Recently we visited – Saariselkä. A resort village in northern Finland, Lapland. It’s a gateway to the trails and ski areas of mountainous Urho Kekkonen National Park. The village’s Destination Northernmost Europe exhibition has a panorama theatre with films on the region’s plant and animal life, including reindeer. To the north, the lakefront Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos includes a craft shop and a library devoted to the indigenous Sami people.
It also happens to be a place with a lot of activities for students and other travellers, and also has a good and frequent chance of seeing the aurora, since it’s located in the region that requires only KP2 for the aurora to be seen! (Check out our post about aurora photography)
Saariselka is a ski resort located in a far northern region, far enough away from the capital of Lapland – Rovaniemi. It’s far enough to increase the aurora visibility chances as it’s also less light polluted so the skies are clearer!
If you come to Saariselka without someway pre-booked activities and you don’t have money to get activities on the spot – don’t worry!
One of our favourite part there was how you can still find things to do – even when you have spent nothing!
What to do there?
We visited Saariselka with the help of a student friendly Finnish travel company – TimeTravels. While booking the basic package of the trip we were offered a variety of activities with explicit descriptions about them! Since they are bringing a lot of students each year, booking the trip and the activities through them can and is usually cheaper than getting them on your own on the spot! Also they offer unmentioned guarantees and safeguards about activities and you (We suggest to book their offered travel insurance)!
Our favourite activity of all time – sledging! We went exploring for yours, up hills – and then we just sledge down them! You can find sledges lying around everywhere – and they are free to take! If you fail to find a sledge – then just go to the reception in the city and they’ll give you one for free!
The streets up the hill are just perfect for an interesting, turn-full slide down! We even made races!
This is one of the must do activities!
You need a pair for this if you don’t want to be paired by random! You get to ride a husky sledge! The ride goes for around half an hour, for 5km. Half of the road you get to be either the driver of the sledge or the passenger – midway you switch with your partners!
Before the ride you get to hear all about huskies – how it is to grow them, why they love and have to run (They are not being tortured, on the opposite – huskies are smart and active dogs, when they are forced to rest in off-seasons – they hate it. They howl all the time, they want to run and they want to run a lot!).
You get informed how the husky teams are formed etc!
If you get lucky (as we did) before the ride you get to pet puppy huskies, since they have to get used to being around people! And after the trip – you will get to hang around all the sledge huskies and take a ton of pictures, selfies!
A truly unique and heartwarming experience! <3
Reindeer sledge ride
Get a chance to get seated comfortably with a friend in a reindeer guided sleigh, you will be taken on a ride with style! In this activity you will meet some reindeer’s and will get a chance to get a glimpse of the indigenous culture of Lapland with the Sámi people. Hear the stories and history of reindeers and their meaning to the culture!
Cross county skiing
If this is your first time then we suggest you book it with Arctic TimeTravels there on the spot (if you didn’t book the trip via TimeTravels agency), or book it with them before hand! Because TimeTravels will provide you with guides who will instruct you on how to do it right! Visiting Saariselka for the first time and doing cross-country skiing for the first time – we were very happy and thankful about the guidance we got! Still managed to fall a lot of times, but most likely less than we would have without them… since putting on skis already is kinda complicated, we’re sure we wouldn’t have gotten past that without the guides!
After you get the hold of it you’ll be able to join the Finnish people to whom its in their blood to ski. You’ll be skiing on a path with an amazing scenery… and after that you’ll get a coupon for an amazing spa visit!
Another thing you can do there is just wanted around and explore the nature! For a bit of money you can go even to the next level and rent snow shoes to go for a walk in 4-10m deep snow! If you book it with TimeTravels – you’ll get a chance to do it at night-time in a group! So, from the bright side – you’ll be safe. More or less the path is actually dangerous to go alone. You can’t really get lost but there are some cliffs. If booking with our mentioned company – their guides will walk behind and will keep an eye out for every participant of the group – leading through the safest ways to avoid unwanted injuries!
The walk would happen in the National park area and it is exciting and really enjoyable! It take around 2 hours and it’s also a great cardio! Won’t have to be worried about being cold, not one bit!
In a northern area, where most of it is covered in snow – how to move around? Snowmobiles!
With this activity you’ll be able to experience the average mobility mean of a Finnish person living in Lapland!
You can rent a snowmobile on your own, but if you haven’t driven one yet it might be quite risky and you’ll need to have a driver’s license!
However, if you book this activity with a travel company or with a group – you’ll get limited speed, but you will get instructed and looked after. You’ll be provided with the required clothing and will be taken on a 2 hour ride around the resort! Mostly this activity is very popular at night, since you get taken outside of the city, more north, so aurora chances increase even more!
How to get there?
There are multiple ways. By car it might take quite a lot, but there’s also an airport not too far away! However both of these options might be quite expensive! So again, we suggest TimeTravels!
It has various departure points. We took from Helsinki! The bus left at 20:00 and it drove all night, having a break each 4 hours. We basically slept all our way. In the morning when we woke up – we were at the Rauna Polar Zoo, where our entry was included in the base price, so we managed to see a Polar bear. After that – we went to have a 2 hours break in the Santa Claus village, so we also managed to see Santa Claus (Read our Article about the Santa Claus Village here!)!
The base package without any activities cost around 365 euros and it’s worth every cent as you also get accommodations – which are cottages with a kitchen and a sauna that you can use every day!
So a trip to and back from Saariselka, Polar zoo and Santa Claus Village visit, guides – all for only 365 euros and you get to book activities cheaper and with insurance and guides! Money well spent and highly recommended!