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Things you need to know before visiting Finland, Lapland



Finland is a beautiful country blessed with stunning nature and northern light. Also, they are ranked #1 in the happiest country in the world according to world happiness report. I’m not surprised at this because Finnish is very well taken care of. Their education is free till university and they even have one of the cutest baby kits.

Prior to our trip, there was limited information on Finland. Even though my trip was a few years ago, I have friends/readers who pop by to ask me on my experience. Thus, I’ve decided to add on things that I missed out previously.

To be honest, I am not sure which airport to fly to before I book my flight tickets. The only thing I knew before flying is that we want to visit Santa Claus Village as well as staying in a glass igloo. If you are still planning your trip and didn’t book your flight ticket, I hope this helps!

Where to go to in Finland?
Finland is huge and it is impossible to cover many areas in a short time. Plus, the best place to witness northern light is in Finland Lapland, 900km from the capital. Fortunately, Finnair flies there and one can save on travelling time.

Helsinki
Helsinki - The capital of Finland. In order to fly to other parts of Finland, you will likely have a stopover in Helsinki. Helsinki is a very vibrant city and you can a lot of stuff there such as museums, church and you can even visit Suomenlinna Fortress Island. In addition to exploring Finland, one can take a ferry to Tallinn and even Moscow!

Airport: Helsinki Vantaa Airport

Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi is Finland most popular tourist town and many visits Rovaniemi Santa Claus Village to meet Santa. On Christmas day, I met Santa Claus. Like us, many people visit the Finland Santa Claus Village every year to say hello to Santa Claus and keeps the traditions and beliefs alive.

AirportRovaniemi Airport

Levi
We decide to take a bus from Rovaniemi to Levi because we are still unsure where we will be going. After some research, we decide to stop by Levi because of the Glass Igloo. Thus, if you plan to fly visit the glass igloo, you can fly to Kittilä airport

Airport: Kittilä Airport

Ivalo, Saariselkä, Inari        
Located at the northern part of Lapland, Ivalo and Inari is a popular destination for many who wants to catch northern light. Beside catching northern light, one can do ice fishing at Inari Lake too! Saariselkä is a resort village with a gateway to trails and ski areas of mountainous Urho Kekkonen National Park.

Kemi
Activities in every area are pretty similar except the ones at Kemi. You can find a husky ride, reindeer ride, snow ski at almost every popular area in Finland but there is one activity that makes Kemi popular. Yes, it’s the Ice Breaking Cruise. Plus, you can take a train from Kemi to Sweden Boden/Luleå if you are interested to continue your adventure to Sweden.

Airport: Kemi-Tornio Airport

Best Place to catch Northern Light
According to the guide, there is no best place to view the northern light. If you are lucky, the northern light in Rovaniemi is as beautiful as the one in Inari. However, to increase your chance of seeing the northern light, I highly recommend you head up north – The Lapland area. Go to somewhere with less noise and cross fingers that the weather is good. Sadly,  I didn't get to see any during my time in Finland

If you are planning to visit Rovaniemi, you can visit Levi to catch northern light instead of going all the way to Inari. Book your northern light tour the first few days instead of the last few days. If you are lucky and you may even catch it on your first day. This way, you can save some money too. There are many northern light operators, you can still book the tour when you arrive in Finland. If you are driving, you might want to search for some spot that is accessible and safe.

Also, download northern light alert app to help to increase the chance of catching northern light in Finland! I used it even when i was in Iceland! 

How many days in Finland?
To fully enjoy Finland, I recommend at least 8 days. In my previous trip, I didn’t manage to capture the beauty of northern light due to my poor planning (Only spent 5D4N in Finland). After the trip, I thought that staying at least 6 days in Lapland increases your chance of witnessing beauty. And it will be good to add 2 more days in order for you to explore the city or even visit the neighbouring country for a day trip.

Plus, if you are visiting during winter, the daylight is short. The maximum number of activities you can do in the day is 2 but I recommend you to do include 1 unless you plan to do in the dark for another kind of experience. You can reduce the 8 days itinerary to 6 days if you plan to do less activity and enjoy the view and peace Finland offers. 

The nature in Finland is absolutely stunning. I hope you take your time to enjoy the pace of Finland. And do not forget to try some reindeer sausage! Below is a suggested Finland Itinerary that I would go with if I revisit again.


