Explore Lapland on a budget with our top tips for affordable arctic travel in this winter wonderland. Save more, enjoy more!

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Reindeer in traditional harness with small sleigh behind standing in the snow in the winter forest with other reindeer and sleigh behind.

Dreaming of a Lapland adventure? This once-in-a-lifetime bucket list destination might seem pricey, but it doesn’t have to be. Having explored both Swedish and Finnish Lapland on package trips and self-planned holidays, we’re excited to share our top tips for enjoying this winter wonderland without breaking the bank.  And keep scrolling at the end for bonus ways to manage the cost of winter activities during your Lapland visit.

While December is the dream time for many families, visiting Lapland out of peak season can save you a bundle. Less crowded and more affordable, travelling in January offers the full Lapland experience at a fraction of the cost. And depending on where you visit, you may still find Father Christmas waiting to meet you*.

Plus, whilst there are absolutely no guarantees, the cold early months of the year typically offer clearer skies and hence greater chance for sightings of the Northern Lights.

For those who can’t miss the pre-Christmas excitement, try visiting in mid-to-late November. There’s still a good chance of snowy scenes and you should be able to enjoy the festive activities at better rates.

*Certainly he’s available to visit all year round in his official residence at Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi

2. Book Early

The early bird really does catch the worm, or in this case, the best deals. Look out for early booking discounts or secure your flights and accommodation early, especially if planning for the peak season. Booking well in advance can lead to significant savings.  We’ve seen offers like half-price tickets for children on selected dates from travel companies such as Santa’s Lapland.

By the way, when we say early, we mean early.  It’s not uncommon to book more than a year out for the most popular dates.

3. Head To Sweden

Generally, Swedish Lapland offers more budget-friendly options than its Finnish counterpart.

Regular flights via Stockholm to Kiruna give you access to the heart of Swedish Lapland, all the same winter activities as you’ll find across the border, plus the world-famous ICEHOTEL and Abisko National Park, known for its superb Northern Light viewing.

Cast Iron Kettle on Grill over open fire outside in the snow.

Kettle over Open Fire in the Snow

4. Bring Plenty Of Snacks

With food prices on the higher side, packing snacks can dramatically cut costs. Bring a water bottle to fill post-security and consider bringing your own hot chocolate powder and a thermos—it tastes even better in the cold climate!

5. Book Self-Catering Accommodation

Opting for accommodation with kitchen facilities can majorly cut down your food expenses. It also adds an element of adventure as you explore local supermarkets and try out regional specialties.

If you are eating out, do look at prebook options for restaurant meals.  This will allow you to spread the cost of the trip ahead of travel and enable more precise budgeting.  Be sure to check the fine print for what’s included in the meal.  But particularly if they include the beverages, it can end up being an affordable way to enjoy a meal out.

6. Consider Clothing Carefully

You don’t need to buy a new wardrobe for Lapland. Borrowing, buying second-hand, or renting clothing are all cost-effective alternatives. Many activity providers include outerwear rental, so always check what’s included with your activities.  Check out our top tips for what you need to take to Lapland, and what you don’t!

7. Travel Hand Luggage Only

For shorter trips, avoid checked luggage fees by packing light and wearing your bulkiest items on the flight. Always double-check your airline’s hand luggage restrictions to avoid extra charges.  We always take a travel scale with us to check bag weights for the return trip.

Northern Lights in the night sky in Rovaniemi.

Northern Lights in the Lapland night sky

8. Think About Transportation

Getting around Lapland can be pricey. Weigh up the costs of public transport versus car hire, which offers flexibility and can be surprisingly affordable. Just be sure that you’ll be comfortable driving on icy roads – we saw several cars skid and crash so would say it’s not for the faint-hearted. 

Look out for free transfer offers with excursions, and if possible, choose accommodation that allows you to walk to major attractions or activity start points.

9. Pick and Choose Excursions Carefully

Prioritise activities that really matter to you and shop around for the best deals. Consider booking ‘taster packages‘ if you’re keen to try a little of everything. Local tour operators often provide better rates than international travel companies, so don’t hesitate to book directly.  See below for more budgeting tips when choosing excursions.

10. Don’t Worry About Souvenirs

Lapland isn’t a shopping destination, and you’ll find that a few select souvenirs will suffice to remember your trip. Focus on making memories in the snow rather than shopping for gifts.

11. Keep Updated

Stay informed on the latest deals and tips by joining Facebook groups like Lapland Budget DIY Trips and Lapland on a Budget. These platforms can offer valuable advice that could save you money and enhance your experience.

Two large illuminated reindeer set in the snow at the edge of the wood in Lapland.

Illuminated reindeer in the winter wonderland snow

BONUS: Lapland Activities On A Budget

Exploring the Arctic winter activities is a major draw of visiting Lapland, but costs can escalate quickly given the array of fabulous options available. Here are seven ways to help manage expenses while maximising your Arctic adventure:

Prioritise Your Must-Dos

Identify the activities that top your bucket list and focus your budget on these experiences. This helps in maximising your enjoyment without overspending.

Shop Around

Always compare prices between providers. Check the actual duration of the activities rather than the total excursion time, which may include transit. Consider whether essentials like clothing and transfers are included as these can significantly affect the overall cost.

Think Creatively

Explore different packages for the same activities. For instance, husky experiences might range from brief 5-minute rides available only on the day to prebooked extensive adventures where you meet the dogs before leading your own sled team. Likewise, activities can often be combined, for example, we enjoyed a snowmobile excursion in search of the Northern Lights.

Opt for a Taster Package

If choosing is tough, look for ‘taster packages’ that offer a sampler of various activities. These packages can be an economical way to experience a bit of everything in a single day.

Book Locally

Seek out local tour operators for potentially lower prices than those offered through larger travel agents or hotel packages. The local tourist office can often provide reliable contacts.

Look for Multi-Booking Discounts

Enquire about discounts for booking multiple activities. For instance, during our visit, Lapland Safaris in Rovaniemi offered free clothing rental for the duration of your stay with any booking of three or more excursions (we only found out when we called them).

Enjoy The Simple Pleasures

Don’t overlook the joy of simply wandering through Lapland’s enchanting winter landscape. Many low-cost or free activities can be just as fulfilling. Remember, the cold can be draining, so balance your itinerary with some warm, indoor relaxation to rejuvenate.

Snow covered branches of an evergreen tree photographed against the blue sky.

Snowy Fir Tree Branches against the Blue Sky

With these practical tips, your journey to the Arctic can be as affordable as it is magical.  Share your own tips or ask questions in the comments below.  Let’s make the Lapland dream a cost-effective reality! 

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