Lapland – Vast Wilderness, Ski resorts, 24 hrs Summer Daylight!
Thinking about planning a vacation to the land of the midnight sun? Come to Lapland, where you can experience first hand what it’s like to have the sun shining through the summer nights! Finland’s northernmost region in the arctic, and although that might make it sound as though Lapland must be a desolate place without anything interesting going on, nothing could be further from the truth.
Lapland is not a city in Finland, but rather an entire region in Finland – approximately the northernmost third of the entire country – and it isn’t exclusive to Finland, either. The entire region of Lapland also includes northern parts of Sweden, Norway and Russia. Lapland’s population sits at around 184,000 inhabitants, and the area encompassed by Lapland is 100,369 square kilometres and features a wide variety of different Finnish landscape from hills to lakes to coastline, frozen tundra and forest. It’s highest point reaches 1,324 metres above sea level, higher than Italy’s Mt Vesuvius, in a location along the Halti Fell in Lapland’s town of Enontekiö. The Saana fell by Lake Kilpisjärvi also towers at a height of over a thousand metres. In fact, Lapland has 15 different fells – the old Norse term for mountain – that reach a height of at least one thousand metres, and every single one of these tall fells can be found in Lapland’s own Enontekiö.
The region of Lapland covers approximately the same amount of area as South Korea or Liberia for example, roughly 99,000 square kilometres. Of course, there is a remarkable difference in the population density as you can probably imagine. Lapland has a population of 184,000, meanwhile South Korea is home to 48 million inhabitants.
Lapland is widely known for its rugged wilderness, feature that sets it apart among other holiday destinations you may be familiar with or heard of. Around every fifth person in Lapland purchases a hunting licence according to 2011 statistics. Hunting and fishing is a way of life for many Laplanders who rely on the land to provide them with the food they need to feed their families, even when store-bought meat and fish is accessible. The Kemijoki River winds through 550 kilometres of Finnish territory, and is by far Finland’s longest river. Not only is the Kemijoki a very picturesque detail on the Lapland map, but it also boasts a total of eight hydropower stations, producing electricity for the country. There are 18 hydropower stations in total, within the catchment area of the river, but hydroelectricity isn’t the only thing this long winding river is known for; The Kemijoki is a great place to go fishing.
Fishing in Finland is an “everyman’s right,” and the most popular fishing spot along the River Kemijoki is found downstream, past the Isohaara power plant. In this area you’ll find people fishing for sea trout and salmon by trolling using plugs in most cases, but you’ll also find them casting from the banks of the river. It’s this spot where people have pulled in salmon weighing in at over 20 kilos, so if you’re up for it make sure you bring along your heavyweight tackle. Trout can be caught as early as April; if it’s salmon you’re after, the best time to catch bright migrating salmon is in the months of June and July. The headwaters of the Kemijoki River feature more pared down fishing experiences against a wilder and more remote Lapland backdrop. Bring your rod and go fishing for brown trout and grayling in the picturesque environment allong River Kairijoki, River Kemihaara as well as along the Vikaköngäs Rapids in River Raudanjoki. Each of these places are all managed by Metsähallitus, a state enterprise that maintains the region’s state owned lands and waters. The species of fish you’ll be able to find in Rivers Kairijoki and Kemihaara include a type of brook trout that actually originated from America – a long way from home!
To sum it up, fishing just does not get any better or wilder than it does when you’re fishing in northern Lapland. To stand in the Arctic Circle surrounded by the natural Lapland wilderness, the tall rocky plateaus and the arctic tundra plains along the vast rapids, rivers, streams and lakes teeming with all sorts of wild fish will be a thrill to anyone seeking an outdoorsy getaway, angler or not. Overall, the best fishing season is between the beginning of May through to September. During the bright summer months you’re actually able to fish 24/7 for salmon, trout, char, grayling, pike, whitefish and burbot. Try your hand at fly fishing for salmon, or maybe take a day to go mountain fishing – seek out hidden lakes filled with pike, deep in the Lapland forests.
You’ll find communities punctuating the Lapland map’s vast swaths of wilderness. Lapland’s Kittilä has a population of more than six thousand inhabitants. Hullu Poro, the community’s largest restaurant, is able to seat up to 1,700 guests. Really! More than a quarter of the entire population of the town could gather inside Hullu Poro and enjoy a meal and a pint of beer together at the same time.
Lapland isn’t just the land of the midnight sun, it’s also the land of reindeer. This is, after all, the home of Santa Claus. Reindeer are important to Lapland. Reindeer skins are used, their meat is eaten, and although snowmobiles have taken over the need for reindeer and dog sleds, you’ll still find sleighs pulled by reindeer in Lapland. Each reindeer is given an earmark unique to its herdsman, so that in the event of separation everyone knows where the reindeer originate. The Reindeer Herders’ Association holds a register of over 12,000 reindeer bearing the earmarks.
