Finnish Lapland in Winter
Lapland is a magical place of pristine Arctic landscapes and snow-dusted woodlands. In this winter wonderland, the cold air is cut only by the sound of rushing rivers and panting huskies as they prepare to rush across this impossibly vast, white wilderness. Strap on your hiking boots and crunch a path through Finland’s spectacular taigas, get cosy with the locals over a glass of salmari and experience the rush of a real dog-sled. From the docks of Helsinki to remote Yllastunturi and Santa’s workshop in Rovaniemi – witness a beautiful part of the world where Christmas feels always close. Learn how people in the North cope with extreme temperatures. You may even find your inner Finn enjoying the solitude while in pure pristine nature.
Ages: 15 - 99
Accommodation: Hotel (2 nights), Guesthouse (4 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Welcome to Helsinki, Finland. If you’re in the city early, head out and discover a wealth of historical sights and gastronomic wonders in Helsinki. Surrounded by the sea, Helsinki is a modern European city that offers an endless array of options. Maybe check out the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Senate Square or catch a performance at the National Theatre. You may want to consider purchasing the Helsinki Card – an economical way to travel on Helsinki City Transport (HKL) services, as well as free admission to the main Helsinki sights and nearly 50 museums. Throughout its 450-year history, the city has often been the buffer between the east and west. This is shown in their cuisine, with a mix of root vegetables, berries and fresh fish. Perhaps head out in the evening to sample some traditional dishes with the other members of your group.
Join your leader on an orientation walk around Helsinki in the morning. Once you get the lay of the land, the rest of the day is completely free for you to explore Helsinki in your own time. A few options to consider during your time here are a visit to the city's cathedral or the Design Museum. Don't miss the historic harbour-side market and market hall for local oddities. If you didn’t have time yesterday make sure you take a short ferry ride to the magnificent Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a World Heritage-listed site that was once an important point of defence for the city and often referred to as the Gibraltar of the North. Later in the evening, you’ll board the comfortable overnight train to Rovaniemi (approx 12 hours), a quaint town in Finland’s far north, known to many as the hometown of Santa Claus, located just 6 km south of the Arctic Circle.
The train arrives in Rovaniemi early this morning. Continue by private vehicle to our family-run guesthouse deep in the Finnish forest (approximately 3 hours). This will be our base for the next 4 nights, located near Yllästunturi, a popular cross-country and downhill skiing destination. Perhaps sweat out the rest of the day in a traditional sauna. Finnish saunas have a millennia old history, and are integral to the Finnish national identity. It is common for locals to visit a sauna at least once a week, and most apartment buildings in the cities have saunas for residents. Even the parliament building in Helsinki has one.
Make sure you rug up for today’s adventures, as you’ll be pulled across the landscape at high speed on the back of a dog sled. These incredible huskies are doing what they love most – making a lot of noise before rushing along sprawling trails. With the wind in your hair, ride through the snow as your new four-legged friends pull you onwards in a truly memorable experience. After the ride warm yourself by an open fire and chow down on sausages and drink some coffee or tea. If you’re lucky, you might get to give the dogs a pet and a cuddle – just be sure to ask the sledmaster first!
Your next adventure in Yllästunturi takes you on a visit to a traditional local family, who will guide you through their world and lifestyle. Their reindeer farm has been operating since 1861 and you may have the opportunity to feed and watch these cute animals go about their daily routine. You will be shown their skills in reindeer herding with the option to get close and personal with some of the animals on the farm. If the skies are clear tonight, why not take a stroll out into the snow and look skywards for the dancing green lights of the Aurora. Far away from the city lights, the guesthouse is an ideal base to see the Northern Lights. The natural display of coloured lights in the night sky are often visible in the high northern hemisphere, and there is even an open-top shelter nearby from which to observe the lights. Grab a hot drink, rug up and head out into the winter wonderland.
Yllästunturi is home to the largest skiing resort in all Finland, boasting some of the longest downhill skiing runs through its rolling snow parks. Today you’ll have a free day to explore this winter wonderland with plenty of optional activities that your leader or the accommodation owners can help organise for you. You may want to explore the snow-dusted wilderness with a snow-shoeing expedition, or alternatively ice fishing is also an option for anyone who’s after a more relaxing experience, with the added bonus of a self-caught dinner to boot. If it’s very cold (around minus 30 degrees C) try throw boiling water in the air and see it freeze before it hits the ground. It’s called the ‘Mpemba effect’ and it’s free to try.
Depart in the morning to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, by private vehicle (approx. 3 hours). This city is an urban oasis amidst the Arctic wilderness, full of culture and stunning scenic hikes. With a free afternoon to explore the city and its surrounds, you have the option of visiting Santa’s workshop, or taking part in the numerous activities that the city has to offer. Maybe meet Siberian huskies at the Arctic Circle Husky Park, or go hiking and witness spectacular rapids and aapa mires. Make the most of your time here as tomorrow is your departure day – perhaps meet up with your group afterwards for a farewell dinner.
Your adventures through Lapland come to an end today after breakfast. If you would like to extend your stay in the region we are happy to book additional nights for you (subject to availability).
- Reindeer Farm Visit
Phone: +358 09 17 34 41
Phone: +358 16342205
This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
A single supplement is not available on this trip.
