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Fairy Travels

Dressing for Lapland – what to wear

After writing this post on our guide to our Lapland DIY trip last year, I received a lot of messages on dressing for Lapland. Even some asking where fluffy pjs were a necessity! In this post ill go through what we wore and where we got the items.

I think it easier to put it all together in one post as I know before we went I did a lot of research to make sure the kids would be nice and toasty. For context we went end November into December so temperature range for us was -6 to -12 and there was snow.  Visit Finland has a brilliant informative video which is well worth a watch.

Ill focus on the kids but you can take it that adults broadly similar. However I did adopt the adult plus one thinking. As in what we wore plus a layer!

So…starting from the feet up.

  • Wool socks – a must! We went for pure wool, just one pair not too tight and they were prefect. I purchased our via Ali Express

    snow gear kids

    Kids in their Reima gear Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy

  • Boots – goes without saying. Comfortable and waterproof. Make sure to try on with your wool socks before you go! A family in the cabin next to us were left with too small boots with the socks on. Luckily they could rent the boots on site. Ours and kids were Campri from Sports Direct, purchased this time last year in the sale.
  • Thermals – Don’t scrimp on these as you will were them all the time. Again try before you go. Kids wore Reima and were fantastic, soft and a great fit
  • Regular top/ long sleeve t – shirt  – self explanatory!
  • Fleece – This was the kids extra layer, myself and the Dada Fairy didn’t seem to need this layer but the kids did and both had hooded fleeces from Reima, again, couldn’t fault the quality and functionality.
  • Jacket – As with the boots this is your first line of defence! Ensure its a good fit accounting for the extra layers and it has a good hood and waterproof! Kids again had Reima and the jackets were exceptional. The fit, the hoods and the ability to withstand the temperatures at -12 and not a moan or a groan. No mean feat for my kids who leave the heat. Yes they are a little pricey but you get what you pay for and I really didn’t want to go all that way for the kids not to enjoy due to the cold which they weren’t accustomed to. The kids wore the jackets all winter here and was sorry to retire them to next year. They are safely put away until our adventures in December.
  • Ski trousers – As with the jacket, these are a necessity. There is snow! Kids being kids love to roll in it, make snow angels etc! They will get wet! And nobody wants to sitting in wet clothes. Kids decked out again in Reima no leaks, no wet trousers, no moans. Full marks from us.
  • Hats/ snoods – Very important, particuarly the snood and your neck can be exposed and the skin there is quite light and can really feel the cold. All of ours from Regatta

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Fairy Travels

Junior Explorers at Croke Park

Croke Park Junior Explorers

Super excited for the Junior Explorers tour

One chilly Saturday morning a couple of weeks back we were invited to Croke Park to experience their Junior Explorers tour which runs Saturday mornings at 10.30 until 18th May.  Coming from a family of GAA fanatics I was so excited of this tour. Croke Park for the GAA fanatic is iconic.  The very notion that I would get to explore the dressing room, the players lounge, get to walk out the players tunnel was like fulfilling a childhood fantasy.  My husband brought my back to Earth quickly…this tour was for the kids!!!

Croke Park Junior Explorers

Having a nosey at the Dublin jerseys

The tour stars with meeting Cluasóg the Irish hare who greets you upon arrival. Following this you begin your tour experiencing behind scenes of this stadium. First up the dressing room with the county jerseys all hanging neatly along the walls. The kids despite being Dubs made a beeline for the Donegal jerseys much to their fathers delight!! Next up was the players lounge which houses a mighty impressive Waterford Crystal chandelier. It’s seriously wow.

Next up we saw the warm up area and then the kids (and my) favourite part…..run out pitchside through the players’ tunnel. The look of sheer excitement in my oldest’s face will stay with me forever. He went back and did it many times. Its the stuff dreams are made of. Its given him incredible focus to one day tog out in his county colours and run out on the pitch. The sheer scale of the stadium can only really be appreciated from the pitch side. Looking up from the tunnel sent a shiver down my spine.

