Luxury and boutique hotels in Saariselkä
Ice-queen village Saariselkä, in a far-north part of Finnish Lapland, is at its most beautiful in winter, when the vast Urho Kekkonen National Park nearby (named for Finland’s longest-running president) is carpeted in white, it’s prime time for cross-country and downhill skiing in the Kaunispää and Iisakkipää fells, and the elusive Northern Lights make rare cameo appearances. Santa Claus officially lives – relatively – close by in Rovaniemi, so there’s plenty of seasonal joy at this time, too. Here, native reindeer and huskies are roped in for sleigh rides, you can fish in icy lakes, snowshoe and bomb through the landscape by snowmobile. And, you’ll get some schooling in local culture, with a museum and library dedicated to the native Sámi. When summer comes, it shows you the greener side of Saariselkä. Unfrozen rivers let you kayak and swim (if you’re brave), wildlife comes out of hibernation and you can forage in forests and swamps. But, if you’ve got eyes on a bigger prize, gold panning is possible too. Whatever you find in the landscape, you’ll leave richer than when you arrived.
When to go
Saariselkä is at its sparkliest in winter, when the skiing is at its best and the national park looks all Christmassy, plus the Northern Lights may put on a show. But, summer allows for foraging expeditions, kayaking and Midnight Sun sightings.