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Bucket List Europe

Northern Lights Village: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience in Finland

I had the most beautiful bucket list birthday ever at the Northern Lights Village. I feel like crying while creating this blog because everything I experienced was nothing short of amazing. From staying in the aurora cabin to seeing the northern lights for the first time, I can say that this experience was truly worth the effort, time, and money. On this post, I’m going to spill all the details! I’ll share how I booked our dreamy stay and, best of all, reveal that our 3-day escape wasn’t as pricey as you might imagine. Read on to know how I turned this bucket list dream into a budget-friendly reality!

Northern Lights Village

The Northern Lights Village is one of the top-rated resorts in Finnish Lapland. With locations in Saariselkä, Pyhä, and Levi, it offer magical escape into Lapland’s pristine wilderness. Guests can enjoy staying in glass-roof cabins, providing stunning views of the surroundings and, if lucky, of the Northern Lights. The resort offers a variety of activities, including husky safaris, reindeer sledding, and snowmobiling.

Why I chose Saariselkä?

The northern lights are one of the main reasons why I want to visit Finnish Lapland. I know that they are elusive and that you have to go as far north as possible. That’s why I chose Saariselkä, it’s the northernmost of the three locations, increasing the chances of seeing the aurora borealis. Saariselkä’s is relatively remote yet its proximity to essential tourist amenities, provides a perfect balance for experiencing the beauty of Lapland. Plus, there’s Saariselkä Ski & Sport Resort, the northernmost ski resort in Europe, making it a well-rounded destination for our trip.

the forest surrounding Northern Lights Village

How Sustainable is Northern Lights Village?

Northern Lights Village is committed to sustainability and environmental conservation. The aurora cabins use energy-efficient heating systems and appliances to reduce energy consumption. Additionally, waste management practices are in place, with a focus on recycling and composting. The Northern Lights Village also supports local suppliers and communities, promoting sustainable tourism practices in accordance with the Sámi Tourism Code of Ethics.

How much does it cost to stay in Northern Lights Village?

I wasn’t initially committed to staying at the Northern Lights Village. I researched the best options in the area, aiming for something not overly expensive. When I found out about their promotional stay, I thought it was a fantastic deal – and it truly was! For the whole 3 days and 2 nights package – stay in cozy aurora cabin, delicious full-board meals, and thrilling activities like the husky safari – we paid just 1,376 euros for three people (or 28,700 pesos per person).

Inclusions:

  • Accommodation in a glass-roof Aurora Cabin
  • Roundtrip shared shuttle from Ivalo Airport to Northern Lights Village
  • Full board meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
  • Thermal clothing throughout the stay
  • Complimentary usage of cross-country skis and snowshoes
  • Complimentary usage of plastic toboggans
  • Reindeer Express (25m)
  • Husky Safari (10km)
sunset view at Northern Lights Village

Cost Comparison: Booking Individually vs. Package Deal

I’m not usually a fan of package deals because sometimes the inclusions aren’t relevant, and I often find that I can save more money by booking things individually. However, this was not the case at the Northern Lights Village. I compared the cost of booking things separately versus getting the package, and the package proved to be the most budget-friendly option.

For reference, a two-night stay with free breakfast and dinner already costs 838 euros for three people. The Husky Safari (10 km) is 159 euros per person, while the Reindeer Express is 79 euros per person. The one-way airport ride from Ivalo Airport to the Northern Lights Village is 20 euros per person, and the lunch buffet is 25 euros per person. So, the total would be 1,897 euros, which means a savings of over 500 euros for you!

ItemCost per personCost for 2Cost for 3
Stay & Dine (2-night stay with breakfast and dinner)638 euros (good for two)
838 euros (good for three)
638 euros 838 euros
Husky Safari (10 km)159 euros318 euros477 euros
Reindeer Express (25m)79 euros158 euros237 euros
RT airport transfer (Ivalo Airport → Northern Lights Village)40 euros80 euros120 euros
Lunch buffet25 euros * 3 days150 euros225 euros
Total (Booking Individually)1,344 euros1,897 euros
Package Deal999 euros1,376 euros
Savings345 euros521 euros
Northern Lights Village Saariselkä – 3 days and 2 nights package (based on 2024 rates)

Comparing Other Resorts to Northern Lights Village

I also compared the costs with other resorts in Saariselkä, looking at daily rates, inclusions, and activities offered. Most were more expensive than the promotional offer by Northern Lights Village. Considering the exceptional reviews of the resort, I decided to book with them, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I made on this trip.

