Ylläs fell provides some excellent downhill skiing as well as hundreds of kilometres of cross country trails. However if you are not a skier, or are looking for something else to experience during your holiday then look no further – Ylläs really does have something for everyone! The resort is made up of two villages on either side of the Ylläs Fell and here are some top tips on things to experience and enjoy in the village of Äkäslompolo:
Why walk when you can sledge!? Plastic sledges are widely available here and are a great way to transport smaller children and shopping easily around the villages. There are plenty of good spots for sledging for both young and old. Kick Sledges, like the one pictured, are also widely available for hire in Ylläs and are a great way to get out exploring the local area. With these, someone sits on the seat at the front whilst someone else scoots along behind!
There are plenty of options for winter walks, with or without snow shoes and this is a wonderful option to catch a glimpse of the local wildlife. There is a particularly nice path through the forest around the shores of Kesanki Lake, taking you into the National Park. Another popular option in Äkäslompolo is to follow the path to Velhonkota, a lovely cafe in the woodlands which, amongst many other things, serves fantastic donuts. It is also easily accessible along cross country trails.
The SnowVillage, which is built each year entirely from ice and snow, is just a short journey from Ylläs. It is the best ‘indoor’ experience here in Finnish Lapland. Millions of kilos of snow and crystal clear ice are used to build the hotel, ice bar and restaurant and chapel, and lighting effects really make it stunning. You can make a visit to the SnowVillage for a tour around, or choose to spend the night there. It might sound cold, but snow is such a good insulator that it has a constant temperature of between -2 and -5, which feels incredibly warm when it’s -30 outside!
Dotted around in the woodlands out by the cross country trails and at the bottom of the ski slopes you can find Kota’s or Lavu’s. These are wooden shelters with a fireplace, and anyone can go and relax in the public ones. It is a great way to take a break, warm up and enjoy refreshments. A lot of these shelters even have toasting forks in them so you can cook your own sausages over the fire. A visit to a kota or lavu in the evening can also be fun and as they are usually well away from artificial lights so are a very good spot to look for the Northern Lights!
If you are opting for self catering, or fancy going somewhere different for an evening, there are plenty of restaurants in Ylläs. In Äkäslompolo the most popular restaurants are Rouhe and Poro. Rouhe opened in 2013 and quickly became a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike. They offer quite a range of different of food, both international and local dishes, including excellent reindeer and local fish options. Poro, meaning reindeer, offers some traditional Lappish specialities; a great place to get a real taste of Lapland.
Whether you want to try mushing your own husky team, or relax and enjoy the scenery whilst gliding along on a reindeer pulled sledge, there are plenty of options to choose from. A guided snow shoe safari is a great experience; during the day you can enjoy the stunning arctic scenery, or at night go in search of the Northern Lights. There are also plenty of snowmobile safaris to choose from, whether you want to go during the day or at night. You could even choose to try ice fishing, or snowmobile to the top of the Ylläs Fell – but make sure you bring your driving license! They have the same rules on the snowmobile tracks here that they have on roads.
Ylläs is a great place to come to to search for the Northern Lights. It is far enough north to ensure there are regular sightings, you just need to keep your fingers crossed for clear skies. In Äkäslompolo your chances of seeing them are also helped by the fact that from the start of December until mid February the street lights are turned off at 22:00 every night. This minimises artificial light pollution and increases your chances of a sighting! 2014, 2015 & the beginning of 2016 saw some fantastic displays. According to locals, there have been some of the best displays they have ever seen, and apparently 2016/17 is looking very promising too!