Croke park Junior explorers tour

Pitch side – in the words of my oldest “epic”

Hand on heart in the words of an almost 7 years old this was “epic” the boys loved every minute. Tours lasts approx. 1.5 hours (including time in the museum and a meet and greet with Cluasóg) and the route is fully accessible for buggies. Advance online booking is recommended. Free parking is available which is a mega plus!

Honestly you wont regret it. Tour participants can explore the museum afterwards with their  Junior Explorer Passport so they can follow clues throughout the Museum  including some very fun interactive features. We rounded our morning off with a tasty coffee at the Blackthorn Cafe.  Tour prices are below and its recommended to book in advance:

 

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Fairy Travels

Ultimate Guide To Goa With Children

Who doesn’t love enjoying a serene sight of sunset sitting on the beach, or indulging in some amazing water sports, or wandering in the vibrant flea markets? Well, then you need to be in Goa! This is the place that will help you bond with your family and friends. This small city has a variety of amusement activities in store for kids as well.  The city always acts as refreshment when one spends time with their children away from home. If you want to go on a trip with your kids for relaxation and excitement, then Goa is an ideal place where you need to rush.

Best time to visit Goa with kids

The best time to visit Goa is during the onset of autumn or during the spring season, that is, in the month of October and November till February. This is the most pleasant time to visit beaches and monuments of the city. Seaside always has a calm and serene climate during later half of the year, and it is too difficult to stay under the scorching sun between the months of March and June.

 

The monsoon season is not really safe to visit a seaside because of the heavy downpour and thunderstorm hitting the seashore. However, you can still enjoy your rainy season in Goa with your kids and let them experience the beauty of nature. So, it is preferable to visit Goa during autumn or spring or during the winter season.

Tips for visiting Goa with kids

Most of them believe that Goa is a romantic destination. But you must be clear about the fact that this place has something special to offer for each and every individual.

  • It is not just a place with great beaches but there are many museums, monuments, and forts where you can take your kids and let them gain knowledge about history and architecture.
  • Here your little ones can also enjoy water sports such as scuba-diving, para-sailing, boat ride, and much more.
  • Do not forget to taste the yummy fresh seafood of Goa.

What to pack for kids traveling in Goa?


Most of the things you need are available in the local markets of Goa. However, travelling should always be done in a prepared way. Some important things you must remember to take when you are in Goa with your children are: –

  •    A few essential things that you must carry are a hat, a good mosquito repellent and sun-screen. These are must when you are going for trekking or such adventurous activities.
  •    Next comes the first-aid kit that include Paracetamol, cream that prevents rash caused by the heat, band aids, cotton, and Dettol. 
  •    If you have a really small kid, then you must keep a baby carrier that makes you roam around conveniently.
  •    It is very important to carry all your documents with you when you are going on a trip. Identity proofs, photo ids, and emergency contact numbers are a must. Also, see that your kids carry a notepad or a paper with all phone numbers and hotel address on it.
  •    Do carry cash as well as plastic money with you when you are travelling. That is because some vendors will want you to pay cash while others would be okay with plastic money which are debit and credit cards.

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Fairy Travels

Eclectic Edinburgh — 10 travel tips

Edinburgh

Pic Credit: Pixabay

For many visitors, Edinburgh is Britain’s most beautiful city and one of the most scenic capitals in the world.  With an elegant Neoclassical New Town and historic Old Town crowned by a castle perched atop a volcanic rock, it’s no wonder it impresses.  But away from the picture-postcard sights, Edinburgh’s a diverse city with working-class traditions which have fueled and enriched its cultural output and reputation.  If you’re ready for an eclectic Edinburgh tour, here are 10 travel tips.

Trainspotting walking tour

A Trainspotting walking tour with Brit Movie Tours takes you to the real-life filming locations of the cult film in areas like Leith, which are slightly off the typical tourist track. You’ll also learn vital insights about the seminal Irvine Welsh novel that started it all.

