The Magic Of Dog Sledding In Finnish Lapland (+ A Review Of Guesthouse Husky)
When I decided to add Finnish Lapland to my Helsinki/Tallinn itinerary, there were two must-have experiences I wanted my cousin to have. One was seeing the Northern Lights, and the second was dog sledding in the Arctic Circle.
While it’s not necessarily a historic or cultural activity (it’s fairly recent in Scandinavia, having originated in Alaska and Canada), dog sledding in Finland is a unique and awesome experience to have if you’re visiting in winter.
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Where to go dog sledding in Finland
As I talked about a bit in my post on dog sledding in Tromso, Norway, I wanted to make sure that the company we used got great reviews, particularly around treatment of the dogs, how healthy and happy they seemed, etc.
I dug into research on all the available options in the area, which was somewhat difficult because this area is not as popular with tourists (a selling point for us).
It was a bit challenging really getting a ton of details online and most places didn’t have lots of reviews available (or it wasn’t clear what company was actually being booked, via hotels).
I finally booked with Guesthouse Husky in Ivalo. They are a small B&B that also keeps huskies and offers dog sledding. You can check out reviews on Booking.com (for staying there in particular, which I did consider) and on TripAdvisor for more reviews.
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What to wear for your Lapland dog sledding adventure
I’ve written a detailed packing list for Finland in winter as well, which you should check out. As you’ll see in these pics, Guesthouse Husky provided giant snowsuits for us, as well as snow boots and mittens (which I wore over my thin merino wool gloves…didn’t want dog smell on my gloves).
- Bottoms: I was wearing my thicker fleece-lined leggings since we weren’t doing too much else that day. I have a deeper post on my fave fleece-lined leggings to see which work best for you.
- Tops: I didn’t like lots of bulk, so I wore one of my favorite merino wool thermal tops with a fleece zip-up over it.
- Outerwear: I brought my intense & beautiful Helly Hansen coat (which I smooshed under the snowsuit), and opted for my fleece headband vs. my cuter hat (since I knew I’d want to use my coat hood), these gloves (CLUTCH, with the touchscreen capabilities) and my merino wool neck gaiter.
- Footwear: I fell in love with the Sorel snow boots I brought…easy to slip in and out of when needed, and layered a couple pairs of merino wool socks (these and these were my go-to’s). I did go ahead and use the boots provided by the tour, to avoid getting mine wet dog-smelly.
- Cameras: I just used my iPhone 14 Pro on this trip, tucked it into the breast pocket of my snowsuit. (I brought other cameras and gear on the trip overall.)
- I strongly recommend having one or two external batteries (this is the brand I recommend), fully charged…I definitely needed to charge up my phone after the tour!
- I packed my trusty carry-on suitcase and brought an Osprey daypack with camera gear, computer, etc.
If you truly don’t have any winter gear and don’t want to invest, another option would be to rent winter clothing and gear locally. We met a Swiss couple who told us they rented their coats, boots, hats, etc for like 50 euros apiece for the week. Not a bad deal!
And check out my super detailed Arctic winter packing listif you’re planning to do other things in Lapland!
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Where to stay in the area
We flew into Ivalo from Helsinki, and drove all around the Ivalo, Inari, Saariselka, etc. area. It’s super easy to get around—WITH a rental car. This area is not one where I’d rely on public transport or taxis. I used Rentalcars.com on this trip, and another good option to explore is DiscoverCars. You can read my post on driving in Lapland in winter as well!
First, you can definitely stay at Guesthouse Husky (we considered it), the reviews are great. Seeing the Northern Lights was a big focus for us (also possible at Guesthouse Husky), as well as staying in really cool places.
We also stayed a night at Wilderness Hotel Nangu, in their Aurora Cabins (see deeper post here). I really wanted to do one of the glass dome igloo-type things. Nangu was nice, and Aurora Village cabins also looked like a great option. I’d steer clear of Kakslauttanen).
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What it was like dog sledding in Finland
Okay, let’s dive into all the nitty-gritty details and, like, a metric ton of photos. Because narrowing it down was so hard! Before we jump in, this short compilation video will give you a good taste of the overall experience.
