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Written by Savi, 59 Comments

A few years ago we visited Finnish Lapland for the first time and from the time we set foot in the icy woodlands at the Arctic Circle, we were smitten. This winter we decided to re-visit Lapland, with a rental car in tow. Over the past few years, areas such as Levi and Ivalo have become increasingly popular, which has led to increased prices and reduced availability. On this winter road trip in Finland, we tried to go offbeat and ended up discovering some real gems along the way.

Couple under Northern Lights in Lapland Finland
When the night sky comes alive 🙂


Renting a car in Finnish Lapland

Lapland is easy to explore using public transport and on our first visit we did exactly that. However we would highly recommend renting a car if you are comfortable driving in Europe. This will give you the flexibility of exploring little-known areas and offbeat nooks and crannies of Finnish Lapland. It is easy to rent a car at the airport or the city centre in Rovaniemi. Make sure you look up price comparison websites to find the most affordable deals on car rentals in the area.  We use this website to compare prices. Rental cars come equipped with snow tyres and heated seats, but we would still recommend checking before booking your car.

Budgeting for your roadtrip in Finnish Lapland

Lapland is a relatively expensive destination and it’s almost impossible to do it on a budget. You can easily cut costs by choosing AirBnB accommodation over hotels and shopping in supermarkets instead of dining out at every meal. However do beware that due to the it being in Scandinavia, Lapland’s remote location, and extreme weather conditions, other things like day trips, car rentals etc tend to be on the expensive side. As a rule of thumb, you should put aside €150-€300 per person per day of stay while budgeting for your roadtrip in Lapland  – this includes the cost of car rentals, hotels, safaris, and dining.

Couple on a road trip in Lapland Finland
We LOVE road trips 🙂


10 things to do on your road trip in Lapland, Finland

  • 1)Start in Roveniemi

Rovaniemi is the most central and accessible part of Finnish Lapland. It is a short flight away from Helsinki.

In fact, if you have just 4 days in Finnish Lapland, we would suggest booking a hotel in Rovaniemi only. From here you can go for reindeer & husky-dog safaris, visit Santa Claus village (famous for being Santa’s hometown on the Arctic Circle), book a Northern Lights tour, and even visit a hotel carved entirely out of ice (more later).

However if you are in Lapland for more than a week, we would suggest spending 2 days in Rovaniemi. Arctic Light Hotel is a luxurious and distinctively Scandinavian hotel with a gorgeous breakfast buffet. It is located in the centre of Rovaniemi with easy access to public transport, restaurants, and the car rental office in case you decide to rent from the city centre. Alternatively you could rent an AirBnB apartment in the countryside around Rovaniemi. There are some incredibly scenic and cheap apartments in the area.

Reindeer sleigh at the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi
Off to Meet Santa Claus in his office 🙂


  • 2) Book yourself a photography session

This is a truly unique addition to your road trip in Finnish Lapland. You will be going on plenty of adventures on this road trip but first how about capturing some memories for a lifetime. Beyond Arctic offer short 2-4 hour photoshoots for couples and families. Their talented photographers will take you to some of the most scenic locations around Rovaniemi and shoot several photographs for you. You can use them to make your friends jealous on social media or simply for photo frames back home.

Couple in woodland near Rovaniemi
Our photography expedition outside of Rovaniemi


  • 3) Stay in an igloo hotel

A few years ago igloo hotels were somewhat of a novelty in Finnish Lapland. In fact I wrote an entire article about our surreal stay at Kakslautten Arctic Resort, the hotel that started the craze! However over the past few years Kakslautten has become too expensive for what it is and is mostly sold out. But don’t worry. There are dozens of other igloo hotels that have come up in the area. However don’t be fooled by the name ‘igloo’ in the title as some of these hotels don’t have great views or good facilities.

We tried a few igloo hotels on our recent road trip in Lapland, and did not like most of them. However we found one gem – Arctic Fox Igloos – located in the wilderness near Ranua. Each igloo is heated and comes with its own little kitchenette. Igloos offer gorgeous views, and if you’re lucky enough, you can even see the Northern Lights while lying down in your bed. The breakfast buffet at Arctic Fox Igloos is pretty decent but we’d suggest picking up a few groceries on the way so you can whip up lunch and dinner for yourself in your kitchenette as there aren’t any supermarkets or restaurants around here.

