Wanderlust readers' tips on Lapland

When we asked you for your tips on Lapland, you certainly rose to the challenge. Read on to find out why you need to wrap your camera in thermal tights and how to avoid reindeer burps…

7 mins

Must-have experiences

Glass igloos in Lapland (Shutterstock)

Glass igloos in Lapland (Shutterstock)

Fly into Kitilla, 200km north of the Arctic Circle. I recommend staying at Levi Hotel Spa Hotel (Levitunturi) in the winter sports village of Levi. The heated indoor pool there even has falling snow from the ceiling! The village is small but beautiful and an Alpine World Cup series destination. It is friendly and has everything you need from bars, restaurants and cafes to shops and ski runs from beginners to advanced. Every conceivable winter sport is available there: ice fishing, ice karting, husky and reindeer sledding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Even Santa can be found there around Christmas. Visits to an ice hotel are also available. Golden Crown Levin Iglut is 10km away at the top of a spectacular fell. Glass igloos with every mod-con range across the fell-top giving views of up to 97km while allowing you to lie in bed and gaze at the Northern Lights through a heated glass roof. Once in a lifetime stuff. Inghams have great trips there.

- Paul Brown

I recommend staying in the original Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi and a trip to the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park, both in Swedish Lapland. Take a flight to Kiruna, from where a coach will transport you to the Ice Hotel. You must spend the first night in an ice room. At -8°C it’s extremely uncomfortable, but a truly surreal experience as you’re surrounded by brilliant ice sculptures so it’s an unforgettable experience! Moving into a heated room when it is minus 25°C outside comes as an enormous relief. The visuals are spectacular, both day and night, with a fair chance of seeing the Northern Lights. You can transfer to Abisko by coach, where there is plenty of accommodation. A 30-minute chairlift takes you to the top of the 900m Abisko mountain in total darkness or splendid moonlight depending on the lunar cycle, a bracing experience made tolerable by the ultra-warm overalls provided at the base. You have a few hours to witness the magnificent Aurora Borealis, sheltering intermittently in the warm station, where hot beverages and snacks are available. You will return by chairlift around midnight, replete with wonder!

- Gopalakrishnan Venkat-Raman

Seeing the Northern Lights is incredible, and I also loved the husky ride we did with Rami’s Huskies, located near Ylläsjärvi in Finnish Lapland. The huskies were well cared for, and the ride through a snowy forest at sunset was magical. After the ride we had the opportunity to ask the husky owners questions about the dogs, their way of life and what living in the Finnish Arctic is really like. We huddled around a fire, drank hot berry juice and listened to stories of life in the Arctic. I also must mention the amazing Restaurant Nabo in Rovaniemi. It uses local ingredients to create modern, fine dining dishes in a cosy environment. It has a reasonably priced plant-focused set menu with many delicious delicacies from the Lapland region.

- Annapurna Mellor

There are 12 luxurious glass igloos on Utsuvaara fell, about 10km from Finland’s ski resort Levi in Kittilä. The igloo hotel is located on the slope of the fell at a height of 340m so the views are spectacular. They give you the best sights of the Northern Lights and rugged landscape. They also have a fireplace, sauna and hot tub. The restaurant is also made of glass so you can enjoy your meal and see the Northern Lights. I increased my chances of seeing the Northern Lights by monitoring the Aurora Borealis forecast online – you can get sent alerts as the KP index goes higher, increasing your chance of seeing the beautiful colours of this phenomena.

- Elaine Muller

Take the well-marked Padjelanta trail in north Sweden. It’s 160km of amazing wilderness and you can stay in huts or camp. Too uncomfortable? Then take a helicopter flight with Fiskflyg and see some of Sweden’s highest mountains in the beautiful Sarek National Park. You can also fly to the middle of the Padjelanta trail to halve the length of it.

- Peter Crawley

Visit the unspoilt wilderness of Oulanka National Park, Finland. Basecamp Oulanka is a great place to stay; it’s a self-sustained complex of wooden buildings in a stunning location. In one of the most sparsely populated areas in Europe, you can enjoy a variety of winter activities such as dogsledding through silent snow-caked forests, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. I want to go back again soon!

- Derek Mepham

Levi in Finnish Lapland is a definite must. Take a guided walk to Levi Fells in the moon light – the snow on the trees make fantastic sculptures. Take a break in a Lapi hut to cook sausages on an open fire pit and drink mulled wine.

- Linda Bonsall

The best place to visit is Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. We went at Christmas, but it is open all year round. It was a truly magical experience for my family, one that we will never forget.

- Alex Vaughan

Visit a sauna and dip in an ice hole cut into a lake, while the stars twinkle overhead for as far as the eye can see. It’s the most incredible way to feel alive!

- Sarah Whittaker-Axon

Take the Swedish railway to Abisko, Swedish Lapland and have a gourmet dinner at the top station at Aurora Sky Station. Afterwards hopefully you’ll see the Northern Lights.

- Alison Hawkins

How to stay warm

Stay cosy by a campfire (Shutterstock)

Stay cosy by a campfire (Shutterstock)

Wrap up warm then do it again.

- Teejay Auld

Carry a large supply of ‘squeeze to activate’ handwarmers.

- Pauline Howes

Make sure you wear thermals! And find a cover for your phone and camera as they easily freeze.

