Above the Arctic Circle, snow falls for upwards of 200 days. In Luosto, Finland the ski resort gets plenty of action, but there are many other frosty thrills to be had in this beautiful location.
Luosto is located in the Finnish province of Lapland, an area that includes the northernmost regions of Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Russian Kola Peninsula. Here skis are the preferred method of transportation, along with snowmobiles and reindeer sleds. Indigenous Sami people have traveled with herds of reindeer across the area for centuries, and reindeer safaris are a big draw for visitors.
The Jaakola Reindeer Farm offers a variety of reindeer tours led by English-speaking guides, plus an opportunity to feed the animals and learn about reindeer husbandry. One of their most popular outings is the four-hour evening sleigh ride excursion for two that often comes with a bonus from nature: a color show provided by the northern lights that illuminate the sky, ice and snow in glowing watercolor brilliance.
Santa’s Hotel Aurora in Luosto has a main lodge with 30 rooms and a separate wing with 10 glass-roofed Arctic view rooms offering panoramic views of the northern lights. It’s a whole new way to experience Lapland. The hotel offers a “Wintry Week” package available January 5-April 19 that includes 7 nights’ lodging in a double room with a private sauna, daily breakfast and dinner, and an Aurora Alarm to alert you when the northern lights are visible. Depending on the currency exchange, the weeks’ lodging will cost about $950.
For a break from snow adventures, take the tour of nearby Lampivaara Amethyst Mine. You’ll travel there on a special snow train called Amethyst Pendolino, which is actually a warmed wagon pulled by a snow machine. The pendolino will take you to the top of Lampivaara Mountain to enjoy the view overlooking a national park. Part of the open digging area is covered with roof so amethyst searching is possible all year. Each visitor is able to dig for their own personal lucky amethyst.
As winter hiking, downhill and cross-country skiing and other snowy activities are sure to work up your appetite, there are great dining options in Luosto as well. Most restaurants offertraditional Lappish dishes including a reindeer pepper steak, in addition to other hearty fare to warm up a cold evening like creamy porcini mushroom soup. And of course, don’t forget to check out the Aurora Borealis.
Take a flight (about one hour and 15 minutes) from Helsinki to Rovaniemi and hop on the Pyha-Luosto Ski Bus for the 90 minute drive into town.
Photo credit: Flickr CC – Timo Newton-Syms