10 Days Ultimate Itinerary for Finland – The Winter Wonderland
Finland is a Northern European nation bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia. When we decided for a big holiday to Finland, most of our friends asked us why we travel halfway around the world only for this piece of land in Europe? I think most of you also have this question in your mind.
Finland is one place on Earth where you can become richer with many magical moments to cherish for lifetime. When in Finland, experience the unbeatable view of Northern Lights from a glass igloo, walk on the frozen sea, float with the icebergs in the middle of frozen ocean, experience the longest toboggan ice slides, see the Northern Lights dancing on the starry sky while warming up in crackling campfire hut, explore Lapland wilderness in reindeer sledges, meet the huskies and go for a husky safari through the jungle, dash through the snow on a Finn horse, stay in snow igloo, enjoy the sauna and meet the real Santa Claus. What else you need, get lost in Finnish wonders and become richer with many fairy moments!🤩
Everyone’s bucket list tells a different story. You can visit Finland anytime; we visited Finland during winter as we had watching northern lights from igloo and other winter activities in our bucket list. Here is the itinerary of our 10 days trip to discover the magic of Finland, the Winter Wonderland!❄️
Helsinki, Finland’s southern capital, sits on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. Our Finland expedition started from Helsinki. We spent day 1 in Helsinki by visiting Rock Church, Esplanadi Park and Senate Square.
We stayed in Seurahuone Hotel located at the Helsinki City Centre, which is near to railway station (just about 200m away) and everything is either at walking distance or short tram trip away. There are bus and train services from Helsinki to City Centre, and we preferred to travel by train. We took train tickets from Vending Machine for about €12 per person and with that we were allowed to have unlimited single day travel across Helsinki. Since we planned to stay in Helsinki only for 1 day, the ticket was well worth. There are two train services from airport which are I and P, both can take you to City Centre so you can board either one. It roughly took 30 minutes to reach the Helsinki City Centre and throughout the journey we enjoyed the fascinating snow-covered city.
Rock Church is the first place we visited in Helsinki, which is at a walk able distance from the Hotel. Its spectacular atmosphere and unique architecture with copper dome, exposed rocks and concrete beams makes it one of Helsinki’s most popular attractions. The entrance fee at the church is €3 per person.
After Rock Church, we took a tram to our next destination which was Helsinki’s Esplanadi Park. This urban park in the heart of the city is a peaceful place for a short walk or to sit on one of the many benches and relax.
From Esplanadi Park we walked towards the Senate Square. There we could see a magnificent white Cathedral which stands on top of high set of stairs. We climbed the steps to gaze out at the rest of the plaza from the top. The cathedral is open to visitors daily from morning until late in the evening. In front of the church stands the imposing Statue of Alexander II. It’s a great spot to put your feet up and relax. It has a grand view and don’t forget to snap photos of the fascinating buildings surrounding this huge square.
After the well spent time at Senate Square, we thought of going for shopping to buy some cold wears. If shopping is there in your itinerary, you can try purchasing good quality winter wears from the nearby malls. We got some pretty winter outfits from the Forum Mall in front of our hotel.
Our next destination was Saariselka which is located in Northern Lapland, about 260 km north of Rovaniemi. There is night train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, and from there it takes 3.5 hours bus or car journey to Saariselka. However, we chose to fly to Ivalo, which is the nearest airport to Saariselka, as the train and bus combined trip would take more than 12 hours. Taking a flight to Ivalo is the easiest way to reach Saariselka and the travel time via flight is about 1.5 hours. When the flight was above the Lapland, we were literally stunned by the Finnish dreamscapes. The endless carpet of forests snuggled under a white blanket, speckled by lakes as if an artist flicked a dark blue dipped paintbrush on a white canvas, the view was stunning through the window!
There are shuttle bus services from Ivalo Airport to all the famous hotels in Saariselka. Ticket charge per person is €10 and travellers can avail buses without any reservations. Next three days we planned to stay in the famous Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort which is known for glass igloos and wooden houses.
