Whether it’s for kids to see Santa at Christmas or for big kids to get there winter snow fix, there’s no question Lapland is an absolute bucket list classic for many travellers.
Which is why it’s pretty ironic, that I didn’t realise just how much of a bucket list trip this was until I actually went on a holiday in Lapland myself!
Now that might have been because I’m not a huge fan of the snow or the cold or, more likely, I think it’s down to the fact that I’d just written Lapland off as a hugely expensive trip Big World Small Pockets could never afford.
I mean Scandinavia… who ever heard of a trip there being affordable?!
However, after my trip to Lapland, I’m delighted to report that things were no way near as eye-wateringly pricey as I thought – hoorah!
Now don’t be under any illusion a Lapland trip is never going to be a really cheap affair, but there certainly are way to do it cheaper – making that dream trip far more possible for far more people.
So here, to help you achieve just that, are my top 12 ways to holiday in Lapland for less…
- All You Need to Know About Staying in a Glass Igloo in Lapland
- Top 10 Things to Do in Lapland
- Christmas in Lapland: How to Plan the Best Trip
My stay in Lapland was sponsored by Arctic Guesthouse & Igloos and Ranua Wildlife Park but, as always, all views are my own.
This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.
#1 Head to Finnish Lapland
So the first step to holidaying in Lapland on a budget is to pick the right part of the region to visit.
Yes, if you didn’t know, the region of Lapland actually spans 4 countries – Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia – and each of these will vary in price based on the cost of living in that country, as well as the price of tourism services.
Kicking things off, I’d advise heading to a part of Lapland that you don’t need a visa for, as this will definitely keep costs and hassle down.
For most Europeans (including UK passport holders), North Americans and Australians and New Zealanders, that’s going to mean choosing Sweden, Norway or Finland.
And out of these 3 countries, Norway is certainly the most expensive, so if you want to holiday in Lapland on a budget, I’d give this one a miss!
And out of Sweden and Finland, the latter of these tends to be the cheapest, so my recommendation is to head to Finnish Lapland for the cheapest travel experience.
#2 Avoid Travel Agency Tours
Now that you’ve decided which Lapland country you’re going to head to, it’s time to start planning the trip.
This is where my next budget tip comes in – if you want to holiday in Lapland for less, I advise you do that planning yourself!
For while you can certainly pay a travel agency in your home country a lot of money to arrange a full Lapland holiday for you, you certainly don’t need to.
Situated in Western Europe and with a huge and well-organised tourism industry, there’s no question that it’s easy to both research and book different elements of your Finnish Lapland trip from the comfort of your own home – including flights, accommodation and even some activities… although I’ll come to that in a minute.
The main point here is that independent travel in Lapland is very easy and definitely much cheaper than employing a travel agency to book a whole package trip for you.
This will certainly hike costs up, as you’ll be paying a middle man to do the research and booking, instead of you doing this yourself.
If you’re happy to spend a bit of time doing the legwork (and in my opinion, this can be a really exciting part of a trip), then organising a DIY vacation to Lapland is a key way you can holiday in Lapland for less.
#3 Fly Direct
And as part of this independent travel research, you’ll need to consider how to get to Lapland.
If you’re travelling from the UK, or one of a handful of other European cities, then the cheapest way to arrive in Finnish Lapland is via a direct flight.
Both Easyjet and Tui run direct flights to different Lapland airports (yes there’s more than one, even just within the Finnish region) and you can pick up some of the best deals if you book a few months in advance and use a comparison website like Skyscanner.
I really like Skyscanner, because it easily allows you to see the cheapest times to fly across a range of dates, which is very helpful if your budget is low but your timeframe is more flexible.
In general, Easyjet fly direct to Rovaniemi – which is the main town in Finnish Lapland, while Tui fly to Rovaniemi, plus Kuusamo, Kittilä and Ivalo.
You can also fly to Finnish Lapland from Helsinki (if you’re already in the country) or get the overnight train from the capital, known as the Santa Claus Express.
Learn more about all these options in this article.
And don’t forget that, as with most airlines, Tui, Easyjet and Finnair all charge extra for hold baggage, so trying to keep your luggage weight down is another top tip for your Lapland holiday – aka wear as much as you can on the plane!