Here’s a short video from our time at Arctic Fox Igloos:


  • 4) Visit Pyha Luosto National Park

Now comes the fun part. Renting a car in Lapland is the perfect excuse to go off-the-beaten path. Not many tourists visit Pyha (pronounced Poo-ha) but we definitely suggest spending a day or two in the area. Book yourself a couple of nights at Hotel Pyhatunturi. Spend a day driving through the stunning Phyha Luosto National Park and taking a ski lesson. Spend the next day going on a little Arctic hike or horse ride with a local company called Kairankutsu (translating to “Call of Wilderness”). We really enjoyed our time with them because their guides are so passionate about the Pyha area and know it just so well.

Another activity we’d highly recommend here is Ice Climbing. We booked our Ice Climbing Tour with Bliss Adventures and had a great afternoon trying to scale a wee mountain of ice ideal for beginners. This was followed by warm drinks and a snack 🙂

Winter road trip drone shot in Lapland
Spot us? Loved driving through snow covered trees in Pyha


  • 5) Visit Yllas

Another area you should consider visiting is Yllas. Much like Pyha, it is a ski resort that boasts of stunning views, but is located further North in Lapland giving you better chances of spotting the Northern Lights. Spend a couple of nights at Lapland Hotel Saaga and enjoy their extensive breakfast buffet. Book yourself a Snowmobile Safari – it will take you through Finnish woodlands on snowmobiles.

This is also a great area to hunt for the Northern Lights. You could book a night snowmobile tour but you don’t have to book a tour to spot the Northern Lights. You could just drive away from the city lights if the aurora forecast is good and you’ll see the Northern Lights literally everywhere in the wilderness.

Ice wall climbing in Yllas Finland
It’s no Everest but Hey we tried 😉
Snowmobile in Yllas Lapland
LOVED our snowmobile ride through the forests and on to a frozen lake


  • 6) Sleep or dine in an Ice Hotel

Sleeping on a bed of ice is literally as unique an experience as it gets. Don’t worry, you won’t feel cold as ice beds have mattresses or thick rugs and guests are given Arctic sleeping bags each night. Still we would recommend it just for a night! If the idea of sleeping in a room carved entirely out of ice doesn’t appeal to you, you could also drop by the Ice Hotel for a meal.

Two of our favourite ice hotels are located in Rovaniemi and Yllas. You could pick any one of them. Arctic Snowhotel in Rovaniemi is accessible and offers a whole host of activities for families, especially those travelling with kids. Here beds, tables, chairs, and even glasses are made out of ice.

Lapland Hotels Snowvillage in Yllas is another option. This is a unique Ice Hotel because it has a theme each year. When we visited, the hotel was made keeping in mind a Game of Thrones theme. However this changes every year. Take a look at our time at the Snowvillage Yllas:

Game of Thrones themed Ice Hotel in Finland
Sleeping in a Game Of Thrones themed hotel? SURE 🙂


  • 7) Go for a Northern Lights Safari

No road trip in Lapland would be complete without a Northern Lights safari. Safari providers such as Lapland Safaris offer a variety of Northern Lights tours in most towns. You could choose a tour where tourists go hunting for Northern Lights on snowmobiles, in a car, or even on horseback. We would suggest picking any one tour on your road trip in Finnish Lapland. Don’t waste too much money on Northern Lights safaris as you can always drive your car to a quiet area, away from the light and spot them yourself too. We have an entire article with tips for hunting for the Northern Lights here.

Snowmobile tour for Northern Lights in Rovaniemi
We went hunting for Northern Lights on a snowmobile. How FUN 🙂


  • 8) Visit a reindeer farm

Rumour has it that there are more reindeer than humans in Lapland. Chances are you will see plenty of reindeer on your road trip in Lapland. But do try and visit a reindeer farm too! Here you could go on a reindeer safari through the snow-covered woodlands or even try your hand at feeding baby reindeer. Reindeer herders treat the animals as their family – nowhere else in the world have we witnessed such deep bonds between animals and humans as we did in Lapland. On this trip we spent a fair few hours at one such farm besides SnowVillage hotel in Yllas.


  • 9) Go on a husky safari or try your hand at horse riding

This has been a pretty active road trip, considering you’ve been on Arctic hikes, gone ice-climbing, and perhaps even skiing. Now it’s time to let someone else do the work for you. You could try booking yourself a husky-dog safari or a horse-riding session in Rovaniemi, Yllas, or even Pyha. It is easy to book a safari wherever you have a free afternoon. Pick a place and time that suits your road trip itinerary and go marvel at snow covered trees, Finnish forests, and frozen lakes. On this particular trip we spent an afternoon with the huskies at Arctic Husky Farm in Pyha.