Data SIM card in Finland

Data are considered to be affordable and good in Finland. We purchased our Elisa SIM / Saunalahti Prepaid card in K Supermarket for 6 euro and it serves us well. With only 0.99 euro unlimited data per day for 4G service in 2014, one is never afraid that you will not get lost in Lapland and Helsinki. You can purchase them from most of the convenient stores. I've read a horror story of how the staff at convenient stores don't bother helping the customer with information. Thankfully we didn't have to handle that while we were in Finland. 

There are other reputable telcom in Finland such as DNA and Telia that offers competitive plans too!

Weather
Day time is short during winter. In 4 hours time, the skies turn dark. Also, the temperature in Finland can have a drastic change. On normal days in Levi, it was -17 degree, -30 when we were having fun with the huskies and on some night it gets a little warm with temperature going up to -1 degree in Rovaniemi. Nonetheless, according to our guide, he said this is the normal range.


Thus it is important to dress well for winter. Like every kiasu Singaporean, we layered ourselves with thermal, fleece jacket, down jacket and lots of heat pack! & thankfully it works because while we were having fun in the husky farm, we saw other tourist jumping around cause they were too cold

Getting Around in Lapland, Rovaniemi & Levi
Airport Bus Airport to City
Taxi is quite expensive considering it is a short 15 minutes trip and it cost around 20-30 euro. Thankfully there are Airport Taxi for a small group of travellers like us. We used an airport taxi on both occasions Helsinki Airport to Helsinki City Area & Rovaniemi City Center to Rovaniemi Airport. 

Previously, we paid 30 Euro for a trip from Helsinki city centre to Helsinki Airport and 7 euro per pax for one way trip to the airport from Rovaniemi city centre. Pretty reasonable for 2 people. If you are travelling in a group, it is recommended to get a taxi. 

Intercity bus 
We flew to Rovaniemi from Helsinki by Finnair and took a bus to Levi. If we knew we are visiting Levi, we could have flown to Kittilä Airport. You can check the bus schedule here. Booking online is recommended but one can purchase the bus ticket on that day itself. The schedule will usually be out 1 month before the travel date. Do remember to print extra copies for the return trip because the bus driver will collect them. Although the seats are barely filled up, we didn’t want to take chances as it was near to Christmas. 

Intercity Flight
We flew direct to Helsinki and took a domestic flight Rovaniemi via Finnair. Although the overall experience with Finnair is pretty good but on the downside, delays seem to be a common thing with them. The flight was delayed in Singapore and somehow delayed on our way from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. Thus it is important to include sufficient buffer time. Fortunately, we made it on time for our bus to Levi!

Suggested 8 Days Finland Itinerary
Day 1: Singapore – Helsinki – Levi
Day 2: Explore Levi + Huskies Ride + Glass Igloo
Day 3: Snowboarding + Travel to Kemi
Day 4: Ice Breaking Cruise + Explore Kemi + Travel to Rovaniemi
Day 5: Santa Claus Village
Day 6: Rovaniemi – Helsinki + Explore Helsinki
Day 7: Visit Suomenlinna Fortress Island
Day 8: Last Minute Shopping – Back Home or another country

Day 1: Singapore – Helsinki – Levi
Travelling time from Singapore to Finland is estimated to be around 12 hours and depending on if you visit other parts of Finland too. Do take note that there are often delays in flight. So, try not to pack everything on day 1 and have buffer time in between. Our flight was delayed and we were scheduled to another flight. Thankfully, there was buffer time and we did not miss the only bus that is scheduled on that day.

Most flights to Finland are by Finnair. It will be good to identify which city in Finland you are planning to visit. Book Multi-city tickets from Finnair to save money! Plus, very often Finnair have sale fare from Singapore! So look out for it!

Day 2: Explore Levi + Huskies Ride + Glass Igloo
Situated right up in the artic, Levi resort is the largest ski resort in Finland. Start your day by exploring Levi or even Ski! Also, one can even book a ride with the huskies and sledge along the wilderness.

In the evening, make your way to the glass igloo and catch the northern light from your glass igloo. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see it when I was there! Book your dinner with Golden Crown and enjoy it under the northern light.

Day 3: Snowmobile + Travel to Kemi
Photo credit: Common Wiki Media
After you check out of the glass igloo, go for an adventure and try snowmobile. There are many places that offer snowmobile You can opt for the duration and location that you are interested in. Some agency even offer options for you to ride under the northern light at an additional fee which I don’t really recommend. It’s going to pitch dark and you don’t get to enjoy the wilderness view.