Hibernian FC

Known as ‘Hibs’ or ‘the Hibees’ to fans, Hibernian FC are Irvine Welsh’s favourite football team and feature heavily in all of his literature. Catch a game while you’re there and soak up the atmosphere.

Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo is located in Corstorphine, just outside the city centre and it’s home to the UK’s only giant pandas, as well as countless other cool creatures. Well worth a visit.

The Bongo Club

You’ll find The Bongo Club in the city centre’s Cowgate — a cultural hub with live music and comedy venues aplenty. If you want to groove to roots reggae music, Estonian hip-hop or UK Garage, this is the place to get down.

Brew School

Most Scots enjoy their beer, and if you like a tipple too, an Innis & Gunn Brew School session allows you to pick up pro tips from master brewer’s and take home a five litre mini keg of a beer you’ve created yourself.

Scottish Rugby Union

Edinburgh Castle

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium is the home of Scotland’s national rugby union team and local side Edinburgh Rugby.  Find tickets at scottishrugby.org and take in a game while you’re in town.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is one of the world’s most dramatic and it dominates the city skyline. It’s worth paying for an official tour to learn all about its fascinating history. And if you’re there at lunchtime and hear a loud bang, don’t panic — it’s probably the famous one o’clock gun going off. 

The Scottish Parliament

In Scotland, certain political powers are devolved from the UK parliament at Westminster, so Scottish lawmakers meet and debate legislation at The Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. It’s a marvel of modern architecture that resembles a series of upturned boats.

Edinburgh Trams

The modern Edinburgh tram system is one of the best ways to get around the city and the line extends out as far as the international airport. Book tickets ahead of time on their website.

Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh is Scotland’s biggest and busiest air hub, with daily flights to countless domestic and international locations. You’ll find Edinburgh airport parking from Looking4.com, popular restaurants like YO! Sushi and boutiques like Michael Kors.

Still looking for more? The Crazy Tourist has a brilliant list of some other tourist hot spots in this wonderful friendly city.

That’s our list! Share your own Edinburgh travel tips in the comments section.

 

Note: This is a collaborative post 
Fairy Travels

Ultimate guide to visiting Chiang Mai with kids

Thailand temple

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Mai is truly an exciting destination with kids. The region is filled with amazing landscapes and picturesque surrounding sights. This is a great spot to be at for all the adventurous families who love being outdoors and with nature.  Thailand’s northern capital makes for a great family travel destination. Moreover, if you want to make the most of your trip, look for Chiang Mai tours to explore the city and its attractions. With a local expert guide, you can be sure that you are heading for the best tourism offerings and are enjoying the best things to do in Chia.

Here is a brief but comprehensive guide on Chiang Mai with kids.

When to go to Chiang Mai

The right time to visit the city with kids is between October and April as the weather is just perfect. However, it is also the peak tourist season, so if you are looking for a peaceful holiday away from the crowds, you can plan accordingly and visit the city when it is at its vibrant best. As the airport is small and not far from the city, it is very easy convenient.

Accommodations and getting around
Although one can find several options for, when traveling with children, look for safer areas. There are plenty of Chiang Mai hotels that are both safe and comfortable for the kids and are located close to the major attractions. Although Chiang Mai is stroller friendly, there are some uneven areas and paths, so you should be careful when moving around with children or toddlers.

What to do and see
There is plenty to do and see in the Chiang Mai that is well known for its friendly people and remarkable scenery. The whole family can enjoy a relaxed cultural experience as they explore the city.  Here are some of the best activities to enjoy in Chiang Mai with your kids.

