Europe

A winter wonderland | family friendly hotels and activities in Lapland

Mum Jacqui had a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Lapland with her kids – a truly a magical place for children of all ages (even the grown-up ones!).

The forest around me is covered in a thick blanket of snow, and the pine trees are so buried under the weight that their branches are buckled into curious shapes. Although it’s only mid afternoon, it’s dark already. The soft blue moonlight catches the ice crystals, making the snow sparkle like it’s been dusted with glitter.

Out here in the forest there’s no traffic noise, no beeping of horns, no bright street lights to wash out the night sky; instead there’s a ceiling of stars so bright they take your breath away, and a stillness that makes all your stresses disappear.

Family-friendly accommodation in Lapland

Rocaniemi / Visit Finland

Most parents dream of taking their young children to Lapland, but assume they won’t be able to afford it.

However, with a huge range of accommodation to suit all budgets - ranging from simple Scandi cabins, to luxury lodges - you might be pleasantly surprised how affordable your winter wonderland family holiday could be.

If you prefer to stay close to the amenities, there are many hotels near the more built-up areas of Rovaniemi and Kemi. Or, if you prefer to ‘get away from it all’ there are many villages located a one to two hours drive from the capital. And if you’re nervous about driving in the snow, rest assured that rental cars come equipped with snow tires and usually also with heaters that warm your car engine and ensure a smooth start in the sub-zero temperatures.

Hotels in Lapland

1903 Hotels
from 22
Destination CTA

Frozen family fun in this unique hotel | Ice Hotel

1/4

It might seem a bit extreme to spend a night in an ice igloo, but the Ice Hotel in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi is a quirky ‘must-do’ for families, and offers a surprisingly comfy night’s sleep.

There are cold room and warm rooms on site and it’s recommended you book one night in a frozen ice suite (there’s no minimum age, but it’s recommended for children 6 and up) and one or two in the warm suites, to discover all the hotel has to offer. The cold rooms come equipped with reindeer furs and thermal sleeping bags, and once you’re all wrapped up in thermal jammies, gloves and hats, it’s actually pretty toasty. And what an experience to tell your friends about!

The hotel also includes a majestic lobby, an ornately carved chapel complete with fur topped ice pews. The famous ice bar has a range of non-alcoholic drinks and welcomes all ages, so you can take your kids in for a chilled juice, served in their very own cup carved from ice. Warm yourself up in the morning with a hot drink and a cooked brekkie then fill your days with husky sled rides and traditional Sami fireside storytelling.

Icehotel

Top rated
Jukkasjärvi, 0.1 km to Ishotellet
8.7 Excellent (584 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Car park
Pets allowed
Wellness centre / Spa
Hotel CTA

An adventurous family stay in a glasshouse | Arctic Snow Hotel

1/4

This hotel is just 30 minutes from Rovaniemi airport, and a great way to kick off your arctic adventure. Choose from two unforgettable experiences; opt for a family glass igloo and you can sleep under the stars in your very own heated glass dome.

Spend your days on an electric snowmobile safari (suitable for children four years and older, kids under 140cm travel in a sleigh pulled by the guide), and your evenings relaxing with the family in a private sauna, then scanning the night sky for the Aurora Borealis. Or – if you’re feeling really brave – enjoy an outdoor jacuzzi, then snuggle into a family snow room (sleeps up to six) where the walls are carved from frost and ice. Wake the next morning with a steaming hot cup of berry juice to warm you up and get you going.

Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos

7.8 Good (163 reviews)
Very good Cleanliness 8.4 / 10
Car park
Pets allowed
Wellness centre / Spa
Restaurant
Hotel CTA

Comfort and family-friendly convenience in Lapland | Lapland Hotel Luostotunturi

1/4

Choose from a selection of rooms or cosy log cabins for your stay in Luosto, which is a scenic 90-minute drive from Rovaniemi. What I love about this is there’s a restaurant conveniently on site that offers both traditional Lappish dishes for the adventurous eaters, and a simpler pizza and snack menu to keep little ones happy. Included in the price is access to the Amethyst Spa and swimming pool (treatments are extra). A wide range of Arctic adventures can be booked from Luosto, including reindeer and husky safaris, or jump on a snowmobile (children can be catered for) and take an unforgettable ride through the pristine forest and up to the Lampivaara amethyst mine.

Lapland Hotel Luostotunturi

Sodankylä, 0.2 km to Luosto Ski
8.0 Very good (643 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.7 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Car park
Gym
Indoor swimming pool
Hotel CTA

Clean, comfortable and budget-friendly family hotel in the heart of Lapland

1/4

Book a family room at this budget-friendly hotel, where you’ll enjoy clean, comfortable accommodation in the heart of Lapland’s wintery wonderland. Just 90 minutes drive from the capital of Rovaniemi, Posi is close to the stunning natural sights of Korouoma Canyon and Riisitunturi National Park and perfect for family skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. There is also a restaurant on-site with a kid-friendly menu – a huge bonus when you’re worn out from a day in the snow and have ravenous kids to feed before bedtime!

