Beyond the Arctic Circle, the Lapland is nestled in the northernmost part of Europe. To go to these lands is to discover a harsh climate, unique landscapes and activities that only exist there. With its untouched stretches over hundreds of kilometres, this is a country that has more reindeer than people. Here, the adventurer inside each of us wakes up and the Northern Lights enter scène !
But what is Lapland?
When we talk about Lapland, we finally know little. It is Santa Claus' country and it is very cold. But besides cela ? Lapland refers in fact to a region occupied since time immemorial (more than 6 000 ans !) by the Lapps, also called the Sami (" Lapon " is a pejorative term abandoned in favour of " Same "). A nomadic people living in the northernmost part of Scandinavia, they have always lived with this hostile climate and owe their survival to reindeer husbandry, hunting and fishing
Visiting the whole of Lapland is easy with a mois : you have to go from the lakes of Finland to the Swedish forests and steppes and then to the Northern Cape in Norway, the northernmost point of Europe ! This huge loop of more than 5 000 kilomètres is possible in summer but in winter, with its long nights and impressive quantities of snow, the route is difficult to follow. It is better to choose a shorter route and focus on a specific area. Whether it is dog sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or reindeer farming, you can find all this everywhere in Lapland. There are still the specificities of each region - the ice hotel in Sweden or Santa Claus' city in Finland, for example - to choose its entrance door...
Swedish Lapland, between contemplation and sports activities
To reach Lapland, you have to go through one of the Scandinavian capitals. From Stockholm, it is easy to reach Kiruna or Luleå airport. From there, you can go directly to the heart of Swedish Lapland, to the village of Jokkmokkk, easily accessible by train or bus. It is an opportunity to get to know Sami culture by visiting the charming museum, which evokes the history and traditions of this people particularly well
At 15 kilomètres, Vuollerim, a lovely little village, can also be used as a pied-à-terre
It's hard to get bored in Lapland. There are many activities above the Arctic Circle. One of the most beautiful and original is the observation of the Northern Lights. Go to Porjus to contemplate these trails of light of different colors pass over the heads. But the spectacle is not only in the sky, it is everywhere in this still wild nature. Few places on earth offer such pristine landscapes. To fully enjoy it, there's nothing like a dog sled expedition. Wrapped up in " grand froid " suits, we learn how to drive a sled before leaving to discover the frozen lakes and surrounding forests. In the evening, we stay in the atmosphere with a stop in chalets or fishermen's huts. The meal is taken around the campfire, simple and warm
Excursions can also be done by snowmobile. In recent years, the Sames themselves have swapped sleds for the motoneige ! With well-marked paths and vast desert expanses, it is an ideal playground for thrills. The only disadvantage is the noise of the engine, which ends up being heavy after several hours, and the smell of gasoline, which goes against the natural aspect
After these sporting escapes, nothing beats a well-deserved rest. But here again, in search of originality and thrills, why not try spending the night in a hotel... of ice. Indeed, from the end of December to mid-March, a somewhat unusual architecture appears in the small village of Jukkasjärvi, at 200 kilomètres in the Arctic Circle. Sculptors from all over the world come to create this unique work of art such as éphémère : a hotel made entirely of ice. Inimaginable ! While the Ice Hotel is the most famous address, other establishments have taken up the idea, such as the Snow Castle near Rovaniemi in Finland. In the same vein, it is possible to spend the night in an igloo
Finnish Lapland, a country of legends and traditions
Once in Helsinki, you can reach Lapland from Rovaniemi in the south, Kittilä or Ivalo in the north. A very sparsely populated area with only one inhabitant per square kilometre, it is nature that fills the space, ideal for cross-country skiing. As such, Levi is one of the most renowned resorts. Although the summits here do not exceed 700 mètres, the snow is still there and its quality is incomparable. Alpine skiing and snowboarding are practiced. Levi is even hosting a World Cup event. Looking for an activity more calme ? Discover Mother Nature's charms during a one or several day hike. It is surely the most friendly and warmest way to visit this region. Once back from these expeditions, it is the time to enjoy the delights of the sauna. In Finland, it is hard not to end the evening with this little heat bath at more than 70 °C to eliminate toxins and recover from a day spent in the cold
Experience to be extended immediately afterwards with a good Lappish meal for a refined and fragrant experience. A stay in Lapland is an opportunity to discover flavours that we do not have in France. Try for example to taste reindeer meat, dried or as a stew. Fish is also particularly recommended (smoked or grilled salmon, cod, herring) as are the berries and the famous blackberries of the marshes that are part of the pearls of this country
See you at Santa's!
For some, it is not possible to come to Lapland without going through Santa Claus' village. Although some consider it a tourist attraction or a simple attraction for children... others dream of this meeting with Santa Claus. In his studio, he distributes autographs and lets himself be photographed, like a real star hollywoodienne ! Her house is further away in the forest. Few people know where it is, the address is well kept and kept secret....
Finland is rocked during the long winter months by these tales and legends... but not only. Firmly rooted in its past and history, this trip to the borders of Europe is an opportunity to discover a people whose customs and traditions are still very much alive. To do this, go further north, to Inari. There is the Siida Museum, a real living memory of the Sami people. The sites are entirely dedicated to their culture and traditions. We discover their way of life, their customs, their folklore, and of course their crafts or duodji. Tourists bring back magnificent knives with sculpted handles, finely carved silver ornaments, beautiful reindeer skins or the famous kuksa, the traditional wooden container from which you drink your coffee or fresh river water when you go hiking. But above all, we come back with the feeling of having lived a unique adventure.
When? When? The best time to go to Lapland is from mid-December, when the snow begins to be heavy, to the end of March, when the snow melts, and from May to August, when you can enjoy outdoor activities. July is the warmest month in which the sun shines from midnight to.... midnight! The months of October-November and spring are a little sad.
Getting there. Direct flights to Lapland are rare. Often, it will require a stopover. On the Finnish side, after a stopover in Helsinki, to Rovaniemi, Kemi-Tornio, Enontekiö, Kittilä or Ivalo airports. In Sweden, stopover in Stockholm on the programme, before joining Luleå, Kiruna, Arvidsjaur, Storuman, Hemavan, Lycksele and Vihelmina. In Norway, stopover in Oslo and take-off for Alta, Kirkenes Hasvik, Hammerfest, Honningsvåg, Lakselv, Mehamn, Berlevåg, Båtsfjord, Vardø and Vadsø
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