Lapland can be extremely cold at this time of year. Please bring appropriate clothing for adverse weather conditions. Please see the Packing section in the Essential Trip Information document for more details on what is available for hire in location and what we recommend you should bring along.
All Intrepid group trips in Europe are accompanied by one of our local European group leaders. ’Local’ in this context means a leader who is European or lives in Europe. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader takes care of logistics, will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
At Intrepid we also aim to support local guides in the individual cities or locations we travel to. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend an optional local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Visas for Finland are not required for passport holders of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. All other nationalities should check with the relevant authorities.
Why we love it
Be pulled across the landscape at high speed on the back of a dog sled. These incredible huskies are doing what they love most – making a lot of noise before rushing along sprawling trails
Visit a local Finnish family, who will guide you through their world and lifestyle. You will be shown their skills in reindeer herding with the option to get close and personal with some of the animals on the farm
The aurora borealis is the best lightshow on Earth, and this trip is your ticket. Stay up late to see the northern sky dance with green light (subject to weather conditions)
Is this trip right for you
Lapland can be extremely cold at this time of year. Please bring appropriate clothing for adverse weather conditions. Please see the Packing section in the Essential Trip Information document for more details. There may be the rare occasion where your leader has to alter the itinerary and activities due to the weather. In this case an alternative will be offered. Please also note that even though it will be cold, not always will there be snow cover, especially on the departures earlier in the winter season. In these cases snow dependent activities will be replaced with suitable alternatives.
The Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis) are a natural display of coloured lights in the night sky of the northern hemisphere. While Northern Light displays can never be guaranteed, as they are a natural phenomenon, you have a higher chance of seeing them in locations at high latitudes, such as Northern Finland. Keep your fingers crossed for clear skies during your visit.
As accommodation on this trip is twin-share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same sex. A single supplement is not available on this trip due to the small size of the accommodation we use in Yllastunturi. Also, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together/apart. Please also be aware that many guesthouses offer shared bathrooms rather than en-suite facilities. Rooms in Finland can be small, and at times you may be accommodated a short walk away from the main building.
Finland can be an expensive destination in terms of eating out. Your leader will be able to advise on how to save money. In remote areas the only option for dinner will be at the guesthouse we are staying at. Please stock up on food at a supermarket prior to arrival if you would like to opt out eating at the guesthouse's restaurant.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Food and dietary requirements
To give you maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, only breakfasts are included on this trip. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
During our stay in Yllastunturi there will be a limited selection of places to eat. Most convenient is the cafeteria at our hotel, which offers a daily set dinner menu at around EUR 25 pp. Lunch is around EUR 10, and snacks and drinks are also available. Dinner should be pre-ordered the day before. Alternatively there are restaurants in the nearby town, which is just a short taxi ride away.
Vegetarians might find the menu selection less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables, soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets may find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. We suggest EUR 360.00 for meals not included on this trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: In local markets and basic restaurants and cafes - round your bill up to the nearest €1. In more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill. Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest €2-€3 per day for local guides. You may also have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest €1-€2 per day for drivers. You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €4-€5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. In total, we recommend you budget approx €5-€10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.
The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.
What to take
PACKING On this trip you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb. Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
WATER BOTTLE Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Cold tap water is safe and good to drink so you can avoid the purchase of bottled water by refilling from the tap.
WINTER TEMPERATURES During the winter months in Lapland, temperatures can drop to well below zero. Winter boots and overalls are available for hire in location for the included activities, however in order to ensure you have high quality equipment with the right fit for your entire time in Finland, we recommend to all our guests to bring these items from home. This includes good sturdy shoes for walking across snow or ice (good waterproof walking boots), warm wind and rainproof jacket and trousers, gloves or mittens, thermals and base layers, extra wool or cotton socks, fleece, good head wear that covers your ears, scarf or other face protection, and sunglasses. DARKNESS We also suggest you bring along a torch/flashlight, as days are short, and street lighting in the village will be turned off in the evening to increase the chance of spotting the northern lights. RECOMMENDED - Personal medical kit. Your leader will carry a large kit but we recommend you carry items such as blister relief, mild pain killers and bandaids. - Water bottle. We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. - Swimwear - for an optional visit to one of Finland's famous saunas OPTIONAL - Camera with spare batteries. You won't be able to recharge during the day. Keep in mind that cold weather conditions drain batteries much quicker compared to warm weather. Keeping your camera or phone close to your body can be a solution. - Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers)
Climate and seasonal
The winter months in Lapland can be extremely cold. The average temperature between November and March ranges from minus 5 to minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit), but cold snaps of below minus 35 degrees Celsius (minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit) are possible. Heavy snowfalls are common, and snow remains on the ground until the thaw in spring. Please read the 'what to pack' section for information on how to stay warm.
A couple of rules
Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden.
Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption.
The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips.
By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund.
If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/
If you have booked an arrival transfer, and you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able to find to the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly on the number listed in the joining point instructions in the section above.
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Europe Operations Team can be reached on the number listed below:
Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 9186 657
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin share basis (unless noted otherwise in the day-to-day itinerary). Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Hotel (2 nights),Guesthouse (4 nights),Overnight sleeper train (1 night)