So finally I’m backpacking in Europe. The rest of the world has been good to me, but now it’s time to visit my own back yard, and Finland is up first.
I made it to Helsinki, partied for Vappu there (you can search for that in my Finland section) and had big plans to head north to Lapland. Helsinki was a beautiful city, awesome infrastructure, gorgeous women, cool guys but my love for it took a hit when I was quoted a 500 Euro ($650) return train ticket to Rovaniemi, a stop 14 hours in the north, where the Arctic Circle border is. Ouch. So, my friends and I butted heads, there was only one thing for it – Finnish road trip!
We rented a car for 5 days and made a beeline for Lapland, about 700km to the north. The Northern lights are strongest in January and February, it was already May so we knew our chances were slim, either way we were heading towards the Arctic Circle which is a pretty cool thing in itself.
A $60 parking fine, $200 speeding ticket and 8 hours later we made it to Rovaniemi, a town 8km from the Arctic Circle border. Hostels in finland normally cost $30 per night in a dorm, so for three of us that was gonna be a pricey $90 per night, we figured that if we have to pay that much then perhaps we can go the extra yard and get something really special, which we duly did.
A Finnish friend of mine managed to hook us up with our own 3 bedroom cabin, on a lake, with a boat, complete with fully stocked kitchen, heated floors and our own private sauna all for the same price as a hostel! Did someone say flashpacker?
I dunno how much group nudity with your mates is acceptable but I’m pretty sure we pushed those boundaries, spending every available minute jumping in frozen lakes and running back to the warmth of the sauna hoping we haven’t done any damage to our extremities (note: we had’nt!)
I hit up the tourist information and apparently the Northern Lights were well and truly gone by now, heartbroken! (Ok, trip to Iceland in December is now confirmed!). We took solace in the fact that we crossed the article circle and we’re living in luxury in our cottage, not to mention the fact we still had 3 litres of dirty cheap Russian vodka in our backpacks. 2 days passed in a very enjoyable heartbeat.
The artic circle, and Rovaniemi, do have a lot of things to keep you occupied though. Snow mobiles, reindeer and husky sledding, camp fires, hiking, ice-fishing so you can easily burn a few days, and a lot of cash. There’s one more extra special thing that Rovaniemi has too… the real Santa Claus! This is where he’s from, so I spent day two going to have a word with the big man himself… read about it tomorrow! Happy travels!
Where is the Arctic Circle?
In Finland, it’s found 14 hours north of Helsinki. The major town near it is called Rovaniemi.
Can I see the Northern Lights in Finland?
Yes you can, but you have to be there between December and March ideally.