Lapland is a magical place for kids – whether visiting Santa at his traditional home, or just enjoying the snow, reindeer and the northern lights. We show you how to enjoy Lapland on a budget for an unforgettable family winter wonderland break.
Need to know
The traditional home of Father Christmas is in Finnish Lapland, at the Korvatunturi Fjeld in Savukosko. The Disney alternative is the Santa Claus Village, a mile from Rovaniemi Airport and short bus ride from Rovaniemi city. However, you’ll find frozen lakes, reindeer and northern lights (plus activities such as snowmobiling and husky driving) throughout Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian Lapland (and the chance to visit/stay in less commercial places with cheaper prices). Bear in mind that due to extreme cold, Lapland is not suitable for toddlers or babies.
Before you go
While it’s beautiful and snowy in Lapland in December, it’s also freezing; down to -20C. A ski jacket and thermals are essential! TKMaxx has good skiwear at up to half price.
Traveling to Lapland is never going to be cheap, but you can reduce the price if you look for deals. Transun currently has a reduced price deal for grandparents and free places for group trips – on day breaks one in 10 passengers goes free, on short breaks one in eight passengers.
A day trip to see Santa can be cheaper than a short break, starting from around £250 for a basic package including flights and a visit to Santa’s Village. Canterbury Travel has day trips that include husky and snowmobile and sleigh rides and Santa visit from £495 with limited free child places available.
If you’re not bothered about Santa but just want to enjoy Lapland on a budget, try Swedish Lapland instead – a marginally cheaper destination (if you’re on a budget, avoid Norway – the most expensive of the Scandinavian countries). Fly to Stockholm with Ryanair, then take a cheap domestic flight to Lapland gateways such as Lulea or Kiruna.
From Lulea, you can travel by train to Abisko for around £25 return. It’s the best place in Sweden to see the Northern Lights, Lapland’s most impressive – and free – attraction. Just look up!
If you’re visiting independently, then look for special weekend rates that reduce prices to around half the normal weekday rate. Even without discounts there are bargains to be found for families – in Kiruna, the Yellow House has simple rooms, all sharing a kitchen and sauna, from £16pp per night.
Food and drink
In Sweden, the dagens ratt (‘daily special’) is the best-value lunch deal. For around £8 you’ll get fish or meat and potatoes, with bread and coffee thrown in – specials are advertised outside on blackboards; get there early or miss out.
Out and about
Booking packages that include things such as snowmobiling and dog sledding works out cheaper than arranging them while you are there. If you are booking in situ avoid booking through your hotel and ask the tourist office for a local operator instead, who can undercut these prices.
Scantours and ScanMeridian have a ‘Smuggle your own present to Santa’ scheme where parents can give one wrapped present for Santa to give their children along with his own gift. It won’t save you any money – the price of Santa’s gift is included in packages – but it can add a bit of extra sparkle to the occasion.