Nature experiences, well-being, and snow adventures in Lapland
Lapland is at its best in the spring side of winter. There is no lack of snowy slopes, and the days are growing longer and sunnier. The different resorts offer plenty to choose from, whether you are a keen sportsperson, looking for local flavours, wanting to try out new activities or just need to rewind in nature.
Ivalo is the travel center of Northern Lapland; it has the most northern airport in the EU as well as great services such as hotels and restaurants. Ivalo is known for its truly unique nature including river Ivalo, lakes Inari and Hammasjärvi and the wilderness of Hammastunturi. The location draws in people from hikers to canoers, gold panners to snow scooter addicts.
Winter sport lovers tend to head directly to Saariselkä, a ski resort spreading over two hilltops. The resort is known to be family friendly, it hosts 15 slopes of different levels, a very good ski school and even the longest sled hill in Finland!
If you want to balance the sports with a bit of culture, make your way to Inari village. There you can find a traditional Sami church as well as the Sami museum and nature centre Siida showcasing both Sami culture and arctic nature.
Extra tip: Inari and Saariselkä are located on a belt where Aurora Borealis is plentiful. On a clear night the chances to see this wonder are very good. If you would like to enjoy the colours from the comfort of your own bed, you could consider renting a glass igloo for a night or two.
The great slopes of Ylläs or Levi tend to be what brings people to Kittilä. One of the biggest ski resorts Levi does indeed offer an excellent set up for both downhill and cross-country skiing as well as many more activities. You can take your pick from sledding, reindeer rides and husky safaris to saunas and spa treatments.
Ylläs on the other hand holds first place when it comes to altitudes and slope lengths. This makes it a good choice for experienced skiers. The area also offers several off-piste slopes for freeriding. Fear not if you are a beginner though, there is a ski school on hand too. If you want to broaden your repertoire you can take a class in something new such as telemark.
Extra tip: If you have a fascination with art do not miss the museums of two of the most interesting painters from Lapland: Reidar Särestöniemi and Kalervo Palsa. Särestöniemi museum in Kaukonen and Palsa museum in the centre of Kittilä offer a refreshing new perspective into northern lifestyle.
The capital of Lapland and hometown of Santa Claus offers the most urban experiences of all the destinations in northern Finland. You can for example admire the architecture of the Finnish giant Alvar Aalto around the city, visit the excellent science centre and museum Arktikum, enjoy culture in its dedicated space Korundi or enjoy local dishes in many of the high quality restaurants.
Nature is however always close. The city of Rovaniemi has three stunning nature trails, in Koivusaari, Korkalovaara and Ounasvaara. If natural wonders interest you, make some time to visit the giant's kettles at Sukulanrakka. Three of them are impressive in size and depth.
Skiing is of course an option too. Ounasvaara Ski Resort has several slopes and a wide network of cross-country trails. Children will love its Rendi Park, where you can both practice your skiing and play in the snow.
Extra tip: Rovaniemi is surrounded by water, which has made it a mecca for winter swimming. Even in the centre of town there are several spots where you can dip yourself in the icy waters and enjoy a warming sauna.
For many Kuusamo equals the ski resort Ruka. It is in fact a very versatile holiday destination. Ruka has great slopes but also lots of other attractions for the winter sport fanatic: from snow shoeing to whitewater floating, ice fishing to reindeer yoga!
The season at Ruka runs all the way to May and there are 39 slopes and 240 kilometres of cross-country trails, offering plenty of options for your snow holiday. And if you are craving something warmer, there are several sauna facilities around, as well as a spa resort Holiday Club Kuusamon tropiikki.
When it comes to nature and scenery Kuusamo has a lot to offer too. There is for example the national park of Oulanka and in it the rapids of Kiutaköngäs. Kuusamo is also known for its popular hiking trail Karhunkierros, parts of it are accessible even in the winter.
Extra tip: Kuusamo is a fantastic place to try out some unique, local, and wild food. Some of the restaurants featuring northern flavours are Rukan Kuksa, Riipisen Riistaravintola and Lammintupa.