This article is Part 4 of our 4 part series on planning the ultimate trip to Lapland, Finland
Read Part 1 The Ultimate Itinerary for Finnish Lapland (opens in a new tab)
Read Part 2 The Ultimate Guide to Packing for Finnish Lapland (opens in a new tab)
Read Part 3 The Ultimate Guide to Lapland Safaris (opens in a new tab)
For years we’ve been asked a question – ‘what’s the prettiest place you’ve been to’. We always get confused – Plitvice National Park in Croatia and The Garden Route in South Africa often vie for the top spot but never quite make it. Now we KNOW. That place is Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.
A once-in-a-lifetime experience, the website insists. A surreal experience like no other, claim dozens of ‘Places to see before you die’ lists. Intrigued, we walk through the snow-laden gates of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, set amidst frosty Arctic Forests. We stare at the beams of sunlight filtering through slanting Arctic trees and entire fields covered with glistening snow.
This hotel, hidden deep within the Arctic Wilderness, is almost at the Northernmost tip of mainland Europe. The landscape is peppered with reindeer farms, picturesque trees, igloos, and skiing slopes. Dumbfounded by the landscape, we walk into Narnia…..
Our igloo is the first one in a queue of rotund ‘hotel rooms’. This is no regular hotel room – it’s a heated igloo with a transparent ceiling. It boasts of beds that can be converted to reclining cinema-style loungers to facilitate the viewing of the greatest show on earth – the mysterious Northern Lights.
[box] I’m in raptures – sprinkling snow, chasing sun beams, and dreaming of mythical woodland creatures – even before we’ve opened our room and deposited our luggage.[/box]
Once we’ve officially checked in, there is no stopping us. The landscape might be laden with snow but we’re melting – we can’t quite believe the world is home to places such as this! The entire day is spent tobogganing down ice-slides, taking long walks in the snow, and pelting each other with snow balls (no shortage of those here!).
Once we’re well and truly out of breath, we stroll to the dining room at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, flushed cheeks and all. As we devour the three-course dinner at Aurora, the world’s largest log cabin restaurant, we marvel at the effort that goes into putting together elaborate meals at a place as remote as Kakslauttanen. A creamy salmon soup is followed by sautéed reindeer and finally, a luxuriant raspberry panna cotta. There is a wide variety of wines but we opt for a full-bodied red to complement the reindeer meat. We don’t know whether it’s the wine, exhaustion, or sub-zero temperatures, but we’re feeling heady as we tumble out of the restaurant.
We should hit the sack. But the Arctic forest has other plans. It’s full moon night and the entire snow-laden is bathed in moonlight. Shadows play hide and seek as powdery snow continues to fall at a mellow pace. We crawl into the loungers in our igloo, wrap ourselves with blankets, and prepare for a night of star-gazing and possibly spotting the Northern Lights. The snow continues to fall like little drops of confetti on the ceiling of our igloo – sometime around 3 am exhaustion takes over and we doze off.
We move into a rustic log cabin the next day – each log cabin is well-appointed with a kitchen, fireplace, comfortable beds, private sauna, and everything you could possibly need on a countryside escape. We have a little section of the woods to ourselves, ensuring complete privacy. We spend the next three days huddled on the porch of our cabin in the woods feasting on warm lingonberry juice – a local speciality. The temperatures are well below freezing point but the blanket of pure white snow and endless stunning panoramas ensure we spend minimal time indoors.
We spend the days meeting Sami people (indigenous people living at the very northern tip of Europe), herding reindeer with them, nuzzling husky dogs, visiting local reindeer farms and snowmobiling across frozen rivers. Everyday we cross the Arctic Wilderness on a sleigh. Sometimes it isn’t snowing but a gentle breeze sprinkles a generous helping of snowflakes off the trees onto our faces – a blessing from the heavens above?
