Lapland is a unique destination in winter no matter the kind of traveller you are.
Located in the northernmost part of the Scandinavian peninsula, the Lapland region is divided between Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia, and borders on the north with the Arctic ocean. Its snowy landscapes seem to come out of Christmas cards and fairy tales and an idyllic white blanket is the absolute protagonist for six long months.
My first contact with the Arctic polar circle began in Levi, a Finnish town with around six thousand inhabitants where you can find the largest ski resort in the country. As a note, the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup is celebrated there.
In the afternoon, without even realising what was about to happen, I could live one of the sweetest moments of the trip: an encounter with huskies! Contrary to what it may seem, they are very affectionate animals and as soon as they see you arrive or, rather, perceive your smell, they start to bark with excitement as they know they are about to do what they love most: run!
The sleigh of huskies is one of the key activities of the trip because becoming a musher is an arctic adventure for a lifetime! You create a connection with the animals and, once they have run at full speed and are calmer, you can interact, play and even take selfies with them 🙂
My accommodation on the first day was an exclusive villa in Yullas, in the heart of Lapland. A property with a large area of land around, the ideal place to enjoy total disconnection and absolute privacy.
In the evening, and after a day of intense activity, I was able to enjoy a delicious six-course dinner prepared by a private chef in which I had the opportunity to taste some of the main dishes of the traditional cuisine of Lapland.
Reindeer meat is an essential part of the Lappish diet. It is found in all restaurants and even in fast food restaurants. Local cuisine also includes delicate salmon, arctic trout, king crab and wild red fruits, among other. All of them authentic delicacies of which you can never have enough!
There is a wide variety of accommodation in Lapland; from exclusive private chalets with sauna and jacuzzi to modern design hotels, as well as igloos with glazed domes in which, hopefully, see the well-known northern lights or simply enjoy the Arctic night.
Likewise, it is also possible to enjoy a more active environment or après ski in the city centre, where you can find multiple shops, restaurants and some local bars full of life.
I had an exciting snowshoe route planned for the next morning. A way to enjoy the landscape while practicing sports. The moments of silence during the route are overwhelming, and it is even possible to see some wild creatures’ tracks. Since bears hibernate during the winter months I was not lucky enough to see any of their tracks, unfortunately.
But the adventure was not over … the real adrenaline came in the afternoon! Go across the white plains aboard a state-of-the-art snow bike: automatic gears, heated handles. Equipped with full thermal suit … 3, 2, 1, go!!
It’s a fact that when you wear the right clothing, you do not really feel cold, just in your face and, sometimes, it can be even pleasant.
Towards the so-called blue hour, just before nightfall, landscapes are dyed in bright blue. That was when the most magical moment of my trip arrived: a moving encounter with Santa Claus.
“Have you been good?” He asked in a firm but sweet voice that took me to my childhood. It does not matter how old you are, the child we all have inside awakes and you feel the magic of Christmas again. And what is more Christmas-like than baking gingerbread cookies?
Then, the trip continued towards Inari on one of the most beautiful roads in Lapland, with more than 180 kilometres of wild forests in the north direction. It is curious that the northern you go, the better you understand the meaning of Lapland.
After this pleasant and relaxing journey, I arrived in Inari, known for its lake of the same name and for being home to a large population of Sami. The city houses the museum of Sami culture and Lappish nature.
There is an exquisite gallery of Finnish art that has merged design and cuisine in a remote cabin on the shore of Lake Inari which offers an innovative gastronomic experience. Because design is one of Finland’s hallmarks and a form of expression.
I also had the opportunity to go out in search of northern lights with our reindeer friends. The walk is calm and mysterious while you enter the snowy forest looking at the sky and crossing your fingers for the northern lights to appear.
In my last hours in Lapland, I enjoyed a morning walk near the chalet. Silence is different from any other you can feel around the world. You can only hear the cracking of snow under your boots. From that amazing landscape I said goodbye to Lapland. Feeling sad to leave, but fortunate to have lived this experience.
And so, in a totally unexpected way, my fear of freezing temperatures and winter landscapes became love at first sight.