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Finland 2021

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

Finland seemed the perfect place for a winter holiday and it had been a goal for 3 years. I originally booked a trip in 2018, but a life-threatening seizure days before my flight put an end to those plans. So with Covid travel restrictions now lifted, I decided this December was time to visit Santa in snowy Lapland.

I went with Intrepid, a travel company I hadn’t tried before, but I wasn’t anxious as they had top reviews and the itinerary sounded great fun. The group of fellow travellers was ideal for me; there were only 10 of us and ages ranged from early 20s to mid-50s. People were from the UK, States, Germany, Austria and Asia. I got on well with everyone and we had a nice tour guide, although she did miss out on empathy and walked a bit too fast for some people!

Woman with arms outstretched in snowy landscape
Me enjoying the snowy scenery in Lapland

Our trip began at the docks of Helsinki, where I got to explore the historical sights and harbourside. Next, a train journey north to Lapland. Yllästunturi in Lapland was stunning – the snow covered Arctic landscapes and woodlands were magical.

We stayed in hotels throughout the trip and I enjoyed each one. The Finnish breakfast was always VERY impressive and they served delicious thick bread. Being a proud vegan, I skipped the reindeer and bear meat for lunch and dinner, and often ate tofu and beetroot.

We did an activity every day, but had a lot of the day to ourselves. I was actually a bit worried about all the free time, as I like to keep busy and active, but it was a nice opportunity to talk to my travel buddies around a fire or go out for a walk.

The highlight of the trip for me was dog-sledging. Huskies are incredible dogs; so enthusiastic, energetic and happy. I enjoyed the ‘driving’ more than being the passenger as I felt so much freedom! We were going at an incredible speed and my face had never felt colder!

Dog lying on back in snow being petted by woman in warm coat and hat
Dog sledding with beautiful huskies in Lapland

We had a snowy walk through the forest and the views took my breath away. I could feel my hamstrings working hard as we hiked!

Temperatures over the trip were -25c to -28c. Freezing! As much as my very expensive thermal gear tried, I’ve never been so cold. I made use of a traditional Finnish sauna to warm up. One very memorable moment was running out from temperatures of 30c in the sauna to dive into the snow of -28c!

We spent every night looking for the aurora borealis Northern Lights, staying up till 2am, but unfortunately had no luck. One night the sky was clear and we caught some shooting stars. I knew the lights were not guaranteed and I could always try again. I’m planning a trip to Iceland next year!

Woman sitting on a camping stool in snow gear, in a snowy landscape
Enjoying the snow

Reindeer roamed freely around the countryside and also kept at a local farm. I was lucky enough to go reindeer-riding – they are wonderful animals and I loved petting them!

A visit to Santa village in Rovaniemi had to be done, but at $45 for a photograph, $10 to see captive reindeers and no entertainment, I would recommend avoiding this tourist trap!

Overall, this was an amazing trip and the perfect destination for just before Christmas. Lapland really is a winter wonderland.

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