For a country that doesn’t actually boast any mountains, there are still plenty of opportunities to go skiing in Finland. With some 75 Finland ski resorts and a ski season that stretches out from October through to May, this a great place to click in and set off downhill.
Finland also has, in my opinion, some of the best snow in the world. Granted, I haven’t yet experienced the champagne conditions in Colorado in the States or the deep powder of Niseko in Japan but I have skied a lot and out time in Yllas skiing was nothing short of spectacular.
When we originally planned our trip to Lapland with kids, we didn’t plan to ski. Not because we didn’t want to but because we didn’t know what we would do with our three-year-old non skier. When we arrived in Ylläs however, and saw the sublime snow conditions, the pristine slopes and the lack of crowds, we knew we couldn’t leave Ylläs ski resort without having skied a few runs.
So, we found a friendly babysitter (serendipitously called Katja!) and got ready to ski. For those families visiting during high season (we were there at the beginning of the ski season), there are childcare facilities available – see here for more details.
This guide has more information on visiting Finland with kids.
The fells of Finnish Lapland form the country’s main ski area and the four biggest resorts are Levi, Pyhä-Luosto, Ruka and Ylläs. Of these four, the Ylläs (pronounced “U-las”) is the country’s largest ski area home to 55km of snowy pistes, including the longest slope in Finland.
Both Ylläsjärvi and Äkäslompolo are authentic Finnish villages peppered with wooden cabins, small local businesses and reindeer! We stayed at the traditional log cabin, Yllashilla, in Äkäslompolo during our time in Lapland. The slopes are a short ski bus ride away from the village centres. If driving, there are parking areas near the bottom of the ski lifts.
If you’re interested in telemark skiing – or cross-country skiing – then I recommend contacting Sisu Outdoor. They offer cross country ski hire and can give lessons and offer guiding services.
During peak season you can buy a ski pass and ski the whole of the Ylläs fell. Some of the lifts weren’t open when we visited in December, however so we stuck to the Sport Resort Ylläs on the Äkäslompolo side. This worked out well because this is the resort that has a gondola. And, when it’s -18C outside, you will be thankful for the gondola in between runs! Both resorts offer ski rental services, ski schools, restaurants and more.
Skiing in Finland
Skiing in Finland is very different to skiing somewhere like the Alps. The resorts are small and the terrain is not particularly challenging, particularly if you’re an experienced skier. What it does offer, however, is the most incredible snow and virtually empty slopes.
We visited in mid-December, during polar night, when the sun never quite rises above the horizon. This means that there are only a few hours of light per day. Some of the slopes are floodlit so you can continue skiing even when it’s dark. This is a great time of year to spot the northern lights.
Peak season is February, however, even then the ski resorts in Finland never get crowded like they do in European resorts.
Skiing in Finland with kids
Sport Resort Ylläs was perfect for my two older children (aged 10 and 8 at the time). They are confident skiers and the terrain and runs were perfect for them.
Sport Resort Ylläs is also a great place to learn to ski and there are private and group ski school lessons available. The lack of crowds means its ideal for beginners. There are two “magic carpet” lifts for novice skiers, which you don’t need a ski pass for (children under six ride free on all lifts). When they get tired of going up and down the magic carpet, there’s a small sledding hill and playground next door.
For boarders and freestyle skiers, there are also four snow parks to suit all abilities. The Mountain Dew Junior Park is more suitable for beginners to the Mountain Dew Pro Park.
Yllas ski hire
In front of the slopes is the Y1 Service Ski Centre where you can hire equipment, buy lift passes and organise ski school lessons. There are also a handful of cafes and restaurants here. There’s a cafe at the top of the Gondola, which looks more like a frozen Hobbit in winter!
I can honestly say that the few hours we had skiing on the slopes of Ylläs were some of the best I have ever enjoyed. If you love that feeling of flying down a mountain, carving into freshly fallen snow then make sure you book your ski holiday to Finland soon.