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Backcountry Skiing in Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland, is perfect for backcountry skiing enthusiasts. Located just below the Arctic Circle, it offers pristine landscapes, untouched trails, and the northern lights. Its snow-covered forests and vast wilderness make it an ideal spot for those seeking a true off-the-beaten-path skiing experience.

Backcountry skiing has always been something I wanted to try. That’s why my friends and I joined one of Beyond Arctic backcountry skiing adventure two months ago. If you are planning your first trip to Finland, I highly recommend this activity to appreciate the pristine wilderness that Finland is famous for.

Arrival in Rovaniemi

Arriving in Rovaniemi, I noticed the stark contrast to Saariselka, where my friends and I had traveled to prior. It felt like a bustling city in comparison, with its array of hotels, apartment complexes, shops, and restaurants. The city buzzed with life, yet still retained its charm and natural beauty.

After arrival at the Rovaniemi Train Station, my friends and I checked into our accommodation, Bellarova Apartments VIII. The apartment has all the amenities we needed for a comfortable stay. The apartment has a fully equipped kitchen, a washing machine, fast WiFi, and a flat-screen TV.

We spent most of our first day in Rovaniemi doing laundry. Thankfully, our accommodation had a washing machine. Although, I had to study how to operate it since it was different from what I was used to in the Philippines. After laundry, my friends and I went out for dinner. We also tried to hunt for the northern lights at Arktikum, which is just a short walk from the restaurant. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy night and not the best for seeing the aurora.

Getting Ready for our Backcountry Skiing in Rovaniemi

Preparing for backcountry skiing in Rovaniemi requires careful packing. For this adventure, I wore Uniqlo HEATTECH inner wear, insulating mid-layer, and a waterproof outer layer. I also wore warm accessories like a beanie, gloves, and waterproof socks. Extras like heat packs for my feet, sunscreen and lip balm with SPF were really useful as well.

I had almost fully prepared, but I forgot something important: polarized sunglasses. These sunglasses can protect your eyes and prevent vision strain. Unlike regular sunglasses that simply dim your field of vision, polarized sunglasses block glare from snow and ice.

Backcountry Skiing in Rovaniemi with Beyond Arctic

On the day of our backcountry skiing in Rovaniemi, the Beyond Arctic team picked us up right from our apartment. At their office, our guide led us through the process of getting our gear. Our guide was particularly attentive. He ensured that our skis fit our shoe size perfectly and that the length of the ski poles matched our waist height. This attention to detail and personalized care set the tone for the rest of the day.

The package included winter boots and warm clothing, but my friend and I decided to use our own gear for the sake of pictures. Lol. Fortunately, our chosen attire was suitable for the day’s adventure, and our guide approved of our decision.

a group of skiers skiing in Rovaniemi

Learning the Art of Backcountry Skiing

Our backcountry skiing adventure started with a minivan ride from Rovaniemi to a secluded spot in the Arctic wilderness. The journey itself was a scenic introduction to the Finnish landscape. Upon arrival, we got our skis and our guide led us through a brief practice session to familiarize ourselves with the equipment and prepare for the deep snow ahead.

Backcountry skiing feels like a mix of gliding and walking. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was doing it correctly. After a few minutes, I got the hang of it and it became second nature. Imagine gliding through pristine wilderness, the only sounds being the soft crunch of snow under your skis and the whisper of the wind through the trees. The tranquility is almost meditative. If you’re a hiker who loves the silence, and soaking in the beauty of nature, you’ll absolutely love backcountry skiing. 

a group of people backcountry skiing in Rovaniemi

Learning About Backcountry Skiing Culture in Finland

Backcountry skiing in Finland is deeply rooted in the Finnish way of life. The Finns have a profound respect for nature and a long-standing tradition of outdoor activities. This is evident in their enthusiasm for winter sports, which is seen as both a recreational pursuit and a means of connecting with nature.

In Finland, backcountry skiing is more than just a sport; it’s a cultural experience. Skiers often set out on long journeys through the wilderness (our guide from Beyond Arctic does this regularly!), carrying minimal gear and embracing the simplicity of life on the trail. This minimalist approach is a key aspect of the Finnish skiing culture, emphasizing self-reliance and a deep connection with nature.

lake covered in snow

Photography During the Activity

As this tour is photography-based and guided by a professional photography guide, our group had the opportunity to stop at specific places for stunning solo or group photos. Our guide knew the best spots and would ask us to pose for photos, or we could request photos from him. About a week after the trip, we received 10-15 photos from the tour. I highly recommend bringing a camera or mobile phone to capture your own photos, as there are simply a lot of beautiful spots to photograph during the activity.