  • Keep Chiang Mai Zoo at the top of the list as there is loads of interactive fun for the kids here. Enjoy looking at different animals at those exhibits. Your children will love feeding the giraffe and watch the snorting hippos.

    lanterns

    Pic Credit: Pixabay

  • Kids love ziplining and when in Chiang Mai, it is highly recommended as you get to see the natural beauty and scenic waterfalls from above the treetops.
  • As all children love elephants, you must take them to Elephant Nature Park that is a safe home to the gentle giants as well as dogs, cats, buffaloes and other animals.
  • Sign up for a Thai cooking class and spend quality time together. Enjoy the whole experience as the whole family bods together.
  • The whole family will simply love the Night Safari that comprises of night safari trips, nature walks, and a mini zoo. Do not miss the chance to see those nocturnal predators!
  • Catmosphere cat café in Chiang Mai is another fun place for the whole family. You will love this unusual coffee shop that is filled with cats of all colors and sizes. You can even play with them.
  • Where else will you find the chance to chat with a monk?  Encourage the children to ask questions, and it sure is a great family activity.
  • Visit the Sand Handicraft Village that abounds with silk, silverware and gem showrooms. You can join the papermaking class or see how the Saa Paper Umbrellas are made.
  • Combine fun with exercise and go for a bike tour with your children and you can take them to the candy factory for more fun and excitement.
  • Huay Kaew Waterfall is another spot you must add to your list as it takes a short scenic walk to reach those beautiful shallow waterfalls. It is a great place to cool down and enjoy a picnic.

Where to shop and eat

Shopping and eating are an essential part of any holiday, and when it comes to kids, you need to be a bit careful. Thankfully, Chiang Mai boasts of many excellent restaurants that serve kid-friendly menus such as Lemon Tree, Burmese Food and Library, Free Bird Café and more. The attentive staff is warm and welcoming towards children and serves fantastic food with an extensive range of choices. Some of the most popular spots for shopping in Chiang Mai with kids include Warorot Market, Saturday Night Market, Kham Tiang Flower Market, and Chiang Mai Malls & Shopping Centers.

For more on Thailand see our Bangkok trip here

 

 

Fairy Travels

Top Tips When Travelling by Car With Children

With the rising costs of airfares and package holidays, and the increasing time it takes to get through security at the airports, more and more families are deciding to travel by car for their holidays.  Families are electing to take more road trips, both within the UK and Ireland, and wider afield in Europe. To make your journey easier here are some top tips to remember while travelling by car with children.

Most of us with young children are returning to the days we grew up in, where our holidays consisted of our parents packing up the car with us, bags and other essentials, and setting off to travel within our home country. My parents couldn’t afford holidays abroad, so we often travelled to other counties of Ireland for our summer holiday. I fondly remember a hot week in June spent in Salthill in Galway when I was 15. I also remember the windy beaches of Tralee in County Kerry when I was around 12. There were also regular camping trips to Brittas Bay or Courtown, two seaside towns on the east coast of Ireland. And getting there was a road trip.

As a family we’ve been travelling by car with our son since he was four months old. The first long trip was to Ireland via the ferry from Fishguard to Rosslare. And since our epic two-week USA road trip in 2017, we’ve become huge fans of travelling by car with our son. You can move from place to place and see much more of a country than just holidaying in one spot for a week or two. This is a huge advantage to road trips that we’ve come to love.

But, how can you beat the age-old question “Are we there yet?”, uttered by little people in the back. Well, here are some top tips to help your car holiday go a lot easier with the kids in tow.

Top tips when travelling by car with children  

1 Decide what time of the day suits your kids for travelling.

You need to decide if your kids do better in the early morning or evening hours for travelling? You know your kids better than anyone, so this is really your choice. Some people elect to travel at night when the kids are bound to be asleep. However, you need to ensure who ever is driving isn’t too tired behind the wheel. Others, like us, prefer to travel during the day, taking in the scenery and sharing the driving between the two of us. Whichever is best for your kids, plan your travel to match. For us, leaving early in the morning is best and our son will nap in the car is he gets tired. I’d also prefer us to sleep in a bed and get a proper night’s sleep than try and catch the zzz’s in the car.

2 Don’t leave home without the snacks and drinks.

Make sure to pack some snacks and drinks for everyone in the car. Yes, you might be able to stop along the way, but snacks can calm hangry children and they can also fill a gap if there is a way to go before your next stopping opportunity. Drinks are also essentials, particularly if you are driving during the summer on a hot day.

