Looking for a unique and magical skiing experience? Well, look no further, if you hadn’t considered skiing in Lapland, we hope you will now. From seeing the Northern Lights to dog sledding to shredding stunning slopes. A Lapland skiing adventure has it all.
We know skiing in the Alps can be a real adventure — there’s charm, exceptional skiing, challenging terrain and much more. However, what if you’re looking for something a little different from your next ski holiday? What if you enjoy the “off-the-slope” activities just as much as the riding? Perhaps you’re energised and inspired by nature and unique culture? Then skiing in Lapland is going to be much more your speed. Discover why Lapland draws in thousands of like-minded visitors each winter and experience a ski adventure off the beaten path.
Let's dive into all the insider information you might like to know before you book, and discover everything a trip to Lapland in the Winter has to offer.
But wait — before we dive in, remember, it’s cold and frosty in Lapland, so make sure you check out our ski jackets and ski pants so you can be warm and cosy as you explore this wonderful area. No matter what you get up to, from skiing in the morning to reindeer spotting in the afternoon, you’ll be looking cool and staying toasty.
Lapland is situated in Finland's northernmost region bordering Sweden, Norway, Russia and the Baltic Sea. It's known for its undisturbed wilderness, world-class ski resorts and natural phenomena, including the midnight sun and the Northern Lights. The indigenous people of Lapland are the Sami, and they have had a huge impact on tourism and maintaining the land in the area.
"The Sámi areas in Northern Lapland offer many year-round outdoor and indoor activities and close contact with the unique culture of the Sámi – the only indigenous people of the European Union. The Sámi live in the Northern parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden, and parts of North-Eastern Russia. In Finland, the Sámi population is approximately 10 500 strong, and the preservation of their endangered language and culture is governed by an autonomous Sámi parliament in Inari, Finland."- visitfinland.com
But how do we get to Lapland? If you are lucky enough to be living in one of Finland's neighbouring countries, such as Sweden, Norway or Russia, you might be able to obtain a flight to one of the more local airports to Lapland.
The nearest airport to Lapland is Kittila (KTT) Airport, other nearby airports include Ivalo (IVL) and Rovaniemi (RVN).
However, if you are travelling from other areas in Europe or beyond, the three most prominent airports in Finland are Helsinki Airport, Oulu Airport or Rovaniemi Airport. You are more likely to find international flights to one of these airports. You can either drive (and make a fun road trip adventure to the North) or catch an internal flight closer to Lapland.
Time zone: Eastern European Time +2
Weather: Temperatures in Winter range from -30°C to 0°C, chilly to say the least. The most chilling temperatures recorded were -45°C to -50°C, occurring after the winter solstice at the end of January. Lapland's weather conditions can change dramatically during the day or night, especially in Winter.
Language: Finland is officially bilingual, but English is widely spoken, especially in the bigger cities and around tourist hot spots such as Lapland.
While most people speak Finnish as their native tongue, the Swedish population makes up about 5,5% of Finland and are primarily bilingual, whereas not all Finnish people speak Swedish well.
Dialling code: +358
Plugs: Types C and F (C = two round pins, F = two round pins with two earth clips on the side)
Fun fact: Finland is known as the 'Land of a Thousand Lakes'. However, there are actually 187,888 lakes and 179,584 islands within the territory of Finland.
People of note who live in Lapland famously include Santa, so keep a lookout for Mr & Mrs Klaus, all the Elves and Reindeer as you enjoy your time in the area.
Lapland is the original winter wonderland. If you were to imagine a picture-perfect postcard of winter, snow, and mountains, you're likely to be imagining Lapland. Stunning light conditions, frosty forests with snow-laden trees, and a white wilderness stretching as far as the eye can see are what make the unique atmosphere referred to by Finns as "Lapin Taika" or "the Magic of Lapland".
Lapland’s resorts offer skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts lots of "Lapin Taika", with varied terrain ranging from kids slopes to black and off-piste runs, and even snow parks and backcountry riding. Although life is taken at a slower, more relaxed pace, the locals like to take a step back and enjoy the raw natural beauty of their surroundings — and who could blame them when the ski resorts in Lapland have so much to offer? They're pretty confident you'll love them as much as they do.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a Finn who's never tried skiing. It's somewhat of a national pastime, and that’s even more true for those who live near the mountains. Most Finns learn to ski at an early age, as family ski holidays are a nationwide shared joy and plenty of schools organise trips for their pupils.