(Don’t miss the reference to our derpy dog Scooter, who reminded me of the hyena Ed from the Lion King)
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My cousin and I easily found Guesthouse Husky using Google Maps and pulled into the tiny parking lot. The lady welcomed us at reception and then took us over to the changing room.
The person there got us situated with snowsuits, gloves, boots, etc. and we got all bundled up.
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I loved that this was a small group, I think they cap them at 8 people maybe? In this case we were with a family with a couple kids and I think a lady traveling on her own.
Our guide (I can’t remember her name, and feel terrible) was super knowledgeable and helpful, and clearly really knew and loved the dogs. She gave us some instructions on how to drive the sleds (which I deeply failed at, at one point), how to slow or brake, and the hand signals we’d use to communicate between sleds.
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Ready to go!!
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Then we were on our way! I drove the first half, with Rachel in the sled. We went for hour or so? Time is squishy out there on the snow.
Rachel and I had the BEST team of dogs, but were at the very back and the guy in front of us had a slower team. So I kept having to stop my dogs and have them wait, then let them really take off and run (they wanted to RUN).
I did have one mishap, where my instinct took over and did the opposite of what our training said to do…we were really cruisin’ and came up on a sharp turn I hadn’t seen. I accidentally leaned the wrong way into the turn and almost got thrown off the sled…I managed to cling on though injured my wrist.
But don’t get the wrong idea, dog sledding is NOT considered a dangerous or high-risk activity for the most part. I just seem to always find a way 🙂
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Then we stopped for a break, technically the halfway point though I think the first half might be a bit longer than the way back. We had a chance to get to know our dogs a bit and give them lots of love and attention.
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Our guide went inside a little tent to make us a fire, and provided a snack and hot drink.
Except the snack was horse meat! SERIOUSLY. Rachel and I couldn’t eat that (due to religious restrictions) but appreciated the choices of hot juice (glogi), tea, or coffee to warm up.
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More scratchy-pats for the puppies!
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Dog selfies FTW!
(As you can tell, I had zero restraint in taking approximately 1.5 billion photos…)
Lapland was on my list of 10 places to travel in 2023!
Rachel and one of the dogs (Cheron, I think) doing their best Blue Steel.
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I loved the glögi we found all over Finland and Estonia (usually alcohol-free, with the option to add liquor). It’s basically just hot spiced dark juice (like a currant or black cherry), and it’s delicious and warming after being out on the snow for an hour or more.
I felt like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man…
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Rachel and I swapped places for the ride back, with me in the sled taking tons of photos and video.
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To me, the way back was shorter and I was soooo cold sitting in the sled (I wasn’t as cold while driving).
We had really gotten to know and love the various dogs on our team and were making up all sorts of stories about them.
Lindy was the back-left dog, funny & rarin’ to go, Scooter (our derpy Ed hyena) was the back-right and was just incredibly goofy with his tongue always hanging out (and kind of lazy). Watching him try to poop while running was the funniest.
Cheron and Greg (who only had one eye) were in front and kept everyone in line (I don’t remember the names of the two middle dogs).
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When we got back to the farm we helped take the dogs out of their harnesses and then got to give lots more pets and hugs before getting them into their individual houses or enclosures for a meal.
All the dogs were wanting love except Lindy…lol, the second she was released she made a beeline for her food bowl and then was just carrying it around so none of the other dogs could touch it. She was cracking us up! 🙂
We loved our Finland dog sledding experience at Guesthouse Husky and felt really good about the staff, the dogs, and the practices. Definitely give them a look if you’re trying to figure out dog sledding in Ivalo, Saariselka, or Inari!
Other unique Scaninavian adventures you’ll love:
- Blown Away By Norway’s Fjords: Norway In A Nutshell Tour In Winter
- Steaming Things Up: Experiencing a Traditional Finnish Sauna
- A Perfect Day Sailing Gothenburg’s Archipelago: Björkö, Marstrand, & Grötö
- Sleeping in a Norwegian Sami Tent & Other Arctic Adventures at Camp Tamok
- A Night Chasing the Northern Lights in Norway
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