Step out of Lapland’s small Kittila Airport during the dead of a winter’s night, and the icy air feels like it could turn your nose numb. This is the gateway to Finland’s largest and northernmost region, home to around 180,000 reindeer and approximately as many people.
And those people aren’t afraid of the cold. Rather than huddling inside all day during temperatures that dip to -4 degrees Fahrenheit, the people of Lapland put on their warmest gear and head outside and embrace the idea of sisu, a word used to describe endurance—the perseverance to keep going even when the odds aren’t in your favor. With endless wilderness to explore and plenty of outdoor activities, here’s what to look for if you want to take advantage of Lapland’s winter wonderland like a local—despite the frigid weather.
For more than six months of the year, the landscape is caked in snow, resembling a flat, marzipan-iced terrain dotted with pine trees, which hunch over from the weight of icicles. But that doesn’t stop the Finns, who take advantage of quirky snow sports, some of which are only feasible with enough snow and ice. If you’re not afraid of heights, try ice climbing along frozen cliffs and rock faces. And anyone who’s been yearning to try kite surfing could do some snow kiting, also known as kite skiing, which uses the power of the kite to glide along ice while riding a snowboard or skis.
More snowy sports
Rather keep your adrenaline levels down? Go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or snow biking. There’s even an activity called “dry-suit floating” where enthusiasts dressed in special waterproof suits float around on a near-frozen lake. Harriniva also has a “snowshow and Arctic spa experience,” which involves hiking on snowshoes and then visiting the sauna; it costs around $130 for five hours.