Planning out the perfect 2, 3 or 4 days in Lapland itinerary can be a magical, if not overwhelming, experience when you consider all there is to see and do in this unique region of far northern Europe.
There are few more quintessential winter destinations and experiences than Finnish Lapland. Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland and is the pinnacle and epitome of a winter fairytale. From snow-covered boreal forests, dancing Northern Lights, energetic huskies and reindeer to the monumental moment of crossing into the Arctic circle, you’ll be hard-pressed not to have the experience of a lifetime.
Whether you’re interested in sipping hot chocolate during the winter polar night or forest hiking in the midnight sun, Lapland is the perfect destination for any travel seeker. Read this article to help plan your Finnish Lapland itinerary.
How Many Days in Lapland?
Lapland is a unique destination, and this can make it a bit harder when planning the duration of your trip. This is why many potential visitors wonder how many days to spend in Lapland.
To begin with, Finnish Lapland is far from a budget-friendly destination and the prices in Finland, in general, are high. With the costs of just about everything being higher than elsewhere in Europe, keep this in mind when you plan a trip to this area.
Taking this into consideration, I’d say that the minimum recommended amount of time to spend in Lapland is 2 full days. With 2 days in Lapland, you’ll be able to briefly experience the magic of the Arctic and do a few activities without taking too big of a chunk out of your budget.
The next best amount of time to spend in Lapland is 3 days, as you’ll experience everything you’d manage in 2 days but feel a lot less rushed, also with the opportunity to head to another part of the region.
Finally, in my opinion, 4 days in Lapland are ideal. If you’re able to spend 4 days in Lapland, you’re in for a real adventure. A trip of 4 days does the Finnish Lapland region justice as you’ll be able to visit multiple places and soak in what extraordinary Arctic life is like in the northernmost part of Finland.
Getting To & Around Lapland
Getting to Lapland
The most popular, affordable, and convenient option for getting to Finnish Lapland is by taking a flight into the capital city of Rovaniemi. By passenger numbers, Rovaniemi Airport is the third-busiest airport in Finland and is the main airport to fly into for a Lapland trip and Itinerary.
While there are other options for airports in Lapland such as Ivalo Airport in Northern Lapland, this itinerary begins in Rovaniemi so will be the focal point to start your trip.
Rovaniemi Airport serves direct routes from Helsinki year-round and seasonal winter routes from several European destinations, making it a pretty straightforward trip, especially for a winter getaway.
Another popular option to reach Rovaniemi is to take a 12-hour overnight train from Helsinki, whisking you away from the busy city, through snow-dusted forests, Finnish towns and straight into the heart of Arctic Lapland.
There is a noticeable difference in price and journey, but it’s completely worth it if you can afford it and have the time to spare for a long train journey.
Car rental is also another viable transportation option if you’re flying into Helsinki and would like to drive to Lapland. Summer is a great time to embark on a Finnish/Lapland road trip as you don’t need to worry about tough weather conditions and you will save money on transportation with a car rental in comparison to other methods.
If you’d like to rent a car to drive to Lapland in winter, make sure you feel confident in case of difficult weather and road conditions, and have the proper gear fitted to your car. You can browse car rental options here.
Getting Around Lapland
As for getting around Finnish Lapland, in my opinion, the best mode of transport is by car. Like any other rural and wild part of the world, renting a car gives you the most flexibility for your trip without having to worry about bus times and time crunches.
Lapland is vast and boundless with many different spots and sites being distant from each other, and although there is a great bus system within the region, you’ll have the utmost freedom this way. For example, one of the prime goals for many people visiting Lapland is to get the chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
While seeing the Northern Lights in most parts of Lapland is possible, your chances are higher the further away from light pollution and busy tourist areas. You can take a tour that will take you Northern Light hunting, but they can be expensive and give you just one chance. With your own car, you can search extensively to experience the enchanting Northern Lights.
