Lapland Explorer 3/4 Nights 2019/2020
Kilometre-long frozen lakes, acres of snow-topped trees, and first-class ski slopes with the nightlife to match are all staples of holidays to Ruka.
Skiing and sights
Ruka hugs Lapland’s southern border. This ski town’s first slope was opened back in 1954, and it now boasts a grand total of 29 runs. And the floodlit slopes mean that you don’t have to limit your skiing to daylight hours. Ruka has plenty more feathers in its cap, though. Its après-ski credentials are top-notch – you can take your pick of heated terraces and bars.
The town’s blanketed in snow for 200 days of the year, giving the whole place a fairytale feel. The landscape here’s picture-perfect. As well as the slopes, we’re talking pine forests that look like they’ve been dusted with icing sugar, and frosted-over lakes. If snowsports aren’t your forte, Ruka lines up plenty of snowy alternatives – you can hop on a husky-drawn sled or rocket around on a snowmobile.
Finland’s famous Bear Trail hiking route cuts through Ruka. The town’s a popular resting spot for travellers taking on the Oulanka National Park’s 80-kilometre challenge. It takes about four days to tackle the whole thing. But if you’ve not packed your hiking boots, giving a section of the trail a go is a great way to see some of Ruka’s Arctic countryside. We’re talking deep ravines, dense forests and rushing rivers.
Holidays to Kuusamo serve up some stellar, snow-blanketed scenery – this peaceful town’s a great spot to see the best of Finland’s natural beauty.
Kuusamo is nearby Ruka’s more peaceful sibling – nature takes a front seat in this place, whether you’re talking scenery or activities. Walking trails weave through forests of snow-smothered pines and vast frozen lakes. Or, if you want to spend some time indoors, you can visit the Hannu Hautala Nature Photography Centre. This exhibition hall’s the first of its kind in Finland, and showcases some seriously impressive pictures.
This town offers plenty of opportunities for you to get up close and personal with the local wildlife. You can spend an afternoon visiting a reindeer farm. You’ll get the chance to feed them, and learn all about Santa’s sleigh-pullers.
Kuusamo plays host to some top-drawer natural sights, and Hossa National Park’s one of the best of the bunch. It’s pretty new – this place officially became Finland’s 40th national park in June 2017. Frozen-over rivers, plunging ravines and snow-capped forests are just some of the highlights. The Stone Age Varikallio cave paintings are well worth a visit, too. You’ll find them on rock faces along the edge of Lake Somerjarvi. These paintings of hunting and shamanic rituals were painted at least 3,500 years ago.
Lapland Holiday Itinerary
Fly to Kuusamo – Stay in Kuusamo & Ruka
DAY 1: Once you’ve landed at Kuusamo Airport, you'll be whisked off to your hotel and provided thermal gear en route. You’ll have the rest of the day to explore – you could opt to grab a toboggan and hit the slopes, or take a stroll through snowy fields and forests. Or book a husky and reindeer combo excursion in the resort.
DAY 2: Your morning’s all about experiencing the landscape. You’ll kick things off with a husky-pulled sleigh ride, so you can sit back and take in the snow-dusted views. Then, have a go at the likes of tobogganing, or help the elves make some snow sculptures. You’ll also get to pet the dogs. There’s also the chance to try curling and snowmobiling – adults get to drive, while kids get pulled along behind on a sledge. Next, you’ll warm up around a roaring campfire with some snacks and hot drinks, listening to Lappish stories.
DAY 3: It’s time for the main event – a trip to meet the man in red. You’ll listen to Santa tell tales about his life, before he gives you a festive gift. After that, you’ll have some free time to fill with your choice of activities*, before being whisked off to a Festive Finale in the evening. Here, you’ll dine on a traditional Christmas dinner and watch some glitzy entertainment. This is a great time to wear your Christmas jumper to join in the festivities and keep warm. There’ll be a cash bar for adults.
DAY 4: It's time to say farewell to Lapland for those on a three-night holiday – you’ll be taken to the airport for your flight home. Those of you on a four-night trip have a full day of free time today. You can opt to spend it playing in the snow, or choose to book a place on one of our excursions. Visit excursion.tui.co.uk to find out more.
Ruka & Kuusamo Accommodation
Maston Aitio Cabins
The Maston Aitio Cabins give you everything you’d expect from a Finnish log cabin – seclusion, a nearby ski slope and your own private sauna.
These log cabins are found in the snow-covered woods, just outside of Ruka. It’s easy to get to the village, though, via a free bus. There’s a blue run just behind the cabins, too, with its own rope tow.
The cabins are well-equipped for a cosy night in. You’ve got a fully stocked kitchenette, a wood-burning stove and a DVD player. Underfloor heating and a sauna are on hand, as well, to keep things extra toasty.
Thanks to their edge-of-town location, these apartments offer both peaceful surroundings and access to lively Ruka.
