The last segment of our trip was to another small town in Lapland called Levi. It’s only about an hour from Yllas, so we drove there after our visit to the snow hotel. While I didn’t care to sleep in a snow hotel, I was keen to try out one of the glass huts. There are several different glass huts around the region and as the name suggests, they are basically glass roofed hotel rooms. Unsurprisingly, they are not cheap, so I shopped around a bit before deciding on the Northern Lights Huts in Levi, which are pretty new and the cheapest I could find in the region.
It was a great choice! It’s located on a reindeer farm about 20 minutes away from Levi town. There’s 10 glass huts on the property and we had one booked for 2 nights. The huts are very new and really nice on the inside, so it was nice to relax for a little bit after a busy day of dogsledding. We returned to town for supper, but otherwise had a chill evening.
My primary motivation in booking the hut was as a last ditch attempt to make it easy to see the northern lights. Fortunately, we’d already seen them 4 nights in a row by then, so it removed a lot of the pressure. The geomagnetic storm was winding down and the KP was back around 2-3 for our last two nights, so I wasn’t sure if we would see them. On the first night it was pretty cloudy and we didn’t see anything before bed. The app said the clouds would clear around midnight, so I set an alarm and we woke up at midnight and could see them from our bed! So it ended up working out nicely because I definitely would not have trudged down to the lake in Akaslompolo at midnight, but it was nice to wake up and watch them inside for a bit and then go back to sleep.
On our last full day in Lapland we had planned a second skiing day. Levi resort is bigger than Yllas and fortunately the wind storm had moved on and the entire resort was open! While Yllas only had two faces to access the mountain, Levi had at least 4. There are two main lifts, one from Levi town and one from the south face, which is where we opted to start. Levi was busier than Yllas, so it took a while to get our rentals, but after that there was a lot of terrain to choose from.
I recall there being at least 3 chair lifts and 1 gondola, but pretty much all the other lifts were T-bars and there must have been at least a dozen of them! The mountain is completely bare on top, so you can pretty much ski down it in any direction. Each T-bar only services about 2-3 runs, so we slowly made our way around the mountain. The terrain was simple enough that we could ski any run on the mountain, so we just explored as much as we could. It’s a very different experience than skiing in Canada, but I enjoyed it more than Yllas.
We had lunch at a small restaurant on the east side of the mountain, but my favourite skiing terrain was on the west side. While the temperatures had been between -10 to -20 degrees celsius when we arrived in Rovaniemi, it had warmed up a lot over the week and it was around 0 degrees when we skied Levi. It felt much warmer and it even starting to feel a bit like Spring. There was no fresh powder on either mountain that we skied, but because it’s generally cold and dry in Lapland, neither mountain was icy.
We discovered a pancake restaurant in Levi that I was excited to try for dinner on our last night. So we enjoyed some giant savoury pancakes before retiring to our hut for the evening. The KP was only 2 on the last night, so I wasn’t expecting much even though it was clear, but the aurora treated us a real show! I guess because we’re so far north, you can still get a very active sky, even with a low KP.
At first the lights seemed pretty normal and similar to other nights, but around 9 or 10pm they got incredibly active and despite having the glass roof, I couldn’t resist going outside to photograph them. The lights were pulsing from horizon to horizon and we couldn’t catch the full scope of them from inside. It was probably the second best night we’d seen them and it was a real treat to witness them swirling across the sky one last time. Seth had kind of gotten over the allure by that point, but the northern lights captivated me every single night I saw them. I admit I got a little obsessed and since I returned home, I’ve been plotting when I can see them again.
The aurora goes through cycles throughout the night, but they also go through larger cycles throughout time. We’re currently heading into a period of increased geomagnetic activity for the next few years, so it should be easier to see them over the next 5 years, so if there’s ever been a time to plan an aurora trip, this is it!
Our last day in Finland was pretty boring. We enjoyed our buffet breakfast at the hotel and then drove two hours back to Rovaniemi to catch our flight. One thing we learned is that the Finns all have a secret sweet tooth and eat a lot of candy and chocolate. Finnish chocolate is really creamy and delicious, so we stopped by the grocery store on the way back to stock up. We had an uneventful flight back to Helsinki and returned to Katie’s apartment for our last night.
Katie took us to a ramen restaurant for our last meal and we spent an hour walking around the city before returning to her place for one last sauna session. She’s scheduled to finish her degree before the end of the year, but she’s also planning to stay in Helsinki and look for work, so who knows, we might be back again in the future.
Finland is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you’re planning a holiday, much less a winter holiday, but I really loved it. The aurora certainly made it memorable, but even without the aurora, it’s a cool place and I liked a lot of their progressive policies. I would definitely come back in the winter to chase the aurora again – I’m not sure I’d visit Lapland in the summer, but I’d consider returning to Helsinki in the summer and maybe tack on a visit to Norway or Sweden to do some hiking. Overall we had a great trip and would definitely recommend!