Finnish Lapland is known for having a whole host of winter activities and attractions, and Ylläs is no exception. You’ll find all kinds of opportunities here, whether you prefer adrenaline and adventure, peace and tranquillity or a bit of both. Situated right in the heart of Lapland, one of the major attractions is the chance to meet Santa Claus himself – always a good opportunity for some magical memories if you have little ones in tow.
There are also loads of winter sports activities available. More popular ones include skiing (both downhill and cross country), snowmobiling and snowshoeing. Then you’ve got the slightly more unique pursuits like ice fishing, ice swimming and winter windsurfing, which are sure to provide many an interesting story when you return home. Other highlights are reindeer and husky safaris, as well as the chance to visit a village made entirely of snow!
Snowmobiling is one of the quickest and most exciting ways of getting out into the incredible natural surroundings of Ylläs. Take a night time tour into the silent, pristine forest in search of the Northern Lights, or head for the breathtaking Pakasaivo Gorge Lake. You could even venture to the very top of the Ylläs fell to admire the spectacular arctic scenery and surrounding villages. Most tours include driving instruction before you set off, as well as specialised equipment such as thermal footwear, gloves and a helmet.
Ylläs has a longstanding tradition of reindeer herding, and reindeer can often be seen wandering around town and the surrounding areas! Of course, no trip to Ylläs would be complete without a reindeer sleigh ride, and around here there’s no shortage of great opportunities. There are a number of reindeer farms in the area – many of them centuries old – and a few give visitors a chance to meet the reindeer, practice herding them and then take control for your very own sleigh ride! Combine this with a night-time trip into the wilderness to search for the mystical Northern Lights for the ultimate Lapland experience.
Husky sledding has got to be the ultimate way of getting around Lapland in style! This incredibly traditional mode of transport is also surprisingly swift and powerful, with teams of enthusiastic dogs making short work of munching the miles. Lots of husky safaris include a trip to the husky farm to begin with, where you can meet the dogs and sometimes even help with harnessing, as well as being shown how to drive a husky sled. In Ylläs, you somtimes opportunity to take a husky-driven trip to the incredible Lainio Snow Village!
Ylläs is nestled right in the heart of Lapland, and no trip here would be complete without a visit to Mr. Claus himself! Ylläs has its very own mini village dedicated to Santa – called the Lapp Village – situated in picturesque pine forest at the foot of the fell. Here you’ll find traditional log cabins, a smoke sauna, a restaurant and, of course, Santa’s house itself. Step inside the beautifully decorated house and you’ll be warmly greeted by Santa and, if you’re lucky, good old Mrs Claus might be there too! It’s often possible to book private family visits with Santa, to give the kids an experience they’ll never forget.
Finland is one of the countries where cross-country skiing originated, and it’s easy to see why! The landscape is absolutely perfect for it, with miles upon miles of gentle tracks punctuated by stunning forests, lakes, fells and plains. There are also plenty of challenging climbs and descents to get the legs working and the heart pumping! Ylläs boasts an impressive 330km of cross country trails, of which over 10 percent are illuminated, so there’s bound to be something for all abilities and conditions. Many tracks here allow you to venture into the nearby Pallas-Ylläs National park, and there are even 15 ski track cafes dotted about for a spot of light refreshment en route!
Strapping on a set of snowshoes opens up endless potential for exploration. They may seem cumbersome to begin with but, after a little practice, you’ll be marching through fresh powder fields in the untouched Lappish scenery with the best of them! If your dream is to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, there are few better ways than to take a guided night-time snowshoe excursion into the wilderness. Particular highlights around Ylläs include a route through canyons and forests to the summit of the Kellostapuli fell, and the chance to picnic in traditional Lappish huts with campfires along the way.
With a high point of 719 metres above sea level – higher than any other Finnish resort – Ylläs understandably has a great reputation for downhill skiing. It boasts 63 groomed slopes, measuring 53 kilometres in length, as well as the longest groomed run in Finland – the 3km Jättipitkä. The area is a paradise for beginners and intermediates, with the majority of slopes being classified as blue or red. Four snow parks caters for all the needs of budding freestylers, and experts will find plenty of off-piste action both on the Ylläs fell and, if you’re up for some touring, a number of other nearby fells.
Each year around 100 truckloads of snow are transformed into the amazing Lainio Snow Village near Ylläs, complete with a hotel, restaurant, bar and even a chapel!
Horse rides can be taken all year round in Ylläs, with horses here naturally adapted to cope with the snowy conditions. This is an amazingly peaceful way to get out into the surroundings and up close and personal with nature.
Both villages at Ylläs have central lakes where you can try your hand at ice fishing, and there are plenty of lakes in the surrounding wilderness if you prefer a more remote location. Common catches to be had here include perch, brown trout, rainbow trout and arctic char.
If you’re feeling REALLY brave, try a spot of ice swimming. This crazy pursuit usually starts off in a lakeside sauna, before you plunge into an ice hole. Don’t worry, though, the sauna is still waiting for you when you get out – and ice swimming is actually known as a great way to de-stress.
Winter windsurfing is one of the more unusual activities on offer at Ylläs, but it is amazing fun all the same. Think a combination of a windsurfing rig and a pair of skis, and you’re getting close – the locals say it’s easier than doing it on water, too!
The Northern Lights are one of the most incredible natural events in the world, and there are few better places to see them than Ylläs. Venture out into the night on snowmobiles, snowshoes or a sled and you could soon find yourself under a magical, luminous green sky.