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Arctic adventure and northern lights itinerary in Finnish Lapland

We started our journey into the Finnish Lapland – Arctic circle in the small town of Lake Inari.

This post is part of the Finland Series. Other posts in this series:

  1. Best places to see the northern lights and when to visit
  2. Arctic adventure and northern lights itinerary in Finnish Lapland – This post
  3. Adventures at the Lake Inari transparent mobile cabins
  4. Seeing the northern lights from a glass igloo
  5. Staying in a lakeside chalet & experiencing the husky safari – Coming soon
  6. 24 hours in Helsinki and making most of it – Coming soon
  7. How to get to Finnish Lapland & Arctic circle using miles and points – Coming soon

Getting to Ivalo airport via Helsinki


After an 8 hr flight from NYC (JFK), we reached Helsinki, Finland. The quick and seamless immigration process gave us ample time to enjoy the remaining 2.5 hours of our layover at the comfortable Aspire Lounge with variety of food and drink options.

It is always fun to experience a slightly diluted version of the country at the airport before immersing ourselves fully into the new place and culture.

We were sitting next to a group of Finnish business men and women and it was fun to hear about their recent trips and get a taste of Finland through them.

After recharging and refueling, we were ready for a short 1.5 flight to Ivalo which is a small regional airport located in northern Finland.

If the views from our flight could speak, they would say –

“Winter is coming!!!”

Ivalo airport


Getting to Lake Inari


We had booked a shuttle service with “Ilmari Slant ky” to take us to our stay for 2 nights – Lake Inari cabins which are located about an hour away from the Ivalo airport.

After dropping a couple of other fellow passengers at a hotel 10 minutes away from the airport, we were the only passengers in the shuttle and made some conversation with the driver and tried to pick up a few words in Finnish, which is surprisingly difficult to learn.

The hour journey seemed to fly by in no time while we soaked up views of the snow covered arctic landscape.

Ilmari Slant ky bus ivalo

I wasn’t expecting this!

We get a good bit of snow in NYC and were arriving in Finland after experiencing a full winter season. It is somehow very different to see snow in the beautiful tundra landscape especially when its not covered with garbage and dog shit ☹

Instead of heading directly to the hotel, we had planned to be dropped off 10 min away at the K-market to stock up on some snacks / food. Our host Esko sent a fellow co-worker to pick us up from the store and after a short 15 min drive we finally arrived at the unique Lake Inari mobile cabins!


Staying at the Lake Inari Mobile Cabins


We are no strangers to unique lodging –  After staying in the glass pod hanging 1300 ft from the edge of a mountain in Peru & on an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora, it takes a bit of effort to surprise us.

As soon as we saw the pictures of these transparent cabins built on large wooden skis which get dragged by a snow mobile to the middle of a frozen lake, we knew we had to stay there.

I am so glad we did not miss out on this unique accommodation choice because it was our favorite place to see northern lights in the Finnish Lapland.

We went snowmobiling during the day, jumped into the snow drifts with just our bathing suits and enjoyed a real Finnish Sauna experience!!

Read more about our stay at the Lake Inari Mobile Cabin here

Lake Inari mobile cabin

Snowmobile Lake Inari mobile cabin

Read more about our stay at the Lake Inari Mobile Cabin here


Heading to Rovaniemi


After seeing the northern lights dance for 2 consecutive nights and having a great time at the mobile cabins, we were very sad to leave. In retrospect, I wish we had stayed here for at least one more night.

Usually, a staff member would come to get the mobile cabin at 8am but since we had a 7am bus, we got the snowmobile to come fetch us early to return to the main lodge. After a quick breakfast, we said goodbye to our wonderful host Esko and were dropped off to the bus station to get to our next destination – Rovaniemi.

We had booked the bus tickets in advance to simplify logistics. Even though the bus was not even close to being full, we are glad we reserved the front two seats in advance! Hemali gets motion sick so the front seats are a no brainer for an extra couple of bucks. We also had the front seat views of the stunning landscape which looked like it came straight out of a story book.

I really cannot do justice to the experience but I will try my best –

We had arrived in the winter wonderland with little dough balls of snow adorning the pine trees and sun shining on the fresh powdery snow as far as eyes could see.