#4 Escape the Main Towns
But honestly, whichever airport you fly into I wouldn’t stop there, because these airport towns tend to be the main tourism hubs in Lapland, meaning they also tend to be more expensive.
As such, another of my top tips for seeing Lapland for less, is to head out of the main tourist resorts and base yourself in some of the smaller destinations you can find around instead.
And top of my list?
It has to be Ranua!
Close to Rovaniemi – where the busy airport hub boasts a good flight schedule – Ranua is just an hour’s drive away.
Either you can rent a car to get here, catch a taxi from the airport or grab a public bus that will take you to the centre of this lovely town where you can find a range of accommodation choices and activities.
But the best thing about Ranua is that it’s a very local and quiet place.
This means it’s far off the beaten tourist track and, as a result, not only offers a wonderfully affordable Lapland experience, but also one that’s very culturally authentic too.
For this is very much a Finnish Lapland town.
Home to just 4000 people, Ranua offers a glimpse into everyday life in Lapland via a welcoming community who, despite having good facilities for tourists are, nevertheless a very close-knit group of people at heart.
When you choose to base yourself in Ranua (as opposed to one of the main tourism Lapland towns), you’ll help to support small local businesses and, in return, get a real Finnish experience!
Arctic Guesthouse and Igloos – where I stayed in Lapland – is based in Ranua and the fantastic service I received here is why I’m such a fan of the place.
Ranua Wildlife Park are also based in the town and, as well as being a conservation site for cold-climate animals, also provide an array of amazing Lapland activities for visitors.
#5 Choose a Local Provider
Which leads me nicely onto my next point!
Because one of the cheapest ways to holiday in Lapland is to undertake activities with a local provider.
Choosing local and small scale providers for activities such as husky sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, wildlife safaris and reindeer visits is guaranteed to get you the best rates, as well as the smallest groups and most dedicated guides who are truly passionate about what they do.
Almost all foreign tour agencies use activity providers in the Lapland main destinations, so heading to a smaller spot is a sure-fire way to get good prices, fewer crowds and a more authentic experience.
Ranua Wildlife Park offer a whole range of fantastic activities – including all those I mention above – and many more.
I used this company for almost all my activities in Lapland and found their guides to be excellent and their safety top-notch.
#6 Book Multiple Activities with the Same Provider
Because the next tip when it comes to holidaying in Lapland for less is to book many activities with a single provider.
Not only does this allow you to negotiate a bulk discount – which you should definitely ask for – but it will mean you quickly get to know the set-up and feel of a place and won’t have to spend your precious Lapland time and money travelling miles to different activities.
Booking all your activities through 1-2 providers keeps things streamlined and simple – which is always going to make economical and practical sense.
#7 Choose your Splurges
While all these tips about how to holiday in Lapland for less have so far been about saving money, I’m going to change tactics with this one because, as I eluded to in the introduction to this article, Lapland is never going to be an ultra-budget trip.
Instead, it’s about getting the best value for money and making your money go as far as possible.
And a large part of this involves choosing what to spend your money on carefully.
After all, if you can’t splurge on a few top items during the trip of a lifetime to Lapland, when can you?!
Indeed, when you visit Lapland, there are a few things you shouldn’t miss in my opinion – from staying in a glass igloo for at least one night, to taking a safari with huskies, there are some key items that are definitely worth the splurge!
Of course, the 2 I mention above are just my picks (and you may have others), but the key point remains the same – select a few things you are happy to spend a bit on, lock these in and then don’t go over budget on the rest!
This is absolutely key to not letting the cost of your holiday in Lapland spiral out of control and, if you want to have a good time for less here, I suggest you take note!
#8 Cook & Drink In
And talking of not going over budget, picking some self-catering accommodation in Lapland is certainly a crucial tip when it comes to enjoying a trip here for less.
All towns have self-catering accommodation options available and, even if you can’t find a place with a full kitchen, then just a simple kitchenette where you can at least prepare breakfast, a small lunch, snacks or make a coffee, will help keep prices down.
Consider buying alcohol from a supermarket too and keeping it in a fridge in your room to avoid drinking out at expensive bars and restaurants as well.