Spent the evening with these cuties 🙂


  • 10) A short stopover in Helsinki

In all probability, you will return your rental car at Rovaniemi Airport and fly to Helsinki before flying back home. Make sure you spend a couple of days in the capital of Finland before you fly out of the country. Helsinki is a truly unique Scandinavian capital and you will relish its urban vibe after spending a week in the Finnish wilderness. We have a great guide to a city break in Helsinki here. Make sure you read it before planning your visit.

Coffee and brunch at Loyly Helsinki
Our favourite coffee spot in Helsinki – Loyly 🙂

Visiting Lapland? Don’t forget to read our 4 Part Guide To Finnish Lapland that we wrote after our first trip to the area

59 thoughts on “10 things to do on your winter road trip in Lapland, Finland

  1. This is such an informative post! Not too mention, super off-beat which is what I’m always looking for! I’ve always had Finland on my list, ever since you guys first wrote about it 🙂 excited to hopefully make the trip soon and follow some of these recommendations!

  2. We just loved it. We so wish to go there but are confused between Iceland and Finland. We have read both your posts about them.

    and is it a good time to experience the places in september?

    1. Hey Gaurav – Iceland is stunning in September but there isn’t much to do in Lapland in September. Hope that helps xx

  3. Nice post guys!! I am trying to decide between Normay & Finland for October end or December end 2019. What would you suggest for this time. Our focus is to see northern lights and visit Christmas markets either in these places or another country.

    1. Both are great for Northern Lights. If you want the true Christmas spirit then head to Lapland and spend Christmas in Rovaniemi 🙂

  4. Hey vid and savi its such a good post! I wanted to ask you if December is a good time to go to finland! And if yes starting or mid? Me and my fiancé are planning to go there on our honeymoon??

    1. Hi Sneha,

      Congratulations 🙂

      Yes, December is a good time to go to Lapland- early December will be better as you’ll have more daylight as compared to end December.

      Have a great trip and share photos with us 🙂

  5. Hi Savi can you please tell us December a good time to travel to Lapland? I’ve heard it’s too cold there ?
    I wish to plan in December 2019 and want to plan it out right from now on
    Thanks in advance ?

    1. Yes it’s the best time to go there – yes it will be very cold but that’s the beauty and charm of the area 🙂

  6. while i was new to youtube i saw mumbiker nikhil travelling all over the world. he once introduced u both in his instagram stories from that day i started following u on insta seeing ur all posts. everyone wants to know how do u both finance ur trip? i was one of them to search it(yesterday) on the internet . acc to quora there were several ways through wich u both finance ur trips one of them was u write about the places in ur blog. i really thought that u both write blogs really. that day i came to know uhave a website bruisedpassports i searched it today and read ur this blog really awesome u both are just my inspirations i love travelling and after reading this blog i wrote it down in my diary and decided to travell like u both with my partner. cos i m still a student love u sir and mam hope u travell more and more


    1. Hi Aryan,

      Thanks! We worked for a long time in corporate jobs in London and saved to travel full-time. Over the years we have worked towards building our career in travel and we now work + travel full-time. You can also read the article titled “Who are Savi and Vid” to get more details about our lifestyle and the way we earn money while travelling

      Hope that helps and good luck with your travels 🙂

    2. Hi.. really adore you guys.. actually wanted to know that is it difficult driving in Finland being winter season as there is lot of do’s and don’t for driving in iceland. Being from India Mumbai will it be possible to drive easily in Finland??

      1. Hi Deveshree,

        It’s fine driving in Finland in winters as roads are cleared of snow regularly. We have driven there a few times and never had a problem. It obviously goes without saying that you should keep an eye on the weather and not attempt to drive in case of a snow storm or strong winds etc.

  7. I so am inspired by the way you guys lead your life…..I just so am inspired to start living my life of dreams…..and am totally clueless about how to follow….yup I have seen your tedtalks and your question and answer session but ….I quite not able to get the guidence and the answer I neede….the big question how to start leaving the life of passion like you guys do ….and how to sustain a living out of it…
    P.S would really love to work with you guys if you’re highering anyone??

  8. Hey hi.. amazing pics.. basically wanted to ask that you visited lapland twice one with the public transport and other being rental car.. wanted to understand if its possible to get both the itinerary done with some moderations in 14 days.. including 2 days in helseinki

    1. Yes absolutely – you can do a combination of both in 14 days easily 🙂 I’d say 2 days in Helsinki, 1 night in Arctic Fox Igloo (Ranua), 3-4 nights in Rovaniemi, 3 nights in Pyha, and 3 in Yllas (or you could also spend a couple of nights in Kakslauttanen)

    1. Chances are relatively low in September end but you can always try visiting Finnish Lapland or Norway for Northern Lights

  9. Great article, really inspired me to plan for it. Is November a good time to go to Finnish Lapland. Will all the experiences listed in the article be done in November.

