Thanks to its great snow record and diverse landscape, Ruka’s one of Finland’s main centres for winter sports. There really is something for everyone, from skiing, ice karting and ice climbing to snowshoeing and ice fishing if you prefer something a little more chilled (no pun intended!). If pampered bliss is more your cup of glögi, head to the newly opened spa or tropical swimming pools.
For the ultimate natural experience, take a moonlight tour in search of the legendary Northern Lights. Of course, it would be rude to come to Lapland and not pay a visit to Father Christmas... Santa’s secret cottage is just a short ride away so whether you’re travelling with kids or just want to let out your inner child, be sure to stop by to pay the big man a visit.
Driving a snowmobile through Ruka’s pristine wilderness is a thrilling experience and there are 500km of marked snowmobile routes in the Kuusamo region just begging to be explored. You can usually hire a snowmobile for a certain time and just follow the map but to really make the most of it, hire a guide who can show you all the best bits on a safari. Most outings include instruction on how to drive the snowmobile, and some offer special thermal clothing to ensure you stay cosy and warm for the whole trip.
Reindeer have been linked with life in Nordic countries since records began and these beautiful animals form an extremely important part of life in Ruka. Often used for pulling sleighs, they’re also traditionally used for milk, meat, clothing and tools. There are a number of reindeer farms in the area and what better way to learn more about the history of reindeer here than to visit one for yourself? Hear all about the art of reindeer husbandry, help with herding and lassoing, learn to drive a sled yourself and embark on an epic reindeer-led adventure with an expert guide to show you the best sights.
Huskys are intelligent, energetic dogs that originated here in the Arctic Circle. In and around Ruka there are loads of opportunities to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures and you can take husky sledding trips of various lengths in the areas surrounding the resort. These outings will often begin with a trip to a husky farm where you can meet and play with the dogs, and sometimes even help with harnessing them. After this you’ll be shown how to drive the husky sled yourself, before you set off into the wilderness on your very own Arctic adventure.
Ruka is positioned right on the edge of Lapland and what better way to top off your winter trip than to meet Santa himself? Rumour has it Father Christmas has a secret lakeside cottage hidden in the forest just outside Ruka... In recent years, visits to Santa have included fun and games with the Elves, a reindeer-led sleigh ride and stories from the man himself about what Rudolf is really like! To make things even better, we can usually book the Santa experience for you with some holidays, leaving you to the important stuff like breaking the good news to the children!
In the region around Ruka you have access to up to 500km of stunning cross country tracks – that’s over 4 times as many as in the huge three valleys ski area in the French Alps. Around 10% of these trails are illuminated for night skiing, or skiing after the sun sets in the darker depths of winter! There are plenty of trailside cafes dotted about to keep you fuelled up along the way. One must ski is the 26km Oulanka National Park Wilderness Trail and really serious skiers can even attempt the ‘border to border’ – an epic excursion that starts in Kuusamo and ends over 400km to the west in the Swedish city of Haparanda.
Snowshoeing is undoubtedly one of the most traditional and peaceful ways of getting out into the nature around Ruka and there are plenty of beautiful trails in the surrounding area to explore. The Rytisuo nature trail takes you along riversides, through forests and past frozen bogs, with an open campfire halfway round to keep you warm and energised! We also like the Oulanka Wilderness Trail, which takes you into the stunning Oulanka National Park, where you stand a chance of spotting eagles, hawks, owls and woodpeckers on your travels.
The pistes in Ruka are absolutely perfect for beginners and intermediates. Mostly gentle blues and reds, the slopes are generally quiet and well groomed, and there’s a great ski school to boot. You’ll also find a dedicated children’s ski zone where they can practice their new found skills in total confidence. Ruka is well known in Finland for its vibrant freestyle scene – there are two snow parks with a whole variety of features, as well as a freestyle mogul run and superpipe. Experts aren’t left out either, with a number of challenging black descents, lots of off-piste that tends to stay untracked for days and a great slalom race run.
Travel out to one of the many spectacular frozen lakes around Ruka to have a go at ice fishing. Some guides will even help you prepare and cook your catches over an open fire aftwerwards!
Take a snowmobile ride to the impressive Korouoma ravine – 20km wide and 100m deep – to try your hand at ice climbing! Not for the faint of heart…
Go Karting with a twist! Pit yourselves against one another on what is surely one of the ‘coolest’ racetracks in the world.
The recently opened day spa at Ruka offers a range of traditional spa treatments and also the chance to experience Lappish stone or berry treatments.
The Holiday Club in Kuusamo has a fantastic tropical pool complex. Check it out if you like the idea of relaxing in a warm pool whilst it’s well below freezing outside!
Ruka is one of the best places in the world to search for the Northern Lights. Take a night time trip into the surrounding wilderness via reindeer, husky, snowshoe or snowmobile, and keep those fingers crossed!