Ending the tour at the Kota

The abundance of public fireplaces, shelters, and traditional tents (kota) in Finland absolutely amazed me. As a first-time visitor, I discovered kotas scattered all over the country, with most of them open to the public. Our guide shared that the Finnish Forest Administration maintains some of them, while local communities and fishing associations look after others.

Towards the end of our backcountry skiing adventure, we reached a cozy kota shelter. We gathered around an open fire to grill sausages, enjoyed hot berry juice and the rustic charm of our surroundings.

woman backcountry skiing in Rovaniemi

Overall Experience with Backcountry Skiing

This marked my first backcountry skiing experience, and I can now understand why people become addicted. It turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated, primarily because of the snow conditions. The fresh snow from the previous day’s storm made it quite hard. However, this didn’t diminish my overall enjoyment of the experience. Needless to say, this won’t be my last adventure, and I am officially hooked! A huge thanks to the Beyond Arctic team who couldn’t have made me feel more welcome and ensured my safety every step of the way.

forest covered in snow

Backcountry Skiing and Northern Lights

When I return to Finland, I would book another backcountry skiing adventure, but this time at night, to have a chance to see the Northern Lights again. Beyond Arctic also offers this activity, promising an even more enchanting experience under the Arctic sky. Their Northern Lights Skiing Adventure also provides 10-15 photos after the trip, which would be an amazing souvenir if the Northern Lights are captured.

Where to stay in Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi offers a variety of accommodations to suit every traveler. For a cozy and authentic experience, consider a traditional Finnish cottage. If you prefer more modern amenities, the city also has a range of hotels and guesthouses to choose from. For a unique stay, try a glass igloo for panoramic views of the Arctic sky and potential northern lights sightings. 

A trip to Finnish Lapland wouldn’t be complete without a stay in a glass igloo/aurora cabin, offering a chance to witness the mesmerizing northern lights. If Rovaniemi is your sole destination in Lapland, consider these top three options for an unforgettable experience.

Apukka Resort

Apukka Resort offers a range of unique accommodations, including glass igloos and cozy cabins. The resort provides easy access to northern lights viewing spots and exciting Arctic activities like husky sledding and snowmobiling. If my friends and I did not make it as far as Saariselka, this is probably where we would stay for a chance to see the northern lights.

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel

Arctic TreeHouse Hotel offers luxurious and modern accommodations in the midst of nature. The hotel’s unique treehouse design provides panoramic views of the surrounding forest and the possibility of seeing the northern lights from the comfort of your room. 

Santa Claus Holiday Village

Santa Claus Holiday Village is a magical destination where you can meet Santa Claus every day of the year. Whether you’re healing your inner child, traveling with children, or simply want to embrace the spirit of Christmas, the village offers cozy cottages and a range of winter activities. You can also send greetings from the Arctic Circle to friends worldwide, making it an unforgettable Arctic experience.

Staying Connected in Finland

For my trip to Finland, Holafly eSIM was a reliable companion throughout our journey in Finnish Lapland. It provided me with unlimited data and uninterrupted internet connection, making it easy to navigate Lapland and stay connected with friends and family back home. Get your eSIM here and get 5% off when you use my code PROJECTGORA.

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I hope you found this post helpful in planning your trip. Finnish Lapland was truly a magical place to explore. My friends and I still can’t believe we ventured to the Arctic Circle, witnessed the Northern Lights, and stayed in an aurora cabin. The list of bucket list-worthy moments could go on and on. Instead of listing them all, I hope this post inspires you to experience it for yourself. May it be the start of planning your own dream trip to Finland.

If you have any comments, suggestions or questions, let’s chat down below! I always enjoy hearing from you!

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By Project Gora

Hey there! My name is Milet Miranda, and I'm a full-time corporate employee during weekdays and a traveler during weekends (and holidays...you get the picture). I'm a foodie at heart and I love joining food tours. When I'm not traveling, you'll find me walking my dogs or biking around my neighborhood.

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