Considering that rates can change and various factors might influence costs, it’s best to do your own cost comparison to find the resort that suits your needs. To help with your trip planning, I’ve included links to other highly-rated resorts in Saariselkä. Click the links below to check their rates and availability.

Aurora Collection
Address: 2 Koivutie, Inari, Inari, Finland
Distance from Ivalo Airport: 26 kilometers (20-minute drive)

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort
Address: Kakslauttanen , Sodankyla, Sodankyla, Finland
Distance from Ivalo Airport: 37 kilometers (27-minute drive)

Wilderness Hotel & Igloos Inari
Address: Inarintie 2, Inari, Inari, Finland
Distance from Ivalo Airport: 34.8 kilometers (40 minute drive)

Star Arctic Hotel
Address: Ylämajantie 1, Inari, Inari, Finland
Distance from Ivalo Airport: 28 kilometers (22-minute drive)

Aurora Village Ivalo
Address: Aurorakuja, Inari, Inari, Finland
Distance from Ivalo Airport: 13.1 kilometers (15 minute drive)

How to get to Northern Lights Village?

To organize a trip to Lapland independently, start by finding the best route. Lapland isn’t the most accessible from the Philippines, so planning your flights ahead of time is crucial. Many tour providers offer trips to Lapland, but with a bit of research and planning, you can plan your adventure and save some money along the way. My friends and I managed to snag a promo fare with Air India from Singapore to Copenhagen (November 2023). Since there are no direct flights from Copenhagen to Ivalo Airport, the nearest airport to Saariselkä, we booked a flight Helsinki instead. If you are coming from the US, Asia, or other parts of Europe, here are the general steps to get to Saariselkä:

  1. International Flight: You’ll first need to fly into an international airport in Finland, such as Helsinki-Vantaa Airport (HEL).
  2. Domestic Flight to Ivalo: From Helsinki, you can take a domestic flight to Ivalo Airport (IVL). Several airlines operate flights between Helsinki and Ivalo, with a flight time of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.
  3. Land Transportation: Once you arrive at Ivalo Airport, you can take a taxi, shuttle bus, or rent a car to travel to Saariselkä. The journey takes around 30 minutes by car or taxi.

Our Northern Lights Village Experience

Day 1 – Arrival in Saariselkä

After spending a day in Helsinki, we took a flight to Ivalo Airport (one-way airfare was only 77.80 euros). Our package included an airport pickup arranged by Northern Lights Village. Upon landing, the staff greeted us with a sign, and we rode to the village in a small shuttle bus. During the scenic 30-minute drive, I felt so blessed to be able to visit this part of the world, above the Arctic Circle no less. At that point, I already knew that only amazing things awaited us in the village.

Checking in at Northern Lights Village

Upon arrival, we spent the morning at the reception area, which also houses the buffet restaurant. We enjoyed a breakfast buffet featuring Finnish staples like pickled herring, smoked salmon, and a make-your-own salad bar with top-quality ingredients. Even though we hadn’t checked in yet, we were able to enjoy both the breakfast and lunch buffets free of charge.

At around 12 noon, our rooms were ready, which was 2 hours before the usual check-in time. I was thrilled with the entire check-in process because sleeping in the aurora cabin is an attraction in itself. The whole place was covered in pristine white snow, and the weather was perfect. This was exactly what I had envisioned!

Due to the high snow levels, we were provided with a wooden sleigh to transport our luggage to our cabin. For those who rented a car, they could pull up right next to their cabin to unload their bags. As for us, since we are relying on public transportation to get around Finland, we had to push our luggage this way. Nonetheless, no complaints, as this wooden sleigh is very easy to maneuver.

Our Aurora Cabin

The aurora cabin was just what I hoped for – well-appointed and perfectly secluded on the edge of the forest. It was well-heated; despite the coldest temperature dropping to -16°C, we stayed comfortably warm inside. Our room had a double bed for two and a sofa bed for a third guest. The bathroom was spacious. It’s basic but perfectly functional with a shower and unlimited hot water. This isn’t five-star luxury, but it doesn’t need to be. It was cozy, comfortable, and has everything we needed. The real luxury here is lying in bed, warm and snug, while watching the northern lights dance overhead.

