I flew from Helsinki to Kemi, my first stop in Lapland, where Finland's famous ice castle is. It's a small industrial town spotted with wood-paneled buildings (most of the original architecture was destroyed by the Germans during WWII) and where life seems slow enough that you would recognize your neighbor at the local Euromart.
A 10 minute walk from the center of town, the Ice Castle is right next to the water's edge (frozen over during winter and a vast snow field as far as the eye can see). Bundle up before you go, you'll be surrounded by walls of ice.
When I entered the Ice Castle, I was surprised to see an ice bar, complete with tables made out of blocks of ice, ice sculptures, and ice shot glasses. I can see why shots of alcohol are needed in there. You can explore the different cavernous rooms and stumble upon something completely different and amazing. The ice sanctuary was my most favorite room. It's an ecumenical prayer area with pews covered in reindeer fur and religious crosses carved on the walls. Inspiring in its uniqueness.
Attached to the Ice Castle is a small ice hotel, where people can spend the night bundled in warm reindeer fur laid on top of a block of ice for a bed. I sat on one, and it's actually quite comfortable. I recommend bringing someone to cozy up with.
Try to visit the Ice Castle during the day and at night to get a different feel. At night, the castle exterior is lit up and the inside bar has a more dramatic effect. I had a shot of vodka out of the ice glasses and tried their smoked salmon pizza. I highly recommend both to warm the senses.