Stock the car with water or juices and bring snacks consisting of fruit, cereal bars, biscuits, crackers, crisps and even some homemade sandwiches. Keep them handy so you can pass them over without having to stop the car to fish them out of the boot.

3 Bring some entertainment.

Bring some colouring books and crayons or pencils, sticker books, travels games and even electronic devices like Gameboys and tablets. And let the kids use them if necessary. You could even bring personal DVD players and use a mounting brace to mount them to the back of the front seat headrests. Just remember individual headphones if you’ve got more than one child so that you don’t end up with a volume war.

Pic Credit: Passports and Adventures

 I’d also recommend ensuring you have some music that the kids like in the car. We’ve created a playlist on our Spotify account for our son with his favourite songs and we add to it from time to time. This can be a sure-fire way of keeping him entertained for a while in the car.  And you don’t have to limit yourself to this type of entertainment. Playing I-Spy or other games can be fun. We even created a game in America called “Spot the Mack truck” shouting out “Mack” every time we saw a truck that looked like Mack from Disney’s Cars. And a pair of toy binoculars provided hours of entertainment for our son in Yellowstone National Park.

4 Pack an overnight bag and keep it handy.

If you have an overnight stop somewhere, or are only staying a few nights in one location, why not pack a 3-day bag with 3 days’ worth of clothes for everyone in it, rather than packing one individual suitcase for each person. Use colour coordinated packing cubes for each member of the family so every knows where their clothes are.

This is much easier than hauling 3 or more suitcases into a hotel or AirBnB every night or two. You can do this for a road trip that consists of several short stops along the way. It will mean you take one suitcase of clothes in every three days. Keep your family toiletries in one large clear bag so it can be brought in with your one bag.

We did this during our road trip in Central Portugal at the end of the summer. We were stopping at three different locations for either two or three nights each and I packed one 3-day bag for our first stop, rotated clothes for the second stop and then we brought everything into our last location’s accommodation as the car was parked in a shared carpark and away from our accommodation. It made it much easier when it came to empty the car with a boisterous four-year-old in tow.

 

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Fairy Travels

Family friendly places to visit in Penang

beach scene

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Are you thinking of holidaying in Penang with family? Well, you are indeed just on the right track! After all, this Malaysian island is just perfect for families, and one can indeed look forward to a memorable holiday with their children. Start planning the trip and take advantage of Hard Rock Hotel Penang online booking for the most comfortable and affordable accommodations.

Penang boasts of several family-friendly tourist attractions, and there is something for everyone here. You can spend precious moments with your family as you enjoy exploring those museums, swimming pools, parks, and temples. The tropical state of Malaysia has loads of beach-side resort towns. You can book the best hotels in Penang for your family for a memorable stay and experience. Enjoy world-class facilities in the leading accommodation in Penang.

Here are some of the most popular sites and locations for families holidaying in Penang.

  • This indoor playground of Adventure Zone– The fabulous Adventure Zone at the Golden Sands Resort is a big hit among families with children.  Enjoy those fabulous and fast drop slides with your kids. There is even a specialized play area for the toddlers. Just explore the attractions, and you can even play hide and seek here.

  • Train to Penang Hill– If you are looking for a cool and calm escape from the hot city and its crowds, just make your way to the 18th-century style station. Hop on the train to Penang Hill that will take you the hill, and you can already feel the fresher breeze. Enjoy those fantastic views of Penang Bridge and Georgetown.

  • Penang Butterfly Farm in Entopia- You must visit this lovely spot near Batu Ferringhi where the butterfly farm displays hundreds and thousands of butterflies. There are other animals such as lizards, fish, and turtles.  Part form those, the informative displays will keep the whole family busy.

  • Canopy Walkway in National Park. You children are sure going to love this place. Explore the lush scenery of this vast rainforest. The highlight is the 150-meter-long Canopy Walkway that will take about half an hour to complete. You can climb different exotic trees to get a birds-eye-view.  