The season starts in late October, and the high season spans from February until the snow melts in early May. With such a long season, there's no need to rush; there'll surely be snow the entire time. Which means slopes are less busy, queues are less crowded, and overall, you'll discover a very chilled (pardon the pun) atmosphere in the towns and on the mountain.
However, Finnish ski resorts are different to the Alps in many ways, like the incline of the slopes, for example. The Finnish ski resorts in Lapland tend to be less steep and challenging than the Alps or the mountains across the border in Sweden. You'll also find the piste networks to be smaller — you can explore the entirety of the resorts in a few days maximum, which is why you'll find so many incredible off-the-slopes activities. Why not explore the mountain in the morning and spend the afternoon tobogganing?
If you are worried that the skiing won’t occupy you, never fear. If you love to flex your skills, there will still be plenty of opportunities to do so in the snow parks or the backcountry.
The biggest resorts, just like in the Alps, often have more than one terrain park and at least one smaller park ideal for children and beginners alike. Freestylers will not be disappointed by what Laplands snowparks have to offer; just ask the score of locals who have turned professional. You'll notice that many of the most popular ski movies and youtube edits these days feature Finnish riders who are pushing the creativity of freestyle to the limits. If the snow parks are good enough for Eero Ettala and the like, they’re good enough for us!
There is a lack of big mountains in Finland, but as is the nature of freeriding to be resourceful and adventurous, you'll indeed find plenty to explore in Lapland. The fells of Lapland present sweet spots and challenges for off-piste powderhounds if you know where to look. Why not hire a local guide to show you around? But don't forget to stay safe and watch out for the sneaky reindeer!
Skiing in Lapland is so much more than just skiing. Lapland's ski resorts are essentially real-life "Winter Wonderland" holiday resorts, with many more activities on offer off the slopes. Cross country skiing, snowmobiling, husky tours, reindeer rides and snowshoeing, to name a few, plus simply enjoying the fresh northern air and the "Magic of Lapland" are all great ways to spend time in the area.
The Northern lights are a stunning natural phenomenon, and to behold them with the clarity you are afforded in Lapland is a once in a lifetime opportunity. An aurora, also known as polar lights or Aurora Polaris, is a natural light display in the earth's sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions. Auroras display majestic patterns of fantastic lights that appear as curtains, rays, spirals, or dynamic flickers covering the entire sky.
Throughout the Winter, the lights can be seen from November to April and are visible from any of Lapland’s resorts because they all lie at the optimum latitude, North of the Arctic Circle. Between 7 pm and 2 am, when the skies are clear, is when you're most likely to see this stunning natural light show.
The ski season is well underway by December when the remarkable two-month Polar Night period starts. Of course, the lack of sunlight doesn't mean the slopes are closed, but it does mean great skiing in artificial light like in the front piste of Levi. Night skiing is a truly breathtaking experience, as the light drops, your other senses heighten. Of course, it’s colder riding at night so wrap up warm, but the absence of light makes for a skiing and snowboarding lovers’ dream.
After a long day spent outdoors, would there be anything better than relaxing in a Sauna? Well, luckily for you, Finns and Saunas are synonymous. It's a national institution and nowhere is that more true than in Lapland's ski resorts. Most accommodations will have access to a Sauna, there is no better way to ease aching muscles after a day of skiing, and if you don't try it, you're missing out on a big slice of Finnish culture.
Lapland is known for its immense, snowy landscapes with lush forests and open snowy plains best explored via snowmobiling. After all, it's how many locals get around. Snowmobiles are available for hire in many Finnish resorts, where you can also hire a guide to show you all the best spots. Of course, it gets cold on the snowmobile, but you'll love snowmobiling if you’re partial to adrenaline-fuelled sports.
One of the most traditional ways of travelling through snowy landscapes is by reindeer sleigh. If it's the transport of choice of Santa, it must be fun, right? In many of the bigger resorts in Lapland, you can head to a reindeer farm, meet all of Santa's reindeer and try your hand at reindeer herding and lassoing. You can also get them harnessed up and head out into the wilderness on a guided tour safari.