If for whatever reason, renting a car isn’t an option for you, it’s still possible to have a thrilling Lapland adventure. With public transportation, you can get around Finland and Finnish Lapland in particular quite easily.
You’ll find a few different bus companies such as ExpressBus and Matkahuolto, both with frequent routes connecting different parts of the Lapland region. Prices differ depending on departure and arrival destinations but are generally quite affordable.
Most destinations on this itinerary have bus transport options available, either by the local bus system or by private bus/shuttle companies.
2, 3 or 4 Days in Lapland Itinerary
This Finnish Lapland itinerary will take you through Rovaniemi, the heart and capital of Lapland, through the magical timeless world of Santa Claus village, and to the Northern part of Lapland to further enjoy your fairytale – either by hitting the slopes or mingling with furry and friendly locals.
There are countless winter activities to enjoy on a trip to Finnish Lapland from husky safaris to ice fishing to warming up in a Finnish sauna and this is the perfect region to experience these things.
Day 1 – Lapland Capital, Rovaniemi
Explore the city of Rovaniemi
This itinerary for Lapland begins with 2 nights in the capital city of Rovaniemi. While Rovaniemi is a small city in comparison to other larger cities in Finland, there’s still much to do and discover.
Spending your first day in Lapland exploring the city of Rovaniemi is the perfect way to ease into Lappish life as well as arctic Lappish temperatures. This is also the perfect opportunity to find appropriate Arctic clothing for the rest of your trip if you weren’t already prepared.
If you’re visiting outside of the winter months, regular winter or spring/autumn clothing is acceptable but in the winter months you’ll want warm thermal clothing and boots to protect you from the bitter Arctic air.
If you take part in activities through any of the companies in Rovaniemi, you’ll have winter outerwear included for the duration of your stay. Otherwise, you can rent the same clothing from these companies for a pretty decent price.
If you’re looking to explore and learn more about Finland’s Arctic culture, science, and history, the Arktikum Museum is the perfect place to educate yourself on Lapland while also getting a break from the cold.
The museum is located on the northern end of Rovaniemi and is about a 15-minute walk from the center point of the city. Arktikum is open every day except Mondays from 10 AM – 6 PM with an adult admission cost of €18 and reduced ticket options available.
Arctic Sunset & Eat a Traditional Lappish Meal
Whether you’re visiting during the winter or the summer, one of the most beautiful experiences of a Rovaniemi itinerary is to walk by the River Kemijoki during “sunset”. The colours that you’ll witness are truly remarkable, as if they were a painting, and are only just the beginning of a fairytale trip to Finland.
Afterwards, I suggest heading to Nili Restaurant, in the heart of Rovaniemi city to experience delicious, traditional Lapland cuisine. If you want the full experience, I challenge you to try the reindeer, as it’s harder to try this Lapland classic food once you’ve met the adorable reindeer themselves.
Where to Stay in Rovaniemi
Arctic Light Hotel – This boutique hotel makes for the perfect base in Rovaniemi. They have a number of lovely rooms available and countless amenities like free parking, an airport shuttle and an on-site restaurant/bar. Click here to see their availability
Santa’s Igloos Arctic Circle – If you want a unique accommodation option in Rovaniemi then these igloos can be an interesting choice. There are a number of different glass igloos to choose from (some including saunas!) and there are also plenty of other amenities for guests to enjoy. Click here to see their availability
Hostel Cafe Koti – Those trying to save a bit of cash while visiting Rovaniemi will love this hip hostel. There are both dorms and private rooms on offer along with a kitchen, a sauna and breakfast included for guests. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Rovaniemi hotels!
Day 2 – Santa Claus Village or Exploring Rovaniemi Nature
Day 2 of this Rovaniemi itinerary will either be spent wandering the famous Santa Claus Village or exploring the incredible nature of the region. If you’re visiting in the winter, I’d undoubtedly recommend heading to Santa Claus Village.
More than just Santa and Christmas activities for children, it’s truly a winter wonderland village with plenty of space, nature, log cabins and activities to explore with something for everyone.
