The glorious time of walking on powdery (I mean wet) snow, drinking beverages that all taste like cinnamon and wondering what kind of teacups your mother-in-law would like for Christmas, has come upon us.
To celebrate the upcoming holidays we have listed our Must-see Top 4 Winter Vacation Destinations in Finland. So you can blame us instead of your significant other when it's raining ice and the best attraction in town is closed. “Dang that ecological and ethical VAI-KØ the Beanie Maker!!”, you’ll yell.
So let’s get to it!
First up is…
The Repovesi national park is one the most popular camping destinations in Southern Finland, and no wonder. The hills and valleys, small lakes and deep forests are quite magical but easy to access. The park can be accessed by car from three locations: Lapinsalmi, Saarijärvi and Tervajärvi.
The Mäntyharju and Repovesi area has a lot of little cabins, simple huts and also beautiful villas and B&B places, such as Villa Aurora. You can also rent a sauna in the wilderness for a night or just a couple hours and enjoy the stillness of Repovesi with no hurry.
Mäntyharju town has that small town charm with its own little movie theatre Kino that is run by the youth in town. Mäntyharju’s kids have in turn designed a forest playground that is located near the city centre. It has a cross track, sledding hill, jungle gyms and balance boards.
How cool is that!
Mäntyharju cross-country skiing tracks run along lakes, hills and campsites where you can warm up and grill some sausages with the locals. The tracks start at Vola Golf course.
Next we’ll go north, way north.
2. Pyhä Tunturi (Sacred Fell)
This place is especially significant to our Communications Lady Riina, who spent her childhood Easters in Pyhä and grew to love the Lappish scenery and skiing.
The elected ski-resort of the year has 8 lifts, 14 slopes and the longest slope is 1,8 kilometers long. The lift ticket is also valid at Ruka, that is another great ski-resort two hours south-east of Pyhä.
To VAI-KØ Pyhä hold a special place our heart because of their green values. They are a partner of Protect Our Winters (check out VAI-KØ X POW Beanies here!) and hosted the People’s Climate March of Finland in April. Pyhä operates on green electricity and is a carbon-neutral ski-resort. They also use ‘snow fences’ that are designed to collect the natural snow flying in the wind that is then used in slopes. This practice increases energy-efficiency and is the reason for the great condition of Pyhä slopes.
For madcaps Pyhä offers seven backcountry (or off-piste) skiing areas and innumerable places around the national park. No previous experience is needed, the ski-school instructors will teach you everything you need to know to begin adventuring off-slope. Even kids can participate!
The area around the national park is known for its history of being a sacred place for the Sami people and the rich geology that can be marvelled in the rocky canyons and treeless fell tops.
The deepest fell canyon in Finland is between the two highest tops of Pyhä and is called Isokuru (the Big canyon), it is a great hiking destination for both families and more hard-core hikers that can easily continue to Noitatunturi (the highest peak in Pyhä) from Isokuru. In winter time the path is not maintained professionally but is still popular. Snowshoes and cross-country skis can also be rented for easier access.
If hiking and skiing is not enough, adventure company Bliss Adventure will take you fatbiking, ice-climbing and will walk you through winter survival tips and tricks all in a fun and safe way.
On the other side of the maiden of Finland’s waist is...
The Ylläs-Pallas national park in Kolari has two separate ski-resorts that are connected and with one ski pass you get access to both, which means 29 lifts and 61 slopes all yours. The area entails 330 kilometers of cross-country skiing track of which 38 kilometers are lit.
The fell range of Ylläs-Pallas is almost a hundred kilometers long and the scenery has been chosen as one of Finland’s national landscapes. Three nature centers (Hetta, Äkäslompolo and Pallas) will help you with any questions and navigate you through trails, wilderness huts and resting places.
I guarantee you won’t get bored!
If Aurora Borealis or as we Finns call them, revontulet, is on your bucket list Ylläs is a great place to cross that off. The street lights are turned off in Ylläs every night at 10 p.m. from November to mid February, which makes Northern Lights spotting easier, now all you can hope for is clear skies.
To help you spot the phenomenon the Ylläs Aurora app will notify you when other users report seeing Northern Lights.
Admiring and photographing the Aurora is great but so is snowshoeing, reindeer sledding, ice-swimming and floating in drysuits under the flickering night sky.
For last by certainly not least, Ylläs farm animal yard in Koninjänkä is home to the only camel in Lapland among 40 other species.
That’s a must-see right there!
Kolari, next to the ski-resort, is an active little town that has all kinds of activity days for kids and adults from cross-country skiing competitions to Santa meetings and local nature photography exhibitions. Go say hi to the warm inhabitants of Kolari and tell them we sent you!
On your way back south (that is if Lapland didn’t charm you and you haven’t already ended up moving to Kolari), you should definitely spend a night or two in…
Picture: Visit Porvoo
The historical town of Porvoo is located east of Helsinki and is known for its 18th and 19th century woodhouses and cute little shops and cafes. The old stone church is from the 15th century and the city plan originates to the Middle Ages.
Coffee and beer brewing is trending in Porvoo and the town Christmas lights gather both Finns and tourists on weekends. Their wide selection on boutique hotels and B&Bs make spending a weekend in Porvoo an enjoyment and art exhibitions, museums and artist home shows will keep you entertained.
Two things to do in Porvoo in December is to visit the Bosgård Christmas food market (from 18th till 22nd) and to join the Vanha Joulu (Old Christmas) tour that takes you from Vanha Raatihuoneentori around the ambient alleys to the old times and the roots of Christmas traditions in Porvoo.
Pro Tip: Public parking spaces in Porvoo are free of charge every weekend before Christmas starting at the end on November!