Snow Castle
Photo credit: Common Wiki Media
In the afternoon, make your way to Kemi and visit the Snow Castle. You can even spend a night in the snow hotel. If the snow hotel is over your budget, you can even visit its restaurant to have a feel of the ice experience.

Day 4: Ice Breaking Cruise + Visit Snow Castle + Travel to Rovaniemi
Photo credit: Common Wiki Media
Sampo Icebreaking Cruise
Next morning, go for an excursion in the Bothnia Sea. Well known for its massive Sampo icebreaker, the giant ship is constructed to ply the Arctic waters. One can even wear and float on the water.

In the afternoon, set off to Rovaniemi from Kemi. Explore Rovaniemi City, the tourist Santa Claus Village. Best time to visit is 2 weeks before Christmas when there is a Christmas market. Highly recommend you to avoid during Christmas Day because most of the shops are closed. Basically, you will only see tourist roaming around.

Day 5: Visit Santa Claus Village
Take Bus 8 from the city centre and Spend a day at the Santa Claus village because the queue to meet Santa is insane. It is free to meet Santa but you need to pay to have a picture taken. I tried to take a selfie with Santa but failed. Other than meeting Santa, there are reindeer rides available to take. You can book your ride in advance here

Day 6: Rovaniemi – Helsinki
Photo credit: Common Wiki Media
The next day, bid goodbye to Lapland and set off to Helsinki. Helsinki is the capital of Finland and there are many museums and things to do. Start by visiting the city museum and understand history. Visit the market square where you get to witness beautiful architecture and have your lunch fix. There are many local grocery shops for one to explore and food to sample on.

Day 7: Visit Suomenlinna Fortress Island
Photo credit: Common Wiki Media
Take a day trip to Suomenlinna Fortress Island. The UNESCO world heritage site is a sea fortress and the most popular attraction in Helsinki. With defensive wall spread across the island, it makes Suomelinna very unique. Plus, there is a museum and submarine that allows visitors to explore the vintage vessel. To add on, there is a different trial for one to explore and enjoy the day there.  

Day 8: Last Minute Shopping – Back Home
Although Finland is not a shopping haven for luxury goods, you can find an assorted item of Moomin! Afterwards, make your way home or visit other European Country. Read more Europe itinerary and see which country interest you below!

Read 6D5N Selfdrive Iceland Itinerary here 
Read 5D4N Switzerland itinerary here 
Read 4D3N Salzburg + Hallstatt Itinerary here 

8 comments

  1. Hi, i'm planning a trip to Finland this coming Christmas. Part of our itinerary is to visit Rovaniemi 22-24th & Levi igloo 25th-26th. And i understand fr ur blog that most shop will be closed during this period. Does this typically applies to safaris as well?

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  2. Hello KL! Most shop in Rovaniemi close on 24th Night to 26th but most safaris operator still work during this period as its their "peak" period. However you might want to book early as it is quite popular. Drop them an email to the safari operator to check on their availability and confirmation! They almost missed us out on the northern light tour!

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  3. Ikr. I'm so sad i didnt manage to secure the aurora & husky tours that i want. sobs T.T

    I'm really keen to join the Tundra Husky ride after reading ur post, but they only left with 2pm slots :( i understand that is gonna be polar night during the time of the year. Fr ur experience, would it be too dark (worth it) for husky activity after 2pm in Levi? Typically how much sunlight (as seen in ur photos) can we get in Levi & Rovaniemi? Would like to hear fr you :)

    lost soul

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  4. Hi KL!

    The sky had turn dark when we got back from the 10am slot. Thus there is a high chance you will be riding in semi-dark. Personally, i love the view in daylight and think riding in semi-dark is pretty cool too! Are you planning to visit lapland region any time soon? or do you have any other activities that you can do during that time? If not, perhaps you should try husky ride! Do share with me if you are trying it! I would love to hear your experience!

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  5. YES!!! Am so excited. I'll be visiting during Christmas too. Just like you, i definitely prefer the view in the daylight but riding in semi-dark sounds quite magical as well? Still struggling if i should go with 2pm slot. As i'm really worry that it might be too dark to take photo & all? Typically, what time to what time can i get decent sunlight in Levi? 9am-12noon?

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    Replies
    1. Haha yes thats a real struggle! Taking photos in the dark is a challenge. What's more in the husky cart! Daylight in levi is typically around 10pm - 1pm (3hours). Hope you have a fun time! Merry Christmas in advance!

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  6. Hello.. the prices you have like the ticket/activities prices is it for each pax or for two? Thanks a lot!!

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