Saariselkä, Finland

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Ski holidays in Saariselkä

As well as being a popular place for panning, Saariselkä is a ‘goldmine’ of winter wonderland activities. With a stunning national park on your doorstep, you can explore the snowy surroundings on foot, skis, snowmobile or even reindeer before coming home to your cosy cabin or hotel.


At a glance:
Urho Kekkonen National Park Easy skiing Local cuisine

Great for:
Meet Santa Northern Lights Off-slope activities

Saariselkä Ski Resort

Europe’s northernmost ski resort, Saariselkä is 250km up from the Arctic Circle, not far from the Russian border. One of the main resorts in Lapland – the legendary home of Father Christmas – it has snow sure skiing, a Christmas-card-esque village and heaps of festive activities all in one place.

The village itself is surrounded by forest and full of winter wonderland charm, with its own little chapel, some shops and restaurants and accommodation ranging from spa hotels to traditional log cabins. Everything is pretty close-knit and it’s usually only ever a short walk from A to B.

Surrounded by wilderness, this is one of those places where you feel like you’re a world away from the rest of civilisation and can get really close up and personal with nature. Right next door, the stunning Urho Kekkonen National Park is one of Finland’s largest protected areas.

There’s lots to do here, from experiencing natural beauty at Kakslauttanen’s Igloo village or spending some time indoors at the - less traditional but kids love it - Angry Birds activity park. Famous for its gold rushes (you can try your own luck at gold digging here) it also has a thriving Sami community and the Sami Museum is well worth a visit.

If you’re lucky you’ll catch the northern lights, whether peeping out from your cabin, on a snowmobile safari or lying in a glass igloo...

The two fells that make up the ski area are 1km away. You have to take a ski bus to the slopes but it only takes about five minutes and the service is usually pretty sharp.

In terms of getting here in the first place, the closest airport, Ivalo, is only a 20 - 30 minute drive away and a bus service for the last leg of the journey is fairly frequent. You can also train it to Rovaniemi and then take a bus to the resort.

stats & faq

Where:Northern Lapland, Finland
Nearest Airport & Transfer Time:
Ivalo32km, 30 mins
Winter Skiing: November - May
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 5km 50%

  • 4.2km 42%

  • 0.8km 8%

Resort Altitude:265m
Top Altitude:438m
Bottom Altitude:260m
Longest run:1.3km
Slope Orientation:N, E, W
Vertical Drop:180m
Skiable Vertical:180m
Night Skiing:Yes

Snow Report

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  • Base
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Web Cam

Saariselkä web cams

View our detailed Saariselkä snow forecast or snow report and see all live webcams, piste maps, road and travel maps and lift pass prices. For a picture of historic snow conditions see the snow depths month by month with our Saariselkä snow history.

Downhill Runs:10km
Beginner slopes:50%
Advanced slopes:8%
Ski Pass Prices:130€ (adult 6 day)
Nearby resorts: Levi, Luosto, Phya, Yllas, Ruka

Skiing in Saariselkä

Spread across the Iisakkipää and Kaunispää fells, the ski area is modestly-sized, with 5 ski lifts taking you up to 15 slopes. The bus is quite regular and does drop offs at the top of the slopes and the base. From the base, one chairlift takes you to the top of Kaunispää (the rest of the lifts are T bars). All pistes take you back to the same part of the valley, where you’ll find campfires and cafés to warm up and rebuild your energy stores.

This isn’t a challenging ski area and the slopes would best match a beginner or just-turned intermediate. The ski school has a bunch of English speaking instructors that will show you the ropes (and slopes) in skiing, snowboarding, cross country, telemarking and even snowkiting, so those who have already conquered Alpine skiing can have a go at something new.

The Pollo and longer Naakka on Iisakkipää are two of the easiest greens and Huuhkaja on Kaunispää is a good one to progress onto. Iisakkipää has two blue runs to progress onto; the short Haukka and longer Metso.

Kaunispää has a couple of pistes that follow the pattern of starting off more gently and gradually getting a little steeper. Pulmunen is a blue running into a red and Varpunen is a long red that leads into a black over 1050m.

The most difficult run is the black Lunni, off-pisters might catch a little bit of powder between the runs too.

