Quiet, sweet-scented pine forests, endless rolling fells, frozen lakes, rushing rivers and wide-open spaces that stretch out forever, Northern Finland is one of the last true great wildernesses in Europe. Seeking out off the beaten track locations here is pretty simple, but it’s not always easy looking for those authentic experiences that really help you get under the skin of a country and culture.
Fortunately, here at Not In The Guidebooks, we’ve sought out some of the very best local experiences for the ultimate holiday in Lapland, and collated them here to help get you inspired for your Lapland adventure in the winter of 2021 and 2022.
You can’t talk about essential, authentic Lapland experiences (especially in winter) without touching on nature’s most famous, and most spectacular, light show. On this snowshoe trek with a difference, you’ll head out into the still, quiet pine forest, the trees only illuminated by the stars and moon, in search of the aurora borealis.
Your guide will take you deep into the wilderness at the most ideal time for spotting the lights, and as you wait for them to appear you can take shelter in a hut equipped with a campfire, warming your bones with hot drinks and snacks in what feels like total isolation from the rest of the world.
The Lappish people have crossed this landscape for hundreds of years using snowshoes, so to walk in their footsteps is a genuinely authentic, traditional experience as you navigate snowdrifts, cross wide open fells and explore deep forests on foot.
Huskies are ubiquitous with Finland, and specifically with Lapland. Sleds pulled by these beautiful working dogs has long been a way for locals to navigate tricky terrain and travel long distances, and this is your chance to experience the thrill of speeding through the wilderness behind a team of endlessly energetic huskies.
You can simply sit back and relax as you soak up the stunning landscape and listen to the hiss of the sled as you cross the Lapland fells, and at the end of your adventure, get up close and personal with these adorable dogs as you visit the husky farm – somewhere you’ll find it virtually impossible to pull yourself away from as your visit comes to an end.
A practice that is thought to be 30,000 years old, it doesn’t get much more traditional and authentic than a dog sledding ride through the heart of Lapland’s beautiful wilderness.
The reindeer is an incredibly important animal in Lappish culture and spirituality, so spending time with these gentle, fascinating animals is a great way to really get under the skin of local tradition in Lapland.
On this half day experience, you will also explore the quiet, snow-laden forests, the epic fells and the frozen rivers as you relax on a sled, pulled by one of the gentle giants that also roam freely in the wild.
You’ll learn about the connection the reindeer has with the Sami people, how they can survive in -45 degree cold, and get the chance to feed and get up close and personal with the incredibly laid back animals in the reindeer paddock before your ride.
Lapland is certainly not solely a winter destination. In the summer, it becomes a land of endless daylight, forests teeming with reindeer, eagles, bears, lynx, otters, wolves, owls – the list goes on and on. Its vast fells and waterfalls rushing into dramatic gorges, crystal clear lakes and perfect quiet, far from civilisation.
Combine all this with purpose-made, free-to-use cabins in the wilderness where you can rest, recharge, and relax around a campfire, and you have one of the most compelling hiking destinations on earth.
Of course, if you’re going to set off into one of Finland’s twelve wilderness areas, always make sure you’ve done your research beforehand, are properly equipped, and ready to tackle the landscape. If you are, then you’re in for a serious treat with one of locals’ favourite experiences in Lapland.