Christmas treats for kids don’t get much better than going to Lapland and meeting the real Father Christmas – do they? They don’t, but you do need to think about a few things to get the best out of it! So here are 20 top tips for your Lapland holiday of a lifetime trip to Lapland with kids!
Lapland is known for its stunning natural beauty, including vast forests, Arctic wilderness, and the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) that can be observed during the winter months. It’s a popular destination for travellers seeking a unique Arctic experience and outdoor activities like dog sledging, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. Additionally, Lapland is often associated with Santa Claus and is a popular destination for families during the holiday season.
20 Top Tips for A Holiday to Lapland with Kids
Where is Lapland?
Lapland is a region in Northern Europe that spans across several countries, including:
- Finland: The largest part of Lapland is in Finland, which covers the country’s northernmost portion. Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland, is a popular gateway to the region known for its association with Santa Claus.
- Sweden: Lapland extends into northern Sweden, called “Swedish Lapland.” Kiruna is a major town in this Swedish region.
- Norway: A smaller part of Lapland extends into northern Norway, known as “Norwegian Lapland.” Tromsø is a notable city in this region.
Before you book
1. What’s the best age to take the kids to Lapland?
The best age for visiting Lapland with kids is when they’re as old as they can be without the magic having already disappeared. Most of the companies don’t recommend the trip for children under 4 and I can see why.
The temperatures can drop (we experienced -32), and the kids need to be able to understand how to keep themselves warm. The huskies and reindeer rides are potentially lost on the younger ones, and they are very much part of the overall experience for little explorers. In my heart of hearts, I’d say 6/7/8 are perfect ages.
2. How long should we stay in Lapland?
A 2-3 night trip seems to be the most popular way to do Lapland. But there are also week-long trips and also day trips too. If you don’t want or need to do any of the additional activities, then a 2 night trip is long enough, as you get the afternoon on the day you arrive and the morning of the day you leave, in addition to your Search for Santa day. It is also cheaper to do the 2-night trip, as with a 3 night trip you get an adventure day and the additional activities can really start to add up.
If your kids are adventurous though and you fancy skiing and other additional activities go for the 3 night stay or even longer. It’s a great idea to stay in a ski resort or log cabin. The families we met who did the Northern Lights tour in Lapland really enjoyed it.
A day trip to Lapland is certainly cheaper, but you have to consider if it is worth it. The children are likely to be up at 3ish for an early morning flight. Then fly for three and a half hours, spend the afternoon in Lapland, fly three and a half hours back and arrive home very late.
I know my kids couldn’t really do that without probably being upset during the afternoon (key part of the day. Plus if there are any delays on your way out, you don’t have much slack in the schedule. How long you visit Lapland is something to be considered carefully. And only you know your children’s limits.
3. Which company should we pick to go to Lapland with?
There are many companies out there, but we found the experience with Santa’s Lapland fantastic. And certainly comparable to trips friends have taken with TUI. The resort Santa’s Lapland uses is a small village, which is very picturesque – Saariselka.
Want to travel to Lapland in 2023?
You can journey to magical Lapland for a once in a lifetime chance to meet Father Christmas from £1247 per adult, with reduced rates for children available. The price includes three nights at Saariselkä Inn half-board with flights and transfers. This is departing in December 2023 from a choice of direct flights from UK airports.
This magical deal also includes all activities such as a private meeting with Santa, Elves and Igloo Fantasia and husky and reindeer sleigh-rides. Santa’s Lapland staff also provide the whole family with thermal clothing so they’re fully equipped for the enchanting adventures that lie ahead! For more information please visit www.santaslapland.com or call 01483 791 915.
You can take a look at our video of our trip at the bottom of the post!
4. When during the season is best for visiting Lapland with kids?
To be honest, I don’t think it matters too much which season you visit Lapland in. The temperature varies all the time (often between 0 and -32 degrees) and it isn’t warmer or colder at any time in the short six week season.
Go whenever fits in with you and the kids school. We ended up heading there over Christmas which was very special but also involves more planning due to Christmas presents etc., at least returning those Santa delivers on Christmas morning.
5. Where should we stay in Lapland?
We stayed in a Travelodge-style room at the Saariselka Inn. It wasn’t fancy, but it was fine. If I’d have thought about it properly, I would have chosen a room where you don’t have to get dressed for breakfast and dinner.