In the summer months, it’s still quite fun and unique to visit Santa Claus Village, cross the Arctic Circle Line, and enjoy the area without the winter visitor numbers. Otherwise, there’s plenty to explore in Rovaniemi under the midnight sun.
Santa Claus Village
If you have a car to drive on your trip to Lapland, Santa Claus Village is just a quick 10-minute drive from Rovaniemi city center. Otherwise, you can catch the Santa Express or local bus 8 from Rovaniemi city center with the journey being about 20 minutes.
It is also possible to take a guided tour that includes a visit to the village as well as a visit to a reindeer and husky farm.
Once you reach Santa Claus Village there’s so much to do and enjoy on a day trip here. There’s no cost to enter the village, with costs only for individual activities.
If you’re keen on doing a husky sled ride or reindeer sleigh ride, prices are less than half the cost of tour companies operating outside of Rovaniemi. The ride is a lot shorter, but it’s a special experience to wander through the snow-covered forests under a warm blanket while led by Lapland’s mascots; huskies and reindeer.
Visiting Santa’s Post Office and taking a picture with Santa is free, with the post office truly being like something out of a Christmas movie – a dream for both children and adults alike.
The entirety of the Village is a large area consisting not just of the concrete buildings and “town” part of the village but also a wide expanse of forest. Even just getting lost in the snowy forest, making snow angels, and warming up at one of the village’s many fires throughout the area is truly a special experience.
Once your appetite has opened and you’re ready for some warming food, there are plenty of options at the village; whether you’re looking for more cafeteria-style food or classic Lappish food in a traditional Arctic-style hut.
If you’re in Rovaniemi during the warmer months and prefer to skip Santa Claus Village, there’s still plenty to do and explore and I recommend taking advantage of the extraordinary nature of Rovaniemi Lapland.
Rovaniemi is a dream world for nature lovers and my suggestion is to spend a day on the trails, hiking throughout the Arctic Circle while experiencing the ethereal midnight sun. If you don’t want to walk, you can organise a snowmobile adventure through the forest as an alternative.
A great place to start to plan your time in Rovaniemi nature is at the Finnish National Park authority, where you’ll find ideal hiking trails and paths to take in Finnish Lapland.
There’s no better way to watch the midnight sun than in the lush Finnish forest, with a picnic and a cold drink either by yourself or with close friends/family.
Day 3 – Northern Lapland, Levi & Samiland Exhibition
In this itinerary, with a 3-day trip to Lapland or 4 days in Lapland, you’ll head out of Rovaniemi and Southern Lapland to Northern Lapland. While Rovaniemi is all about Santa and Christmas joy, Levi, the main resort city in Northern Lapland is all about nature, the Northern Lights, and indigenous Sami culture.
If you’re driving during your Lapland itinerary, the drive from Rovaniemi to Levi is just over 2 hours and is an exquisitely stunning drive. Much of the drive is through Lapland nature and it’s hard to regret making the journey north.
If you don’t have a car, there are a few bus companies with direct transport from Rovaniemi to Levi. OmniBus is a great option as services are frequent, the buses are comfortable and can be pretty affordable for Finland prices.
Levi is the ski resort in the area and is the biggest ski resort town in Finland. The village that Levi is located in is Sirkka, and there aren’t a lack of things to do, places to stay, things to see, or food to eat.
If you like to be in the center of the action on your travels, I suggest staying in the center of Sirkka. Otherwise, it’s worth spending a little more to stay outside of the town to sleep amongst the magical Lapland wilderness.
If you want to learn more about Sami, the local indigenous culture then make sure to visit the Samiland Exhibition.
The Sami are the descendants of the nomadic people of Northern Scandinavia traced back thousands of years ago and Sami culture is rich in history, mythology, and folklore. The perfect place to learn more about this integral part of Lapland and Finnish culture is to head to the Samiland Exhibition in Levi.
