My name’s Harimao Lee and welcome to my travel guide on Lapland in Finland. I’m an urban photographer from Hong Kong. Growing up in a megacity, I didn’t initially have any appreciation for urban landscapes.
It’s easy to see everything as one big blur of concrete and glass. But as I got older, I started to explore the city more and develop a deeper appreciation for architecture and the shapes and lines that towered around me.
I started experimenting with photography as a hobby in school. By chance I was asked to help out at a school event. I had no idea how to operate a camera at the time. Later on it provided me with a creative outlet and as I gained access to professional equipment my passion grew.
Hong Kong is home to a vibrant community of photographers from whom I was able to learn new skills, exchange ideas and collaborate with on projects. In 2018, I quit my job and focused on photography full-time. This allowed me to work freely and explore my passion deeply.
Today I am privileged to travel the world and experience new environments and cultures. One place that was totally different to the concrete jungle I am used to in Hong Kong was the breathtaking Lapland in Finland.
Inspiration to Visit the Incredible Lapland in Finland
I had never been to Finland before, although it was on my bucket list for a long time. I was pretty excited about the prospect of visiting with my girlfriend and spending Valentine’s Day together in Lapland.
Coming from the urban sprawl of Hong Kong, I was taken aback by how isolated everything seemed. It felt like I was travelling to somewhere totally remote. The landscape was awe-inspiring, even for someone as well-travelled as myself. I was stunned by how beautiful this place was.
It was an incredible experience to see reindeer in real life roaming free in the wild. To get so close to nature in such a stunning setting was a special experience for me and something that I will cherish forever.
Our Amazing 5-Day Itinerary in Finnish Lapland
We had a pretty relaxed schedule travelling through Lapland in Finland. It was a 5-day itinerary which involved quite a bit of travelling at either end. We had to prioritise the things we most wanted to experience together.
After landing in Helsinki, we took a short flight to Ivalo and drove south to the Northern Lights Village of Saariselkä. This is a beautiful hotel nestled on the edge of the national park. We stayed in one of their glass igloos with an enormous dome shaped panoramic view of the night sky.
My girlfriend and I visited the nearby skiing areas at Saariselkä and tried some cross country ‘Nordic skiing’ for the first time. We then headed to the Samiland Exhibition and learnt about the indigenous Sami culture.
Afterwards, we managed to squeeze in a few animal-related activities. This included a husky safari through the wilderness on a traditional dog sleigh and a ‘reindeer express’ tour guided by local Sami reindeer herders.
On our last night we went ‘aurora hunting’ in a less traditional way – by heated sleigh. I was finally able to witness the aurora in the sky for the first time together with my girlfriend. It was an unforgettable moment.
Compared to my usual travelling schedule, Lapland was pretty chill. I didn’t have a rigid schedule and we were able to relax and have a good time.
Favourite Experience in Finnish Lapland – Glass Igloos
My favourite experience of the trip was our glass igloo accommodation in Saariselkä. The trip was meant to be a change of pace to my usual travelling experiences and I wanted to relax together with my girlfriend.
Even though we visited some beautiful areas on both the husky tours and while aurora hunting – having somewhere cosy to come back to in the evening and watch the stars together made it a truly special place.
I highly recommend the Northern Lights Village at Saariselkä. It’s only a short 30-minute drive from Ivalo Airport and they have many glass igloos available. The cabins are super cosy and warm and it really is the best way to experience the clear Lapland night sky – and the aurora if you’re lucky!
A moment that will stay with me forever was on our last night once we got back to the glass igloos. We could see the aurora through the glass roof. Lying under the stars and finally watching it together was the unbeatable moment of the whole trip. I’ll never forget that bucket-list experience.
Seeing the Northern Lights of Lapland in Finland
I was worried initially because for the first couple of days we had cloudy weather and you need clear skies to see the northern lights. Luckily, the skies cleared up throughout the week. On the last night we could see everything – the stars were so bright and the aurora was shining.
It was a remarkable feeling to see this natural phenomenon. After all that time it was a magical experience to witness in person. I would encourage everyone to put this experience at the top of their bucket lists.
Unique Landscapes and Culture of Lapland
It was a little bit strange travelling to Lapland in Finland. I’m used to navigating huge crowds and sprawling cities, but Finland was the opposite.
We spent a lot of time travelling between places and at one point I realised we had been driving for three hours without seeing any traffic. Lapland covers an enormous area and the landscape is endlessly expansive.
That said, all of our encounters with the local Finnish and Sami people were friendly and welcoming. We only had five days but it was nice to get a chance to meet the locals of this beautiful region of the world.
Tips for your Visit to Lapland in Finland
Planning is essential for any trip to Lapland in Finland. You should be looking to go at the best time of year – between October and March. This is the best time of year to get a good chance of seeing the northern lights.
Once you’ve arrived there are a number of apps that can help you predict the probability of seeing the northern lights in your location. Although, you’re unlikely to have a decent signal, so you should have all apps downloaded beforehand. That includes maps and directions too!
If you’re planning on shooting photography then you need to look after yourself and look after your gear. Make sure you follow the rule of three: wear a base, middle and outer layer. You’ll be spending a lot of time outside preparing to get the right shot and staying warm is essential.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my guide on Lapland in Finland. It truly is one of the most spectacular places on earth that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. Especially the glass igloos and northern lights!