We ate our breakfast in the pub attached to the Inn and our evening meals at the hotel, a 5-minute walk away. It would be nicest to be able to simply leave the thermal suits in the room and walk downstairs for food, but that’s probably my only comment on the choice. Look carefully at the descriptions of rooms if style and luxury matters to you – but do remember that’s not really what this trip is all about!
Once you’ve booked Santa’s Lapland here are some Lapland Tips
Once you’ve booked your trip to Lapland here are a few tips on how to make visiting Lapland with kids a little easier.
6. Make sure you have your ski jackets, scarves, hats and gloves on the plane with you as it is freezing when you land and the kids will want to immediately throw snow!
7. When you go to get your thermal gear from the shop on the way to the hotel, try the mittens on – you don’t want them to be too big.
8. Take lots of snacks (like biscuits and chocolate bars) with you for emergency melt downs. Also pack a large picnic for the plane as you’ll fly early and not get to the Lapland resort until way after the kids want lunch.
9. Take hot chocolate for use with the room kettle! I don’t think you can drink enough hot chocolate when you are out there in magical Lapland!
10. Take some charge banks for phones as the temperature means the battery goes QUICK! The same applies to cameras for capturing those special moments, although our Go Pro Hero 5 coped really well!
11. Get a Northern Lights app straight away! Yes we did see them and without taking a trip to see them too. We were lucky we had a clear night. This was taken just outside the restaurant at the Tunturi Hotel on Christmas Day.
12. If you are skiing and want a lesson make sure you book early.
13. The food at the gala dinner is invariably basic, whichever company you book with (forewarned is forearmed)!
14. Take three sets of base layers, ski socks, and two sets of gloves and hats each as these get wet (and possibly lost!)
15. Take snoods and balaclavas – it was -32 when we were there.
16. Consider not booking any excursions before you go, you may find the tasters enough especially if it’s very cold. We didn’t actually do any of the extra activities due to the temperature, and enjoyed tobogganing and a wander on the hiking trails building snowmen, making snow angels and throwing snowballs – all free!
17. Take hand warmers for the kids, just the air activated kind not the gel ones as they last for the whole day
18. Eating out in Lapland isn’t that expensive but drinking is.
19. The suits are very bulky, and it will depend on the temperature as to whether you wear them or not. At -32 they were the only option but if it’s a lot warmer you may want to wear your own ski gear.
20. Stock up on alcohol at the airport. You don’t get it duty free but it’s still much cheaper. Alternatively pack a couple of bottles of wine in your suitcase (we took champers as it was Christmas after all!)
Wondering what visiting Lapland with kids is like? Watch our video!
A Typical 3-Night Lapland Itinerary
Here’s a sample itinerary for a quick 3-night trip to Finnish Lapland to help you plan your trip.
Day 1: Arrival in Rovaniemi
- Arrive in Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland.
- Check-in to your chosen accommodation, which could be a cabin, a hotel, or even a unique option like a glass igloo.
- Explore Rovaniemi, get wrapped up, put on your snow boots and head out to visit the Santa Claus Village to meet Santa in his workshop, post a letter, visit the main post office and cross the Arctic Circle.
- Have dinner in a local restaurant.
On Day 2: Arctic Adventures
- Spend the day participating in winter activities like snowmobiling, husky sledging, or reindeer sleigh rides.
- Enjoy a traditional Finnish sauna in the evening.
- Join a Northern Lights tour for a chance to see the Aurora Borealis if conditions are favourable.
Day 3: Ranua Wildlife Park and Departure
- Take a day trip to the Ranua Wildlife Park to see Arctic animals and a reindeer farm
- Return to Rovaniemi in the afternoon for some last-minute souvenir shopping or additional winter activities like riding a snowmobile, ice fishing or snowshoeing.
- Enjoy a farewell dinner in a local restaurant.
While a 3-night itinerary doesn’t allow for as many activities as longer trips, it still provides you with a wonderful introduction to Lapland’s winter charm, Arctic wildlife, and the chance to witness the Northern Lights. If you have more time to spare, consider extending your stay to fully immerse yourself in the Lapland experience and explore more of the region’s unique offerings.
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Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.