Skiing in Finland
For a country that doesn’t actually have any mountains, Finland boasts over 100 ski resorts and a ski season that extends from October through to May. It also has, in my opinion, some of the best snow in the world. Granted, I haven’t yet experienced the champagne conditions in Colorado or Japan’s deep powder, but I have skied a lot and the snow at Ylläs is nothing short of spectacular.
When we originally planned our trip to Finland, we hadn’t considered skiing. Not because we didn’t know it was an option but because we had our almost three-year-old with us and we weren’t quite sure what we would do with him. When we arrived, however, and saw the sublime snow conditions, the pristine slopes and the complete lack of crowds, we knew we couldn’t leave Ylläs without having done a few runs. And 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.
The fells of Finnish Lapland form the country’s main ski area and the four biggest resorts are Levi, Pyhä-Luosto, Ruka and Ylläs.
Ylläs has two separate ski resorts, Sport Resort Ylläs on the Ylläsjärvi village side and Ylläs Ski Resort on the Äkäslompolo village side. You can, in theory, buy one ski pass and ski the whole area. However, some of the lifts were not yet open when we visited and so we couldn’t ski from the Äkäslompolo side (which was closest to us) over to the Ylläsjärvi side. In the end, we drove around to Sport Resort Ylläs (which is not far) and 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. Sport Resort Ylläs is based on the 719metre-high Ylläs fell, which might not sound very high but it is Finland’s highest ski resort!
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, before the ski season had really kicked off in Ylläs. We also visited during polar night, when the sun never quite rises above the horizon, meaning only a few hours of light per day. Some of the slopes are floodlit so you can continue skiing even when it’s dark.
Peak season is February, however, even then the ski resorts in Finland never get crowded like they do in European resorts.
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 you will know why I loved it so much. It was amazing!
Skiing in Finland with Kids
This resort was perfect for my two older kids (aged 10- and 8-years-old) who are both confident skiers. I also think it would be a great place to learn; the soft snow and the lack of people mean it’s ideal for beginners. There are two magic carpet lifts for those just starting out, which you don’t need a ski pass to access (kids under six ride free on all lifts). And, when they get tired of going up and down the magic carpet, there’s a small sledding hill and playground next door. Ski lessons, both group and private, are available. For boarders and freestyle skiers, there are also four snow parks to suit all abilities, from the Mountain Dew Junior Park, which is more suitable for beginners to the Mountain Dew Pro Park.
At the top of the Gondola is a cafe, which looked more like a frozen Hobbit home when we visited! We took our youngest up here for some hot berry juice and a bite to eat when we had finished skiing. It’s a great place to warm up!
There are a number of shops at both resorts in Ylläs where you can hire everything you need, including helmets.
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