Our aurora cabin was equipped with laser-heated sky windows. With just the tap of a button, we can keep the glass roof clear of snow and enjoy an unobstructed view of the sky.

Under the starry sky, our glass-roofed cabin offers a front-row seat to the dancing auroras. What a dreamy night in Finnish Lapland!

Afternoon visit at Saariselkä Ski & Sport Resort

On day 1, we had nothing planned in terms of trips or experiences. We preferred to unwind on the day of arrival, especially since we had been up since 2am for our flight to Ivalo Airport. After unpacking and sharing a room tour on my Instagram, my friends and I took the bus to Saariselkä Ski & Sport Resort. Although we didn’t take ski lessons, we bought ski lift passes, which might seem ridiculous. However, this ski resort allows tourists to ride the ski lift and enjoy some sightseeing. It turned out to be a super fun and enjoyable experience.

Saariselkä Ski & Sport Resort allows non-skiers to access the slopes via the ski lift, providing another great way to see Saariselka from the top. Non-skiers can purchase a round-trip ski pass for only 13 euros.

The view from the ski lift on top of the mountain was amazing! I would definitely recommend this to anyone who don’t really ski and just want to go sightseeing.

Day 2 – My Birthday in Northern Lights Village

Our second day in Finnish Lapland was blessed with great weather. Despite the super cold temperatures (-15 degrees Celsius), it was the perfect day for some outdoor activities.

Reindeer Express (25 minutes)

Experiencing a reindeer sled ride is a must if you’re visiting Lapland in winter. After a brief meeting with the reindeer handler, my friends and I nestled into the back of a sled, wrapped in warm hides and blankets. Soon, we were gliding silently through the snowy forest, accompanied only by the gentle sound of reindeer steps and the sled sliding over the snow. It was a magical, serene experience that truly captured the essence of Lapland.

Husky Safari (10 kilometers)

After lunch, it was time for one of my most anticipated activities on this trip – the husky safari! This excursion is a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list item that I was able to check off. On my birthday! Crazy, right? Anyway, taking charge of a team of excited dogs as they run at full speed through the snow-covered forests surrounding the Northern Lights Village is an experience like no other. My bestie and I teamed up, and I was the designated driver. I will create a separate post about this activity, so stay tuned!

The First Sight of Northern Lights

Just when I thought this day couldn’t get any better, the aurora borealis appeared. On my birthday. What really surprised and delighted me was that the aurora dances. I had seen time-lapse videos which showed the northern lights moving, but I thought it did so slowly. I didn’t think you could watch it move with your bare eyes. I was wrong. I stood there in awe as it slowly and sensuously danced across the sky. It was glorious! Truly a dream come true to see the aurora borealis.

Day 3 – Last Day in Northern Lights Village

On day 3, we relaxed and enjoyed a leisurely day. We strolled through the forest, took coffee breaks, and savored our meals until our check-out time of 12 PM. The best part is that they allow you to stay past the check-out time and use their amenities and restaurant. We were able to linger and hang out by the buffet restaurant, chatting with the Filipino staff (yes, there are Filipino workers in the village!), until around 12:30 PM. We then availed the shuttle service to Saariselka center at around 1 PM, where we took the bus to Rovaniemi, our next destination in Finnish Lapland.

Tips Before Traveling to Finnish Lapland

When to See the Northern Lights in Finnish Lapland?

The best time to see the northern lights in Finnish Lapland is from late August to early April. During these months, the long, dark nights and clear skies provide ideal conditions for aurora borealis sightings. The peak viewing period is typically from September to March, when the nights are longest. For the best experience, it’s recommended to stay for at least a few days to increase your chances of witnessing this natural phenomenon, as the lights can be elusive and are dependent on both weather and solar activity.

How to See the Northern Lights in Finnish Lapland?