[box]There’s lots to do but we make time for ‘doing nothing’ – running fingers along snow-laden branches, gushing over perfectly-shaped snowflakes, taking in the sumptuous pin-drop silence in the woods, and relishing the feeling of being just so far away from civilisation :-)[/box]
Nights are spent looking out for the elusive Northern Lights, with no luck. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort boasts of over 200 days of Northern Lights in a year but the skies have been overcast on our trip here.
On our sixth (and last night) here, we’re walking back from dinner when Vid spots a green streak in the sky. It disappears within a second – perhaps the night sky is playing tricks. Suddenly there’s a flash of green in the sky. There’s surely something magical in the sky – could those be the Northern Lights? We’ve never seen them, we don’t know what they look like!
[box] Before we know it, a green rainbow appears in the night sky. We stand transfixed. For the next 20 minutes, the Northern Lights twinkle and disappear, re-appear and dance right in front of our eyes. There’s nothing we can do, except stare.[/box]
As they begin to dim, we make our way to the igloo excited to have finally seen the Northern Lights. Vid grumbles because he never got to take a photo. As we change and settle for the night, we catch a glimpse of green peeping through hundreds of stars in the night sky. They are back.
It might not seem like it but the Northern Lights can be overwhelming. The sky, dark one minute, is suddenly lit from within. They’re on one horizon one minute and jump to another horizon the next. They’re neon-green, lime green, violet, and pink all at once. A tear rolls down my face… this show is getting crazier by the second.
We don’t sleep a wink that night. We watch the Northern Lights, count the stars, and take a long walk in the sprawling complex early in the morning. As we leave Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort to hop on a flight back to Helsinki, we’re smiling from ear to ear. Once-in-a-lifetime? Hell yeah!!
- Take a flight from Helsinki (Finland) to Ivalo (Finland). Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is just 30 minutes away and offers transfers from Ivalo Airport. You could also take a bus from Ivalo Airport – it will drop you in front of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
- Another option is to take an overnight train from Helsinki (Finland) to Ivalo (Finland).
- We took a bus from Rovaniemi (Finland) to Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. The bus dropped us at the gate of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. We booked our tickets here: https://www.matkahuolto.info/lippu/en/
- Prices for igloos start at £200 pppn and log cabins start at £150 pppn. You can find the best prices here.
Know before you go :-
- Make sure you pack sturdy snow boots, thermals, and warm clothing – you will be unable to enjoy your trip to Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort during the winter if you’re not well clad. We have a detailed article on packing for Finland coming soon 🙂
- You can sip on cocktails and stare at the night skies at the world’s only heated igloo bar at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
- Kakslauttanen is not a luxury resort. You’re paying for the remote location, heated accommodation in extreme sub-zero temperatures, and the unique once-in-a-lifetime experience. The facilities (rooms and dining options) are great. There are warm toilets, saunas, an expansive dining room, and 3-course dinners but do not expect five-star food quality, dining or facilities.
- Equip yourself well before you take the train/bus to Kakslauttanen. The resort is hidden deep inside the stunning Finnish wilderness. As a result, the nearest supermarket is over 10 kms away. There are no kettles in the igloos but hot water is readily available. Get a bag full of tea bags, ready to make coffee, and pot noodles with you in your luggage. They will serve you well 🙂
- Don’t forget to pack a few bars of chocolate or sugary snacks – the cold weather is bound to give you the munchies. You might want to carry some alcohol as well – brandy is apt for the weather but any hard liqueur will do 🙂
- Make sure you sample a couple of excursions when you stay at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort – we loved visiting Pentti’s reindeer farm and snowmobiling at midnight and would definitely recommend both those excursions. Check out our video below for a taster of both excursions 🙂
- The unique resort offers a surreal experience of a lifetime. You are bound to feel like you’re in a film or fairytale – aah!!
Still curious about Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. Here’s a video of our time there 🙂
Hop over to our You Tube Channel to watch our videos from Lapland
Read about some of our favourite Bucket List Experiences here 🙂
Leave us a comment if you enjoyed reading this article or looking at our photos – it makes us happy-dee-da-dum 🙂