A fantastic combination of Christmas in Lapland and exploration of northern Norway and Finland! This delightful winter experience starts in Tromso before taking you to Alta, Saariselka and Kirkenes, then Rovaniemi, to enjoy Christmas in Santa's Home Town. Other highlights are a Tromso city tour including the Arctic Cathedral, a visit to the award-winning Alta Museum and Northern Lights Cathedral, overnight in a Glass Igloo at the Arctic Snow Hotel, a King Crab Safari, reindeer farm visit with sled-ride, snowshoe walk, Husky farm visit with sled-ride and an excursion to the wonderful Ranua Arctic Zoo and Wildlife Park.
On arrival, take the airport coach to your hotel. Time at leisure - this university town has a lively atmosphere and friendly locals. Perhaps visit the Polaria Aquarium (don't miss the Northern Lights & Spitsbergen Arctic Wilderness films), the Polar Museum to learn about the role Tromsø has played in Arctic exploration and the MS Polstjerna, a well-preserved sailing vessel (1949). Or take the cable car up to Mount Storsteinen and enjoy a fantastic panoramic view of Tromsø and its surroundings, visit one of the several excellent art museums, or sample some local beer at Mack Brewery, the world's northernmost brewery. Overnight at Scandic Ishavshotel, Tromso (or similar).
This morning enjoy a three hour city sightseeing tour, with a visit to the Tromso University Museum, where we learn about the nature and culture of northern Norway, and the indigenous Sami people. Next we travel around the island, passing Lake Prestvatn, and cross the bridge to the Arctic Cathedral, a masterpiece built by Jan Inge Hovig in 1965. The cathedral reflects north Norwegian nature, culture, and faith, with a monumental stained-glass window. The tour ends with a visit to the Arctic experience Polaria, where the co-dependency of sea and land life is both seen and felt. Afternoon at leisure. Tonight, travel by bus to the Aurora Camp. On arrival, you will be equipped with thermal overalls and boots to keep you nice and warm all evening. 300 friendly Alaskan huskies are waiting to greet you and enjoy some cuddles, followed by an affectionate and playful visit to the puppy enclosure. Once you have filled up on puppy love, it is time to enjoy a traditional Norwegian dinner in our cosy Gamme-hut (turf home). You will be served Norwegian Bacalao, prepared with locally sourced cod and tomato sauce and for dessert savoury signature chocolate cake. Your guide will keep a close eye on the sky for the Aurora or you can choose to sit out by the toasty bonfire. 2nd overnight in Tromso.
Today we travel from Alta to Tromso, a trip with stunning scenery that includes two ferry crossings. Sit back, relax and enjoy the views! Lunch is included en route. On arrival in Alta, check in at your hotel and evening at leisure. Tonight offers an optional horse drawn sleigh ride, at a farm in the nearby countryside. Your sleigh is pulled by a charming Norwegian Fjord horse through the forest and along the Alta River, so all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the peace and beauty all around you, snuggled warmly in blankets. Along the way, stop for a light supper served around a warm fire. Maybe the Northern Lights will appear! Overnight at Thon Hotel Alta or similar.
Today, visit the award-winning Alta Museum, on the site of the early settlement dating from 11,000 years ago, with exhibitions on local culture and history. This is Northern Europe's largest and richest rock carving site; here, you can walk on pathways arranged around 2,000 to 6,200 year old rock carvings, showing the life of hunters and fishermen. After a guided tour of the museum we visit the modern Northern Lights Cathedral, an elegant and modern construction with architecture inspired by the Aurora. Tonight offers an optional visit to the Sorrisniva Ice Hotel and a search for the Northern Lights. Travel by bus into the countryside to the family owned Sorrisniva adventure facility which is perfectly located to maximise your chances of seeing the magnificent Aurora Borealis. Experience the Ice Hotel - the world's northernmost ice hotel, built from the ground every year with different themes. Enjoy the serenity and silence of the Ice Hotel. Wander amongst the handcrafted ice sculptures or perhaps visit the ice bar for a drink. Later a knowledgeable local guide will take you on a Northern Lights search, where you will learn more about the natural phenomenon as well as the local history of Alta. Your guide will also be happy to help you catch some beautiful images with your own camera. 2nd overnight in Alta.
Early departure this morning from Alta. Head east by coach to Kirkenes through the beautiful northern Lapland. Sit back and enjoy the breathtaking nature and landscapes. Stop along the way for lunch in Karasjok. Late afternoon arrival into Kirkenes. Evening at leisure. Overnight at Thon Hotel Kirkenes or similar.
This morning join a three hour King Crab Safari. This safari was rated one of the best 25 excursions in the world by National Geographic and is great fun. This giant of the sea lives in Kirkenes Fjord and can reach up to 2m across, and weigh up to 15kg. Depending on weather/ice, this excursion might be by boat or snowmobile drawn sleigh (you do not drive the snowmobile, only sit in a sled drawn by the guide's snowmobile). Once the king crab has been caught, transfer to a remote cabin where the crab is cooked for your delicious lunch. Later continue south to the centre of Sami world at Inari, the capital of Lapland. Visit the Sajos Sami Cultural Centre and parliament set in the heart of Sapmi in a unique natural landscape on the shore of Lake Inari, serving as a centre for Sami self-governance, culture, education and know-how. Modern conference premises, facilities and technology go hand in hand with authentic, living Sami culture. Continue onto the tiny village of Saariselka, the centre of Finland's winter sports. Evening at leisure. Overnight at Santa's Hotel Tunturi or similar.