    Pic Credit: Pixabay

  • A cyclo-rickshaw ride for short trips- It is indeed an enjoyable experience to rise on those bicycle powered cabs which are also known as “beca” locally. Those rickshaws remind one of the Chinese influence on the island and are purely meant for the tourists. You can take short trips to local attractions.

  • The interesting Snake Temple– Built in 1850 by a Buddhist priest, the temple gets its name because it is a safe haven for poisonous snakes. You will come across green tree snakes and Wagler’s pit vipers. However, these snakes are harmless and are a friendly breed. Still, be wary and keep an eye on the children while exploring the area. Other highlights of the temple include the Buddhist sculptures and carvings
  • The Penang Eco Park– If you want to admire Penang’s natural beauty, then you are sure to find it here at Penang Eco Park. It is indeed a tremendous outdoor attraction for the whole family who can come here and spend quality time. They can go for long hikes through Forest Park or simply let the kids play in the playground.

  • Fun at Penang Interactive Museum – Another spot which the whole family will like is the Penang Interactive Museum that displays three-dimensional artworks. You not only feel a part of the history and culture of Penang, but it is great fun to click photos of those trick arts and murals. Learn about the island’s traditional way of life through the section of miniature figures.
Note: This is a collaborative post
Fairy Travels

Amsterdam calling in 2019

Amsterdam at night

Pic Credit: Pixabay

Back in 2015 we touched down in Amsterdam to hear the very sad new my wonderful granda had passed away. I was distraught. We departed on the next flight back to Dublin. For a long time I had a mental block about Amsterdam, about going back there. The association was tough.  However a press release popped in my inbox this week and made me think. You know something perhaps a return visit is just what I need, a closure of sorts.

I see that KLM has reached an agreement between themselves and Dublin headquartered Stobart Air which will see Stobart provide an E195 jet on an ACMI contract (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) for the purpose of operating up to eight flights per day from Amsterdam, including Dublin to Amsterdam. I was intrigued to read that Stobart employ over 500 people.  You might not realise that Stobart are the airline that operates the Dublin-Donegal and Dublin-Kerry Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes, on behalf of the Irish Government, under the Aer Lingus Regional brand. 

I use the Donegal – Dublin route very frequently and its incredibly convenient, for work reason we are split between Dublin and Donegal and this makes it a lot easier. Another huge plus is the view from Carrickfinn runway on departure. The runway literally disappears before your eyes! If I recall correctly it was voted the Worlds most scenic runway in 2018. That is quite the accolade.

Back to Amsterdam! I did so much research before my trip and had it all planned out, Heineken Factory, canal boat cruise, copious coffees along the canals. My youngest was only young at the time we went in 2015 so Nana very kindly offered to take him while we took my oldest, who was 3 at the time. Being the ultimate hoarder I no doubt still have all my notes.

Perhaps 2019 will be the year we pay another visit to this intriguing city. Time will tell.

 

Fairy Travels

Lapland on budget – a how to guide

santa claus village

Accommodation at Santa Claus Village Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

Last year we ticked one item off our bucket list when we visited Iceland. Little did I think a mere two months later we would have managed to tick another one off the list – an ultimate dream come true….Lapland. It cost us a fraction of the price that tour operators were quoting for our two night stay therefore I though id set out just how we did it including costs.

 

Feel free to comment below or DM/ email and im more than happy to answer any questions or queries:

Flights

We weren’t overly keen on the over night train, I know some people love it but my thinking was tired kids = nightmare! Therefore we knew without booking with a tour operator we were limited to connecting nights flights so off we went researching.

  • We flew Dublin to London Gatwick, Cost €9.99 per person each way with Ryanair
  • London Gatwick to Rovaniemi £35.99 each way with Easy Jet

They above were the cheapest I could find anywhere and I did buckets of research in terms of timing I booked in August for December 2018. You also need to factor in the cost of an overnight stay in the airport as the Easy Jet flight is 6.20!! A very early flight!! We booked the Hilton Hampton airport hotel via booking.com for £90 b&b for the four of us. Nothing overly exciting but did the job and its literally next to the Easy Jet check in desks.

santa claus village resturant

Lunch time at Santa Claus Village Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy blog

santa claus village

Santa Claus Village at 4pm Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

There is also the option of flying with Norwegian or Finnair from a few of the UK airports. The alternative is to go via Helsinki from Dublin, think its around an hours turnaround in Helsinki so tight but doable im informed. Of course the overnight train is an option if you fly from Dublin. Sign up to their newsletter for and discounts.

