circle, this vast wilderness stretches across northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. It may be known as Santa's wintry home, but there’s more to the region than snow, ice and elves.
Visit in summer and you might be surprised by the balmy temperatures and breathtaking nature. Hike through forests of lichen-clad firs, kayak along lazy rivers and swim in lakes glistening with the midnight sun. This is home of the indigenous Sámi, who roam with their reindeer through verdant valleys and across frozen fells.
The landscape might be wild but you won’t have to rough it, for here you’ll find some of the world’s most alluring accommodation: Arctic treehouses, glass igloos and lakeside cabins – not forgetting the famous Icehotel – ideal for cosying up after a day of husky-sledding or ice-fishing, and ticking the Northern Lights off your bucket-list.
Capital of Lapland and hometown of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi feels Christmassy all year round – even the streets are laid out like a reindeer. But the real draw is the surrounding wilderness where stunning glass igloos make a stylish base for Arctic activities. Ski down the slopes of Levi and Ylläs or venture north to peaceful Lake Inari to experience the traditional Sámi way of life. From snowshoeing and floating saunas to husky-sledding through ancient forests, Finnish Lapland is the ultimate Arctic escape.
With rolling hills and roaring rivers, sparkling lakes and pristine forests, Swedish Lapland is a giant wilderness playground with some incredible places to stay. From the Icehotel with its ephemeral sculptures to the suspended pods of the Treehotel or the floating Arctic Bath, you’ll be fully immersed in nature. Skidoo up frozen rivers, learn to cross-country ski and visit the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park – one of the best places in the world to experience the Northern Lights.
Far above the Arctic Circle, northern Norway is a place of wild, empty beauty. Craggy peaks and steep-sided fjords, windswept archipelagos and majestic glaciers bask in the glow of the midnight sun or the ethereal Northern Lights. Gateway to the north, Tromsø, is a hive of polar activity, while remote Alta and Kirkenes feel like the end of the earth. Take a sea voyage along the stunning coast, discover the dramatic cliffs of North Cape and explore the untouched interior by snowmobile, dog sled or snowshoe.
Highlights of Lapland
Mother Nature's most famous light show
Each year from autumn to early spring, the shimmering curtains of the Northern Lights can be spotted in the Arctic skies. Caused by streams of charged particles from the sun colliding with nitrogen and oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere, the result is quite possibly the greatest natural show on Earth. It's comes as no surprise that catching a glimpse of this incredible phenomena tops many a bucket-list. Mesmerising, tantalising and awe-inspiring, they leave an unforgettable impression on all who see them.
Born to run
Husky dogs are perfectly suited to the conditions found in Lapland and have been used for centuries to pull sleds for hunting and travel. Renowned for speed and endurance, they were born to pull, so grab the reins and embark upon an exhilarating husky safari into the untouched wildness of the Arctic with your own trusty team of dogs to guide you. Cross vast frozen lakes, charge through dense forest and appreciate the silence broken only by the patter of paws and the sled gliding across the snow.
We'll send you a complimentary copy of Bradt's Travel Guide Book when you book your Lapland trip with us
The indigenous people of the north
The Sami are the northernmost indigenous people of Europe, with a population of around 100,000 across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. In Northern Norway, where almost half of the population resides, Sami culture is enjoying something of a renaissance. Visit Inga Sami Siida, a traditional farm on the island of Hinnoya where Laila and Arild Inga offer a wonderful insight into their family's reindeer farming heritage. In Finnish Lapland, a visit to the village of Inari, the heart of the Sami homeland, and to the museum of the Finnish Sami, is an absolute must.
Meet Lapland's Iconic Reindeer
The heart and soul of a cultural identity, reindeer have been at the very centre of Sami life for thousands of years. Ideally adapted for life in the Arctic, they can roam wherever they please, but each one belongs to a reindeer herder and each herder is responsible for his stock, identifying them by small carvings made in the ears. All over Lapland, there are places where you can meet reindeer and learn more about them and their lives as told by reindeer-herding entrepreneurs.
James Proctor | Author | Bradt's Lapland Travel Guide Book
"For a place that doesn't officially exist, Lapland is famous the world over. First-time visitors are often astonished at the sheer variety of its landscapes".