- Kayley Wilson

Sheepskin liners for your boots provide a barrier between your feet and the freezing ground. They make an enormous difference.

- Elizabeth Turvey

Having spent a fair amount of time in Lapland, my top tip would be to wear two pairs of gloves – the first pair being fingerless and the second (outer) pair made of fur-lined waterproof fabric.

- Pat Reed

The best way to keep your fingers warm is to wear waterproof mittens rather than gloves. That way the warmth of your own fingers help keep your hands warm inside your mitten.

- Surekha Young

Try anything you are offered with lingonberry in it. It’s delicious hot or cold. It’s not alcoholic but when hot it tastes like mulled wine, sweet and like Christmas in a glass!

- Lynne Buddin

Take handwarmers; hands and feet get cold first. Dress in two or three layers of jumpers and at least two pairs of leggings which create protective air pockets that keep you warm. Take a thermos of hot soup, tea or coffee. And do not get wet!

- Josefine Bergman

Invest in the right clothing before you go including a ski jacket and trousers, base layers and snow boots plus the usual scarf, hat and gloves. You will have a much better experience with the right gear as it really does ensure you keep warm even in minus temperatures.

- Lisa Carr

Lidl and Aldi’s motorbike and ski wear ranges are as good as anything for keeping warm in the coldest climates. I used them in the Lapland region of Norway, Nepal, Siberia and Scotland to stay warm and dry. They’re durable, thermal and excellent value for money when measured against other better known brands.

- Christophe Watson

Sleigh rides

Sleigh rides (Shutterstock)

Sleigh rides (Shutterstock)

A reindeer sleigh ride under a glittering blanket of stars is a magic that lasts forever. In terms of practicalities – if you are not in the last sleigh in the row, you may find the following reindeer wedges its face between you and your travelling companion. Put hats on snuggly as they can easily be dislodged by antlers. Also the reindeer will burp in your faces a lot. Good for comedy, not so great for romance!

- Emma Halford

Unless you’re a big fan of noisy, smelly dogs; give the huskies a miss – or at least don’t try to drive them yourself and risk being tipped over into the snow and run over by the husky sleds behind you. Snowmobiles are great fun and much safer!

- Julia Pollock

You really do have to hold on to the brake of the sled when you stop if you go husky sledding – no matter how relaxed the dogs look they will just take off if you release the brake.

- John King

Beware when dog sledding, the front seat has a hidden hazard. As my wife found out, sled dogs poop on the run!

- Clint Lacey

Go husky sledding but keep a hold of your hat – the dogs are faster than you think.

- Terrie Chilvers

Don't eat yellow snow!

- Richard Johnson

Seeing the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights (Shutterstock)

The Northern Lights (Shutterstock)

The best times for viewing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) is from October to March.

- Simon Benton

Sign up to a Northern Lights app so you get informed when they have been spotted.

- Susan Nowak

Have patience – you may wait several nights before seeing the amazing Northern Lights.

- John Fowler

Photography tips

Taking great photos in Lapland (Shutterstock)

Taking great photos in Lapland (Shutterstock)

If you want decent photos, ensure you have an extra battery pack or a decent camera with plenty of batteries as they drain in the cold.

- Emma Wolski

When photographing the Northern Lights, do a 10-15 second long exposure as you will struggle to gain real clarity and quality otherwise.

- Scott Antcliffe

When looking for the Northern Lights, be patient and try using long exposure on your camera – it will pick them up before you can see them with the naked eye.

- Ian Morris

Keep your phone and camera battery close to your body to keep it warm when you are not using it. The cold temperatures can drain the battery very quickly.

- Jessica Attfield

Use thermal tights to protect your cameras and video cameras from the cold. Cut holes in the relevant areas.

- Vicky Jones

General advice about Lapland

Sami men on a reindeer sleigh in Rovaniemi, Finland (Shutterstock)

Sami men on a reindeer sleigh in Rovaniemi, Finland (Shutterstock)

Be aware of reindeer while travelling around as Santa wouldn’t be very happy to lose one of his flock and it will mean no presents for you!

- David Smith

Wear sunscreen. Even though the weather is cold it is easy for your face to burn as the sun reflects up from the snow. Make sure it is waterproof in case you are caught in a snow shower.

- Tracy Astwood

Our Finnish Lapland guides recommended you don’t use moisturiser or lip balm before going outside. Apparently the water in them freezes and damages your skin, leaving it cracked and sore.

- Samantha Harris

Sleep in an inn, cabin or chalet; go to a sauna then jump in a lake after (even when it’s -25°C) and meet Santa’s reindeer and his brave team of huskies! They’ll guide you through the gleaming snow to Santa’s magical grotto. Go in winter to experience the “sun down all day,” also called polar night. In summer, it’s the opposite, the sun is “up all day;” there is no night. Nothing is low-cost and distances are very long – from Stockholm, Oslo or Helsinki to the closest areas of Lapland it’s about 1000km. But if you want to reach the Norwegian Arctic coast, it’s about 1600km from these cities. There are very few flights, trains or buses to get to Lapland. Learn about the indigenous people residing in the area, called Sami. It’s necessary to meet them and understand their culture to have a full cultural experience.

- Surina Bura

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