Planning a trip to Lapland and want the best Saariselkä Finland winter travel guide? Having recently visited this very northern part of Finland, I am excited to share with you everything I discovered during my two day visit.
Lapland, Finland lives up to the hype. Just knowing you are wandering around the actual Arctic Circle is mind blowing.
And the snow covered landscape just adds to the magic!
Many visitors to Lapland make it as far as Rovaniemi (where Santa’s Village is) and don’t think to go further north.
But that is truly a shame.
Even if you only spend two nights further north than Rovaniemi like we did – it will be 100% worth your efforts to get there!!
In a rush?
Saariselkä Finland Winter Travel Guide
- The Little Details
- Best Places to Stay in Saariselkä
- Best Places to Eat in Saariselkä
- Top Things to Do in Saariselkä
- What to Wear in Saariselkä in Winter
- Our Full Itinerary in a Nutshell
The Little Details
How to Get to Saariselkä
There are multiple ways to get to this compact village that is the northernmost holiday resort in the world and one of the oldest ski resorts in Finland ;0.
For our entire two weeks in Finland (see full itinerary below) we did not want to rent/drive a car.
And while I was rather nervous planning our trip and how to get from region to region – it was surprisingly easy once we were actually in the country! All that worry for nothing!
Our mode of transportation from Rovaniemi to Saariselkä was the bus!
Now mind you – I am NOT A BUS PERSON.
In fact, while I try to have a reasonable budget for my travels – I tend to lean more to the comfortable and pleasant side of traveling now that I am in my 50’s ;).
As in – I don’t go for the super budget friendly hotels/transportation methods, etc like we did in our 20’s, 30’s, and even into our 40’s when we traveled ;0.
All that to say – I was rather nervous about what being on a 4 hour bus ride in the Arctic Circle was going to be like.
And honestly – my husband and I were pleasantly surprised!
The wifi worked great, our luggage was easy to manage under the bus and the hours went by quickly as we watched the scenery outside roll by.
There aren’t any power plugs on the bus though so be sure to bring a battery pack for your electronics so that you aren’t stranded without power!
This one is my favorite as it is relatively light and can power two devices at once ;).
Just a heads up though – my husband had to use the toilet at one point and came back and told me – nope you shouldn’t go in there – just hold it :\.
So be sure to not drink much before getting on and only use the bus toilet in an emergency situation 😂.
I purchased two tickets on the Matkahuolto website for $102 four months in advance with seat reservations.
They also have a new app called Matkahuolto Trips and Tickets that looks quite user friendly and easy to use (not available when I made our reservation in November 2022).
We asked our Rovaniemi hotel, Arctic Treehouse, to provide transportation for us from the hotel to the bus stop because they easily knew where it is located.
Interestingly enough – the bus stop we were dropped off at was also a post office. So if there is a real full fledged bus station in Rovaniemi, we wouldn’t actually know but this worked all the same ;).
We disembarked from the bus at the Kiveliöntie stop in Saariselkä that is next to a shopping center across the street from the Northern Lights Village where we were staying for the next two nights.
I HIGHLY suggest arranging pick up transportation with your hotel for when you arrive in Saariselkä – something we did not do.
But we were CRAZY lucky that a taxi was sitting in the very parking lot we were dropped off at because the snow was many feet deep this far north and wheeling our suitcases to the hotel even though it was only 350m away would have been a serious challenge 😳.
The other ways of getting to Saariselka are to fly into Ivalo Airport.
If you are going straight to Saariselkä from Helsinki – this is most certainly the best option.
You can easily grab a bus or a taxi to your accommodations from this airport 15 km north of the village.
One of my favorite websites/apps to use in figuring out how to get from one destination to the other is Rome2Rio. It is a great starting point for discovering how to get ANYWHERE in the world!
While I don’t book directly from this app/website – it tells me my options and the correct website to purchase any necessary tickets ;).
The last option would be to rent a car (which as I mentioned above is something we have avoided doing while traveling outside of North America for a myriad of reasons – not the least of which is not knowing what the heck the street signs say!!).
How to Get Around Saariselkä
The most popular places to stay in Saariselkä will be able to help you arrange any transportation needs you may have while staying in this Lappish wonderland (if you don’t have a car like we didn’t).
Hopefully you will decide to stay at the same property we did (see below) where all of our activities were based on property and the village is within walking distance ;).
But if you choose to stay elsewhere (and without a car) – there is a very convenient bus system in the area every winter season.
How Many Days You Need in Saariselkä
We arrived in Saariselkä after spending 4 nights in Rovaniemi (read that blog post here) and before that 5 nights in Helsinki (read that travel guide here).
So being that we were well into our Finland adventure and had already experienced a bit of Lapland, we decided two nights with one full day here would fit well into our itinerary.
If your itinerary allows, I would say one additional full day would allow for a leisurely pace.
But if you do not plan on spending any time in Rovaniemi or elsewhere in Lapland, I would say spend 3-4 full days in Saariselkä.
Currency and Plug Details in Lapland
Finland currency is the Euro and their plugs are the same as around mainland Europe with the two round pins.
