Finland: A Skiing and Winter Activities Week

When you think of skiing in Europe the first thing that usually pops to mind is the Alps. Those huge resorts in France or the slightly more scenic villages in Austria and Italy. They aren’t the only places in Europe though. One of the other options is Levi, Finland.

You won’t find large mountains and huge queues here mind you. Instead the resort is based on a couple of small hills, with tree lined run covered by lights, and each view a vista of frozen lakes and boreal forests as far as the eye can see. This is Santa country; high above the Arctic Circle at 67.8 degrees north the days are short and at night the colourful and Aurora Borealis comes out to play.

Due to being within the Arctic Circle the light was slightly surreal. The days were short and never really got fully light. This gave a magical, ethereal atmosphere to the place. For much of the day the light was a slight shade of orange, giving photos a stunning golden hour tinge and allowing snow and ice to stay on the trees throughout the day. In the air hung ice crystals, giving many distant objects an out of focus feel.

Immelijärvi Lake, Levi.

Immelijärvi Lake, Levi.

Activities

Levi has a huge number of outdoor activities you can do. As a small village it sits in amongst the lakes and boreal forests of the Arctic Circle, seemingly cut off from the world. We spent a day dog sledding, another snowshoeing through the woods, and a third hiking along the trails over frozen lakes and through snow covered forests. At night we went snowmobiling to see the northern lights. Unfortunately it was cloudy but the trip through the forest in the dark was an experience not to be missed.

Inside Lainio Snow Village

Inside Lainio Snow Village

On the fifth day we did a whole day snowmobiling trip to the world famous Lainio Snow Village, 45km from Levi. A quick walk from our hotel and we were at the rental garage. We were kitted out with balaclava, helmet, mittens and Michelin man suit (to keep us warm) and we headed out in a small convoy of six Skidoos. The next few hours were a dazzling speed through the Lapland wilderness, over frozen lakes and down trails that in the summer are narrow paved roads. In winter they are left to the snow and the snowmobilers. The stunning light was everywhere as usual, providing a golden sheen to everything.

After a stop at the ice hotel and an explore of the rooms we had a lunch of steaming hot soup and headed back outside to begin the journey home. While the pace was fairly fast the wide open lakes were built for playing on; hang back and let the gap between you and the others widen before opening the throttle and whizzing across the lakes.

Levi

Overall the resort certainly doesn’t have the vast downhill ski area of the French alps as there are only 40km of piste (approx.) and none of the steep stuff you get in the Alps, but that isn’t what you go to Levi for.

The lifts are good, there are no queues and the runs are so quiet you are almost as likely to share it with a Caribu as another person. That’s if you even downhill ski at all. With the wide range of activities available, from the tens of km of cross country ski and walking trails to snow shoeing in the forest, dog sledding and snowmobiling, there are plenty of other things to do. That’s before the aurora hunting every night.

Caribu on the Piste

Caribu on the Piste

The best part of it? It’s so much cheaper than dedicated winter sports trips. Book Levi through a ski company and organise the activities yourself and you could pay significantly less than the price dedicated companies charge for similar itineraries.

The one negative? It can get cold – and I mean REALLY cold. It says something when you get off the plane at Gatwick to snow on the ground, and the air hostess announces the temperature is a “barmy” 38 degrees C higher than when we left Levi…

Snow is all around in Levi

Snow is all around in Levi

About The Author

A Geologist by trade, Andrew loves travelling and photography, especially to wild and natural places. He needs to pay for it by working full time so until he and Verena can travel the world full time he has become a specialist in creating as much travelling time as possible from their annual leave.

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