We had an amazing trip to visit Saariselka, Lapland. Our first trip beyond the Arctic circle was nothing less of the best adventure we have had till date, and thanks to all the research we had done beforehand we were well prepared. So, it’s time to share with you all few of these essential Saariselka travel tips including transfer from Ivalo Airport to Saariselka, Ski bus and Finnish smoke sauna.
- Let’s start with Clothing. Saariselka lies beyond the Artic and the temperature drops to below -40’c at times and trust me it’s something you need to be well prepared for. Please carry multiple layers of clothing including heavy thermals, good fleece, and warm winter jackets. In Addition, carry good gloves and a balaclava. The more, the better.
- The one place which gets frozen and painful are your feet. So, get some good thermal socks and wear multiple pairs. Also, rather than carrying regular hiking shoes, buy a pair of good Snow boots which will protect your feet from the extreme temperatures.
- Most of the tour operators in Saariselka provide all clothing including Overalls, snow shoes, thermal socks, gloves etc. during their tours. Please check with your tour operator. I would recommend – Husky & Co.
- Northern lights can be seen a little away from the Saariselka village if you decide to head out on your own. So, carry good torches or headlamps while you venture out in the dark.
- There are various sites which can be used for predicting Northern lights like for example – University of Alaska. We used a very helpful app – My Aurora Forecast
- There are various articles online about Northern light settings like for example – Happy World but the main idea is to experiment. Also, find areas which are away from any sort of light pollution. One such place in the village is the Aurora hut on the Aurora trail – Read more.
- A lesson learned from this trip was when you see the northern lights on a night – stick with them till they disappear. Do not let the sleep and temperatures get the best of you with the hope they will appear again tomorrow because they won’t!
- There are quite few trails around the village and ensure you find beforehand about which is a walking trail and which one is a snow shoe trail. The Snow can be quite deep at places and there are chances of getting stuck in waist deep snow.
- Husky Sledding is an adventure not to be missed but please be careful if you are the driver as you stand on 2 thin metal blades behind the sled and these are usually covered in snow and can be slippery. The dogs are quite friendly and though I’m not a dog lover, I still played along with these cute ones. Read more of our experience – Click here.
- With the Reindeer Sleigh I would advise around taking just the 2 hours ride which many companies offer as it’s not so adrenaline rushing as the Husky ride.
- Snowmobile are a must do but remember these are quite powerful machines and if you are riding these for the first time be super careful. Stick to the tracks and follow your guide, if you stray even slightly away from the tracks you will be sucked into gallons of snow.
- Ensure you carry a valid driving licence if you are doing the snowmobiling. This is mentioned by all the tour operators, ours dint even have a look.
- The cheapest way to get from Ivalo Airport to Saariselka is with the Airport bus transfer. These buses run for every Norwegian and Finnair flight. These are stationed right outside the arrival gate and needn’t be booked in advance. It costs just 10E per person and takes around 15 mins to reach Saariselka. Find the nearest bus stop to your hotel and download the timetable– Click here
- During the winter season, there is a Hop on Hop off Ski bus which runs in a circle connecting the village to the ski resort and the Kiilopaa Fell Centre. It costs just 5E / day and is very cheap compared to cabs. Download the timetable beforehand – Click here
- If you are brave enough to visit a Finnish smoke sauna and take a dip in icy water ten Kiiloppa Fell Centre is the best place. For client not staying at the centre its 13E per person which can be paid at the reception. There is no luggage storing facility at the Sauna, but the friendly lady at the reception kept our bags till we returned. You can rent towels and swimming suit here. One thing we did miss and one thing quite essential is a pair of slippers while you walk out in the cold to the Sauna and take that dip – A scintillating experience- read more.
- Saariselka is quite a remote place and if you are staying for long then you can buy all essentials at the only shopping centre in the village – Shopping Center Kuukkeli.This place has everything from groceries to souvenirs.
- Food is an essential part of any of our trips and I can recommend these 2 places. Firstly Café Porotupa located right outside the Holiday club at the heart of Saariselka is a small shack serving one of the best pancakes we have had and also freshly baked cakes with hot berry juice. The Second is Moussi Grill which is a cheaper alternative which serves Pies and burgers.
Relive our Saariselka Journey –
I hope you have an awesome trip to Lapland and enjoy the lappish nature to the fullest. And I wish my Saariselka travel tips come handy when you visit Saariselka. If you have queries or comments, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you at the earliest.