In Saariselkä you’ll never be short of amazing winter activities to have a go at! Whether you’re an adventurer, an adrenaline junkie, a child at heart or someone who just prefers to be pampered, there’s sure to be something to pass the time. Of course, with Saariselkä being situated right in the heart of Lapland, you’d be mad to pass up a meeting with Father Christmas himself! Indulge your inner child with a visit to Santa’s house or, if you’ve got kids with you, take this opportunity to give them a magical experience they’ll never forget.
There are plenty of winter sports to take part in here, too. There’s great downhill skiing for beginners and intermediates, more cross country than you could hope to get through in a week, snowshoeing and even curling! Adventurers can embark on safaris powered by snowmobiles, huskies or reindeer and for petrolheads there’s the chance to try ice karting or rally driving. There’s a spa for those who prefer a more relaxing winter break, and loads of things to keep kids amused too.
Snowmobiling offers a fast and exhilarating way to travel, and is a firm favourite amongst locals and tourists alike. Guided snowmobile safaris are available to numerous locations around Saariselkä but, as the old cliché goes, it’s not just about the destination. During your travels you can test your nerve by driving over frozen rivers and lakes, ascending fells and speeding across open snow plains. Venture out after dark and, if it’s a clear night, you could well find yourself under a luminous green sky watching the magical Northern Lights in all their glory.
Reindeer are one of the oldest forms (if not THE oldest form) of transport in Lapland. Reindeer-led safaris are available in Saariselkä, with many beginning at age-old reindeer farms. Here you may learn about the ancient practice of reindeer husbandry or even try your hand at herding and lassoing! For self-driven safaris you’ll then be shown how to drive the sleigh yourself before setting off into the crisp, white wilderness, where you can glide through forests and around fells with only the jingle of reindeer bells and the padding of hooves breaking the silence.
What could be better than gliding serenely through pristine Lappish forests, soaking in the views whilst being pulled along by a group of majestic huskies? This traditional way of getting around is great fun and gives you a look into what life was like before the invention of the snowmobile! Outings often include the hire of specialist equipment like insulated overalls and footwear, and some even provide a traditional Lappish lunch cooked over an open fire. Kids are usually more than welcome to tag along, just don’t expect them to be able to take over the reins just yet!
Saariselkä is a great place to come if you want to meet the big man in red, himself! Awaken your inner child with a visit to Santa’s home, nestled deep in the snowy forest. If you’ve got the kids with you, this is an amazing opportunity to give them a special memory that’ll last a lifetime. We may even be able to organise a private family meeting with Santa in his log cabin home, and you could combine this visit with fun activities like tobogganing, ice fishing, snow hockey or a sleigh ride – all specially adapted to suit kids.
Cross Country skiing is the most popular winter sport in Finland, and with good reason. The landscape is really well suited to cross country, no matter what your ability or experience. In the Saariselkä area there are 200km of well-maintained tracks that pass through forests, across snow plains, around fells and past frozen lakes. To top it off, there are 34km of illuminated trails for night skiing, and 100km of trails criss-crossing the beautiful Urho Kekkonen National Park! You’ll also find a number of specially widened cross country tracks – perfect for skiing in a group.
If you’d prefer to travel through the pristine surroundings at a slower pace and really take things in, snowshoeing could be the perfect activity for you. Saariselkä has a number of so-called ‘nature trails’ that pass through the stunning Urho Kekkonen national park, most of which are suitable even for inexperienced hikers. Snowshoeing here will allow you to see some incredible sights that are often inaccessible by other means, like the pretty Kiilo-oja River or the tongue-twisting Pääsiäiskuru Ravine.
Saariselka is Finland’s most northerly ski resort, situated nearly 250km inside the Arctic Circle, meaning it benefits from an impressive snow record – particularly when it comes to late season skiing. The ski area covers twin fells of Kaunispää and Iisakkipää, and has a total of 15 downhill ski runs, as well as a great snow park. Saariselkä is particularly well suited to beginners and intermediates, and kids are also really well catered for. There’s a children’s only slope, a sledging hill (with a campfire to warm up around) and a great ski school with English speaking instructors.
Anyone who’s watched the winter Olympics knows that, no matter how odd it seems, curling can be seriously exciting. In Saariselkä you can give it a go yourself at the Jääseita Curling Centre.
Relax and unwind in Europe’s most northerly spa! Here you can choose from a whole range of spa treatments, and there’s also a pool, hot tub and sauna.
If you’ve got kids with you, don’t miss the hilarious Angry Birds Activity Park. Here you’ll find fun obstacle courses, climbing towers and more – as well as a cafe for the grownups and a lounge area with sofas, which usually has games consoles running for teenagers.
Adrenaline junkies will be in heaven at the Action Park in Saariselkä. Pit yourselves against one another in a fast-paced ice karting race, or have a go in a kitted out rally car!
Take a trip to a remote frozen lake, where you can try your hand at the ancient art of ice fishing. If you make a catch, your guides may even help you prepare it and cook it over an open fire – lunch doesn’t get much fresher than that.
If you’ve always dreamed of capturing a glimpse of the mystical Northern Lights, you’re definitely in the right place! Saariselkä is the most northerly of all the Finnish ski resorts, and you probably stand a better chance of seeing them here than anywhere else.