As a keen fan of Jules Verne’s, I used to dream of voyages. My childhood floated away on sailing boats heading towards destinations yet to be discovered, my imagination explored places so exotic that it deflected my perception of life forever. Thus as if an adventurous reflection of mine, a proxy of a sort, my mind walked along with Captain Hatteras – to the north, always towards north, until the direction became an imprint in my subconscious.
This is an eccentric world. A world moving from one extreme to another, yet keeping its balance nonetheless. If you feel too active and days are not long enough, Lappish summer with its midnight sun might be your thing then. Or is it the opposite; feeling introspective, in need of a time-out from life? Polar night might be just what you need. But do not expect the deep darkness of Central European nights. Polar nights do lack sunlight, but they are definitely not pitch-black.
And then there are the northern lights. Something so rare and uncanny for all non-Nordics to see that a single occurence might turn into a cherished remembrance for the rest of our lives. I assume, as I am yet to witness them.
Accessibility from Central Europe
From basically anywhere in Central Europe, Finland is easily approachable by various carriers. Be it Vienna, Budapest or Munich, the direct routes are operated daily for example by Finnair, Air Berlin, Lufthansa or Norwegian Air Shuttle. If you do not mind time loss on transfers, low-cost providers, such as Norwegian, Scandinavian Airlines or BalticAir could be your choice. However, better count on the fact that there will be another connecting flight from Helsinki to Lapland, let’s say Rovaniemi or Ivalo serviced by Finnair, Norwegian or Flybe, if you do not prefer to travel circa 900km by train.
Getting Around (VR)
If you happen to prefer the railway transport, VR is what you are searching for. In Finland, train is a rather expensive and time consuming means of transport, but VR offers great discounts on a regular basis; they might take you from south to north for 30€ if you are lucky enough. All you need to know is the name of your destination – and check the webpage well in advance. Buying any ticket at least 2 weeks in advance is usually cheaper, with 1 month advance you can get 50% from the ticket price off.
All right, so you got here. But where to go from the airport? There are several choices. If you go for a hotel, you have several choices. However, be aware of the need to book the room well in advance. In high seasons, it is close to impossible to find accommodation at a reasonable price. Guesthouses and hostels are rather rare, but there are some. Once again, please make sure to contact them before your arrival. Is the offer above too lame? How about a snow hotel then? The even temperature of -5˚C promises to cool any hot head.
You are breathing the Arctic, you are looking at the Arctic, experiencing it on your own. But in what way? What it is, actually, that you can do here? Let’s count:
- Discover the culture of Sami, the indigenous people of the northern-most parts of Europe in Inari.
- Fancy a reindeer safari? Have your first close encounter of the third kind with a reindeer
- Check out the meeting point of borders: Where would you like to tread? Norway, Sweden, Finland?
- Use Lappish ski resorts to get yourself back into shape.
- Fish out a fish in Utsjoki. Yet another way to relieve stress.
- Try out arctic transport. Snowmobiles and huskies certainly won’t get a flat tire
- Explore Rovaniemi. If you are interested in polar nature and environment, Arktikum will most likely entertain you for several hours at least.
- Have Christmas every day – in Santa’s Village.
Still not enough? Number 10 is up to you.
Make it your own adventure, as I made it mine.