If you've always dreamed of walking around a real winter wonderland, between trees that look like cotton candy and a white landscape covered in a thick layer of snow, Lapland is the place to be. It is one of the most beautiful and magical winter destinations in the world. And we haven't even talked about the once in a lifetime activities you can do here. At this beautiful location you can tear through the snow on a snowmobile, or take a ride on a sled pulled by huskies. Even seeing the northern lights can be checked off your bucket list at this place. One thing we know for sure: It will be a trip you’ll never forget.
Where to find Lapland?
Even though the name suggests otherwise, Lapland is not a real country in itself. Lapland is a vast region, spread over the most northern part of Norway, Sweden, Finland and even a small part of Russia. It is also a cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sami. The original Sami were fishermen or reindeer herders who lived a nomadic life. Today the Sami work in all kinds of sectors and, like other Scandinavians, they live in ordinary villages.
So where should you go?
We decided to go to Finnish Lapland because we found the most information about it and it is also slightly cheaper than, for example, Norwegian Lapland.
In Finnish Lapland there are different places you can stay: Rovaniemi, Ivalo, Kittilä, Levi, Ruka (Kuusamo)… So where should you go? You probably have to base your choice on the flight schedules but also on what kind of activities you want to do. If you want to visit Santa, you have to stay close to Rovaniemi. But there are also differences in crowds. in Ruka, for example, it is quieter than in Levi. We have therefore chosen Ruka on the basis of airline tickets, available accommodation and tranquility.
How long should you go?
Even though there’s only a few hours of light a day during the winter period, there’s plenty of things to do in Lapland. Further on in this post we will discuss which activities you can do in Finnish Lapland. Depending on what things you want to do and your budget, you can decide how long you want to stay. We were here for 5 days and did almost everything we wanted to do. One or 2 more days we certainly wouldn’t have mind, but it would have become more expensive. We therefore recommend going for 5 to 7 days.
How to get to Ruka?
Brussels to Kuusamo
We searched for the cheapest flights using Google Flights. We flew from Brussels to Helsinki with Finnair and then from Helsinki to the small airport of Kuusamo.
Kuusamo airport to Ruka village
As soon as you step outside Kuusamo airport, you will immediately see several taxis and buses. Depending on where your hotel is located, you can opt for a taxi or bus. We chose to take the bus to keep it as cheap as possible and because our stay was not very far from the center. You can just go up to a bus driver and ask if he drives to Ruka. You can pay for both bus and taxi by card.
Note: We couldn’t find a bus schedule or stop for the return trip anywhere. That’s why we decided to take a taxi back to the airport so that we wouldn’t miss our flight.
You can also rent a car but (depending on what you plan to do of course) we think it’s not necessary. Most of the time we were able to walk to the activities. We only had to take a taxi once to an activity and once to the airport. Sometimes you can also book a pick-up together with your activity.
Where to stay?
There are plenty of accommodation in Ruka. From cheap to really expensive, from hotels to bungalows, apartments and so on. We searched for our accommodation at Booking.com.
We stayed in one of the Aurora Huts of RukaTonttu. Not the most cheap accommodation but certainly unique and perfect for spotting the Northern Lights from your bed. This accommodation is located slightly outside the center. If you want to go to the center, you have to walk a bit uphill. Or if you already have ski equipment, you can take the ski lift (T-bar) to the village. The hotel is located near the ski slope, so you can ski almost to the hotel.
The Aurora hut
The Aurora hut was the perfect accommodation to spot the Northern Lights. The hut itself was quit small and it floats on the water of the frozen lake, but you don’t feel much of it.
It has a chemical toilet and a very small kitchenette with limited equipment for cooking. To take a shower you had to enter the hotel and use the showers at the sauna (which you could of course also use). Outside the hotel there was another sauna, and a hole in the lake to take a (very) refreshing dip.
Everything was very clean and the staff were very friendly and helpful. The extensive and tasty breakfast buffet was included in the price.
Despite the hut being a little smalll, we did enjoy this very unique place to sleep.
Book your stay at RukaTonttu Aurora Hut here.
What does it cost?
There are many tour companies that offer full lapland travel packages. These prices vary from 1500 to 3000 euros and even more. We decided to organise this trip ourselves, so we could make it as cheap or expensive as we want. The total price of this trip depends entirely on how many and which activities you want to do, the accommodation where you want to stay and the price of your flight tickets. For the other costs such as food and drinks, prices are generally comparable to the prices of Western Europe.
