Hot smoked salmon, sensational saunas and 180,000 lakes: Finland is the ultimate rustic escape.



Finnish Lapland is a region within the Arctic Circle traditionally believed to be where Santa Claus lives. Lapland occupies 30 per cent of Finland's land area but is home to just over three per cent of its population, hence you're more likely to encounter reindeer than people on your visit. I went in February when temperatures were -25C, I felt like a fish out of water. As it was peak winter, the lakes, sprawling forests and mountains were blanketed in a thick coating of fresh white snow. Hence the activities are all snow related ie ice fishing, dog sledding, snow mobiling, etc.
Lapland is also a great place to spot the Northern Lights. The Sami people used to think the Northern Lights were made by a firefox running over the lands swinging its tail across the sky. Glossy brochures always make the Northern Lights look as if an alien spaceship is about to land. But the truth is that the lights are very rarely bright green, more white/grey. The camera accentuates the colors and the photos never match what you see with the naked eye. In fact, even if you don't see the northern lights, most nights you can take photos of them.
You can finish off with the Finish sauna treatment where you spend 10 minutes in a hot sauna then you run out and jump in the snow, rolling about in it naked.