A long weekend way up north – Levi, Lappland / Finland
My bucket list contains to a large extent travel related items. One of those has been seeing the Northern Lights. To get a decent chance at seeing them you need to a) travel far up north b) during winter and c) have lots of either luck or patience.
We wanted to test our chances and book a three day weekend to Levi, Finland several months ahead for February 2018. Seeing the Northern Lights is highly dependent on the weather (cloudy skies don’t help) but you just have to risk it and hope you get lucky.
For our trip up north, we originated in Zurich and took a direct flight to Kittilä. It is only once you fly for over three hours straight up north that you realize just how far north you’re going. Side-note: thanks to Schengen, despite the long flight you just step off the plane without any kind of immigration formalities.
As we started our descent into Kittilä, we knew that the weather was not going to be kind to us. Thick clouds covered all of Lappland.
We decided to spend our time in Levi, one of Finland’s larger ski resorts and just 15mins from Kittilä airport by car. There are busses that meet every flight for EUR8 per person but we ended up sharing a taxi for got dropped off right at our hotel for EUR10 per person (EUR40 per taxi). We stayed at the Levi Gold Suites for three nights and really enjoyed our stay. Right in the centre of Levi, everything is within a five minutes walk.
We could tell we were far up north – not just because how cold it was but also by how early it got dark. This was just after 4pm:
At 8pm we were picked up by Arctic Frontier for an aurora chase tour. While not cheap (ca. EUR160 per person) we thought it would be worth it. That day we knew going in that chances would be very low to see the Northern Lights – and we did not. But we did have a very enjoyable evening in the remoteness of Lappland and experimenting with the camera gear we both got.
The next day we went on a snowmobile tour with Kinos Safaris. We drove around Levi and to an ice village. Driving a snowmobile is much easier than I would have thought and it doesn’t take much to be going at over 60km/h.
In the afternoon we had another highlight planned – a husky tour. Plan these ahead of time as they sell out fast. We ended up going on a short 2km drive as that was what was left.
The friendly staff first gave us a tour of the park and a short intro to the various animals they breed there.
All very cute but the highlight was certainly the short sleigh ride through the snow covered forest:
That made for a long day. Couple with the freezing temperatures, you can bet you’ll be tired in the evening.
The remainder of our time over the following days we spent alpine- and cross-country skiing:
While not comparable to a Swiss / Austrian ski resort, we were very positively surprised. The slopes are very wide and the snow good. Unfortunately, except for one gondola and two chair-lifts, the rest is surface T-bar lifts… considering the local temperatures not the most pleasant kind of lift.
While there are many other activities in and around Levi, three days was just the right amount of time for us. We thoroughly enjoyed our time, even though we did not see what we had originally planned the trip for – the Northern Lights. Oh well, I guess we’ll be back.