Guide to Work, Study, Travel and Living Abroad  FacebookTwitterGoogle+  
Related Topics
Adventure Travel
Budget Travel

Winter Adventures in Finland

Dominican Horses
Skiers in Finland taking a break.

Vuokatti, Finland, a peaceful, clean, winter wonderland about 600 kilometers north of Helsinki, has become the most versatile holiday-sport destination in Finland. From Helsinki, you can go easily by train, bus, or plane to Kajaani. From there, buses are readily available to take you 30 kilometers to your hotel in Vuokatti.

Visitors can choose from downhill skiing or snowboarding at Vuokatti Ski Slope, world class cross-country skiing with over 200 kilometers of maintained trails, snowmobile safaris, ice fishing, and snowshoeing. Plus, there’s the pleasure of paradise in Katin Kulta Resort, where there is everything from tennis, basketball, bowling, badminton, volleyball, aerobics, and lazy river to fine dining, dancing, and, my favorite, Sauna World. Filled with saunas, steambaths, and jacuzzi's, it is the ultimate place for relaxation. Clothing is optional. Welcome to Finnish culture.

I have been visiting Vuokatti for three years. The winter's beauty, friendly people, and top-notch winter sports are constantly tugging me back for more. There is something for everyone in Finland's best-kept secret.

My favorite months in Vuokatti are March and April. The days are long and filled with nearly 14 hours of daylight and average temperatures of 46˚F to 36˚F, a perfect temperature for winter sports. Make your reservations in advance if you want to find a place to stay because it is one of the most popular times to visit. February is also an excellent winter sports month, but the temperatures can be much colder, ranging from -13˚F to 23˚F.

Last year I visited during Easter Weekend, the last real weekend of winter sports in lower-northern Finland. It was a dream come true: blue skies, a warm sun gazing down, and excellent snow conditions on the trails.

I stayed at Vuokatti Sports Hotel, a plush and affordable hotel that starts at 125 Fmk (approximately $19) a night, and includes the use of exercise rooms, sauna, and a buffet Finnish breakfast. The basic rooms have a fireplace, cable TV, shower, toilet, refrigerator, drying room for clothes, and telephone. There is a swimming hall, restaurant, ski rentals, and the world's only indoor ski tunnel. This has to be the best deal in Scandinavia. The buffet breakfast alone could be a tourist attraction. It includes fruits, various types of bread, porridge, eggs, ham, cheese, metwurst, orange juice, coffee, hot chocolate, milk, yogurts, jams, and cereals.

After a long day of cross-country skiing, comes relaxing in Finnish sauna. Sauna is to Finnish culture as baseball is to American culture. It is a healing place to unwind and talk with other Finnish vacationers. Afterwards, I rolled quickly in the freezing snow and rushed back to the sauna. This may seem crazy, but it was total refreshment. My day was complete!

Unquestionably my favorite skiing site in Finland, the challenging terrain, majestic panoramic views, and numerous tracks always bring me back for more. If it is your first time skiing, don't worry, there are several beginner trails to get you started. Vuokatti is the true definition of a winter wonderland, with a variety of winter activities for the adventurer or family.

For More Info

For information on travel to Finland go to www.visitfinland.com. Find out weather conditions in Finland. March and April are the warmer and longer winter days. Reservations are always advised. Finnish people may seem shy, but they are friendly and more than helpful. They say a Finnish friend is a friend for life. English is widely spoken.

Visa cards are accepted in all places except buses and smaller stores. It's always good to have Finnish marks on hand. One U.S. dollar equals approximately 6.7 Fmk, but check www.oanda.com to get the latest currency rates.

At Vuokatti Ski Slope daily lift tickets are 170 Fmk and equipment rental is 140 Fmk. Cross-country skiing equipment can be rented daily for 70 Fmk at the indoor ski tunnel or Vuokatti Ski Service. If you have your own equipment, stop by the Vuokatti Ski Service and talk with Jouko Liljeroo about track and weather conditions and put the proper wax on your skies. Two-hour admission for the lazy river swimming area and Sauna World at Katin Kulta Resort is 65 Fmk. Buses leave twice daily from Vuokatti Sport Hotel (011-358-8-619-1400), but ask reception for time-tables and other information.

BRENT CASSIDY, a former North Carolinian, originally went to Finland as an exchange student but has now lived there for the last three years.