You know the photos.
Midnight sky with swirls of green and blue.
The Northern Lights.
What the photos don’t show you is how hard it can be to see the Northern Lights.
They don’t appear every night, and they’re always different.
They also don’t show you what you should do during the day.
After all, if you’re spending nights hunting for or waiting for the Northern Lights, what do you do, during the day?
Well, it turns out in Lapland, there’s
heaps bucket loads to do!
To save you the pain of traveling all the way to Lapland and only seeing the lights, I’ve put together a guide for enjoying Lapland, beyond the Northern lights:
1. Husky Sledding
I’m not going to lie.
I’ve wanted to see the Northern Lights for years, but having been and come back from Finnish Lapland, Husky Sledding was the highlight of my trip.
It was the thrill of the wind in your hair, the speed at which you’re traveling in the hands of someone else.
I know I’m not alone when I say that this is an experience worth making an effort for.
We’ve had many friends who have also said this was the highlight of their trip – far more memorable than seeing the Northern Lights.
Most sleds only have space for two people: one person to sit in the sled, and the other to steer. While the idea of guiding a pack of huskies can be terrifying, it’s a lot easier than many people realize. The Huskies are well trained and usually just follow the lead pack.
The team of 6 huskies we got were super excited to be out – their energy is contagious. Anytime we had to stop they were barking and trying to pull the sled!
This is a great way to see Lapland beyond the Northern Lights!
A wonderful way to explore the snow-covered country, snowmobiling is almost like the modern day form of husky sledding.
If you can drive or ride a bike, you can likely steer a snowmobile.
There is something incredibly exhilarating about the wind in your hair, flying past snow covered trees at high speeds.
Most snowmobiles are very easy to use, and some even have heated handlebars. What the photos don’t tell you is exactly how cold you can get, sitting on the back of one of these things.
Never mind you’re in the coldest part of the world, you’re also sitting very still on the back of a snowmobile, exposed to the elements!
Regardless of the weather, it’s still a worthwhile activity to experience.
3. Snowshoe walking
This, by far, is my favorite activity (after husky sledding, of course!)
It is possibly the easiest snow sport that requires little to no skill.
If you can walk, you can snowshoe walk!
You’re probably like “girl, can you just get on with it?? What are these bloody snow-shoe things?”
Snowshoes are like fat skies. They’re shorter than skies (no whizzing down hills at high speeds here!), and they allow you to walk on snow, stopping you from sinking into the powdery snow.
You strap your snow boots onto the snow shoes (again, much like a pair of skis) and you’re ready to go!
If you like hiking, chances are you’ll like snow shoe walking.
Unlike snowmobiling or husky sledding, you’re not likely to freeze to death either. Your body when walking (especially if it’s hilly) will end up producing enough heat to keep you warm.
4. Visiting Santa or a reindeer farm
I don’t know about you, but Lapland is synonymous with Christmas.
Visiting Santa on this side of the world is a must when you’re here, or even a visit to his reindeer helpers.
Reindeer also happen to be a big part of the culture of the Sami – regardless of whether you are in Finland, Sweden or Norway.
The baby reindeer are very shy, but if you move gently, you might be lucky enough to feed one! There are a lot of traditions and rules around keeping reindeer.
As they are part of the Sami culture, there are restrictions on who is allowed to keep reindeer, their numbers and even cultural rules around how each reindeer are identified within families.
5. Another way of seeing the Northern Lights
We’ve all seen the Instagram or Pinterest worthy photos, but what the photos don’t show you is how much more comfortable it is to see the Northern Lights through a glass ceiling.
Normally, seeing the lights involves traveling to the middle of nowhere, whether this is via snowmobile, car or on foot.
While cold weather is part of the experience, it can be incredibly cold and uncomfortable.
But what if you could see it all from the comfort of your own bed?
While the experience can set you back on your budget, if you can afford the luxury, this can be an incredible way to see the Northern Lights.
For many of us, a trip to Lapland is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Beyond the Northern Lights is a beautiful part of the world, which so much more to offer than pretty lights in the night sky.
Make sure to plan your visit in advance, and you’ll get to enjoy some of the side benefits of being in a Winter wonderland!
So what about you? Have you seen the Northern Lights? What are some of the activities you would recommend?
Leave me a comment below and let me know!