Lapland ignites all the senses and has much to offer families; invigorating hiking experiences, traditional cultural sights and vast national parks teeming with endemic wildlife. And of course, winter in Lapland is particularly magical – meet majestic reindeer and maybe catch a glimpse of Santa Claus himself.
From lush pine forests to fell highlands, river valleys, glaciers and dramatic gorges, the Lapland region offers absolutely spectacular landscape. One of the best ways to experience this natural beauty is by hiking. There are numerous trails of varying ease and difficulty to suit advanced and inexperienced hikers, as well as family groups of all ages. Most of these trails are marked, well-maintained and equipped with lean-to shelters, wilderness cabins and campfire spots. Some of the most popular trails are open for winter cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Among these are the Hetta-Pallas Trail in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, the Pyhä-Luosto Trail in the Pyhä-Luosto National Park, and the Sevettijärvi-Pulmanki Trail, located in the Kaldoaivi Wilderness Area.
Seven of Finland's 35 national parks are found within Lapland. These protected areas conserve the culture of the indigenous Sami people and their livelihood of farming and reindeer husbandry as well as magnificent landscapes alternating in pristine forest, fell uplands, mires and coastal areas. Many of the national parks are also home to wildlife species like brown bears, golden eagles and moose. Families visiting these national parks can enjoy a number of activities from hiking to camping, boating, skiing and wildlife viewing.
Known for its clean and picturesque beauty, the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park is the most popular of the Lapland national parks. Others include Finland's largest national park, Lemmenjoki, best known for its gold-digging opportunities and exceptional riverboat adventures, see here. The Urho Kekkonen National Park is rife with stately, old-growth pine forests, while Pyhätunturi National Park is teeming in Sami history. An ideal destination for a short hike or day trip, Riisitunturi National Park features forests that appear fantastical in snowy winter.
Museums, Wildlife Parks and Magical Villages
In addition to Lapland's many natural wonders, the region also offers numerous man-made attractions not to be missed by families on winter holiday. These must-see sites include museums like Arktikum, which highlights the history and culture of the Arctic and Finnish Lapland region with films, photographs, dioramas, artefacts and specimens of local flora and fauna. The National Museum of the Finnish Sami at Siida displays the heritage, traditions and art of the Sami people.
One of Lapland's most popular family attractions, the Ranua Wildlife Park offers safari views of local wildlife species, animal feeding shows, a fairytale park, micro car races and pony rides. At the Salla Reindeer Park, families can feed reindeer and enjoy husky dog rides, snowmobiling and ice fishing.
The city of Kemi is a great place to visit in winter when it hosts the annual SnowCastle, a stunning exhibition of ice sculptures enhanced with sensational lighting effects.
Located in Rovaniemi, the Santa Claus Village is a must-do for children and adults alike. This enchanting village features many gift shops, restaurants, busy elves, a post office with a cheery fireplace to sit and mail beautiful Christmas cards, and the Christmas House, which showcases Christmas traditions and decorations from cultures all over the world.
Every winter in Lainio, a 20,000-square metre Snow Village is constructed from thousands of loads of snow. Families can enjoy sightseeing among this giant complex of stunning ice buildings that include restaurants, shops, bars and hotels.