There's nothing quite like husky sledding! The dogs are excited, and the air is filled with the beautiful sound of their howls. So take the unique and captivating opportunity to go on a guided safari through the stunning wilderness with the huskies. It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience. Most excursions even include instruction that allows you to drive the sled yourself, which is even more extraordinary.
Are you dying to meet Santa? Everyone knows he lives in Lapland, and he is dying to meet you too, no matter the time of year. In some resorts, you can meet Santa in the town… But why not take a trip to meet Father Christmas in the fabulous Santa Claus Village?
Surprisingly, cross country skiing is Finland's most popular winter sport, and for a good reason. The landscape is perfect for cross country skiing: you'll find mile upon mile of gentle tracks passing through pristine, tranquil wilderness. Many of the cross country trails are illuminated, making skiing after dark a possibility, and most trail networks are dotted with campfires, shelters, and even cafes for a bit of a pitstop.
Snowshoeing offers a world of possibilities as, unlike skiing on marked trails or many of the wildlife-related activities, you can truly go where you please, unrestricted. Discover the most peaceful, untouched wilderness areas — and have them all to yourself! You can also hire a guide to show you around. This activity is available all across Lapland.
Tobogganing is fun for kids, both big and small! We all have an inner child who loves tobogganing, after all. Most Lappish ski resorts have specific tobogganing areas on their piste maps. Or head to Saariselkä for some record-breaking tobogganing, with the oldest and longest slope in the region.
Now that you know everything there is to know about Lapland, it is finally time to look at the best ski resorts Lapland has to offer.
Pyhä Ski Resort is twinned with Luosto to make one epic ski centre where you can experience all types of skiing and riding. Pyhä is famous for its picturesque and challenging backcountry, which keeps die-hard freeride experts coming back year after year. Pyhä Ski Resort was the Ski Resort of the year 2017 and is home to 9 lifts, 14 slopes and plenty of off-piste, giving you lots to explore.
Ridestore Recommends: Experience the magnificent landscape, beautiful natural features and peace of Pyhä-Luosto National Park, Finland's oldest National Park. The photo opportunities are endless!
Most of us ski lovers have heard of Levi, the most popular ski resort in Finland. The resort is home to two snow parks, various slopes for riders of all abilities, and a lively village centre. In addition, Levi hosts an annual FIS World Cup slalom competition in November, which brings tonnes of atmosphere to the town. Levi is by far the most energetic Finnish ski resort with restaurants, bars, shops, and plenty to do both on and off the slopes. With 70km of maintained ski tracks and 60 km of snowmobile tracks, there is so much to see and do here.
Ridestore Recommends: The night skiing is a unique experience that we highly encourage you to take part in.
Ylläs is one of the oldest Finnish ski resorts. It opened its first ski lift in 1957, and now there are 55 km of slopes and 26 lifts, as well as being home to the longest slopes in Finland. Almost half of the 63 slopes in Ylläs are over a whopping one kilometre long. Eight slopes are over two kilometres long, while the longest slopes are over three kilometres. That’s impressive and a great way to put your ski legs to the test!
Ridestore Recommends: “The southern side of the fell offers a truly unique and unforgettable experience. In this sauna gondola, you can enjoy the heat of an authentic Finnish sauna while riding the gondola lift amidst stunning scenery.”- ski.yllas.fi
Saariselkä is Europe's northernmost ski resort, located just 250km from the Arctic Circle, close to the Russian border. Saariselkä plays host to 7 km of slopes, 5 lifts, and is the home of Father Christmas. With any luck, you might catch him and his reindeer gearing up for their deliveries! Saariselkä is snow-sure skiing, a Christmas-card village and heaps of festive activities all in one place all Winter long. It is surrounded by forest and full of winter wonderland charm and traditional log cabins. It's the perfect base if you want easy breezy skiing in the morning and unique activities in the afternoon.
Ridestore Recommends: You have to experience the magic of the polar night and toboggan down Finland's longest toboggan slope. The tobogganing slope is lit up with Aurora Experience-light art during opening hours.
