Image by Markus Kiili
We recently had the privilege of following none other than Carly Rae Jepsen to Finland, for a unique and unforgettable performance. Whilst there, she and we all fell in love with the peaceful landscape of the fabled Lapland.
Located above the Arctic Circle, the unspoiled wilderness that is the Finnish Lapland is decidedly remote and silent, yet is abuzz with visitors once winter arrives. In summer and autumn, it offers long days lit by the midnight sun, with a temperate climate, actually making it a year round destination. Over 70% of Finland is covered by forestry, with nature at one’s beckon – the world’s cleanest air making it the perfect life reset and recharge.
Here’s what we loved.
Levi is the largest ski and recreational resort in Finland, and lies 170 km north of the Arctic Circle. We soaked up the majestic scenery of the mountains and lakes, as we hiked through the forest and foraged for wild superfoods – that could at any time include cloudberries, lingonberries, chanterelles and porcini mushrooms – which are all free for the taking.
During the summer there are 45 days of 24 hour daylight, which culminates in a crescendo of golden hues of yellow, red and caramel in autumn. The Aurora Borealis Northern Lights show starts around mid-August and lasts through early April, and can be witnessed on any clear night. The dancing cosmic display is as dramatic and breathtaking as it is unpredictable.
We stayed at the luxurious Levi Spirit, designed as sprawling log cabin villas, with a modern Nordic decor and luxuriously appointed amenities. Situated in the middle of a forest, we appreciated how the floor to ceiling windows virtually brought nature indoors, especially as you’re cozying up by the fireplace or indulging in your ensuite hot and steamy Finnish sauna or jacuzzi – which tops out at over 110 degrees celsius.
The restaurant served Lappish and international fare with a view, specifically a 360 degrees one of the surrounding fells and plains of Lapland.
Consisting of two authentic Lappish villages surrounded by seven fells, Yllas is a gateway to one of Finland’s most famous national parks, Pallas-Yllastunturi. We explored the park by hiking and following the trail alongside the waterfall, where it’s not uncommon to see reindeer strolling along beside you. We ended the day with an authentic Finnish sauna experience, followed by a quick frigid dip in Lake Akaslompolo, for the ultimate hot/cold experience.
Perfectly located at the base of one of the gondola lifts in Yllasjarvi is the Lapland Hotels’ Saga, which offers magnificent and changing views of the landscape depending on the time of day and year from its vantage point of 1000 feet above sea level. Our room featured contemporary Finnish decor, with a private balcony overlooking the slopes, and we warmed up from the outdoors by the fireplace. There are also spa and sauna facilities on site.
We tasted traditional Sami and Lappish dishes at the cozy Restaurant Rouhe, which uses locally sourced ingredients for a seasonally changing menu. Some of the local specialties included sautéed reindeer with lingonberries, braised lamb shank in a rich blackcurrent sauce, and oven roasted arctic char and pike perch.
Ruka is a stunningly beautiful ski resort – but it was very much about where we were staying. Indeed, Rukan Salonki Chalets offers charming lakeside log cabins in the middle of Lappish nature, with decor created from locally sourced materials, embodying the spirit of Lapland, with the comforts of home and a few luxurious touches. Naturally, each chalet also came equipped with an ensuite sauna.
Perhaps our favorite meal of the trip, the fine dining spot Restaurant Rukan Kuksa offered a seasonally shifting menu created from the wild food and ingredients harvested around the Lapland. The atmosphere was chic but cozy.
But we couldn’t leave the Lapland without a Forest Yoga session with MyTrail, meditating atop a peak bathed in the warm light of the sunset under a canopy of birch trees. The majestic scenery of the verdant valley and rivers below made it a truly unforgettable experience.
Getting There by Finnair
The most convenient and luxurious way to travel to the Lapland from the US is via Finnair, which offers daily direct flights to Helsinki from JFK, with easy connections to destinations in the Lapland. Their Nordic Business Class represents all the best of that legendary Scandinavian hospitality (i.e. a lovely staff), with flat reclining seats, signature menus created by top Finnish chefs, a signature Finnish cocktail program (no more dull airplane vodka tonics), and, our favorite, the very fashionable Marimekko designed amenities kit.