The exhibition does a wonderful and interesting job educating on Sami culture, with both indoor and outdoor exhibits in both winter and summer seasons. Samiland is open every day of the winter from 10 AM – 8 PM, most days of the summer (check hours in advance), and admission tickets for adults cost €13 with reduced ticket options available.
Northern Light Safari
Other than slope seekers and ski aficionados, the main pull for visitors coming to Levi is easily the famous conquest for the Northern Lights. During the Aurora season, you’re almost guaranteed to see the Northern Lights if you’re visiting Levi.
If you have a car, you’ll have a lot more freedom to follow more remote and forecasted Aurora areas with less light pollution, although it is possible and common to see the dancing Northern Lights in the town itself. With your own transportation, you can come and go as you choose and watch from your car to stay warm!
The best spots to seek the Northern Lights in/outside of Levi are at the top of Kätkä Fell, Tonttula (Elves Village), and quite honestly, anywhere further from town lights with large areas of open land.
If you don’t have a car, I suggest taking part in a Northern Light safari tour out of Levi. Costs for these are cheaper than in Rovaniemi, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see the Aurora if you’re visiting during the Aurora season.
These tours typically pick you up from your hotel/accommodation and bring you to Aurora hot spots either by snowmobile or bus/car transportation. You’ll spend time learning about the area and Lapland with a local guide, while drinking hot chocolate or grilling sausages, and keeping warm by a hot, open fire.
Hopefully, before you know it, you’ll soon witness the out-of-this-world experience and natural phenomenon of the colorful, elegant Northern Lights dancing above your eyes.
Where to Stay in Levi
Break Sokos Hotel Levi – This hotel is an excellent base for exploring Levi and the surrounding area. They have a range of bright, clean and comfortable rooms to choose from, they’re pet-friendly and there is even a restaurant and cafe/bar on site for guests to enjoy. Click here to see their availability
Northern Lights Village Levi – For those after a unique and unforgettable stay in Levi, this hotel is a great option. They have a number of rooms on offer – all with windows over the bed for some cosy Aurora viewings. Rooms are also equipped with fireplaces, breakfast is available and there is an on-site bar. Click here to see their availability
Levi Suites Levi Gold – If you want your own space while exploring Lapland, then these suites in Levi are a good option. They have a number of flats available, all fully furnished with everything you may need. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Levi hotels!
Day 4 – Skiing or Winter Activities
On the 4th and last day of your time in Lapland, you’ll have two different options for enjoying the last day of your Finnish Lapland adventure; skiing the slopes of Levi or taking the time to enjoy more winter activities that you may not have already done in Rovaniemi. Some options include this husky sled ride or a snowmobile safari.
Skiing in Levi
Being the biggest ski resort in Finland, Levi is a great spot to either practice and enjoy as a novice skier or try your hand on the slopes for the first time – under the arctic sky.
Levi has mostly intermediate slopes, with 28 lifts and 48 slopes as well as just about 4 hours of sunshine during the winter. Luckily, the slopes are kept open late giving you enough time to enjoy either an old or newfound activity.
Skiing under the beautifully pink pastel polar night sky is something you’ll likely never experience out of Finnish Lapland, and it truly deserves a spot on your travel bucket list.
Apres-Ski/Dinner at Tuikku
There’s no better way to end your trip to Lapland and day on the slopes than at Tuikku, Levi’s oldest restaurant as well as where you’ll find the most extraordinary slope side and Lapland views. In the winter, there’s live music and DJ, offering the perfect closing to a magical trip.
Prices are pretty affordable, whether you’re interested in having a cocktail, hot chocolate, or a long day of skiing and adventuring that has left you hungry for their delicious buffet meals.
It’s safe to say that Lapland is one of the most magical destinations in the world. Whether you’re an adult or a child, this enchanting Finnish region is undoubtedly going to touch your heart and sprinkle fairy-tale magic into your trip to make it one of the most unforgettable adventures of a lifetime.
Are you planning to visit Finnish Lapland? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!