Top five things to do in summery Lapland

5 minute read
two women sitting on a fell in lapland under the midnight sun

Credits: Miikka Niemi, Flatlight Films

While winters in Lapland are world-famous, the summer season is just as magical

Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region, is a sparsely populated area, known for subarctic wilderness and the dancing Northern Lights. The regional flora and fauna is rich, ranging from the smallest native Globeflowers to reindeer roaming in the wild. When it comes to staying in the region, accommodations range from boutique hotels to huts, cottages and homely apartments. So while the region is well-known for its exquisite winters, the warmer months of the district offer just as much, with a wide and exciting array of things to see and do.

Credits: Jari Romppainen

Immerse yourself in the Sámi way of life

While a part of Finland, Lapland is home to a rich culture of its own. The region belongs to the homeland of the Sámi, the indigenous people that inhabit the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Russia and Finland.

In Sápmi, a lush and green area during the summer, several Sámi languages – classified as a branch of the Uralic language family – are spoken. The people pursue a variety of livelihoods here, from fishing to semi-nomadic reindeer herding.

The best way to engage with the culture of Sámi is by visiting the Culture Centre Sajos, located in Inari. This cultural centre is an interesting and attractive meeting point for all visitors, yet it also serves a significant purpose. The centre houses the Sámi Parliament, making it one of the most important sites for indigenous culture in Finland. Sajos creates better conditions for the Sámi to maintain and develop their own languages, culture, livelihood and self-government.

Another site to visit is the nearby museum and nature centre, Siida. Its exhibitions and events give visitors a window into the north by providing information on the vibrant Sámi culture and the surrounding arctic nature.

Credits: Ville Fofonoff

Have a summer sauna

For Finns, a sauna is a communal place for relaxation, cleansing, and meditation. Grab a towel, some friends, and a few cold drinks, and enjoy this favoured pastime of locals.

The Arctic Sauna world in Muonio offers a unique experience, with five saunas squeezed between the beautiful fells lining the Pallas-Ylläs national park on the shores of Jerisjärvi – a sacred place for the Sámi and known for its abundance of fish.

Restaurant Kesärafla Sauna is Rovaniemi’s buzzing meeting place during the summer. After bathing, take a dip in the Kemijoki River to cool off. If you feel like staying for longer, beat your hunger with tasty foods from a charcoal grill and enjoy quality time under the Midsummer sun.

Another sauna gem is The Isokenkäisten Klubi’s Seven Star Smoke Sauna in Kuusamo. The gentle warmth of the smoke sauna and the peaceful location by the shore of Lake Heikinjärvi is guaranteed to leave you feeling blissfully relaxed.

For more sauna inspiration, read our article "Must-experience saunas in Lapland."

The Ounasjoki River in Rovaniemi is an excellent post-sauna dip location.
Credits: Samuli Rosenberg, Flatlight Films

Get to know the culture of Lapland and the locals

In the summertime, you have a great chance to meet locals and hear interesting stories about life in Lapland, as it’s typically a quieter season in terms of the number of visitors. Take your time to chatter and you’re likely to get insider tips on what not to miss during your stay. In this article, you'll find tips on what are Finns and Finnish small talk (or lack thereof) like.

If you’re unsure where to begin your expedition, start by visiting the little villages, like those in northern Lapland. The villages are often the point of departure for tours and other activities, also hosted by locals, which also gives you an opportunity to learn more about life up north.

There are also various fascinating sights to visit if you’re keen to dig deeper into the history and culture of Lapland. At Rovaniemi’s science centre and museum Arktikum, you can experience northern nature, culture, and history up close. If you’re into arts, dive into the world of Reidar Särestöniemi, one of Lapland’s most famous artists, also known as “Picasso of the North”. You’ll find Särestöniemi Museum in Kittilä. Alternatively, learn about the history of gold prospecting in Lapland at the Gold Mining Museum near Saariselkä. In the Utsjoki region, pay a visit to the most important cultural-historical in the area - the Church Huts - that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

Credits: Samuli Rosenberg, Flatlight Films

Experience the Midnight Sun out in nature

One of the best reasons to visit Lapland during summer is the Midnight Sun  the natural phenomenon that can only be fully experienced above the Arctic Circle. From mid-May until mid-August the sun does not set behind the horizon but circles in the sky all day and night, making the days up North feel incredibly long and magical due to the everlasting golden light.

The so-called nightless night thus calls for unforgettable late-night adventures in the Northern wilderness! Experience the Midnight Sun on a hike in some of Lapland's breathtaking national parks. Ylläs-Pallastunturi’s vast landscapes are famous for having the cleanest air in the world. On the Karhunkierros trail at Oulanka, you can admire the most impressive waterfalls in Finland from hanging bridges. Lemmenjoki, with its fascinating history of gold prospecting, has plenty of spellbinding places to explore off the beaten track. 

Alternatively, go open fell biking. With 230 km of bike routes and spectacular vistas, Saariselkä is the perfect place to test electric or fat biking. In case you’re looking for water activities, Lake Inari is a great place for canoeing, and from Rovaniemi, you can also partake in river cruises.

Credits: Samuli Rosenberg, Flatlight Films

Bonus tip: Don’t forget to try local delicacies and wild food

Being active outdoors is sure to make you hungry as a bear! Luckily Lapland delivers new experiences also in the realm of cuisine. The pure nature of the region offers simple and nourishing ingredients, such as berries, potatoes, fish, and reindeer meat. The staple dishes to try are reindeer stew “poronkäristys”, bread cheese “leipäjuusto” together with cloudberry jam, as well as smoked wild salmon.

Lapland is full of great restaurants serving local delicacies, such as Nili and SKY Kitchen in Rovaniemi, Laanilan Kievari in Saariselkä, Aanaar and Ukko in Inari, Tapio in Ruka, and NiliPoro in Levi. In restaurants like these, you can truly relish Lapland's wilderness on a plate.

A very traditional dish of Lapland is sautéed reindeer ("poronkäristys" in Finnish), mashed potatoes, and lingonberries.
Credits: Soili Jussila

Inspiration for your next summer holiday in Lapland

Looking for more things to do in summer Lapland? Look no further, here's inspiration for your next holiday of things to do in different destinations around Lapland.

Meet reindeers inside fences.

Local Reindeer farm visit with photographer (summer & autumn)

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