Accommodation (3 Nights)

There are a wealth of option to suit lots of budgets and requirements in Rovaniemi. We stayed at Santa Claus Village which yes is pricey but it was so handy to be so close to the airport and all activities were on site from Snowmobiling, huskies and of course the big man himself. We crossed over and under the arctic circle and Santa Claus Village is a 30 min or so walk to Santa Park. (Full reviews on both to follow).

The town of Rovaniemi is really nice and hosts the worlds most northerly McDonalds im told (and 2 Irish bars)!! I know a lot of people like to stay closer to the town for a variety of eating options and to be close to supermarkets etc. As above booking.com and Airbnb are good places to start. Food is pricey so do bear that in mind that you might like the option of self catering to be able to save money and cook at home.

Activities

Santa Park

Santa Park Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

The best piece of advice I can give here is to do your research. My kids are young so seeing Santa was top of the list but that list could be endless, there is just so much to do.  What we did was we decided early what activities we would like and booked and paid for some of those in advance.  Also highly recommended is the Rovaniemi Culture Pass which covers the top 3 attractions in Rovaniemi at €20 for adults and kids under 7 free this works out at really good value.

One thing I must do is commend the staff at Visit Rovaniemi, they are incredibly helpful at assisting with all queries in relation to upcoming visits. I literally spoke to them most weeks in the lead up to our trip and I can say hand on heart it would not have been  half as good without their expert advice and guidance. It can be a bit of a minefield with so much on offer and the sense of wanting to see all that’s on offer in this magical place so do contact them for assistance.

I do have a full review to follow of each of this but I will say some highlights were:

  • We saw Santa at Santa’s Office in Santa Claus Village, just amazing, we went early no queue as the tour buses hadn’t started to arrive yet
  • We did the husky ride at Husky Park located in Santa Park, you get to spend some time at the husky farm before going on the ride which my kids just loved.  The puppies…..so so cute. You can tell the staff genuinely love what they do and have a special bond with the animals
  • Santa Park is about 2km from Santa Village, its a really lovely walk via a forest trail. Id probably say this was the kids highlight. They loved the entire experience start to finish. The entrance alone is pure magic. You walk down this walk way which is all lit up with beautiful coloured lights. Almost like stepping into a fantasy. At Sana Park you can underpass the arctic circle which we all thought was super cool. I can’t recommend Santa Park enough, well laid out and just wonderful.  We only did Santa in one place to stave off the questions so the activities here were really thoroughly enjoyed:
    • elf show – one word mesmerising I could not take my eyes off the lead female, just incredible ,
    • angry birds play space, the grown ups enjoyed a coffee while the kids played over head at the place centre,
    • gingerbread decorating, this was really lovely and relaxing and kids had plenty time to decorate and use all the various toppings on offer,
    • ice-bar
    • train ride

All in all we estimate the total cost for the 4 of us for 4 nights flights bed and breakfast was around €1,000 activities extra bus that’s very much a matter of personal preference. The food is pricey but do factor that into your budget but I would urge you to try some of the local cuisine. Our favourite was probably the dinner at the Nova Skyland yes pricey but yes so worth it.  My kids are snacky eaters so I had lots of their favourites with me when the (hangry) hunger took over!

Mamma Fairy Insider Tips

  • Take snacks!!
  • Bepathan, my kids are fair skinned so I knew the cold would bother them, we used this on their faces and lips and no issues at all, definitely recommend
  • Good ski gear/ cold gear – kids wore good quality thermals and outerwear from Reima boots from Sports Direct and adults Regatta and Sports Direct boots, nobody got wet and nobody moaned about the cold….. winner! (For our full post of dressing for Lapland click here)
    entrance to santa park

    Santa Park Entrance Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy Blog

    Chat to Visit Rovaniemi they are excellent, I did it via email and definitely made our trip what it was.