The freestyle park stretches down a 1200m street on the Riekko slope of the Kaunispää and the children’s park is helpfully located next to the ski bar where grown-ups can sit back with a Finnish gluggi while the kids play.Cross-country trails cover a whopping 220km and being national park territory; you’ll be utterly wrapped up in the views.

At the end of the day, go for the old school approach to get down a mountain and grab a toboggan for the Alli slope; made all the more exciting by the fact that it’s the oldest in Europe.

Saariselkä après Ski

With only 15 slopes, this isn’t meant to be a resort where the sole focus is skiing and there are tonnes of other activities to fill up the week.

Snowmobiling, reindeer and husky safaris really are as fun as they look and all are a great way to enjoy the surroundings. For something a bit different, try your hand at ice fishing or follow one of the more well-trodden snowshoe route. Even better, 15 minutes away by road is Santa’s resort, Kakslauttanen for a once in a lifetime meeting with the man himself. From November to April you might be able to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. The Sami people believe it is the energies of ancestral souls causing the lights whereas a Finnish legend tells the story of a large Arctic fox running across the snow and creating the lights as sparks fly up from its tail thumping the ground...

In the resort, you can wind-down at the spa, keep the kids occupied at the Angry Birds activity park or try something new at the curling centre.

When it comes to having a warming tipple or two, Laaihovi usually holds an after party between 2pm and 5pm. They get local bands to play live music and you’ll get to have a go at ski shoe dancing... They also have a restaurant with big windows to see the Northern Lights. You’ve got the Husky bar and Lutto pub for a chilled beer and rock music (for karaoke on Sunday and Tuesday you might need another beer...). Kieppi also has live music and for a culture lesson, there’s a Sami evening once a week.

Reindeer dishes, the native Cloudberry and the River Tenojoki salmon are all must-try Finnish flavours here. Restaurant Petronella was made with high class dining in mind and the Café/Restaurant at the top to the Kaunispää chair is great for a panoramic view. If you prefer to cook for yourself, the Kuukeli supermarket has a good supply of the necessities and then some.

When is the best time to ski Saariselkä?

The season usually runs from November to May with temperatures going from – 20OC/30OC to just below freezing, so lots of warm clothing, lip balm and hand warmers is an absolute must! Thermal wear can be hired out to make things easy and the locals do a fantastic job of warming up the restaurants and bars.

The chilly weather does paint a positive picture for the snow conditions and the area is known to have excellent ski conditions all season long.

In the mega European resorts, queuing for the lifts can take up a chunk of your week, but this is rarely an issue in a place where there are more reindeer than people, especially where there’s so much focus on activities off the slopes.

If you’re coming for the Northern lights, anytime between November through to April is supposed to be the best time to see them.

Peak dates

Christmas in Saariselkä will beat struggling through the last minute Christmas shopping mosh-pit back home. The easy skiing and activities like reindeer sleigh rides and meeting Santa will also beat any other Christmas present… Browse Saariselkä Christmas ski holidays ‣

Common sightings of the Northern Lights are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reasons for spending the New Year at Saariselkä. Browse Saariselkä New Year ski holidays ‣

February half-term in Saariselkä should have you wishing away the next 12 months until you can do it again. Take a step back from the furore of school or the office and embrace the Finnish fells. Browse Saariselkä Half Term ski holidays ‣

Instead of hunting for the last chocolate egg, start searching for your warmest pair of gloves for an Easter in Saariselkä. It’s the perfect way to take a story or two back to the classroom or office that will top all the others… Browse Saariselkä Easter ski holidays ‣

top Saariselkä accom

Tunturi Hotel / Gielas Hotel

Tunturi Hotel / Gielas Hotel

Holiday Club Spa Hotel

Holiday Club Spa Hotel

Kelotähti Apartments

Kelotähti Apartments

Saariselkä Log Cabins - (4 star cabins)

Saariselkä Log Cabins - (4 star cabins)

Tunturi Hotel Suites

Tunturi Hotel Suites

Saariselkä Log Cabins - (3 star cabins)

Saariselkä Log Cabins - (3 star cabins)

Saariselkä reviews, 3 star rating and resort and ski area information is collated by SNO man from staff experience and customer feedback.
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