Pallas ski resort is located in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park and it's home to 9 pistes and 2 lifts. What makes this magical place step out is it's extensive backcountry and offpiste. Snowmaking is not allowed in the area and pistes are dependant on natural snow which is why the season starts typically mid February and runs until May. If you need a change of scenery during the day, you'll be happy to know that the same ski pass is valid at the nearby Olos ski resort which is only 25 kilometers away.
Ridestore Recommends: Book a guide from Pallaksen Pöllöt ski school and exlopre the backcountry.
Salla, which is literally "In the middle of nowhere", hosts 15 pistes, 6 lifts, a snowpark and the longest run is leg burning 1,3 km long. It's a great destination for families, and beginners can learn the secrets of skiing and snowboarding on the gentle blues and greens. Other activities in the area include tobogganing, husky safaris and reindeer farms.
Ridestore Recommends: Eat authentic Lappish food at Keloravintola and head to Papana Pupi for some local after ski.
Suomu ski resort has a long history and it first opened to public in 1965. Now the resort is home to 10 pistes and 4 lifts which are pleasently covered from the wind. Longest run is 1,7km which is impressive for finnish stantards. Beginners can book a lesson from the local ski school and more experienced riders can test their skills at the park. What makes Suomu special is it's tranquil Lappish vibe, quiet runs and the lack of queues!
Ridestore Recommends: Try Nordic skiing in the beautiful forests!
Now, the following resorts are not located in Lapland but they are a great addition to your skiing holiday in Finland. Try one of the most popular resorts in Finland to get the full finnish experience!
Ruka is home 24 km Km of piste, 15km of which is ideally suited to beginners. Ruka is one of the most popular resorts and an ideal resort for both families and beginners due to the resort layout and infrastructure. Enjoy the quiet looping blues and tree-lined trails winding down the mountain; the views will surely keep your little ones occupied, and if they don't, why not make memories with sleigh rides, ice fishing and visits to Santa's secret cabin.
Ridestore Recommends: Families should head for the Rosa & Rudolf Family Park to enjoy fun slopes, mini jumps, and snow tubing.
Vuokatti is ideal for those with an outdoorsy spirit who like to avoid the crowds and enjoy the true wilderness close to the arctic circle. Charmingly cold, rugged yet stunning Vuokatti is where the best bits of the Finnish Lakeland and skiing meet. Vuokatti has 8 lifts and 13 pistes, and 10.8 km of slopes, but once you're done exploring the ski slopes, why not try your hand at snowshoeing. Thanks to the lush rolling hills and beautiful nature, Vuokatti is a great place to explore on snowshoes!
Ridestore Recommends: Vuokatti husky kennels are home to about 100 huskies, so this is the perfect place to try the famous traditional Husky safari.
Ski Resort Iso-Syöte was awarded Best Ski Resort in Finland 2018 & 2019 and is home to the Best Ski Boutique Hotel for the 8th time in a row. So you're in the best hands for a classic Finnish experience at Iso-Syöte. The iso-Syöte ski area is located in the southernmost area of Finnish Lapland and is the perfect destination for friends and family alike. There are 17 perfectly groomed slopes, so no matter your level, you'll find a piste to suit you.
Ridestore Recommends: Check out the 2 km-long, Iso-Syöte SnowPark to practice your tricks!
Tahko is famous for its perfectly-groomed slopes, which make skiing an absolute pleasure. Explore 20 km of slopes from their 14 lifts. This is the ideal resort for smooth riding thanks to its spacious wide slopes which allow for the biggest turns. However, if you prefer freestyle, head to the Tahko Freestyle Park and test your skills. Tahko is home to fun après-ski too as the whole town has a vibrant atmosphere.
Ridestore Recommends: Visit the world’s largest smoke sauna in Kuopio for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
That’s all folks! We hope you’ve found some helpful information here that will prepare you for an adventure to Lapland — or at least inspire you to plan one! We can guarantee that as soon as you decide to make a change from the Alps and head to Lapland, you’ll enjoy the change of pace and scenery. After all, being in the mountains isn’t all about skiing. Skiing is a huge part, but what a fantastic experience to try your hand at all the other activities on offer in Lapland. Be sure to tag us in your pictures!