Here’s a short cost breakdown of our trip (per person)
– Flights return, luggage included (Brussels-Kuusamo): €535
– Bus Airport-Ruka: €10
– Taxi Ruka-Airport €30 (€60 for 2)
– Accommodation (4 nights, breakfast included): €470 (940€ for 2)
– Activities (Snowscooter, 10km husky ride & 1.5km reindeer sleigh ride + farm visit): €365
Total: €1410 per person
This doesn’t include food, drinks and, if you want, ski passes and ski equipment. Know that you will certainly find cheaper accommodations than the place we stayed.
What to pack?
As you may know, it is cold in Lapland, not to say very, very cold. So what should definitely not be missing in your suitcase? These are the three most important things to prepare yourself for the cold: layers, layers and layers.
Besides the layers, there are a few other things you have to bring for this amazing trip to winter wonderland.
Find a list of the things we brought with us in our blogpost ‘What to pack for your trip to Lapland’.
What to do?
From snowmobile tours and husky sleigh rides, to visiting a reindeer farm, cross-country skiing or snowshoe walking, you never get bored in Lapland. Most of these activities can be done in any place in Lapland, no matter where you want to go, but not all of them. So make sure the activities you want to do, are offered at the place you want to go to. We tell you a bit more about the activities we did in Ruka.
If you decide to go to Ruka, like we did, you should definitely take a look at ruka.fi. Here you find literally all information about accommodations, restaurants, ski rentals, general information and anything else you need to know. You can even book and pay your activities directly on this website.
Popular activities are
- Activities with Reindeers
- Activities with Huskies
- Activities with Horses
- Snowmobile Safaris
- Northern light Safaris
- River Floating
- Cross-country Skiing
- Winter biking
- Ice Climbing
- Winter Fishing
- Ice Karting
- Visit Santa (if you’re staying close to Rovaniemi)
What did we do?
Visit to a Husky Farm and 10 km Ride (€185)
We booked our Husky Sleigh Ride on the website of ruka.fi with Ruka Adventures. They brought us to the husky farm of Arctic Runaway Husky.
We enjoyed an amazing 10 km sleigh ride through the beautiful Lappish landscape. Afterwards we could warm up in a tent with a bonfire and enjoy some local food. The dogs were so excited and lovely, and it was such a unique experience, but brace yourself for the cold.
Snowmobile Safari (€75 for 2hours + €20 fuel)
We first booked a snowmobile safari on ruka.fi, but it got cancelled because you have to be with at least 4 people to go on this safari. We then decided to rent a snowmobile ourselves at Sport House Ruka (you can find more snowmobile rentals on ruka.fi) and are actually happy that it turned out that way. You can choose between different kinds of snowmobiles and they provide you with a helmet, warm gloves, boots and an overall. We were able to tear through the magical landscape at our own pace and make a few stops for some pictures. In addition, it was also a lot cheaper than the safari we originally booked. Unfortunately we can’t tell you if you see completely different things on a safari or if you rent a snowmobile yourself, but we did enjoy our individual ride.
1,5 km Reindeer Sleigh Ride (€75 + €30 taxi)
We went to Kujala reindeer farm and took a 1,5km sleigh ride. We absolutely loved to see these beautiful animals, but we have to be honest that we didn’t really enjoy the sleigh ride, although it was a beautiful trip and unique experience. We didn’t really feel that the animals enjoyed it themselves. After the sleigh ride we were able to feed 2 reindeer. Maybe it differs from day to day if they enjoy it or not and from reindeer farm to reindeer farm, but we wouldn’t really recommend a sleigh ride. A visit to a reindeer farm and spending some time with these animals, however, seems really worth it to us.
Northern Light Safari (free)
We didn’t book one of the Northern Light Spotting trips, but we were able to see the Northern Lights multiple times from our accommodation and when we took a walk outside ourselves.
Yet we think it would also be fun to chase the northern lights with one of the trips they offer. So we definitely have to go back.
Depending on where you are going, there might be ski slopes to enjoy some skiing. In Ruka there’s 19,1km of piste. Since the slopes are lit, it is possible to go skiing in the afternoon when it is already dark. Ski lifts are open until 7pm. On the website of Ruka.fi you can find all ski rental places and where you can buy your ski passes. You can already made a reservation online. We bought our passes and rented our skis and snowboard at PISTE rental shop next to the gondolas.
This was our trip to Finnish Lapland. We planned this really last minute, but it was such an incredible trip. Whether you are going to Ruka or you are going anywhere else in Lapland, it will definitely be a unique trip that you’ll never forget. The experiences you get here are absolutely amazing and maybe even once in a lifetime. We can only recommend this trip if you’re not bothering the cold.
Let us know if you got any questions and we are more than happy to help you out.
What made you think about such a topic. Its funny I am not the only one that feels that way about it. Keep it up!