Winter sports are, of course, big in Lapland. Over the course of the years 1937 through to 2012, Lapland men and women have won a total of 13 World Championship gold medals in cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined and Alpine skiing sports. This love of winter sports crosses over into a variety of different tour operations:
Rovaniemi: 4-Hour Snow Fun Day Combo
Organized by Wild Nordic
Wild Nordic Finland (Villi Pohjola OY), Santa Claus Village, Joulumaantie 10, FI-96930 Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi
Tel: +358 500 599 999
Embark on an all-in-one Lapland adventure, featuring the best of Lapland’s winter activities all in one thrilling outdoor tour. Pay a visit to a Lappish farm before jumping on board two different kinds of sleigh rides: one pulled by reindeer, and the other by a team of huskies. After enjoying the beauty of the scenery from the sleighs, things get a little louder and more powerful when you get in the seat of a snowmobile. After that, you’ll be strapping on a pair of snowshoes for a quick hike which will get your blood circulating, before trying your hand at tandem skiing! It’s exactly what it sounds like – two people strapped to the same pair of skiis just for the heck of it – and make your way down the sledding hill. Wrap things up with an Arctic Circle ceremony at a traditional Goahti hut, warming yourself with a hot beverage.
Lapland Summer Tour
Organized by Lapland Welcome Ltd Rovaniemi
Rovakatu 26 – 96200 Rovaniemi – Finland
Tel+358 16 439 148
Who says wintertime in Lapland gets to have all the fun? Get out there and enjoy the land of the midnight sun! The 1st day will be your arrival to Lapland and Rovaniemi where you’ll check into your hotel. Day two will start with a buffet style breakfast and then it’s onward to Ranua, the most northern wildlife park in the entire world! Catch a glimpse of Lapland’s wild animals, and get the chance to see the polar bears. Lunch in the park, and dinner back at the hotel. The 3rd day will start again with breakfast and then it’s off to Korouoma canyon where you’ll discover ice falls under midsummer. A light lunch and then continue on to Luosto fell where you’ll luxuriate at a spa hotel and enjoy dinner and a good night’s sleep. Day four will have you making your way to the region’s amethyst mine where you’ll be able to dig your own amethyst before heading to the Tankavaara Gold Museum and enjoy lunch. After the museum visit, head north to Saariselka across a barren tundra where you’ll reach a village hotel by Inari lake, the biggest and deepest lake in Lapland. On day five you’ll head out north-west to Norway where you’ll visit a Sami museum in Karasjok, and after lunch embark to the Ice Sea and North Cape, the most northern point in Europe. Soak in the midnight sun and enjoy your stay at a hotel in Honningsvåg. Day six will see you heading south to Kautokeino where you’ll meet Sami people dressed in their traditional attire. You might spot herds of reindeer on the tundra before enjoying a light lunch and then overnight in a village hotel where dinner will be served. After breakfast on the seventh day, you’ll head back to Rovaniemi across the Finnish fell Lapland, enjoing a light lunch along the way. A hotel in Rovaniemi city will await, and on the eighth day you’ll enjoy breakfast and then it’s time to catch your transfer to the airport.
A classic Lapland holiday you can’t miss out on is the great skiing opportunity you’ll have all around you. There are about 75 different ski resorts in Finland alone, mostly on the smaller local hills close to villages. The larger ones are found in the Lapland fells, and they’re worth the trip!
The “Big Four” of Lapland’s ski resorts are Levi, Ylläs, Pyhä-Luosto and Ruka, all ranging from 500 to more than 700 metres above sea level, and boasting slope lengths up to three kilometres of skiing fun. Don’t miss these downhill skiing resorts, offering a range of different slopes for different levels of expertise. The skiing season begins late in October, extending until the snow melts in early May. Peak season is from February on.
Speaking of skiing – those slopes aren’t just there for the downhill action – you can scenic take gondola rides up the length of the slope to check out the view of the surroundings. But wait – it gets better! To kick things up a notch and add a little Finnish flavour to your run of the mill gondola ride, why not take a gondola sauna ride up the hill? The ski resort village of Ylläs is the home of only sauna gondola in the world, and it’s operated by Sport Resort Ylläs. Hop in and enjoy the two kilometers of fantastic views of Ylläs and beyond, into the surrounding frozen forests and lakes as you sip on a cool beer and sweat it out in true Lapland style. Once you reach the top, you’ll be led to a change room and shower where you can freshen up and enjoy another drink if you’d like or pop into the outdoor Jacuzzi. If you’re lucky, the northern lights might start lighting up the sky, topping off an extraordinary Lapland experience.
Visit the European destinations category to learn more about other places to visit in Europe!