If a once-in-a-lifetime holiday to Lapland is at the top of your Christmas list, now’s the time to book – the sell-out spot is at its most popular during the December festivities as children flock to meet Santa and grown-ups soak up midday sauna sessions.
From Rovaniemi’s Santa Claus Village to the warm aura of Kiruna, winter sunlight hours may be short during the polar night with temperatures often dipping below -9C, but Lapland days remain packed with unique activities and novel stays in ice palaces, glass igloos and tree houses.
With so many all-inclusive stays, snow sports tours and holiday options in the Santa-centric land, here’s The Independent’s pick of packages to transport you to the magic of the Arctic Circle this Christmas season.
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Best for: Luxury breaks
Swedish Lapland Experience
Lapland crosses the utmost northern borders of Finland, Norway and Sweden’s dense forests, but the rural Scandinavian landscape is not without its luxuries. Tailored tours, wood-fired hot tubs and private chefs bring home comforts to the wilderness for travellers willing to splash the cash stress-free on a Christmas fairytale holiday.
Off the Map Travel provides a four-night Swedish Lapland Experience for a unique luxury stay in the heart of Arctic Sweden, including accommodation in the Icehotel and Treehotel, transfers, excursions and half-board meals. From £1,699pp guests can enjoy ice sculpting or husky sledging in Kiruna and Lulea, and spend the night in a cosy Aurora Hideaway – the perfect vantage point to see the natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights while indulging in traditional Swedish dishes.
Best for: Northern Lights hunters
Arctic Aurora Activity Holiday in Finnish Lapland
Viewing the Northern Lights is one of the most popular adventures to top a travel bucket list – after all, the natural world puts on few more spectacular shows. Travellers can hunt the aurora in chilling temperatures from paths off the beaten track, in the sky on a hot air balloon ride or from the comfort of a glass igloo and a lucky few will witness the clear and colourful skies during their Arctic adventure.
Discover the romance of the aurora borealis with Aurora Zone on a four-night Arctic Activity Holiday in Inari, Finnish Lapland. Trip excursions such as a snowmobile safari, dog sledding and shoeshoeing fill days in the Sámi culture’s capital, with nights spent searching for the vibrant hues of the Northern Lights. The holiday package costs £2,025pp, including return flights from London, transfers, accommodation, meals, all activities and cold-weather clothing for the duration of your Lapland stay.
Best for: Christmas festivities
Santa’s holiday home, Lapland, is where you’ll find the picture-perfect scenes of Christmas cards; reindeer, igloos and snow-dusted trees. Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi even boasts Santa Claus’ Post Office, a husky park and boutiques ideal for last-minute present shopping right in the heart of the Arctic Circle.
Santa Claus Trips’ Santa’s Magic holiday in the vibrant ski town of Saariselkä, priced from £1,239 per adult, includes return flights from the UK, half-board meals and accommodation in Tunturi Hotel for two nights. Festive highlights such as a private meeting with Santa, elves, igloos and reindeer sleigh rides dot the snowy break’s itinerary as the magic of Christmas takes hold of little and big ones alike.
Best for: Snowsports
What could be more exhilarating than taking to the ice by day and sleeping on it by night? Lapland’s snowsports offerings, from skiing to ice skating and (slightly tamer) sleigh riding behind reindeer or huskies, come in abundance so the winter fun doesn’t have to stop at Santa and accommodation doesn’t need to be boring.
Discover the World offers a three-night stay at the Icehotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, from £733pp. Here, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and husky sledging excursions meet evenings spent eating and drinking in the Icebar, inside the hotel crafted each year using ice from the frozen River Torne. Return flights from London to Kiruna start from £204 in December.
Best for: Family fun
Santa Breaks in Yllas
Santa trips, skiing holidays and nights spent seeking the bewitching Northern Lights are the perfect ingredients for a family winter holiday regardless of the Arctic temperatures. Kids of all ages will love the unique magic of the dynamic landscape and its snow-based activities, and visits to Father Christmas are bound to be a hit – even with the non-believers – so long as you wrap up warm and let imaginations run wild.
Inghams provides a four-night holiday for two adults and two children from £1,059pp when travelling in November. The package includes return flights from Manchester and a half-board stay at the family-friendly Akäs (Snow Elf) Hotel & Alp Apartments. The hub of the Santa programme in Ylläs, all excursions depart from the hotel and the colourful village centre is just a five-minute walk away.
Best for: All-inclusive packages
New Year Lapland Arctic Adventure
Over the Christmas holidays demand for Lapland holidays is high, and it gets the price tag to match. While it’s unlikely to find a truly budget break to the snowy scenery in winter, all-inclusive packages often slash the cost of high-paced activity days, and are well worth it to see the magic and charm of the secluded spot for yourself.
Canterbury Holidays New Year Lapland Arctic Adventure is the ultimate seven-day activity holiday to Lapland. From £1,740pp, extend the magic of Christmas and experience the winter wonderland of Finnish Lapland – return flights, excursions, B&B accommodation and a New Year’s Eve dinner and party are all included in the stay. Visits to Europe’s only amethyst mine and a “white hike” through the frozen forests and fells also fill days of post-Christmas bliss on this NYE adventure.
Best for: Off-grid explorers
Finnish Lapland in Winter
Enjoying the solitude of nature while coping with extreme temperatures is all part of being a Finn. To live like the locals, going off-grid on a Lapland holiday on snowshoe walks to remote farms and fighting the cold with a glass of salmari gets you even closer to the heart of the Sami culture.
Intrepid Travel offers a journey through Finnish Lapland in winter from £2,745pp, so strap on your hiking boots and crunch through snow-dusted woodlands as you travel from Helsinki to Rovaniemi across the pristine landscape. Dog sledging, reindeer herding and the famous “Santa Claus Express” overnight train are all highlights. Breakfasts, transport, accommodation and activities are included in the cost of this eight-day holiday.
Best for: Romantic retreats
Finnish Lapland and the Arctic Circle
There’s a romance to the campfire cabins and snow-topped saunas of Lapland. Think charming traditions, pastel-hued skies and authentic natural landscapes in secluded woodlands – best enjoyed while riding a snowmobile for two, or a sligh pulled by reindeer – as a backdrop to long weekends for lovebirds.
Untold Story Travel offers six-night private tours of Finnish Lapland and the Arctic Circle. Accommodation options include wilderness cabins and Arctic treehouses, and the holiday is tailored to every couple’s requirements. Potential holiday highlights include a personal host to monitor Northern Lights activity, enchanting reindeer sleigh rides and snowmobiling across a frozen lake before spending your final night in a private glass igloo.
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