This morning, enjoy something that literally has you following in the footsteps of the Sami. Snowshoes are one of the oldest forms of transport in the world and wearing these you can capture the true feeling of winter in the woods. The afternoon is at leisure - perhaps try a Finnish sauna, available at the hotel. Tonight perhaps join the optional Aurora Snowmobile Safari, an exciting evening driving through snow-covered forests and over treeless fells. With a little luck, if the sky is clear, the moon, stars and even the Northern Lights may show you the way. Enjoy hot sausages and drinks by the open fire before returning to the hotel. 2 persons share each snowmobile and each driver must have a full valid driver's license.
This morning we make our way to Sinetta, just outside Rovaniemi. Along the way, enjoy a delightful visit to a traditional Sami reindeer farm. Meet the farmers who will be dressed in their colourful Sami clothing, as they tell you the importance of reindeer in Sami culture, and teach you how to throw a Suopunki (Sami lasso). Then relax with a short reindeer sleigh ride, moving through the white landscape, where the only sound you will hear is the music of the reindeer bells. Lunch is included at the farm. Afternoon at leisure.
Tonight get ready for a truly magical experience – a night at the unique Arctic Snow Hotel, where you will check-in to your private Glass Igloo. Enjoy the warmth of your Glass Igloo with it's glass roof - weather permitting you can watch for the Northern Lights or the millions of stars, from the comfort of your bed. Your stay includes a traditional Lappish 3 course dinner in a magnificent wooden “Kota”, where fresh salmon is slowly grilled over the fire in a huge pit.
For those who are feeling adventurous, tonight you can upgrade to stay in a Snow Suite at the hotel. Every year the Snow Hotel is built anew, with local artists designing and creating the ice and wall sculptures that decorate the hotel and Snow Suites. Each Snow Suite is different and offers a unique arctic experience, spending the night as the Sami once did in a snow igloo. A mattress on an ice bed with special arctic sleeping bags keeps you warm in the ambient temperature of 0 and -5 C. Bathroom facilities are located in a warm section of the hotel, just nearby.
You might like to take an optional Snow Sauna & Outdoor Jacuzzi at the hotel tonight. The snow sauna has walls made of snow and ice - only the sauna benches are made of wood - an astonishing combination of thick steam within intimate snow walls. Afterwards jump into the outdoor Jacuzzi, and admire the Northern Lights or the spectacular starry night skies of Lapland.
After your wonderful overnight stay we head to Rovaniemi. Check in to the hotel and then some free time - explore the town, browse the shops or perhaps visit the fabulous Artikum Museum. Tonight enjoy a traditional buffet of Lappish specialities at the hotel. This afternoon you might like to take an optional ice-floating excursion. Experience the lightness of your body during the arctic ice floating! Let your body and mind float, enjoy this frozen adventure. You will be provided with a high-quality rescue suit that covers your whole body and keeps you dry. As you have your own clothing under the suit you will not get cold even in the open 0-degree water. Lying down in the ice hole between the ice blocks is something worth trying, the circumstances truly are arctic! Three nights at Hotel Santa Claus or similar.
Today visit a Husky Farm - the barking of happy dogs will welcome you, and the head 'musher' will tell you all about the life of these hard working Arctic dogs. Then enjoy a sled ride - riding in pairs, with one person driving and the other seated in the sleigh, on trails through the forest. Refuel with a traditional outdoor meal of Lappish sausage grilled on the campfire, followed by Lappish pancakes. Then visit the wonderful Santa Claus Village, the official home of Santa Claus. Take a step into this magical world and meet the man himself, send a letter from his Post Office, step across the Arctic Circle and more. Then at approximately 16:00hrs, the children are invited to participate in the traditional activity of decorating the Christmas tree. At around 18:00hrs Santa himself will visit the hotel, to bring special Christmas wishes and to deliver a small gift for each child, followed by a Christmas Eve Gala Dinner. Merry Christmas to all!
Another day of adventure! This morning we visit Ranua Wildlife Park, situated 80km south of Rovaniemi. Established 1983, it specialises in Arctic and northern animal species, and the zoo sits amid northern conifer forests, the natural habitat of most of the animals. Enjoy a guided tour of this beautiful park and visit the different animals and birds which include wolverine, deer, bear and of course the King of the Arctic, the polar bear. After lunch at the restaurant in the park there is time to further explore - visit the souvenir shops, the Fazer factory and the local wine shop with their unique selection of wines made from berries – before we return to Rovaniemi. Afternoon at leisure. In the evening enjoy a Gala Christmas Day dinner at the hotel.
Transfer to Rovaniemi Airport and end of arrangements.
Maximum Group Size: 32 persons
All optional excursions must be pre-booked.
Some excursions subject to minimum age & height requirements.