Lapland, The Northern Lights … And Christmas
There’s no better place in the world to see the inspirational Northern Lights than above the Arctic Circle in Finland. The Northern Lights (their scientific name, aurora borealis) are actually the result of naturally occurring collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the Sun. Variations in color are due to the type of gas particles colliding. Dark, clear skies are required to see the lights. Winter in Lapland, the largest and northernmost region of Finland, is an outdoor paradise while also providing the best chance to get clear views of the cascade of colors over the horizon. It really is mind boggling.
Enchanting in its own right, Finland is the icy backbone of the Nordic and Scandinavia world. Finland borders Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest and Russia to the east, in addition to bordering three bodies of water, the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland. The Finnish landscape, itself, is a labyrinth of lakes, inlets and pristine national parks, including the gorgeous high fells of Lapland. From cozy seaside villages to cutting-edge cities to its medieval heart, Finland is a treasure to behold.
Your first stop is a flight into Finland’s capital where we set you up to stay in one of the city’s best hotels. Helsinki was founded in the 16th century, but it really started to emerge two centuries later when the Russians began to exert their influence. This was when the Russians laid out Helsinki along similar lines to St. Petersburg, with broad streets and neoclassical mansions.
There are two main attractions in Helsinki. One is to sample the many food varieties. Helsinki is Europe’s new hot food destination, known for being fresh and locally sourced. At Savoy, one of the most prominent restaurants in the city, you can feast on pike perch, turbot, metsaranta deer, mallard, vorschmack and have a dessert made of corn ice cream, salty caramel bavaroise and lemon cake! In addition to a number of great restaurants, Helsinki has two primary markets, Vanha Kauppahalli and Hakaniemen Kauppahalli, that are well worth visiting to sample pastries, coffees, breads, soups and fish or meat snacks.
Also not to be missed, there are some three million saunas in Finland (sauna is a Finnish word). Before heading off to Lapland, we head a short distance outside of Helsinki to the Sipoonkorpi National Park for a traditional Finnish smoke sauna. It’s just one of those things that has to be tried while in Finland!
Journeying north exposes the rustic beauty and untamed wilderness of the vast expanse of Lapland. The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is located 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of the Arctic Circle and offers charming accommodations (more rustic than luxury due to its location), most specifically the world-famous Kelo-Glass igloos here complete with a fireplace, private sauna and a stunning glass roof where you can fall asleep under the Arctic sky after experiencing the magical Northern Lights. Wake up to a winter wonderland adventure and try dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing and skiing with experienced guides.
Lapland in the winter is an unparalleled experience. In addition to viewing natural beauty and the Northern Lights, taking part in the holiday festivities throughout the region is something to really enjoy. Lapland’s wintry climate, coupled with the relative abundance of pine and spruce trees as well as herds of reindeers has led it over the years to become associated with Christmas. Family holidays to Lapland are common.
This could be an entirely new and refreshing adventure for the coming winter season!