We stayed in Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort East Village as it is near to the highway from where we needed to take the bus to Rovaniemi after three days. We planned to stay in glass igloo on the first day and preferred Log Chalet for next two days. The igloos are 600 meters away from the reception, they provided free sledges to transfer our luggage to the igloo and it was extremely fun to ride the sledges along the ski tracks. The igloos are in an isolated area for providing a clear view of Northern lights. Hence you cannot find any shops nearby other than the resort restaurant adjacent to the reception. So if possible buy noodles or other eatables and water from the Ivalo airport. If you are interested you can book for some winter activities from the reception.
Looking at Aurora prediction sites, we noticed a possibility to see Northern Lights on that day from 11pm to 3am. As we booked glass igloo only for one night stay, we decided to spend the rest of the time in the igloo and its surroundings. Luckily, on that night we experienced that magic glow on the starry sky, Northern Lights. One of the greatest sights we have ever seen and we wanted to see over and over again! Our blog on watching Northern Lights from Glass Igloo says more about this bucket list experience of us.
Next day morning, we decided to explore the snow covered forest on Finnhorses. Earlier we booked for Finnhorse riding from the resort reception, it’s a 2hours programme and they charged €138 per person.
Finnhorses are one of the fastest and most beautiful horses in the world. Winter horseback riding is worth a try even if you have no previous experience. Discovering the snowy forest around you on a horseback is one among the fairytale moments which you live in Finnish Lapland. You can find more information in our blog on Winter Horseback Riding – Explore the Snowy Jungle with Finnhorses.
Afternoon we decided to try Europe’s longest toboggan run in Saariselka which is 1.2 kilometres long and a vertical drop of 130 meters. It was one of the best free things that we did while we were in Finnish Lapland, the thrilling toboggan run starts from the summit of Kaunispaa.
In order to reach the summit, you can catch a ski bus, taxi, chair lift (€7 per person) or by walk. There are plenty of sledges at the bottom of the slope and are free for use. Grab the plastic sledge and if you are ready for the long walk up to the top then be geared up to feel the fresh air and enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of snowy landscapes.
By walking, it took 45 minutes to reach at the top for Toboggan run and the ride down took approximately 10 minutes for us. Initially it was bit scary as we started from the highest point. Later we enjoyed the ride to the core, snow was splashing all over and we kept crashing into deep snow. It was another unforgettable experience to slide down the hill on plastic sledge through the snow globe world.
At night we had delicious dinner from the Kakslauttanen Resort Restaurant which was included in the package. Then we moved into the Log Chalet of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort for the following two nights stay. The sky was cloudy and as per Aurora prediction sites, the Kp was low so we didn’t go for Northern Lights hunting on that night.
As this was our last day in Saariselka, we kept this day fully to relax in the Log Chalet, to explore the surroundings and try Sauna.
We enjoyed every moment by staying in the Log Chalet of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. The Log Chalets are made of kelo pines in a rugged style and fits wonderfully with the surroundings covered in fresh sheet of snow. It’s perfect to enjoy the Finnish winter wilderness and gives you a unique experience.
We also used time to walk and experience the beauty of Finnish Lapland. Everything looked so magical when covered by the snow. We felt like walking in a true wonderland. We tried our best to capture the eyeful beauty of this wonderland.
Evening we planned to try Sauna, a substantial part of Finnish culture. For sauna we had to trek 500m across the snow to the other side of the resort. Sauna must be in your itinerary when you are planning a holiday to Finland. There is nothing more Finnish than sauna, heat up your body and have a refreshing dip in the frozen ice pool. It helps in physical and mental cleansing. Finns go to sauna in nude but if you can’t do it then you can try by wearing swimsuit.😄
Night we thought of going for Northern Lights hunting but since the sky was too cloudy later we cancelled it.
Rovaniemi was our next destination and the bus tickets were already booked online from Matkahuolto website which is €47 per person. Make sure to choose express bus service as it takes only 3 hours from Kakslauttanen Stop E to the Santa Claus Holiday Village in Napapiiri, Rovaniemi. The bus provides wifi, charging facility and is very punctual. The bus journey to Rovaniemi is amazing by peacefully admiring the beauty of Lapland.
Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, is also known as the official hometown of Santa Claus. We planned to spend rest 5days of our holiday in Rovaniemi and booked a wooden cottage with private sauna in Santa Claus Holiday Village for 5 nights. It was a well worth decision to stay next door to Santa and provided us days full of joyful Christmas spirit.
Santa Claus Holiday Village is located on the Arctic Circle, 10 km north of Rovaniemi. It offers everything you want for a dream holiday: high-quality accommodation, a wide range of activities, fantastic food, genuine Christmas ambience and dream come true experience to meet the real Santa. The restaurants, souvenir shop, Christmas exhibition, Snowman World resort, Santa Claus Post Office and Christmas House are in the immediate vicinity. The Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi passes through Santa Claus Village and Finns believe that if the Arctic Circle passes through us we become younger. This place is also a source for variety of fairy tales and we felt like we are in a fairy land.
After lunch, we went to the hotel reception in order to book various winter activities. There are many tour companies offering various winter activities, you can check them online on the Santa Claus Holiday Village website and book the cheapest ones. They offer activities such as Northern Lights hunting, husky dog safari, reindeer sledge riding, snow mobiling, ice fishing and traditional sauna with Finnish dinner etc. The receptionists were very helpful to find the activities which are more appropriate for us.
After that we decided to meet the Santa Claus residing in Christmas House. This is the only place where we can see Santa Claus throughout a year. It is absolutely free to meet Santa Claus. Meeting the real Santa was a dream come true experience for us and words are not enough to describe the pleasure of seeing whom we always dreamt of visiting us with gifts on Christmas night. We were literally speechless and it was one of the rarest of life event by seeing the original look of a fictional character.
As we walked out of Santa’s House, we could see the Santa Claus Post Office. Travelers were busy in buying postcards and the Santa’s elves will send it to us/our beloved ones on Christmas time if we provide postcards along with addresses.
For the night, we took the package for northern lights hunting in mini-bus (€90 per person) since we found a probability to see Northern Lights as per the Kp mentioned in Aurora prediction sites. We need to make sure that these packages include winter jackets, boots etc as the temperature might be worse during nights. However we couldn’t see Northern Lights on that night.
Morning we got ready with the excitement to visit husky farm and experience 1hour husky safari, which was included in the package booked already from the hotel reception (€169 per person). Husky dogs run fast enough to escape from the cold so make sure to take long distance rides else the ride will end in less than 5 minutes for shorter distance.
The tour company took us to a wide farm of Alaskan Huskies in their van from Santa Claus’s Hotel. We got opportunities to coddle both puppies and elderly huskies. It was so dreamy when huskies pulled our sledge through the magical nature of Lapland. It is must try while you are in Lapland. Start reading our blog on Husky Safari in Lapland to feel it with us!
Since there was a chance for Northern Lights on that night, we decided to hunt for Northern Lights in Snow Mobile (€191 per person). That night we were blessed to witness the amazing phenomenon of the northern night sky.
It was a fairy moment to see Aurora borealis eventually getting brighter while warming up in crackling campfire hut under the starry sky.
When we were kids, we always dreamt of Santa visiting us with elves on a magical sledge pulled by reindeers. This day we woke up with happiness to experience that dreamy sledge ride. As we mentioned before, Rovaniemi is said to be the hometown of Santa and is shaped liked a Reindeer. So Rovaniemi visit is not complete unless you try reindeer safari.
We booked 1 hour Reindeer sledge riding and farm visit (€125 per person) from the Santa’s Hotel reception. The tour company picked up us from the hotel reception to the Raitola Reindeer Farm. Before the safari we got time to feed and interact with reindeers.
Later we saw reindeers dressed up and waiting for us to take us into the pure nature of Lapland. We felt like we are living the most wonderful fairy tale and don’t blame us if you are tempted to book a flight to Lapland after reading our blog on Reindeer Safari through Lapland’s snow-laden landscapes.