It was so beautiful that it hurt. Hands down the best bus ride of my life!

Bus to Rovaniemi from Ivalo

Bus to Rovaniemi from Ivalo

The bus driver was playing “knocking on heaven’s door” – a very apt soundtrack considering the surroundings! We made a quick stop in a small town of Sodankyla before getting to our destination – Rovaniemi airport.

Hold on! We are not there yet! Some quick logistical information before we move on –

Use this link to book the bus tickets and seats

https://matkahuolto.fi/en/

Price of a ticket from Lake Inari to Rovaniemi – 60E


Why Rovaniemi?


We initially came across Lake Inari and Ivalo when we saw pictures of Kakslauttanen glass igloos and almost booked our stay there. After going through the reviews, we weren’t sold on this overpriced option (over 500E / night) with a lot of negative reviews.

This is when we started looking at alternate options in Ivalo and came across Lake Inari mobile cabin. So, thank you Kakslauttanen for drawing our attention to this otherwise underrated location!!

Even though we were happy with our choice of mobile cabin, we still had our heart set on experiencing the glass igloos after dreaming about them for a couple of years.

After reviewing all the glass igloo options, we decided to go with the Arctic snow hotel in Rovaniemi. It not only had good reviews, it also gave us a chance to see the ice hotel which is built from scratch every winter and was interesting to visit.

Also, Rovaniemi is a good location being 5 hours bus ride from Ivalo and a 45 min flight rom Helsinki which made it a logistically viable option.

Rovaniemi is popularly called the home of Santa Claus and includes a full-fledged tourist trap called Santa Claus village just 5 min from the airport (How convenient for Santa?!). We decided to skip this eye sore and headed straight to our arctic adventure away from souvenir shops selling santa junk. You might still want to consider stopping or staying here if you have kids. I think kids will truly enjoy this location unless they have become grumpy and jaded, Larry David-esque, like I have.


Staying at the Glass Igloos in the Arctic snow Hotel


This popular Ice hotel is just an hour away from the Rovaniemi airport. We were dropped at the airport by our bus to pick up a rental car for the rest of our stay.

To our dismay, there was no staff at any of the car rental booths. If there aren’t any arriving flights or departures at that time, the rental companies obviously don’t staff the counters. In retrospect, we should’ve called the car rental company and let them know that we won’t be flying in to ensure that they we were ready with the car upon our arrival.

After waiting for about 45 min, and seeing every inch of the Rovaniemi airport, we finally got a jaolopy of a rental car and were off to the town of Rovaniemi.

We made a quick stop for a bite at the Kauppayhtiö Bar & Grill and then to resupply at another K-market before getting to the Arctic Ice and snow hotel.

We explored the unique suites in the ice hotel, relaxed in our glass igloo and went wandering around the wonderful icy winter wonderland.

Read more about our glass igloo and Ice hotel experience here

Arctic snow hotel and glass igloos

Arctic snow hotel and glass igloos

Arctic snow hotel and glass igloos

Read more about our glass igloo and Ice hotel experience here

 


Staying at a beautiful chalet by a frozen lake


After a short 30 min drive from the Arctic Snow Hotel, we were ready to spend the next few days in a warm, beautiful, wooden chalet made from giant log timbers. It was just as beautiful as we had pictured it – this 3 bedroom lodge with nothing else but snow and beautiful pine trees all around. It also had a private sauna and an outdoor hot tub to enjoy the northern lights and this stunning scenery.

napapiirinjarvilomat villa honka

napapiirinjarvilomat villa honka

Bearhill husky safari rovaniemi

We spent the next 3 days mostly enjoying the arctic landscape, feeding the reindeers on the nearby farm and going on a husky sled safari!

Read more about our stay at lodge and husky safari here – Coming soon

After 3 nights of relaxing, we were ready for our last stop Helsinki – the capital before heading back home.

Read more about our time in Helsinki here – Coming soon

Hope you enjoyed our itinerary and it inspires you to take this trip and experience this wonderland for yourself!

Message us with any comments or questions.


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