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Discover why Lapland is an outstanding all-year-round destination

When you land at Rovaniemi airport in Finland, there is no mistaking you’ve landed in the “official” home town of Santa Claus with festive signs proudly displayed around the

When you land at Rovaniemi airport in Finland, there is no mistaking you’ve landed in the “official” home town of Santa Claus with festive signs proudly displayed around the airport along with Santa’s official postbox. It’s not hard to imagine tourists flocking to the region over the Christmas holidays to savour the atmospheric surroundings and also to observe the stunning northern lights.

However, it’s also a wonderful destination to visit during other months of the year, in particular during the summer when you can experience the midnight sun phenomenon. One region I particularly recommend visiting is Pyhä-Luosto National Park which is just under 1.5 hours from Rovaniemi airport by car. It connects the Pyhä and Luosto tourist centres and is an area filled with majestic pine forests, scenic fells and rich in Sámi culture.

Nature lovers will feel right at home with countless outdoor activities to partake in. You can go rock-climbing through the rugged scenery at Pyhä Adventure Park or cross a gorge via zipline. They have varying levels of difficulty so they can cater for adults and children alike.

With the advent of e-bikes, cycling has been made more accessible and you can ride through the Finnish countryside and up to an amethyst mine on an electric fat bike. Depending on the settings you choose, it can be as calorie-burning as you desire. The views on top of Lampivaara fell are scintillating where pine trees stretch into the horizon for miles on end. The amethyst mine tour is endlessly fascinating as you not only learn the geology of the region but it’s also interactive, where you can dig up your amethyst crystal and take it home with you as long as it fits in the palm of your hand.

My favourite outdoor adventure in Pyhä was a serene canoeing adventure in Lake Pyhäjärvi and the surrounding rivers. Canoeing has been slightly out of fashion compared to kayaking, but you get less wet due to the higher sides and the seating is much more comfortable. Canoes are trickier to manoeuvre but this isn’t the type of excursion where speed is of the essence, so you have time to slowly meander down the stream whilst admiring the picturesque riverbanks.

If you want to know what wildlife to spot in the countryside, the best place to start is the visitor centre NAAVA. They have a museum section displaying all the animals you might encounter during your hiking adventure from brown bear to the more common small Siberian Jaybird (there are over 128 different species of bird in the park). It’s not just the fauna but also the flora you can observe whilst hiking through the national park. You’ll come across all types of unusual berries from blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries, and other berries to exotic edible mushrooms. You’ll see them at their most vibrant around July and normally they can be found until the first signs of frost commencing around October time. The hiking trails also have a wide range of difficulties with some that are suitable for wheelchair users.

With the Sámi being indigenous to the region, a cultural visit to Jaakkola Reindeer Farm is a must. It’s been a family-run business for almost 30 years where you can visit the majestic animals on site, feed them or go on sleigh rides. More importantly, you can hear from owners Anu and Jani about Sámi traditions and culture, including visiting their Sámi museum. And they can even arrange cookery classes where you can learn to make Anu’s famous mushroom soup. The secret ingredients include using soy sauce and coffee beans. And even world-famous Gordon Ramsay has visited their kitchen to learn how to make the soup for an ITV programme.

You might be wondering what are the local food and accommodation options. As mentioned previously, expect plenty of reindeer whether it’s carpaccio or served as a steak and probably garnished with lingonberries. For your seafood option, you’re likely to frequently see arctic char on the menus. The standard is uniformly high whether you are dining at the bistro at Lapland Hotels Luostotunturi or at the nearby restaurant Punakettu, which has a distinct French influence. The aforementioned hotel has that distinct log cabin vibe that you would come to expect when visiting Finland. They also have an amethyst spa with the obligatory Finnish sauna which is ideal for relaxing those tired muscles after any hiking trips.

Room in Lapland Hotels Luostotunturi starts from 99€ /£85 per night including the use of the Amethyst spa and breakfast.