If you're looking for a magical winter break with snow-covered forests and frozen lakes as a backdrop, Yllas and Levi in Finnish Lapland are the perfect places to visit for a romantic, family or activity-filled holiday.
The best time to visit is between December and April when you can experience the Arctic twilight and rose-coloured dawns and dusks. Be sure to wrap up warm and be well prepared for temperatures reaching as low as -38 degrees at night, when even your eyelashes will freeze!
A trip to Finnish Lapland is perfect if you're looking to do more than just skiing, with snowshoeing, ice karting, dog sledding and snowmobiling being just a few of the many activities available.
In Finland's most renowned ski resort Levi, you can enjoy uncrowded slopes, husky safaris and a stay in a luxury yet cosy glass igloo.
Yllas boasts unspoiled scenery, a great chance for spotting the Northern Lights
and traditional Sami reindeer farms for you to experience a fun sleigh ride.
Browse our pick of the best things to do on your trip to Finnish Lapland below.
for more information about holidays to Levi and Yllas.
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- Hit the ski slopes in Yllas and Levi
With uncrowded ski slopes, plenty of blue runs and well-groomed pistes, Lapland is the perfect place for beginners and intermediates to ski. There are good ski schools with friendly, English-speaking instructors, plus snowboarding and a few black runs and off-piste routes for advanced skiers. Cross-country skiing is popular in Yllas and Levi, with miles of well-marked trails through the scenic Arctic wilderness. Inghams' ski packs include a six-day local area pass for £115 per adult, ski and boot hire for six days for £79 and three days ski instruction for £75.</p>
- Eat reindeer and salmon like the locals
Some of the local food specialities are reindeer, game, salmon, Arctic char and berries, like cloudberry and lingonberry. Finland's highest restaurant Yllaskammi sits at the top of a ski mountain in Yllas and is covered in snow in winter making it a unique place to dine on local dishes, including minced reindeer with mashed potato, berries and pickles. In Levi, the Pihvipirtti Steakhouse is the place to stop for the best reindeer steak around, Bistro K5 at the K5 Hotel serves delicacies like goose and red king crab, and at Restaurant Tonttula, just outside Levi, you can sample tasty fish and meat dishes in a cosy atmosphere with timber walls and open fireplaces.</p>
- Go wild with husky sledding
If you're a lover of dogs or just fancy trying your hand at the traditional means of transport dog sledding, you must experience a husky safari. Dog sledding has been practiced for hundreds of years in Northern Finland and makes for a unique activity. Wingrens Dogsafaris has around 100 Siberian and Alaskan huskies at its base in Kongas, just 10km from Levi. Its husky rides take you through snowfields and mountains while you lead your own team of dogs or enjoy the stunning views from the sleigh.</p>
- See the Northern Lights
If you have your heart set on seeing the magical <a href="http://travel.aol.co.uk/2012/01/12/where-to-see-the-northern-lights/" target="_blank">Northern Lights</a>, Yllas and Levi are good places to view them and some top spots with little light pollution include the Yllaskammi restaurant in Yllas and Taivaanvalkeat in Levi. The Aurora Borealis can also be seen from your hotel in the long winter months when there's high solar activity and for a greater chance to see them take a short walk away from your hotel where you're never too far from less light to see the dancing lights when they're out.</p>
- Explore Levi with snowshoes
Make your way through the snow-drenched forests of Levi wearing snowshoes and you'll be treated to a unique hike through untouched snow surrounded by hundreds of trees. It's the perfect opportunity to go off the beaten track and get up close to Levi's natural scenery. Plus, you don't need to be a good skier for snowshoeing as it's as simple as walking. Be sure to stop and check out the views over the fells and play in the snow!</p>
- Get sweaty in a Finnish sauna
You won't want to leave Lapland without relaxing in Finnish sauna. It's the perfect answer to keeping warm without wearing layers of thermals! Traditionally the Finnish take their saunas naked so don't be surprised if you receive strange looks for wearing a swimsuit. The sauna at Taivaanvalkeat, just eight kilometres from Levi, is located on the banks of the Ounasjoki River. When the river freezes over, a hole is made so that the brave can sweat in the sauna before running down to the icy river and jumping in. It's a truly exhilarating experience and you'll love getting back into the hot sauna again.</p>
- Pick up speed on a snowmobiling tour
Explore Levi's wilderness by going on a guided snowmobile safari with PerheSarfait, where you'll cover 25 kilometres of track through unspoiled scenery. On a roaring snowmobile ride you'll drive across frozen lakes, tackle steep drops and enjoy riding through the forests. The different safaris available with PerheSarfait include one with a visit to a reindeer farm, a trip around the whole Levi fell with amazing views and the Swanshore safari, where you'll stop in a cosy hut for a reindeer lunch. If you're determined to see the Northern Lights, head out on an evening safari. Snowmobiling is quite easy to learn but you will need a full driving license to drive one. Inghams offers a return snowmobile transfer with an overnight stay at the beautiful Lainio SnowHotel and dinner for £215 from Yllas and £255 from Levi.</p>
- More top things to do in Yllas and Levi
<strong>Check out the ice sculptures at the Icium, Wonderworld of Ice (adult €15, child €10).</strong> Every year there are different ice and snow sculptures made by Chinese artists that combine themes from Finland and Lapland.<br />
<strong>Race round an ice karting track.</strong> If you're a fan of go-karting, you'll love doing it on ice and driving around a circuit trying not to spin into the banks of the snow!<br />
<strong>Explore the nightlife in Levi.</strong> Head to Bar Ihku for karaoke, drink beer in the sauna-style seating area at Pub Holmola and check out the nightclubs that make up Levi's lively après-ski scene.<br />
<strong>Try the donuts.</strong> The delicious, cardamom-flavoured sweet treats are perfect with a hot chocolate or warm berry juice when you need a break from skiing.</p>
- Stay in a glass igloo
For the ultimate Arctic experience, the Golden Crown accommodation, just outside Levi, is set on a hillside and has a kammi (the main house built into the hill) with two bedrooms, a lounge area, sauna and hot tub outside, plus four luxurious glass igloos. Spend the night in one of the igloos where you'll sleep under the stars and fingers crossed, the Northern Lights. The igloos have motorised beds so you can feel even closer to the sky and have power showers, a kitchen and heated glass so the stunning views are never restricted by condensation. If you fancy braving the cold and sleeping in an ice hotel, Lainio SnowHotel, just 15 minutes from Yllas, has impressive sculpted ice rooms and suites and is part of the Lainio Snow Village with an ICEBAR, ice chapel and restaurant. The four-star Levitunturi Spa Hotel (from £729 per person for seven nights half board including flights from Gatwick and transfers) in Levi has stylish and cosy rooms and suites, an array of spa facilities, children's activities and a bowling alley.</p>
- Visit a traditional reindeer farm
With Lapland being home to many reindeer, a visit to a farm is a must so you can feed the animals and glide through the snow like Santa on a sleigh ride! Samin Porotila in the village of Venejarvi near Yllas has over 100 reindeer in winter and lovely owners Sami and Marjut make your visit even more enjoyable with their warm hospitality and true Sami heritage. In the couple's museum you can buy artwork by Marjut, reindeer skin rugs and souvenirs made from antlers. Outside, there's a huge fire where you can keep warm after feeding the reindeer and be shown lassoing skills by Sami.</p>
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