The northern lights are a natural phenomenon, and while they can be predicted to some extent, there are no guarantees. During our trip, I used the Aurora app to check the likelihood of seeing the northern lights and the best time to go outside. However, it’s important not to rely on this app completely. Even if it indicates a low probability of aurora activity, there’s still a chance of seeing the aurora. This was the case during our trip to Saariselkä. The app showed a very low probability, but we were lucky to witness the aurora multiple times on a single night. Here are more tips to help you:

  1. Find a dark place: Light pollution can obscure the northern lights, so head to a location away from city lights.
  2. Check the weather: Clear skies are essential for viewing the auroras, so monitor the weather forecast and choose a night with minimal cloud cover. Additionally, it’s advisable to avoid full moon, as the brightness of the moon can diminish the visibility of the aurora. Check the Moon Phase calendar before booking your trip.  
  3. Stay up late: The northern lights are usually most active late at night, often between 10 PM and 2 AM local time, though this can vary. However, try your luck and look for them as soon as it’s dark outside. We did see the aurora borealis as early as 8 PM in Saariselkä!
  4. Consider photography tours: If you’re unfamiliar with the area or want expert guidance, consider joining a guided tour led by experienced aurora hunters. In Finnish Lapland, there are several photographers who conduct these tours. Check them out in Instagram – Louis-Charles Buyck, Aurora Hunting, Jasim Sarker, Nikita Mityagin, and Aki Mikkola.
woman standing in the snow path of Northern Lights Village

Can you see the northern lights without a tour?

Joining an aurora hunting tour is optional. While these tours can increase your chances of seeing the northern lights, especially with guides who know the best viewing spots and conditions, you can also see the auroras on your own. If you stay at places like Northern Lights Village in Finnish Lapland, you might have great views right from your accommodation.

My friends and I were unable to book aurora tours with the photographers I mentioned earlier, so we opted for a DIY aurora hunt at the village. We managed to take some good photos ourselves. However, if I were to do the trip again, I would book the tour well in advance. These photographers capture stunning images of the aurora borealis, and having such photos as souvenirs would be fantastic.

What to Pack for a Winter Trip in Finnish Lapland?

Packing for a winter trip in Finnish Lapland requires thoughtful preparation to stay warm and comfortable in the extreme cold. Pack thermal base layers, wool or fleece sweaters, insulated winter jacket and pants (should be waterproof and windproof), and wool socks. Don’t forget to bring waterproof, insulated boots with good grip, warm hat, scarf, thermal gloves or mittens, and sunglasses.

Note: Northern Lights Village provides complimentary use of thermal clothing and snowshoes. They’re not the most fashionable, so feel free to bring your own if you want to.

How cold is it in Finnish Lapland?

Lapland winters can be very cold, with temperatures often ranging from -10°C to -30°C. However, the cold is manageable with proper clothing and preparation. During the coldest months, typically January and February, it’s especially important to dress in layers and wear thermal clothing to stay warm. During our trip, the typical temperature we experienced ranged from -12°C to -16°C, with the lowest being -20°C on the day we arrived in Saariselkä.

Staying Connected (eSIM)

I used to rely on pocket WiFi on my previous trips, but since discovering the convenience of eSIMs in 2022, I’ve made the switch. I’ve tried several eSIM brands, but the one that stood out the most was Holafly eSIM. It was my reliable companion throughout our trip 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.

Pack Some Extra Batteries and a Power Bank

In the extremely cold temperatures, batteries may not perform as efficiently. I brought a camera on this trip, so I packed some extra batteries to make sure I will have enough power to capture Finnish Lapland’s stunning landscapes. I also brought a power bank for my iPhone, as I know that the cold will deplete the battery quickly.

Final Thoughts

My stay at Northern Lights Village was everything I hoped for and more. I read reviews from people who had stayed in the village and it seemed like they had completely unrealistic expectations, thinking the aurora would just appear every night. Some even said they wasted money because they did not see the aurora, which I found a bit much. For me, seeing the northern lights was simply a bonus to an already amazing experience – just the icing on the cake of our trip. Finnish Lapland isn’t just about the northern lights; it offers a lot of amazing things to see and experience.

Being able to travel to Finnish Lapland is a huge accomplishment for me, and I don’t take it for granted at all. I am forever grateful for everything that has led me here. Some people might feel like it’s too much to spend 600 euros (or 36,400 pesos)* for 3 days, but for me, it was so much more than that. So, was it a value-for-money trip? it’s a big yes because how do you put a monetary value on such an experience?

*I will be selling my excel sheets with my actual budget and expenses soon! This is super useful for trip planning and budgeting! ^_^

I hope this post has inspired you! I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments or reach out on my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

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.