The hillside Aurinkorinne Apartments have secured a picture-perfect spot just outside of Ruka – walk for 10 minutes and you'll get into the centre. Plus, there's a ski lift just two minutes' walk from your door, so it couldn't be easier to hit the slopes.
From the outside, this place looks like a scene from a snowglobe. The log cabin-style main building nestles between clusters of snow-dusted pines. Inside, dark wood flooring and panelling give the place a cosy feel.
Ruka Tonttu Apartments
Location-wise, these apartments offer up the best of both worlds. You're surrounded by Instagram-worthy natural scenery, and you're close to the action in Ruka village, too.
You'll find the Ruka Tonttu Apartments on the edge of picturesque Lake Talvijarvi, surrounded by rows of snow-capped pines. Plus, it's a 10-minute walk into Ruka village, with its shops, restaurants and lively apres-ski scene.
This place is ideal for snowsport fans. The apartments overlook some of the ski runs, and the nearest ski lift is just two minutes away on foot. And, when you've spent a day on the slopes, the cosy log-burning fireplace, the equipment drying cupboard and the private sauna will keep you toasty.
Cumulus Resort Rukahovi
This ski slope-side hotel balances family-friendly features and lively evening venues, so everyone’s catered for.
The Cumulus Resort Rukahovi's a winner when it comes to scenery. It sits at the bottom of Ruka's ski slopes, and the back of the property brushes shoulders with a pine forest. There's lots to do nearby, from hiking to reindeer safaris.
Inside, this place keeps things cosy. Red plaid patterned accessories and wooden beams give a warm, rustic feel. You'll find a few big, stone fireplaces dotted around, too.
Holiday Club Kuusamo
The Holiday Club Kuusamo provides the perfect antidote to Lapland’s wintry wilderness, with an indoor pool, a spa and an Angry Birds Activity Park.
Surrounded by lakes and pine trees, this place is on the outskirts of Kuusamo – a winter sports hub. Skiing, fishing and kayaking all take place right outside. And it’s a 10-minute drive into the centre of town.
There are plenty of places to kick back after a day on the slopes here. Indoors, you’ve got a spa and pool complex, a children’s play area and a sports bar.
Sokos Hotel Kuusamo
Nature lovers will be in their element at this hotel – lakes, forests and snow-capped slopes are all within reach.
The Sokos Hotel Kuusamo is a five-minute walk from the town's shops and restaurants. But, it's the natural surroundings that are really impressive. Four national parks surround the hotel, and Lake Toranki stretches out behind it.
Decor-wise, there are some traditional Finnish touches. Local red-hearted pine is used inside the hotel, and the restaurant's dancefloor is made of Lapland marble. Plus, you'll find plenty of dark-varnished wood and cosy fireplaces in the bar and restaurant.
Iisakki Glass Village
Staying at the Iisakki Glass Village is like camping under the stars in Lapland’s snowy, pine-cloaked countryside.
These box-fresh glass villas are nestled into a rural spot by the glistening Lake Rukajarvi, so it feels miles away from it all. That said, the bars, shops and restaurants of nearby ski town Ruka are within a 10-minute drive.
Glass ceilings mean you can stargaze from the comfort of your bed. And because the villas are in a remote spot, it’s a great place to watch out for the Northern Lights.
Need To Know
What should I pack?
If you're coming to Lapland for the day, we recommend you wear warm clothes and only take hand luggage on the plane, as we'll lend you a cosy all-in-one thermal suit, as well as boots, gloves, socks and a hat. If you're on a 3 or 4-night trip, we'll still kit you out with all the necessary gear - which is yours for the duration of your holiday - but it's a good idea to bring lots of layers, too.
What’s the weather like?
In December, daytime temperatures generally range from 0 to -20 degrees, but it can fall as low as -40 during a particularly cold spell. You’ll get four to five hours of ‘grey light’ between about 10am and 3pm. The rest of the time it’s dark, but still quite bright because of all the snow. What’s more, all the activity areas are well lit.
What’s the food like?
It depends on where you stay, but most hotels in Lapland put on international buffet spreads. Usually, there’ll be a selection of meat, fish and pasta dishes to choose from, as well as a variety of vegetables and salad. You’ll also find children’s favourites, like chips, meatballs, and burgers on offer. And some places serve Finnish specialities, like smoked reindeer pizza.
Is Lapland suitable for young children?
We don’t recommend our Lapland trips for children under 4-years-old. That’s because the chilly temperatures and types of activities aren’t suited to really little ones. If you do bring toddlers along, though, you’ll need to provide their own thermal clothing.
Do I need insurance?
It’s essential you and your family have the protection you need in case the unexpected happens. What’s more, if you want to take part in any snow sports when you’re away, you’ll need a policy that covers you for these.
Can I drive a snowmobile?
If you want to get behind the wheel of a snowmobile, make sure you bring your full UK driving licence with you. As long as local guides agree, children aged 12 and over can ride as a passenger on your snowmobile. Younger children have to travel in a sleigh pulled by one instead.