170km north of the Arctic Circle is the little winter resort town of Levi – our base for this Lapland holiday. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, it is picture postcard perfect and although it is Finland’s most famous ski resort, we found it quiet, calm and just the best place to chill and relax before Christmas. An added bonus for us was the main airport at Kitilla is fifteen minutes drive away, no long transfers, straight off the plane and straight into all kinds of snowy fun. There are stacks of activities available here, everything from snowmobiling to husky sledging, it is a downhill ski resort but the area around the town is relatively flat so we saw plenty of cross country skiers out and about as well.
Levi experiences the polar night when the sun doesn’t rise in late December. We were there earlier in the month so did have a few hours of daylight. Most nights during our visit the skies were clear and we found after sunset, rather than being pitch black the sky had a bluey twilight effect which is just magical. The sun rose at 10am and set around 1.30pm every day, quite a strange feeling but it made me realise we were in an unusual and special place.
Unsurprisingly this town is so well equipped for those low temperatures and short days. The slopes and pistes are floodlit and the accommodation, shops and restaurants are all toasty inside.
Plenty of lovely restaurants around too with various offerings to suit all budgets and tastes – most though do serve a lot of fish and reindeer. We ate out a handful of times, a half-board package at the hotel and the hassle of getting everyone togged up in multiple layers to trek through the snow meant we took the easier option mostly of dining at the hotel. When we did venture out though we were definitely not disappointed. Cute, quirky restaurants full of charm and character are the order of the day here, not a chain in sight.
They say there is a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Levi during the winter months. Maybe so, however three visits later and we have yet to experience this phenomenon…
Skiing and snowboarding are popular here – it’s a great intermediate and beginner resort although it does have a World Cup black run too. Husband and I have skied here twice, it suited us down to the ground, not least the instructors who (in my opinion) are second to none and far preferable to experiences we’ve had in the Alps. We didn’t ski on this trip, no time and far too many other things to do one of which was sledging.
This was a daily thing, every evening and some afternoons we set off, grabbed a sledge and hours of fun were had. No need to buy or acquire your own here, there are sledges lying around by the roadside and close to the slopes. You just take one, use it and then leave it when you’ve finished for someone else. We never found a shortage and discovered they were handy too for transporting shopping and even tired small children around. The slopes were pretty much empty of skiiers and snowboarders by around 6pm so sledging took over from then on.
Kids Land at the side of Levi Fell was one of our favourite spots. As well as offering ski lessons here, there were three or four wooden cabins with free of charge children’s activities going on every day. There is also a gentle and safe slope and loads of interesting sledges of different types to try out. Add to that snowshoes (large and mini sizes), small snowboards and stacks of snow toys mixed with music playing on loudspeakers and you have the most fun and atmospheric place to spend the afternoon with children.
Plenty of cute as can be shops selling no end of tempting souvenirs and high quality items – I was happy with that, a bowling alley where we spent a great evening and Levi had just about everything we could have wanted – we all agreed it was the most perfect winter resort.