Finland may have a reputation for being cold and dark, and it may sometimes be those things – but in December, something truly magical happens. Lapland in the north of Finland transforms into a true winter wonderland, where you can sleep under the stars and meet Santa in his actual workshop. Tempted? Here’s how. <br> <br>
How to get there
Your destination is Rovaniemi in the north of Finland, which hosts Santa’s workshop every year – and though you may be able to visit Santa’s workshop in various locations, this is the only official one. Getting there is simple, with flight options from most major UK airports. <br> <br> If you’re looking for the most economical option, return flights to Rovaniemi from London start from £148pp flying with either easyJet or Ryanair. There’s plenty of hotel options, like the Glass Resort with its glass cabins from €682 per night for a family of four, or the centrally located Arctic City Hotel, with rooms starting from £227 per night. <br> <br> If you’d prefer the simpler package option, Santa’s Lapland offers packages from £1109pp for a family of four for three nights. They fly from several UK airports including Luton, Manchester and Birmingham. The package includes a reindeer sleigh ride, sledging with huskies, countless snow activities and of course a visit to Santa’s workshop. You can also upgrade to the luxury package which includes a stay in glass ceiling cabins where you’ll have a better-than-average chance of catching a glimpse of the northern lights. <br> <br>
What to do in Lapland
Though you may have many plans for your visit, the one you absolutely can’t miss is the visit to Santa’s workshop. The simplest option will be to book a reindeer sleigh ride to the secret location. The day starts at a reindeer farm where you’ll get to know more about Lappish culture, and then you’ll set off for Santa’s village. On the way, you’ll cross the arctic circle, and end up in Santa’s village. Here, you can do your Christmas shopping, send postcards from Santa’s post office, and of course meet Santa himself. This package includes lunch and starts from €184pp.
<br> <br> Another must-do – although one that can’t be guaranteed! – is an Aurora Borealis photo excursion. There’s plenty of options in the area where local guides will take you to a great spot to view the phenomenon. The Aurora Borealis camp slightly out of the city offers great viewing options inside a glass igloo, with guides who can tell you exactly how to capture great photographs. You can also enjoy a snowmobile ride as well as a snack of marshmallows and reindeer sausages around an open fire, so there’ll be plenty of things to do even if you’re unlucky and don’t manage to catch the Aurora. Packages cost €122 per person and includes the coach ride from the city and back. <br> <br> When in Finland, do as the Finnish do, and visit a sauna. Saunas are a long-standing tradition in Finland and are believed to have many health benefits, including improved blood circulation and immune function. And yes, the ice bath is a mandatory part of the experience! Many Finns have a sauna in their home, but there’s also plenty of options in swimming halls, hotels and even some offices. For a true outdoor experience, you can have a dip in the river or for a more luxury option, go for a private tour with guides telling you the history of saunas in Finland as you’re enjoying your ice bath and sauna experience. <br> <br>
What to eat in Lapland
Finland has a rich food culture with a diet including plenty of fish. Don’t forget to try a Karelian pastry (or as it’s called in Finnish, karjalanpiirakka – ask the locals for the pronunciation!) for breakfast. The first thing you need to know about it is that lunch is served early – it’s not uncommon to have lunch at 11am! <br> <br> For a great meal in a stunning location, Aitta restaurant serves Scandinavian food with a modern twist in a 100-year-old log tavern. Tables overlook Olkajärvvi, one of Finland’s 188,000 lakes, and the log fire is lit year round. <br> <br> For the fine dining experience, Arctic Restaurant offers a menu that changes seasonally to ensure you’re always experiencing the freshest ingredients in the best way. <br> <br> And if you’d really like to experience Finnish food the way Finns themselves did in the past, the Glowing Ember serves traditional food in a kota, or traditional log hut. Many of the dishes are cooked over the open fire you’ll be seated around, and storytelling becomes a key part of the experience. <br> <br>
What else do I need to know?
Don’t forget to check out our Travel Money in Finland blog, which gives you more advice on what you need to know before you go to Finland. <br> <br> Enjoy fee-free spending abroad and get the best rates on Christmas presents, reindeer sleigh rides and glass igloos with your Caxton Currency Card. Apply for yours today, or top up your existing card.