  10. Hi, may I ask if non-4×4 car (with winter tires) is suitable to drive from Rovaniemi to Ivalo in November, let’s say for example VW Polo, or any sedan car.

    1. Hey

      Yes, a non-4X4 should be fine for the drive from Rovaniemi to Ivalo. That said, always check road conditions before you leave your hotel 🙂

  11. Hey, this is too amazing for my eyes??. May I know which is the best time to visit Lapland Nd the estimated cost of the whole trip pls ?♥️

    1. Novemeber- February is the best time to visit Lapland.Cost depends on where you are flying from and the hotels you choose but as mentioned in the “Budgeting for your roadtrip in Finnish Lapland” section of this article, you can expect to spend €300 per day of stay – this includes the cost of car rentals, hotels, safaris, and dining.

  12. Hi Savi/Vid,

    I am planning to see Northern Lights this year end (most likely Christmas week). I have gone through your itineraries for Iceland and Lapland. Now I am confused. Which one should I prefer as per the time I am planning to visit. Which one is better with respect to igloo stays and northern lights. Can you please advice.
    Looking forward for your reply.
    Loads of love to you both.

    1. Hey Kirti – igloo stays are better in Lapland (Finland) and Northern Lights are gorgeous in both Iceland and Finland. I hope that helps

      1. Hi Savi,
        Thank a lot for reply. I was waiting for it.
        As per the timing of my travel (i.e. December end this year), which place would you recommend considering an overall experience ?
        I see that you have mentioned in comments that you would choose Iceland if you would have to choose between Lapland and Iceland. But I also noticed that you recommended Lapland in one of your comments if its December time.
        Your reply is appreciated.

        1. Hey Kirti – it’s very hard to pick and choose favourites as they are both stunning. It purely boils down to personal preferences – Lapland is ideal if you want a slightly comfortable experience or if you’re travelling with kids/parents. Iceland is stunning if you enjoy slightly adventurous trips and are comfortable travelling independently

  13. Such a feast for the senses! Such a fun place with so much to do (and the food! And the people!). Thanks for transporting me right back to Lapland! I honestly think Finland is #1 on my list of “Places to visit ASAP”

  14. hi guys, we have planned our trip to Finland in January next year. The site you mentioned for car rentals, Economy Bookings, it has a condition that the IDP must be an year old and it is mandatory to produce at the time of pick up. We have not yet applied for IDP. Please help.

    1. Hi Tripti,

      We did not show/use an IDP in Finland. We only presented our Indian driving license – did not face any issues.

      Have a great trip

  15. Hi Guys,

    we are planing a winter trip to Laplands in February (Helsinki- Kemi- Rovaniemi-Ranua- Saariselka ) . How do you manage luggage when taking budget airlines in between cities in Finland as it allows only 7kg hand luggage.As we are going for a winter trip all the cold clothes are going to take up a lot of space.Please help. And is it worth going to up north to Saariselka -Inari?
    Looking forward to your reply.


    1. Hi Tanvi – you can pay a fee and check in a large bag on domestic flights – would definitely recommend that as woollens take up a lot of space. Hope that helps 🙂

  16. Hello Savi/Vid,
    Thanks for the detailed description.
    I am confused between November or March ? Most of the comments says Nov but I was checking that there is only 3.5-4 hours daylight in November while in March its 8+ hours of daylight.
    I want to go in November but limited daylight hours is something I am not sure is good enough.

    1. Hey Gaurav – limited day light in November is great for Northern Lights but longer days in March are better for exploring – you can choose based on your preference 🙂

  17. Hey Savi and Vid! Hope you both are doing well.
    I and my husband are going to Lapland in Feb ?
    All our shopping is done, however we are pretty confused about what skin moisturizer should we use? Since it will be insanely cold and skin would tend to dry up. Any suggestions? Also, we read somewhere that applying a moisturizer on face is not recommended in Lapland, i am confused here too. Isn’t that super necessary? Pls help, guys!

    Thanks in advance ?


    1. Hi Neha,

      It’s advisable not to put moisturiser right before stepping out in the extreme cold. Best to moisturise once you are back at the end of the day. Any moisturiser with a good SPF should suffice.

