- Seeing the awe on my children's faces meeting Santa
- Eating amazing salmon
- Cuddling with a nugget during the sleigh ride
- Meeting the sled dogs
- Dog sledding and dogs
- Reindeer snorts
- Eating salmon in the teepee
Prepare in advance
If going during December, book key excursions not included with a hotel in advance. Otherwise, book excursions at least 24 hours in advance.
Good to know
Depending on your kids, give yourself plenty of time to play in the snow and sled. See if the hotel includes snowsuits/boots as part of your room charge. (Many excursion providers offer these as well.)
Unless you live in Finland, this is part of a multi-day adventure. However, each part can be adapted to fit your needs.
Recommended time of the year
Lapland has great adventures regardless of season. Santa is there year-round, so it depends on how much snow and sunshine you want to see. Most people go in December. Our family chose to go in February because the sun doesn't really come out in December (and there's almost no darkness in the summer). In February, we had up to 8 hours of daylight and the temperatures weren't too cold. Being there a
Go during the off-season. We got a package with our hotel that included food and some excursions. When priced separately, the package was clearly the way to go. When we booked other excursions and just asked if there were any discounts available, we sometimes got one.
About This Day
Take your kids on a magical adventure to visit the Santa Claus Village. This Lapland itinerary is an action-packed day in the Arctic Circle! First, speed through the beautiful Lapland wilderness on a Bearhill Husky dog sled ride. Next, savor the world’s best salmon at Santa’s Salmon Place Restaurant in a Lappish teepee. After sampling Santa’s salmon, head over to Santa Claus Reindeer and they will pull the kids around in a sleigh, lastly end with every nugget’s dream: A visit with Santa!
One of the best ways to experience the magical Lappish wilderness is from a dog sled, speeding through the forest. The whole family found it thrilling (without being too much so). We had a package where we rode in the sled and got to see the forest from an unusual perspective while snuggling close to our nugget. We also saw firsthand how hard the dogs work, but how much they love doing it. The musher (driver) and the people at the base camp gave us a lot of information about the dogs, how they care for them, and how the team is led and works together. By the end of the trip, even Dad and son (who are afraid of dogs) were petting and interacting with the dogs. There were many requests to go and do it again.
DIRECTIONS Bearhill Husky happened to be a short walk from our cottage in the Santa Claus Holiday Village, but check if your hotel has transfers available. Driving directions are available on the website if you have a car.
TIP Balaclava face masks are a must. Sunglasses or goggles are recommended, too. If you're riding, they have lots of covers in the sled, so you'll be warm. Try the warm juice!
Santa's Salmon Place is located in a traditional Lappish teepee with an open fire. Other than salmon, the menu is limited to a few appetizer and dessert choices, along with drinks. The limited menu shouldn't be a problem though, because you're there for the salmon. There is something about how this restaurant prepares salmon that makes it absolutely delicious. It is some of the best we've ever had, hands down! The salmon came with potato salad and a roll. Plan on going back, if you’re able. It's an experience your family will likely want to have more than once.
DIRECTIONS The restaurant is in the Santa Claus Village, near Santa's Post Office.
TIP There aren't many tables, so plan accordingly. If you can't make it there for a meal, try going for a snack. We split a salmon filet with a kiddo and it was a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
One of the magical highlights of the trip to Santa Claus Reindeer and taking a sleigh ride, pulled by one of Santa's reindeer, through the forest, snuggled together with a little nugget under warm reindeer skins. During the ride, we got to be up close to the reindeer, watched how they walked, ran and even pooped. While reindeer moved at a relaxing (nothing short of nap inducing) pace, the guide led us through the ups and down of the forest trails. We looked for animals, enjoyed the sights, and there was plenty of time for pictures both during and after the ride. It wasn't hard to see why Santa uses them to pull his sleigh. They are strong! The whole family liked the experience so much we wanted to go on a Northern Light safari, but ran out of time.
Meeting Santa is an experience you will not forget. This is not your “mall” Santa, this is the real deal. Believers and skeptics alike will find something mystical about an interaction with Santa Claus here in his domain. We had a private visit with Santa in our cabin. He brought small gifts for all of us, took time to hear about our trip, and answer the kids’ 1,001 questions. They were awestruck when he pulled out the letters they had sent him from last Christmas, and when he recalled exactly what he had given each of them from their list. They became lifetime fans when he had a dance party with them. We went and saw Santa one more time in his office, and the second interaction was as magical as the first.
DIRECTIONS Santa has two “offices” in the Santa Claus Holiday Village - one is in the main structure and the other is off of the Village reception area. Depending on where you stay, you can also arrange for a private visit with Santa Claus in your cabin/room.
TIP There are multiple places to see Santa throughout Lapland. Pick one. None of them are out in the open, so they were easy to walk by without attracting the attention of little ones. If you bring your kids' letters to Santa, the elves can get them to him before you see him.
WE LOVEDThe staff was amazing. They were committed to making sure we had a pleasant holiday. The cabin had plenty of room for the 4 of us. We also enjoyed the in-room sauna and convenience to the activities in Santa Claus Village.
TIPGrab a free sled for your kids at reception. They are very convenient for pulling the kids around the village and on the sledding hills.
STAYED11 February, 2017 with 4 year old, 6 year old