Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Mon November 23 2015

Opinion Home | A Cruising Couple's Column

  • A Cruising Couple | November 23, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    5 Essential Experiences in Finnish Lapland

    5 Essential Experiences in Finnish Lapland

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock, all other photos courtesy of A Cruising Couple

    Located in the northernmost region of Europe, you simply can't find a more magical winter wonderland than Finland. Though it might not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a winter family vacation, Finland’s countless opportunities for adventures and family-friendly activities are bound to thrill even the most jaded of jet setters.

    In particular, if you’re willing to face the Arctic chill of Finnish Lapland, then you’ll be rewarded with once-in-a-lifetime experiences — easily worth the short days and frigid temperatures that discourages most travelers from making the magical trip.

    1. The Northern Lights

    Northern Lights Finland

    The iconic Northern Lights are what enticed us to travel to Finland in the first place. Considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Northern Lights are a spectacular phenomena to witness in person, and a worthy contender for the top spot on any adventurer’s bucket list.

    In Finland, you can witness this magical display of solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field interacting just by looking up, but why not plant yourself at a campsite, in a snow hotel or under a clear-roofed dome? In Lapland, the lights are visible nearly every clear night between September and March depending on weather and intensity of the lights. This comprehensive guide covers all you need to know to "become a Northern Lights hunter" yourself.

    2. Husky Dog Sledding

    Dog Sledding

    You don’t have to be an avid dog lover to dream of flying through brisk wintery air, surrounded by soft pillowy snow with sweet husky pups leading the way. Tons of agencies throughout the Nordic countries offer you the chance to become a musher for the day, but as cute as those canines are, they are no joke when attached to the front of a sled.

    For the trip of a lifetime, it’s important to use caution in choosing who and where you go. Husky Holidays — a family business run by Birgit, Bruno, and their fifty husky “kids” — is one of the best options in Finland. The company has had no accidents in their 18 years of providing dog sledding experiences, and their huskies are absolutely adorable. We've got the full rundown on our personal “musher for the day” experience, but nothing compares to sledding through the gorgeous Finnish countryside for yourself.

    3. Cross-Country Skiing

    Cross Country Skiing Yllas

    We’ve never been big when it comes to downhill skiing, but gliding long distances across a serene Lappish landscape is a totally different story. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the small town of Yllas has one of the most extensive cross-country skiing networks in all of Finland, with 205 miles of tracks and the longest downhill slope of the entire country.

    A particular highlight was the opportunity to ski from cafe to cafe, hopping inside to warm up with a coffee or reindeer soup whenever the cold was too much. Travelers can opt to ski straight into the Pallas-Yllas National Park. Alternatively, get in tune with your adventurous side along one of the many off-piste areas around the neighboring fells.

    4. Finnish Saunas

    Finnish Sauna Warm Room.jpg

    When in Finland, do as the Finnish. Saunas are an integral part of Finnish culture, so much so that there are actually more saunas in the country than cars. The traditional method of use is to socialize in the sauna until you can't take the heat anymore, and then to run outside and skinny-dip in a nearby ice pond.

    While your initial reaction might be one of disbelief, it is actually quite healthy for your body to be repeatedly exposed to extremely hot and cold temperatures. As this article details, the Finnish practice is known to improve your skin quality by increasing firmness, decreasing cellulite, and leaving your skin fresh and glowing. It's also great for your immune system. The practice pumps your heart, cleansing your circulation and flushing away toxins. Not to mention, as a way to combat the sting of the cold water, your body releases endorphins — so you get naturally high while improving your health and get to return home with some uniquely hilarious stories.

    5. Visit the Snow Village

    Snow Village Finland Ice Restaurant

    Have you ever dreamed of sleeping in an igloo? The Snow Village, tucked away in Lanio, gives travelers the opportunity to do just that.

    Crafted by highly skilled artists and sculptors, the design of the snow rooms is different each year, so visitors are ensured a one-of-a-kind experience. You don’t have to stay in your snow room the whole time. There is one warm room open to everyone, with a sauna fit for 20 people at a time. Additionally the ice bar is intimate and romantic, serving delicious three-course meals and drinks.

    You'll be provided with super-insulated sleeping bags, so even if you forget to wear your thermals, you’ll actually stay quite comfortable in the below zero temperatures. Just don’t drink too much at dinner — getting out of your sleeping bag to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night is not fun.

    With winter just around the corner, why not escape to a destination where you can experience an iconic winter wonderland and ring in the season right? Finnish Lapland is one of the most unique choices around. Whether you’re soaring through the countryside on a husky sled or keeping your eyes peeled for the Northern Lights, this memorable vacation is bound to beat out another tropical all-inclusive resort.

    Just don’t forget your mittens.

    Have you been to Finnish Lapland?

More Finland


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
Journey on an Avalon River Cruise

Cruise Lines & Cruise Ships