Every little really does help, especially in Scandinavia!
#9 Travel Off-Season
And from small differences, we move to big differences, because the season you decide to holiday in Lapland will have a massive effect on the price of your holiday here.
Unsurprisingly, given the festive connotations, December is the most expensive month to travel to Lapland.
This means if you looking for a bargain holiday, perhaps consider delaying your trip to either January or February.
There’s loads of snow around at this time and, after the Christmas crowds have vacated, some great deals to be had!
#10 Bring Your Own Gear
I’m not going to go into it too much here, as I’ve spoken about it a lot in my other Finland articles, but basically, Lapland in winter is freezing!
Like absolutely freezing!
Think between minus 20 degrees celsius and minus 50.
As such, you’re going to need a lot of gear to keep warm when you holiday in Lapland!
You can learn more about exactly what you need in my winter Finland packing list here, but the key point is to make sure you have some decent skiwear and snow boots to survive the season.
You can either bring these with you, or rent them here.
Many places that provide activities, such as Ranua Wildlife Park, will loan you full snowsuits, boots and mittens, but you can avoid the rental fee either by bringing your own or seeing if they’ll waive the cost due to the number of activities you are taking with them.
You can buy cheap ski gear before you come to Lapland from Decathlon, Mountain Warehouse, Aldi or Lidl, and Uniqlo also have some excellent base layers items.
Just remember, if you decide it’s cheaper to buy this gear at home rather than rent it in Lapland, you’ll need to bear luggage size / weight (and any associated airline baggage fees) in mind.
Thankfully thermals aren’t heavy – so you’ll usually be ok on weight – but they can be bulky, so you may need a bigger bag than planned!
#11 See Santa for Free!
And now we come to some specifics – 2 classic activities that many people holiday in Lapland for.
First up, it’s the big festive man in red himself.
Yes, many people come to Finnish Lapland specifically to see Santa – after all, this is the site of his official home.
And the best place to see him for budget travellers has to be Rovaniemi.
Just a few km from the airport here is the official Santa Claus village, where meeting the big man himself is totally free!
My advice is to stop in and see Santa either on your way to or from the airport enroute to Ranua, when you can then enjoy the main section of your Lapland holiday and activities.
#12 Download an Aurora App
And not but least when it comes to holidaying in Lapland for less, I highly suggest you download an aurora app.
These apps are geo-specific and if you’re staying in Ranua, you’ll be pleased to know this town has its own…
“Aurora Alert – Ranua” gives regular weather updates about the likelihood of seeing the northern lights, as well as where to see them and how strong they are expected to be.
The app is free and what it allows you to do is forecast whether taking a northern lights tour will prove worthwhile.
This can be a big money saver, because you definitely don’t want to splurge on this sort of activity if there’s zero chance of you seeing the Aurora Borealis.
So, before you book this activity and spend some cash, download and check the app to work out your likelihood of spotting this amazing light display.
Mini Travel Guide to Lapland
When to Visit Lapland?
In my opinion, the best time to visit is definitely during the winter months between December and February, this is when you’ll see the most beautiful snow coverage and get this winter wonderland at its most scenic.
Visit Lapland during December for the full festive experience, or consider January or February for cheaper winter rates, albeit with lower temperatures.
How Long to Spend There?
I’d recommend a stay of at least 3 days in Lapland as there is so much to do here.
With 5 days up your sleeve, you can see and do most things, including a huge range of arctic activities.
Check out my ultimate Finland travel itinerary for more info.
How to Get to Lapland?
Direct flights with Finnair from Helsinki arrive at all the Lapland airports – yes there’s more than one.
Learn more in this article I wrote.
Otherwise, you can also fly direct to Lapland’s main airport from London and a few other major European cities.
From the best deals on all flights, I highly suggest checking out Skyscanner.
5 Essential Packing Items for a Lapland Winter Trip
Learn more in this article I wrote all about what to pack for a winter trip to Finland.
Travel Insurance for Finland
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
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So there they are, my top 12 tips for holidaying in Lapland on a budget.
Hopefully, they help you enjoy an amazing trip in this part of the world for less
Have you got any suggestions to add to the list?
Don’t hesitate to drop them into the comments below…