  18. Hey!! This is a really great article. I love how you gave us a detailed review of your trip. Keep up the good work!

  19. Hi Savi & Vid,

    Thank you for all of this amazing content & information. My husband and I are looking to take my parents (both 61 years of age) to either Norway, Finland or Iceland during Christmas this year. I had a few questions before I start planning please:

    1) Amongst Norway, Finland and Iceland, which place would you recommend for the whole experience, scenic landscapes, things to do, chasing northern lights, easy to move about, etc. which are my parents’ age appropriate?
    2) Are 10 days sufficient for any one of these countries?
    3) If we chose Finland, do we need to rent a car here? Or public transport is easily available for all the sights etc.?
    4) We are pure vegetarian so do you think food will be an issue or atleast staples like Pizza, Pasta etc is available everywhere if not many other options?
    5) I’m not sure my parents would be able to lug around backpacks, so are suitcases appropriate for that time’s weather?
    6) Lastly, in Finland, after doing a random search, I realised that Kakslauttanen is fully booked and even Arctic Fox Igloos is not available for Dec, do you recommend any other such amazing Igloo stays that may be available?

    My parents have not travelled internationally for many years now and I would like to take them somewhere special so they can have a memorable experience. I hope to hear from you soon so I can start blocking the flights and accommodation by next week! Thank you 

    1. Hi Priya – All three countries are amazing for those experiences – hard to pick! vegetarian options are available at most restaurants but would suggest carrying some ready-to-eat meals too. Public transport is great in Finland. Suitcases are fine as that’s what most people get. Also there are lots of igloo hotels in Finland but few have supremely scenic views, so do check before booking. You can also book log cabins on AirBnb which are a lot more affordable and also an amazing experience in the winter time 🙂

  20. Such an informative blog. Since me and my Fiance are planning our honeymoon in Finland, this blog is super helpful. Could you also guide on the clothing that we need to have for our trip to Finland

  21. hi savi ..
    i am planning to go to finland for my honeymoon on christmas dec 2022
    could you please suggest places ofr 3 – 4 days ?
    is it expensive in decemebr ?

    1. Hey yes it is expensive – but more than that all hotels often get sold out. Would suggest going in Feb for cheaper rates and better availability

  22. hi im planning Finland in June with kids who are younger than 8 yrs old .
    pls recommend what all cities I can visit in Finland keeping kids in mind .
    also how will the weather be in June .

    1. Hey Sonam – weather in June is quite pleasant. You can visit Helsinki and surrounding areas. Would suggest skipping Lapland as that is definitely more magical during winter time

  23. Hey Savi…. Have been following you guys for years now. You guys sowed the seed of visiting Lapland in my heart and this year, i plan to go during X-Mas holidays. Would you suggest staying in Yllas only for 4 days? i could infere from your article that Yllas seems to be THE PLACE where you can get all the activities as well as experience Northern Lights (without booking a tour).
    I have started planning for it from now only 😉

    1. Hey Harsha – You’ll love Yllas. You can do most activities there. However since you’re going all the way, would also suggest spending a couple of days in Rovaniemi too and checking Santa Claus’ “home” on the Arctic Circle 🙂

  24. This is a really well written piece. This page contains really high-quality and useful information. Yes, I’m going to check it out right away. This site has a great deal of really important information on the subject.

  25. Hi Savi & Vid,

    You people have made travelling to this magical land more easy. Thanks again on behlaf of all the abv for all the contents.

    I had a few questions before I start planning please:

    1) I love doing road trips and had done many such in past 6-7 years across Europe but for Finland i`m little spectical as not sure how weather and road treats back. Need your assistance on how should i plan/route my road tripping in Finland for 8-9 days in November. My thoughts/wishlist to start from Helsinki to Rovanemi and around lapland and then head to Norway for another 6-7 days.

    2) So in all 15-17 days road trip route planning is what i wanted to understand.

    3) We are 6 people, me,wife, 7yr daughter, father-in-law-mother-inlaw and 30yr sister-in-law and we all have done many roadtrips in past.

    4) Should i drive from helsinki to Rovanemi (if yes, then where to brerak the journey as its long) OR should i take overnight train and hire vehicle from Rovanemi or what you suggest.

    5) Things to do as per route. SKI and Santa village is what we want to do…pls add others.

    6) If i want to go to Norway from Finland and continue self driving how should i plan my route or should i fly from A to B.

    7)Lastly, Suggestion on route planning for Norway where my last destination to be Oslo to fly back to Mumbai (Home)

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