QR Code
Open Door Travelers       http://opendoortravelers.com
[Skip to Content]

Finland

KakslauttanenMapFinland, and particularly the artic circle is a unique, "Off the Beaten Path" destination.  Nearly all trips to Finland make an inital stop in Helsinki.  Helsinki is Finland's capital and the largest city in Finland.  Helsinki itself is a modern, comospolitan city and definitely worth spending a few days of layover exploring this scandanavian city and its art, museums, and restaurants.

Image Title: Arctic Selfie in front of our Glass Igloo [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Arctic Selfie in front of our Glass Igloo [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
 

Getting to Finland

Image Title: Ivalo Airport (IVL) mid-day in November 2015 [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Ivalo Airport (IVL) mid-day in November 2015 [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

 

Getting to Finland's Artic Circle is not a trival trip.  Realistically, the only way other than reindeer or dog sled is to fly from Helsinki to Ivalo (IVL) on one of the 2 daily flights and then taking a tour bus to one of the resorts or renting a car. The flight is is a small jet and takes about 2 hours from Helsinki.   A rented car from Helsinki would involve a multi-day journey over desolate stretches of road with few services along the way.

From the airport, the Kakslauttanen resort that we stayed at in 2015 was about a 45 minute bus ride through the beautifuly but sparse arctic landscape.  On the way, we saw heards of reindeer alongside the road and from time-to-time we would see a lone raven soaring over the road.

Staying in Finland

Image Title: Kakslauttanen Cabin [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Kakslauttanen Cabin [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: Kakslauttanen Igloos [Photo: www.kakslauttanen.fin]
Kakslauttanen Igloos [Photo: www.kakslauttanen.fin]

 

There aren't a lot of choices for staying in the arctic circle in Finland.  On our trip, we chose the Kakslauttanen resort, just 45 minutes from the Ivalo airport.  The resort has a lodge, private cabins and private glass igloos to choose from.  There are about half-dozen resorts and hotels within an hour or so drive of the Ivalo airport.  The Kakslauttanen resort was easy to book and provided a number of great daily excursions in addition to the clean accomodations.

You shouldn't expect a luxury hotel.  The Kakslauttanen resort has two parts (old and new).  The new resort has three choices: a large hotel layout; individual glass igloos and individual cabins with glass igloos attached as the bedrooms.  The old resort has individual cabins and glass igloos.

We stayed at the old resort, two nights in a cabin and one night in an igloo.  The cabins are romantically rustic with a large wood fire place, a small kitchenette, a dining table, a couch, and a King Size bed.  You have to haul your own bags to the cabin using one of the provided sleds, but the furthest cabin is only 100 yards from the main lodge. 

Eating in Finland

Image Title: Reindeer Steak for Thanksgiving Dinner in the Arctic Circle [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Reindeer Steak for Thanksgiving Dinner in the Arctic Circle [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Dining in the Arctic Circle is a little bit of a captive experience.  Given the limited choices - like none - dining should be an important consideration for where you will stay because your accomodations are likley your only dining options too.  Fortunately for us, the Kakslauttanen resort has a very good menu and an attentive wait staff.  When we stayed over Thanksgiving 2015, we had Reindeer steaks for Thanksgiving dinner, and they were delicious.  

Breakfasts and Lunches at this resort were more family/buffet style with limited but good selections of cold cereals for breakfast and sandwich meats and cheeses with a soup for lunch. 

Exploring Finland

Image Title: Reindeer Safari hunt for Aurora Borealis [Photo:Open Door Travelers]
Reindeer Safari hunt for Aurora Borealis [Photo:Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: Dog Sledding across the Arctic Tundra at Twighlight [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Dog Sledding across the Arctic Tundra at Twighlight [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: Santa's North Pole Home [Photo: Open Door Travelers]
Santa's North Pole Home [Photo: Open Door Travelers]

Image Title: The Northern Lights display over a cabin {Photo: www.kakslauttanen.fi]
The Northern Lights display over a cabin {Photo: www.kakslauttanen.fi]

 

Once you get there, there are many, many things to do.  The resorts can all help with various daily excursions including dog sledding on the tundra, reindeer sleigh rides, snow mobiling, cross-country skiing, down-hill skiing and snowboarding, snowtank safari, a trip to the russian boarder, and even a full day excursion to the arctic ocean on an ice breaker.  Most of these activities offer arctic gear (snow suit, gloves, boots) for you to rent or may be included in the price of the outing. Many of these activities are offered both during the day and during the night.  The daylight hours when we visited in November were morning twighlight around 9:00am and evening twighlight around 3:00pm.  This means about 6 hours of real daylight, so you need to make the most of it.

At the resort that we stayed, you can also visit Santa's North Pole Village.  Being the end of November, there were several families with small children wide-eyed and amazed to be visiting Santa and Mrs. Claus at their home.

Of course the most spectacular thing to do, is to enjoy the amazing Auroa Borealis - but don't be dissapointed if you get shutout by overcast skies.  There are many smartphone apps and websites for identifying the optimum times and current weather patterns for when to expect to see these beautiful light shows. Unfortunately, during our trip we had spectacularly sunny days, but completely overcast nights.  We'll just have to go back!