Exploring Lapland: 5 things to do in Finland’s snowy north

map altered.png

Over the Easter break a few friends and I decided to head up to northern Finland to catch the last of the snow, experience the magic of the Game of Thrones themed Snow Village and have some outdoor adventures in Finland’s stunning northern-most province. With 4 commercial airports in Lapland, flying is by far the most convenient, fastest and often cheapest means of getting to and from the north. Here are the top 5 things we did on our trip.

lapland cover photo.png

 

1. Skiing & sightseeing at Ylläs

Ylläs not only boasts two of the best cross-country and downhill ski resorts in Lapland but is also a beautiful spot to visit for those who are less winter-sport inclined. There’s a cable car at the Sports Resort which can be ridden by sightseers for a 10€ fee. If the view from the ride itself weren’t enough incentive, there’s also two cafes at the top, amazing views and the chance to go snowmobiling.

yllas1

yllas gondolas

yllas cafe
One of the cafes up top

DSC09506

 

 

 

2. Aurora hunting & reindeer riding in Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi, a city at the southern end of Lapland is large and busy compared to other more sparsely populated regions, and as such feels a little less relaxing than the rest of Lapland. Possibly most famous for the Santa Claus Village– an amusement park dedicated to all things Christmas, Rovaniemi also has many interesting tours and activities to do and a range of accommodation options.

During our visit we took a reindeer safari through the forest and spent an evening at Apukka Aurora Borealis Resort where we were able to try out some traditional Finnish winter activities like snow-shoeing, tobogganing, a circular sled and a snow ‘train’ over a frozen lake. While we waited for it to get dark enough to glimpse the elusive Aurora Borealis (northern lights), we kept warm by an open fire in a traditional Lappish tent, where we roasted sausages and drank hot blueberry juice. The newly opened Apukka resort also boasts cabins with glass roofs (for comfort Aurora spotting!), ice cabins and even a seemingly impossible ice sauna.

reindeer

DSC09816

DSC09799

DSC09808
We stopped in the forest for hot drinks

 

The ice sauna and cabins at the Apukka Aurora Borealis Resort

 

DSC09731
This somewhat rickety contraption produced a crazily fast ride!
DSC09750
A traditional Lappish tent by the frozen lake

3. Experience the beautiful national park and winter trails at Saariselkä

Heading further north, Saariselkä again regains the feel of being immersed in nature. There’s a small village with everything you’d need for a short stay, including cross-country ski rental. We stayed at Kuukkeli Porakka Lodge and it was exactly the type of charming log cabin, among the snow and pine trees that I’d hoped for. The place also had it’s own log sauna- best enjoyed with intermittent snow frolicking!

Post Sauna cool off!

 

The main attractions in Saariselkä revolve around the love of skiing. The downhill skiing resort is the northernmost in Europe and provides a stunning backdrop for snowboarding or skiing. To snowboard all day cost me around 80€ including board, boots, helmet and a lift pass. There’s one long chair lift and multiple smaller t-bar and platter lifts. As a snowboarder surrounded by extremely competent skiers, I now have a slight phobia of t-bar lifts. Somewhat reassuringly, I’m not alone in this and here.

30704026_10160405583985145_1945428152805228544_n

30725474_10160405583930145_7179803275745558528_n

Then there are the cross-country trails. Wow! An array of beautiful paths of varying distances, for beginners or experienced skiers. You can rent skis from the village for around 15€ for 24 hours. There are huts along the way (with open fires and wood supply) if you need to stop for a snack or to get warm and there are also cafes, restaurants and nearby towns to stop at.

30703749_10160405579595145_5312484613661130752_n

4. Enjoy some solitude in a lakeside cabin in Inari

If after all this winter sport activity you want to relax and unwind, then a cabin in the Inari area is perfect. I stayed in a cottage for 3 days between Ivalo and Nellim and it was the perfect spot to read, do some yoga, relax and let my soul breath! Of course there was also the opportunity for more skiing on the nearby lake. As I was now addicted, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, especially since my host kindly lent me some skis to explore the area.

DSC09869

DSC09863

DSC09952

DSC09949

DSC09844

DSC09895

DSC09860

DSC09859

5. Sleep in a room made of ice in the Game of Thrones themed Snow Village

This hotel made from ice on the outskirts of Kittilä was by far the thing I was most looking forward to in Lapland. It definitely didn’t disappoint! I loved the experience so much that I wrote a separate post describing our stay.

 

 

 

Cost

Lapland is expensive. To give you an idea of what to budget for, on this 10 day trip I spent around 1370€ all up (roughly $2200 AUD). That includes all transport (420€), accommodation (450€), tours & activities (300€), food, drinks & other spending money (200€). Despite being on the higher end of what I normally budget for holidays, the experience was worth every cent!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.