Lapland information and travel guide

Visit Norwegian, Swedish or Finnish Lapland and you will take away much more than Santa Claus could give you.

James Proctor, author of Lapland: The Bradt Guide

For a place that doesn’t officially exist, Lapland is world famous. Children know this snowy winter wonderland as the home of Santa Claus and his illustrious red-nosed reindeer, Rudolph, who flies off to the starry skies of Lapland every Christmas Eve to deliver gifts and treats to homes around the world, a truly remarkable feat of aviation. , schedules and largesse that leave even the world’s favorite airlines speechless. However, beyond the popular image of Lapland, little is known about this mysterious region lost somewhere on the edge of Europe.

First-time visitors are often amazed at Lapland’s wide variety of landscapes: classic Norwegian fjords amid some of Europe’s most awe-inspiring mountain scenery; vast pine and spruce forests that cover the great interior plateaus of Swedish Lapland; and stark, treeless hills surrounded by steel-gray lakes and unforgiving marshes that give Finnish Lapland its very individual character. This is Scandinavia in its most basic form. Thanks to good road, rail and air connections, travel between different regions of Lapland is easy, making it perfect to visit Santa Claus in Finland, spend a night at the Icehotel in Sweden and go to island hopping in Norway all at the same time. trip. Yes, winter temperatures can dip to -30°C and below, but public transport in Lapland is reliable, accommodation is warm and cozy and restaurants offer a variety of options; reindeer, a local low-fat food source consumed by generations of Lapps, may even be on the menu.

Inevitably, the indigenous inhabitants of Lapland, the Sami (who do not like the name “Sami”, which was imposed on them by insensitive southerners) are today a minority in their own territory and represent barely 7% of the total population. Promotion of Sami culture is widespread, and efforts to save the seven (or arguably nine) different dialects of the Sami language from extinction have met with some success. Travel through Lapland and sooner or later you will see Sami people in their brightly colored traditional clothes – this is sometimes put on for tourists, but during key festivals in the Sami calendar, wearing these clothes is a sign of pride and brotherhood. The nomadic way of life may have all but disappeared, but there is still a strong sense of community, which transcends national borders.

Inextricably drawn to the latest places, I first traveled to Lapland in 1983 and have been a regular visitor ever since. There is simply something about the sheer austerity of nature – and, at times, the harshness of people who choose to live inside the Arctic Circle – that fascinates me. Lapland is perhaps at its most magical during the long winter months, when daylight is scarce and the snow is deep on the ground – it’s certainly the perfect time to go on a snowmobile or sled ride to dogs, or, indeed, to curl up with a good book next to a wood-burning stove in a log cabin – but it’s just as alluring in the summer when the midnight sun and the quality of light in northern skies are perhaps two of the hardest things to qualify in paper Lapland. Visit Norwegian, Swedish or Finnish Lapland and you will take away much more than Santa Claus could give you.

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