US hair dryers, curling irons, and electric razors use a higher voltage than they do outside of the country which makes it impractical to bring with you when you travel abroad.
When my daughter was studying abroad in London during the summer of 2022, I had her buy a hair dryer for herself in England with the lesser European voltage that I can now use every time I travel outside of the US.
If you travel to foreign countries often, I would highly suggest buying yourself a blow dryer in a different country with their lower voltage so that you can use your own every time you travel as well ;).
Best Places to Stay in Saariselkä
While we only stayed in a glass roofed igloo for two nights here – this is a Lappish experience you should make every effort to have!!
There is a Northern Lights alarm in every igloo that peacefully beeps to wake you up when the night sky is lit up so you can watch them from your warm bed ;).
Being here in winter and watching the snow gently fall right outside your window is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Breakfast and dinner are included in your rate and many winter activities are located right on the property.
At the top of the ski hill is a lovely hotel with stunning views of the valley with beautiful rooms and aurora glass cabins also worthy of a stay for sure ;).
Best Places to Eat in Saariselkä
Because meals were included in our accommodations and we were only in Saariselkä for two nights, we only had dinner in town one night.
However we received recommendations for a favorite restaurant in the village that is listed below (it was closed on the day of the week we were there).
We ate dinner here our second night in the area – it is conveniently located within walking distance of Northern Lights Village .
The service was impeccable and the pizza tasted straight from Italy ;).
This classic Finnish restaurant was recommended to us however was closed when we walked by (thus we continued on to Fieno above).
Top Things to Do in Saariselkä
See the Northern Lights
Saariselkä is known for having aurora displays 200 nights out of the year so your odds are pretty high in this area.
And if you stay in one of the properties above, you will get to enjoy them from your warm bed!!
Now obviously if you are a professional photographer – seeing the aurora borealis through a window and photographed with an iPhone would be unacceptable however for the majority of us – this is magical.
I cannot put into words what it was like to watch the lights dance across the sky for hours.
Sleep was clearly not a priority this night as the alarm told us to wake up around 1:30am and we stayed awake for over an hour til they faded away.
However, we only saw them on our first night in Saariselka as the second night was snowing heavily ;).
If you would rather go on a Northern Lights excursion – there are plenty to be found in the area. I will advise you though, based on my research, there is no guarantee of seeing the Northern Lights on these paid excursions so be aware that you may or may not get your money’s worth on something like this.
But if you are going for the experience of being out in the winter night air – I say go for it!!
And obviously if you are lucky to be out on one of the 200 nights a year they are visible here – your photos will surely be amazing ;).
Go On a Husky Safari
As mentioned above, there are many activities available right on the Northern Lights Village property – including husky safaris and snowmobile rides.
As we often take a winter vacation in the US to a ski destination where snowmobiling is always an option, we opted to do a husky safari on our one full day in the area.
Truly another once in a lifetime experience – and in the Arctic Circle at that!
If you are trying to decide what to do with your limited time in the area as well – I would 100% tell you to do the husky safari ;).
Participate in Winter Sports
If you will be staying a few days in the Saariselkä area of Lapland, you could easily spend an afternoon on their ski hill, cross country skiing in the surrounding forests, ice fishing with an organized tour outfitter, fat tire biking – the list is truly endless and all dependent on how relaxed you want your days to be ;).
You can find all your options on this list with outfitters to help you enjoy your experiences :).
Walk the Village Streets
We actually had a taxi bring us to the parking lot at the top of the ski hill where we proceeded to walk down the empty and snowy neighborhood street into town.
What to Wear in Saariselkä in Winter
We brought our own winter jacket and snowpants on our Finnish vacation however many excursion companies will provide winter attire if you need it.
As I mentioned in my Helsinki, Rovaniemi, and Tallinn travel guides, our winter parkas kept us very cozy and warm so the temps being in the high 20’s and 30’s for the majority of our trip was perfectly okay for us ;).
Our Full Itinerary in a Nutshell
Day 1 Fly San Diego to Helsinki via London on British Airways
Day 2 Arrive Helsinki 9pm local time
Day 3 Helsinki
Day 4 Helsinki
Day 5 Helsinki
Day 6 Day trip to Tallinn, Estonia
Day 7 Fly Helsinki to Rovaniemi on Finnair
Day 8 Rovaniemi
Day 9 Rovaniemi
Day 10 Rovaniemi
Day 11 Bus to Saariselkä (4 hours)
Day 12 Saariselkä
Day 13 Fly Ivalo to London via Helsinki on British Airways
Day 14 London
Day 15 Fly London to San Diego on British Airways
I hope you found this Saariselkä, Finland winter travel guide helpful as you plan your adventures in this remarkable destination.
This destination offers pristine, unspoiled Arctic wilderness adventures that are unlike any other place on your bucket list ;).
As I mentioned above – every time we think about the reality that we saw the Northern Lights in the Arctic Circle we both smile and remember how incredible our two weeks were ;).
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Have a wonderful day my friend! I hope something makes you smile today ;).