Lapin Satu

Top rated
8.5 Excellent (94 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.9 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Car park
Pets allowed
Restaurant
Hotel CTA

Family friendly activities in the Arctic Circle

The Arctic Circle is truly a magical place for children of all ages (even the grown-up ones!). It’s like a scene straight from a Narnia fairytale, and I half-expect Mr Tumnus to come clip-clopping around the corner. And while you won’t find much sunlight in winter, what you will find is a huge range of once-in-a-lifetime child-friendly activities and wonderful places to stay that the entire family can enjoy.

Husky Rides

Visit a husky park and see these gorgeously fluffy dogs in their homes, burying their heads in the snow and yapping excitedly. If you’re lucky you might even see a litter of puppies – heart-melting black-and-white balls of fluff with their distinctive ice-blue eyes.

Siberian Huskies are born to run, and nothing makes them happier – join them for a husky ride, and watch them literally champing at the bit as they’re harnessed, one by one, to the sledge. And then they’re off! A blur of fur as the dog column surges forward, alongside a soundtrack of joyful barking. The sled whips through the trees as the dogs press forward, following the familiar circuitous track before arriving back at the starting point, already raring to go again.

Younger children will adore playing with the pups, while older kids will love the fast-paced rush of one of the Arctic Circle’s most traditional (and infamous) modes of transport.

Jason Charles Hill / Visit Finland

Santa Claus Village

The Arctic Circle is most famous for being the home of the planet’s favourite OAP. Of course everyone knows Santa Claus lives in the North Pole, but did you know you can actually pop in and see him?

His official home is in Santa Claus Village, in Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland. Situated in northern Finland, the edge of the Arctic Circle actually runs right through this charming town; in fact, the border-line is marked on the cobblestones, so you can literally jump from one side to the other. Pretty cool, right?

You can catch a glimpse of the jolly man himself in his festive office, which is open every day and is free to visit. Children can chat over their Christmas list and have their photo taken (there is a small fee for this), and add another ‘forever memory’ to the list.

You can even spread the cheer by sending your loved ones a letter from the Santa Claus’s very own Post Office, where every piece of mail is stamped with the Arctic Circle postmark.

Reindeer Farm

Not so good-natured are the native Arctic deer, which we know better as reindeer. Dancer and Prancer may have been amiable chaps, but real life reindeer are rather grumpy, snorty beasts. Still, a visit to a reindeer farm is a perfectly safe (if not slightly surreal) activity for children and families – like a Christmas card come to life.

Reindeer are very important to Laplanders: as well as using them for transport, farming and tourism their pelts have been traditionally used for warmth, while reindeer meat is a common local dish (though be warned – younger children might not be too pleased to find Rudolph on the menu!).

You can’t leave Lapland with a wonderful wintery ride in a reindeer-pulled sleigh – snuggled up on fur blankets as you whizz smoothly through the snow-covered trails, this is every bit as fun and charming as I always imagined it would be, though make sure you’re suitably dressed to stave off that wind chill.

Winter temperatures in Lapland average -6 in December, -9 in January and -10 in February. However, the air is very dry and there is little wind, so it’s not actually as scary as it sounds; because it is SO cold the snow stays solid and dry (warmer temps start to melt the ice, turning it into freezing cold slush), meaning the little (and big) ones can lie back and make Arctic snow angels without even getting wet!

Juho Kuva / Visit Finland

Northern Lights

In fact, it’s this natural quirk that makes Northern Lights spotting such a great activity for the entire family – once you’re rugged up with your snowsuits, gloves, hats and balaclavas you can keep those sub-zero temperatures at bay long enough to look for nature’s very own light show. There are many ways to look for the Aurora Borealis, everything from snowmobile tours and reindeer safaris, to sledding and snowshoe trekking.

Still, it’s important to get inside and thaw out every so often. Most Northern Lights tours include rest stops where you can warm up with cookies and cups of steaming lingonberry juice, or even a full meal prepared over an open fire in a traditional Sami lavvu tent.

Alternatively, stay nice and toasty by simply gazing out of your hotel’s perfectly positioned viewing windows or (if you’re really lucky) the ceiling of your glass igloo.

Konsta Pukka / Visit Finland

Amethyst Mine

Another unique activity – especially if you have any young geologists in the family – is a trip to the Lampivaara Amethyst Mine. Situated in the middle of a Lappish national park, closest to the tourist resort of Luosto, this mine is so remote in winter it can only be accessed by snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or by hitching a lift on the heated snowtrain, the Amethyst Pendolino.

It’s a once-in-a-life experience to enter the mine and dig for your very own lucky amethyst on the rocky slopes. One souvenir gemstone (which must fit in your fist) is included in your entry price, but there is the option to buy additional raw amethysts, or polished stones and jewellery inside the gift shop.

Jacqui was a freelance travel and true-life journalist for more than 20 years before setting up her lifestyle blog, Mummy’s Little Monkey, eight years ago, after her youngest daughter was born. She now focuses on writing about family travel and weekend city breaks for burned-out Mamas.