Ice Breaker Cruising and swimming on the frozen Baltic sea among the icebergs are the most exciting winter activities in Finland. There are two famous companies offering ice breaker cruising experience, they are “Sampo” and “Polar Explorer”. The later was chosen because the package was inclusive of pick up from Santa’s Hotel at Rovaniemi and lunch at the traditional village in Sweden (€335 per person). It’s a one day programme and is a must try activity when you visit Finland in winter. Our blog on Polar Explorer Icebreaker Cruising is must read if you have this in your bucket list.
We decided to spend this whole day for exploring the beauty of Finnish Lapland. For that we booked 1 hour snow mobiling (€79 per person) from the company – Arctic Circle Snowmobile Park which is located near to the Santa’s Hotel (about 5 minutes walk). Snow mobiling is one best way to discover the magical beauty of snow covered arctic forest. We can ride snowmobile only if there is a recognized driving license in Finland. Therefore, before booking this ride, you must ensure that license in your hand is accepted in Finland.
The first 15 minutes of the ride were made through special roads and after that we went deep into the jungle crowded with pine trees. The experience of riding snow mobile through snow capped mountain ranges, along the slopes of the hill was breathtaking. We even got chance to ride snowmobile on the frozen lake. Throughout the drive we made many stops to enjoy the frozen nature and landscapes. We walked around the area, visited the Rautajoki river island and admired the beauty of frozen rapids. Snowmobiling thus became the complete highlight of the Lapland’s visit.
It was time to check out the wooden cottage of Santa Claus Holiday Village. On last day of our holiday, we booked to stay in the igloo of Snowman World resort which is built entirely of snow and ice.
After breakfast we went to the Santa’s hotel reception to check out and then moved to Snowman World resort which is at 200m walking distance from there. We kept our luggage in the store room and decided to go for shopping to Rovaniemi City Center which lies only 15 minutes away. The souvenir shop and Christmas exhibition in Santa Claus Holiday Village is also must visit to buy best souvenirs and Lapland products. You can purchase a genuine certificate proving you have crossed the Arctic Circle from the souvenir shop. Christmas exhibition showcases plenty of genuine products of fascinating Christmas and Lapland themes, is best place to take a piece of Lapland home with you.
After shopping we used time on exploring the arctic nature of Santa Claus Village and then we came back to spend an unforgettable time in Snowman World. Snowman World is located in Santa Claus Village that lies right on the Arctic Circle. This ice resort start to build in the beginning of winter (September) and it is opened to travellers from November until the end of winter (March). The inside temperature is maintained around -5C even if the outside temperature fall in between -20C and -30C.
The reception area, Lapland themed café and restaurant are heated, and this will only remain in summer. You experience the magic when you enter the main building made of ice and snow. Get hugged by the snowman at the entrance and admire the beautiful ice and snow sculptures. Have a drink in the magical Ice Bar and having steaming-hot soup from Ice Restaurant is a good warming choice. Benches and stools are carved out of chunky blocks of ice but are covered with Finnish pelts, nice and warm to sit on. They provide the best playgrounds in Santa Claus Village, try ice skating and snowtubing. All necessary equipments were provided by them. We just loved to speed down the daring ice slides, a thrilling experience for people of all ages.
After having so much fun in the winter zone of Snowman World, we got prepared to spend that Arctic night in the igloo as cool as ice. They provided thermal Artic-style sleeping bags which help to keep warm and gave us necessary instructions to experience a good stay inside the ice igloo. Each ice igloo has a different theme, we just fell in love with our Christmas themed igloo and the startling bed carved out of ice.
The overnight stay in ice room is a unique experience to treasure for lifetime and is must to feature in your Lapland itinerary. Next morning, the hotel staff gifted a certificate for surviving in ice hotel as a memorable gift. Our Lapland holiday would have been incomplete without this exquisite arctic night.
Now the day came to say bye to the magical Lapland. Rovaniemi airport is only five minutes away from the Santa Claus Holiday Village and we booked cab with the help of hotel staff. From Rovaniemi we took flight to Helsinki and throughout the journey we were thinking about the wonderful fairy tale we lived in Lapland. Its difficult to say which one is the best, all were magical and we just lived a dream! ❄️👫❄️