Plastered across every Pinterest travel board and wanderlust’s bookmarked webpages are photos of glass igloos with Northern Lights painted above. Titled “The Most Unique Places in the World” and “101 Most Beautiful Places To Visit Before You Die,” the glass igloos in Finland’s Lapland have a lot to live up to. So is it worth it?
The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, nestled deep into the Arctic wilderness, is an entirely different world of wild reindeer, steaming saunas, and festive natives that may actually make Ivalo the #1 place to visit before you die. Having traveled across Europe to every cliché city there is, booking a trip to Finland to sleep in an igloo and gaze at the Northern Lights quickly became the most adventurous trip I had ever planned. With a spontaneous travel partner and the Kakslauttanen activity brochure in hand, I booked an igloo for the weekend and started packing my warmest clothes for a trip to the Arctic tundra.
Traveling six hours through two airports and 250km into the Arctic Circle, we arrived in Lapland not really sure what to expect. Arriving just past 8 o’clock, we soon found ourselves seated in a log cabin with glasses of cabernet and a three course dinner (with a main entree of reindeer, of course). Carrying our bags to igloo 13 on a sleigh, and unlocking our little wooden door to a room of glass ceilings and breath taking views, it only took an hour at Kakslauttanen to know it would be the trip of a lifetime.
After our Finnish breakfast the following morning, we decided to attempt cross-country skiing (a first for this Florida native). As we strapped on skis and slid into the tundra, we spent the next three hours wandering through the wilderness, meeting wild reindeer, and getting lost (& eventually found) in the Arctic Circle. Building a full snowman family outside of our unluckily numbered igloo quickly before dinner, the night was barely through after another three course, reindeer inspired dinner. With a second round of local Lapland cuisine, and a cup of hot cocoa to couple with dessert, we set off for yet another Arctic excursion.
Climbing into an eight passenger van, we were driven deep into West Village to a shed of sub-thermic clothing gear and a million snow boots. Kissing our last moments of warmth goodbye, we were then escorted to a field just a few feet away with a dozen reindeer and traditionally dressed tour guides! As we settled into our sleigh, two by two, and covered with wool blankets, we were finally ready to go Aurora Hunting.
Pulled by a reindeer and a Lapland native leading the way, our Aurora hunting tour paused by a campfire where we were served warm berry juice and taught about the true lifestyle of living in Ivalo (FYI: while berries and land are open to any arctic hikers, burning wild fires in the tundra is strictly forbidden). With the Northern lights streaming across the night sky and one last reindeer ride back to our cabin, our time in Ivalo began to sadly come to an end.
Waking up our last morning after watching auroras above our igloo all night, we ventured to West Village to visit Santa Claus’ house and the village’s reindeer farm before we packed up our new Finnish pullovers and headed to the airport. While turning a once Pinterest dream into a reality has me still dreaming of Ivalo and the magic that hundreds of acres of snow and auroras can really have, I can now say that without a doubt the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Ivalo, Finland is actually the most incredible place in the world I have ever visited.