In January 2019, my wife and I visited Saariselkä, deep within the Arctic Circle in Finland.
We planned to visit again in January 2021 but had to put this on hold due to the pandemic. This article is published on the second anniversary of our fascinating visit to Saariselkä.
Saariselkä map attribution: CC-BY_SA 2.0 OpenStreetMap
About Saariselkä and its people
Saariselkä, within the Arctic Circle is the most northerly ski resort in Finland. Saariselkä is in Sápmi, part of an area historically inhabited by the Sámi people who are an indigenous race found in Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Murmansk region in Russia.
The Sámi People
The Sámi are an Finno-Ugric people who speak several Sámi languages related to Finnish, Estonian and more distantly to Hungarian. While these are related languages, they are mutually unintelligible. The language with the most speakers is North Sámi and all the Sámi languages are endangered and some are on the brink of extinction.
To find out more about the Sámi people and their languages, I recommend an excellent article published by Ask the Mountains.
Sámi languages are spoken in the north of Europe in a cross-border region which includes Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. This region is generally called Sápmi – mostly by sámis, and is sometimes referred to as Lapland.
About our visit to Saariselkä
Neither of us are skiers, so we were a little apprehensive about visiting a ski resort. However, we love walking and were immediately enchanted by the friendliness of the people and the beauty of Finland.
We visited a working Sámi reindeer farm, where we had the chance to meet the reindeer herders and were able to observe them dressed in traditional costumes and also to find out more about the history and culture of these indigenous European people.
Photo Gallery One of Two – At the Reindeer Farm
How we got to Saariselkä
We travelled with the UK holiday company Inghams. I am not affiliated with Inghams but have no hesitation in giving them a plug here. They looked after us brilliantly and their representative was the best we had ever encountered.
We stayed for a week at the Holiday Club Saariselkä. The hotel could not do enough to make us welcome. To give you an idea of what the hotel and area are like, here are some photographs.
Photo Gallery Two of Two – Around the Area
Video: Coach ride back to Kittilä Airport
Watch the stunning views
A winter wonderland coach ride alongside the frozen lakes and pine forests of Finland. As the driver slows down, see the reindeer to the left side of the road!
This is a 3 minute video from a 3 hour journey.
A 3 hour transfer time may sound very long but this was a memorable highlight on which to end our time in Finland.