Finland Lapland : Levi the Winter Wonderland
January 31, 2019
by Pauline BOURAS
You always go to the same skiing resorts for your winter holidays and you want to try something new? Lapland has all the winter ingredients you like, plus some magic…
Why Levi is the place to be in Lapland?
You don’t believe anymore in Santa Claus and you’re not a kid willing to meet him? Good, so let’s forget about the busy, crowded Rovaniemi, and go straight to Levi, the biggest skiing resort in Finland which has so much fun to offer. If seeing northern lights is on your bucket list, Levi is perfectly located for it, 170 km above the polar circle. Another special reason to get there in 2019 is the Game of Thrones snow village.
When is the best time to go?
The best season starts around mid-January. If you can, try to avoid the Christmas holidays. Apart from being more expensive and busy, it’s also snowing, which means clouds in the sky, fewer chances to see northern lights, while January starts to be more dry, with a clear sky. Moreover, daylight starts to increase in that period and you can expect at least 4 hours of sunlight (between 10 am and 2 pm) whereas it’s darker in December.
How cold is it and how to dress for?
Temperatures are around -15°C. It can drop lower of course (between -20°C and -25°C), but it will not exceed -5°C. So, yes, it is cold, but not unbearable, as long as you keep moving and dress warmly. You can wear usual skiing clothes, and do the onion style: stack layers of clothes. However some activities include thermal clothes, even some accommodation offers rental.
How to get there?
Wherever country you are coming from, you will first have to get through Helsinki, Finland’s capital, then take a domestic flight for 1h30, with Finnair, to Kittilä. If you are lucky, you might see northern lights from the plane.
From the airport, there is a shuttle waiting outside for every plane landing, it takes you to Levi, 15 min away, and drops you directly to your accommodation.
What hostel is the best to stay?
Go to “Hullu Poro” which literally means “crazy reindeer”. It is quite a big complex, with a hotel, many restaurants, but they also have a hostel. It has several apartments with kitchen, bathroom, living room with TV and twin bedrooms. And it is very well heated. Located 15min by walk from the town center, it is the perfect accommodation solution for a group of friends for example, even for a family.
Where is the best place to eat?
Restaurant Jängällä is a lovely place with typical Finnish food. You will love its decoration, with painted walls representing Lapland landscape, wooden furniture, wood bark tealight, dim light, quiet, comfy and well heated. It is a perfect place for lovers. Food is served on a wood board. You can taste reindeer meat with cloud berries sauce. It is a very tender meat, very tasty.
What are the top things to do?
Chasing Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights
Always keep in mind it is a natural phenomenon, which depends mostly on weather conditions. You can book this activity at the Tourism Office of course, but you can find it also on your own. Most hotels provide weather conditions to let you know if there is any chance to see it, depending on solar winds. If the conditions are good, you just have to get away from artificial lights from the town and road (but try not to get lost in the forest). Usually, it starts around 10 pm. Some nights they are brighter than others, and you can even see it from your bed! If you want to take pictures, be sure you bring the right camera, as it requires long shutter speed with maximal aperture.
Levi is Finland biggest skiing resort thanks to Mount Levi (708m), you can reach the summit using the gondola or any other lifts. From up there, you can enjoy a wonderful 360° view. The sun will hardly rise up in the sky, and just only follow the horizon, providing a pink light, like an all-day sunset. From there, after enjoying a hot drink at the Hozizont restaurant, it’s time to hit the slopes. They are unlighted until 8 pm so you can ski by night.
Levi is also very great for cross-country skiing, with its 230 km of tracks, also unlighted. If you have never tried it before, you need to know it is more physical than Alpine skiing. But crossing a frozen lake that way is a truly amazing experience.
There are many ski rentals in the town center.
Game of Thrones snow village
Winter is here, so this year Laino snow village, located 45 km away from Levi, hosts a Game of Thrones-themed ice hotel until April 21st. You can book a visit from Levi, with transfer and guide. Enjoy the Ice restaurant, bar, and lounge, and even get married in the Ice Chapel.
The perfect way to relax after physical activities. Located inside the Levi Spa Hotel, it includes a Turkish bath, traditional Finnish sauna, Jacuzzi, indoor swimming pool and for the bravest even an outdoor swimming pool.
Just next to the gondola, you can visit the UNESCO exhibition regarding the Sami people, Europe only indigenous people. You can learn a lot about their culture, mythology, way of living, and today issues in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. But the main point of this exhibition is that you can feed the reindeers outdoor, giving them foam. You can even pet them and feel how their muzzle is soft.
Depending on the length of your stay, and your budget, you can also do:
- Husky sled ride
- Reindeer ride
- Snowmobile safari
How much does it cost?
Nordic countries are known to be expensive, and so is Finland. But if you book it quite early, you can get affordable prices. For example, regarding the flight tickets, I booked it in August for a departure in January, and at that time, my roundtrip ticket from Paris was 300€/pers.
Finland is part of the Schengen Space, and €uro is the currency. Finnish is the official language, but almost everybody speaks English.