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Travel advice to Finland in December

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Travel advice to Finland in December

Hi everyone,

I have been thinking about backpacking to Finland this December, probably on the week before Christmas. I would like to visit Helsinki and do a Santa visit in Rovaniemi, and hope to see aurora as well. So I would appreciate if anyone could help me on these questions:

1) Is it very cold (like -10 degrees or lower) in December which it is not possible to walk outside?

2) Is it possible to have cheap accommodation (e.g. hostel) at that time?

3) Is it good season for aurora viewing? Do I need to join tour to see it or can see it even in any place in northern Finland?

4) Is it possible to travel by boat to Tallinn at that time?

5) Is it a good time for visit in December as I read that most tourist sites like museums may close? I am not very keen in winter sport so I would like to see if there is any museums worth visiting at that time.

Many thanks for your help!!! =)

Edited: 26 May 2012, 17:53
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Levin Lapinkyla
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1. Re: Travel advice to Finland in December

1) Yes, it will most probably be cold in December, but it is very much possible ti stay outside. Of course you need to have appropriate clothing for this. The schools let the children stay inside on recess only when it is below -20 C

2) There are not very many hostels in Lapland for backbackers budget range, and December is peak season for the reasons you mentioned (Santa season)

3) The aurora question has been answered for a number of times, see the top questions on the right and make a forum search

4) The boats to Tallinn do sail. In very extreme wind they may cancel

5) The museums on Helsinki are closed only in the very close days of Christmas, the week before should be normal.

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2. Re: Travel advice to Finland in December

Thanks for your advice!! I have done some research on the places to travel in Lapland and now I am wondering about the logistics and transportation.

Now I think about going from Rovaniemi to Saariselkä then to Ivolo then head back to Helsinki, is there any public transportation (train or bus) available to travel from Rovaniemi to Saariselkä to Ivolo in December? I tried to search the schedule online but it seems they only show schedule till August. Would there be any suspension period in December? Many thanks for the help!!

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3. Re: Travel advice to Finland in December

North of Rovaniemi buses are the only option for public transport. For timetables see http://www.matkahuolto.fi/en (in timetable search notice the correct spelling: Ivalo). Timetables for autumn and winter will be published in early August at the latest. The only true suspension of public transport will be 24 Dec afternoon - 26 Dec morning when the bus transportation will be very limited if available at all outside bigger cities (and even in them services are often suspended or remarkably reduced).

There are youth hostels in Rovaniemi ( visitrovaniemi.fi/In-English/Accommodation/H… ) and also some youth hostel / bed and breakfast type of places in Inari ( http://vasatokka.fi ) and Ivalo ( http://www.guesthousehusky.fi/ ), also Saariselkä has "budget" hotels/hostels, e.g. http://www.hotellikieppi.fi and www.suomenlatu.fi/kiilopaa/en/accommodation/ .

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4. Re: Travel advice to Finland in December

Many thanks for your advice and information!! I note the misspelling of Ivalo in my previous post, thanks reminding me~ =)

It may sound silly but I would like to ask is Ivalo and Inari the same place? I try to search on google map and it seems they refer to the same place?

Is there any suggestion on what to do in Ivalo? It seems people go there to do winter sports or outdoor activities right?

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5. Re: Travel advice to Finland in December

Inari (1 100 inhabitants) and Ivalo (4000 inhabitants) are not one and the same place, they are two villages in a municipality called Inari. The distance between the two villages is 38 km. There is an airport in Ivalo, as well as most of the administrative offices of the municipality are there. However, for tourists Inari village may be more interesting, as it is the "centre" of Sámi land in Finland; the Sámi museum and Upper Lapland's Nature Centre Siida, the Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos and the Finnish Sámi Parliament are located there. If I would have to choose, I would skip Ivalo and visit Inari and Saariselkä. Sámi people are the only indigenous people in the area of the European Union (they live in the areas of present-day Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia).

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6. Re: Travel advice to Finland in December

"Now I think about going from Rovaniemi to Saariselkä then to Ivolo then head back to Helsinki, "

I'd skip Rovaniemi (hopelessly far away from Saariselkä) and fly HEL-IVL-HEL to visit Saariselkä and possibly Inari.

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7. Re: Travel advice to Finland in December

Thank you for all your replies~ It's really helpful for my trip planning.

Just want to ask how long you think is enough for trip to these places? I now only have 3 days in Lapland and I need to spend one in Rovaniemi, so probably the other 2 for Saariselkä and Inari and leave by plane from Ivalo. Do you think it's enough? I would not do skiing, will probably visit museums and maybe do some outdoor activities like snow mobile or something similar.

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8. Re: Travel advice to Finland in December

It's takes practically half a day to Saariselkä or Inari from Rovaniemi. Is there a particular reason why you want to visit both places? I'd omit one of them.

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9. Re: Travel advice to Finland in December

Well, obviously I want to visit Santa Claus village that's why I want to go Rovaniemi, and I also want to visit Lapland so I want to go to Saariselkä and Inari. At first I budget 4 days for the trip to these places but it turns out that there's no flight on the 4th day, so now I would only have 3 days there...

I know it takes 4-5hrs to go from Rovaniemi to Saariselkä or Inari, that's why I am thinking whether it is feasible to visit all these places (at least the popular museums there), otherwise I may need to spend an extra 100 euros to stay there for one more day.

Any advice for me?

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10. Re: Travel advice to Finland in December

Is there anything else in your itinerary for Inari than visiting the museum there? If so, I don't see much point for travelling that far for practically just one day. Distances in Lapland are long and it takes some time to travel even "locally" (e.g. distance Saariselkä - Inari is about 75 km). Also the Arktikum in Rovaniemi houses a good exhibition about Sami people and culture, as well as Lapland and arctic areas in general: http://www.arktikum.fi/EN/home.html . So you can acquiant yourself with their traditions also there if need be.

Of course the sceneries in Northern Lapland are different from what they are in the more southern areas of the Province of Lapland. But for sceneries, you could also go e.g. to Luosto which is only about a 2-hour bus drive from Rovaniemi. There's e.g. an interesting amethyst mine there and/or you can take part in excursions (snowmobiles, huskies etc.) there. The excursions and activities are available in Rovaniemi, too.

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