  • Whatever clothing you need only take half, we took way too much.
  • Plan and plan some more, know what you want to do before you go and either pay in instalments or in advance makes planning easier.
  • You only have very short day time hours so plan accordingly
  • This year there was much stress about the snow levels so my advice  – book into December. Nothing is guaranteed but it does increase your chances
  • Sign up for all airlines newsletters so you know when flights are released. I understand both Easy Jet and Norwegian will be releasing theirs in April this year.
  • The Airbnb and Booking.com links above will give you a small discount so you are welcome to use them as every little really does help.
  • Savour every minute, honestly its magical.
  • For some top tips on surviving  the winter holidays see this great post from Mother Distracted

Hopefully this is helpful for anybody planning their trip of a life time. Although in saying that im eagerly awaiting flight releases for this year so we can go back and enjoy all that the Official home of Santa Claus has to offer.

Note – since our return we got to interview the GM from Santa Claus Holiday Village who shares a view from the inside with us here

Note: The above post contains afflinks
Fairy Travels

First up on our 2019 wish list – Alvor Portugal

Generally we like to try new places, countries, cities etc when we travel however that said the only place where we have routinely returned year on year is Alvor Portugal.  We didn’t make it for 2018 for family reasons and as we closed out 2018 and rang in 2019 one thing we did agree on was that we missed our annual family trip to Alvor. You see its not just the immediate family, we go as a party of our extended family. For our first trip we were a party ranging in ages from 6 months to plus 60 years and hand on heart every single person enjoyed.

beach

The beach at Prainha Credit: Clickstay

For us and the age range of our party Alvor has it all, beautiful beaches, friendly locals, seriously good food and wine and a lovely chilled out vibe. Given our party size we always opt for a villa preferably with a pool and bonus points if its a covered/ sectioned off one as my crazy crew have little fear around water. Don’t get me wrong that’s not a bad thing id just rather that they were aware of the dangers of water and that I didn’t need 300 pairs of eyes for the daredevils! Thankfully holiday rental companies such as Clickstay offer a number of accommodation options from 2 beds upwards.

With young kids having the ability to cook for them and just have some extra space for chilling is pretty invaluable, again with a large crowd rooms for a breather are very useful too!

I would have said im not a creature of habit but maybe am I after all! Our resort of choice from our first trip is Prainha Village for a couple of reasons:

  • Location – location just outside of the main town area means it quiet and peaceful and a stunning secluded beach is just minutes from the properties
  • Size of property – we choose the 4 bed option and its perfect for our needs. See for example see this Clickstay villa in Alvor
  • Pools – there is an incredible salt water pool in this complex. The setting over looking the sea is breath taking

    view of rocks on beach

    View from Canico Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy

  • Canico bar – this deserves a special mention, quite honestly the highlight of our trip whether having coffee while the kids place on the beach or sipping champagne as the sun goes down on the ocean. There is a magic here that’s impossible to convey.
  • Miss Pasta – my kids just love this place. The staff are just brilliant and go out of their way to make all ages fell welcome and valued. This is something I find very important in any resort.
pool view

Atlantic Salt Water Pool Pic Credit: The Mamma Fairy

While there are many fantastic properties on offer with sites like Clickstay in many different destinations throughout the world, every year I leave a piece of my heart at Prainha Village. The great thing is given the size of our party its very budget friendly that’s both the accommodation and the eating and drinking!

Honestly you will not regret a visit to a place like Prainha, we have been very fortunate to have travelled to many countries around the world, however Alvor is currently the only place we have gone more than once and that is a true testament to the calibre of the place you are going to.

So Prainha we will see you later in 2019 and young and old members of The Mamma Fairy house cannot wait.

Note: This is a collaborative post however I retain full editorial control, pic’s and memories are my own too!