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Saariselkä Ski Resort Guide

Saariselkä, Finland

Rated: 3/5 (from 6 ratings)

Ski Area Highlights
Recommended ForBeginners, Snowboarders, Snowfall and Apres-Ski!
Highest Lift440m1,444ft
Resort Height265m869ft
 Nearest AirportIvalo
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Saariselkä is a popular year-round holiday village which offers a unique selection of activities to visitors. These include canoeing trips on the Ivalojoki river which was famous for gold-panning in the past - and you can still give it a try yourselves. Santa Claus' village is not far and the Northern Lights are often visible. There's also more gold - this time mining for it and the Igloo Village at nearby Kakslauttanen. Trips are organised up to see the Arctic Ocean and to the nearby igloo village at Kakslauttanen (10km / 6 miles away). Part of the Urho Kekkonen National Park, named after Finland's former president. A free bus service links the resort to the lifts. Saariselkä is the northernmost winter sports centre in Finland, 250 km (approx. 160 miles) above the Arctic Circle. Excursions are organised to the Arctic Ocean


The Finnish ski resort of Saariselkä is at an altitude of 265m869ft.

Saariselkä has direct access to 11 marked pistes, served by a total of 6 ski lifts.

Snow cover is generally reliable due to the Scandinavian climate..

Snow and Weather

When will it snow in Saariselkä?

The next notable snow forecast is 7cm3in, expected on 3 October.

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Snow this week

Snow Forecast by day for Saariselkä

Ski Area Stats

Saariselkä Ski Area

Piste and Lift Stats
Black Pistes
Expert Trails
Red Pistes
Intermediate Runs
Blue Pistes
Easy Trails
Cross Country
Total Length
230km143 miles
Ski Lifts
Number of Lifts


Saariselkä Ski Area Heights

Lift Heights and Resort Altitude
Highest Lift440m1,444ft
Resort Altitude (Saariselkä)265m869ft
Lowest Piste260m853ft

Ratings & Suitability

Ratings for Saariselkä
Expert Skiers
Intermediate Skiers

Saariselkä Overview

Saariselkä is a popular year-round holiday village which offers a unique selection of activities to visitors. It is located in the heart of Lapland, a semi-autonomous region which stretches across northern Scandinavia and is home to the Sami people. The resort is in the province of Ivalo on the eastern side of Finland, which continues on to the Russian border. Saariselkä is the northernmost winter sports centre in Finland, 250 km (approx. 160 miles) above the Arctic Circle and a similar distance from the Arctic Ocean to the north. This makes it Finland's and one of the world's most northerly ski resorts. But it is conveniently located just 20 minutes drive from Ivalo airport.

Most visitors find the vast wilderness area surrounding the resort stunningly beautiful, with low hills or fells covered in pine forest frozen in suspended animation by temperatures which typically hover a few degrees below zero in the winter, although they can drop to 20 or 30 degrees below. The locals are well prepared for such cold temperatures however, with thermal wear loaned out and a lovely snug feeling once you're indoors.

The clear 'blue light' and horizontal winter sunshine is particularly magical. The sense that the wilderness continues on, uninterrupted, up toward the North Pole, gives an exciting feeling of being in a very different type of ski resort to the typical Alpine village for many guests. The area has a higher population of reindeer than people and again most guests enjoy meeting these peaceable creatures.

Saariselkä is within the Urho Kekkonen National Park named after Finland's former president. It was once home to legions of gold panners after the precious metal was discovered in the Ivalojoki river, the huts they built are still to be seen in a few remote locations. The first gold claim in Saariselkä was made in 1871 and the first gold rush began. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries a second, larger gold rush began and Saariselkä came in to being. In 1902 the Prospektor gold mining company began work to cart trail from the resort and the first cars arrived in 1914.

Development as a tourism destination is relatively new with the resort planned in the mid-1960's and the first modern restaurants and hotels opening in the 1970s. In 1978 Kiilokappeli-chapel was built and the National Park was created on May 5th 1983.

Given the northerly latitude there is of course a good chance of seeing the northern lights. With short winter days those chances are even greater.

In common with other northern resorts, downhill skiing and boarding is one of a selection of winter sports and activities available but not the dominant one. Guests are equally likely to go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or dog sledding as downhill skiing. Indeed cross country skiing is far more popular.

Saariselkä itself is made up of low lying hotels and other buildings, varying between cosy little shops and cafes to a few giant eateries and nightclub that are the norm in Scandinavia's major resorts in order to accommodate sometimes big lively get togethers.

British winter tourism to Saariselkä has been organised by Headwater Holidays (www.headwater.com) for several years and is now also offered by Inghams.

 Notable Ski Runs

The most difficult run is the 'Lunnirinne'.


Saariselkä has a small downhill ski area which is best suited to beginners and early intermediates. It is a five minute (one kilometre) bus ride from the resort centre and unusual the bus can drop you at the base or the top of the slopes, 180 vertical metres apart.

There are six slow lifts, five are T bars, one a double chairlift serving a dozen runs, five of them floodlit for the short winter days. These are divided in to two separate areas, on each side of the road at the lower end which you will need to remove your skis to cross, further up the road ends but there's a flat area to pole or walk across.

The ski runs total 10km (six miles), the longest 1.3km (a mile) long. Few provide any real challenge although there is a black and some powder between the runs, which tends to stay in good shape for long periods due to the low temperatures often slowing crust formation. There can also be good tree skiing if you have a guide. Most of the runs begin gently on the flattish tops of the two fells, Kaunispaa and Iisakipää then fall away more quickly a third of the way down. There is an excellent terrain park, reputed to be Finland's largest.

If you get cold you'll find a welcoming bar at the base of the lifts and a good panoramic restaurant at the top. The ski hire facility is also very good and conveniently located right by he lifts.

Cross country skiing is a major activity at Saariselkä which has a network of 220km of trails, 30km of which are floodlit for night skiing. A regular free ski bus links key points on the trails and local villages making one way excursions easy to organise.

Saariselkä offers good sking, particularly, for Beginner skiers.


Boarders will have fun on the excellent terrain park, which claims to be Finland's largest and features an impressive half pipes and lots of jumps. The chairlift makes it easier to get up if you're not keen on boarding up on the T Bar.

Saariselkä's laid back atmosphere and rocking night spots also appeals to most boarders.

Location and Map

Where is Saariselkä?

This ski resort is in Inari, Pohjois-Lappi, Finland.


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How to get there

 By Air

The nearest airport to Saariselkä is Ivalo, 27 minutes drive away.


Ski Lift Capacity

The six ski lifts are able to uplift 6,500 skiers and snowboarders every hour.

Snow Making

Snow-making is available, on 10km6 miles of ski runs, with 5 snow cannons.

Season Dates

When is Saariselkä open?

We don't currently have confirmed season dates, but hope to soon.

Usual opening is early November, and usual closing is Early May.

NOTE:- Ski area, lift and piste opening is subject to Current Snow Conditions.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus

We don't yet have specific details of the COVID-19 precautions being taken in Saariselkä, but they are likely to include most of the following :-

  • Face masks required on lifts, and in shops.
  • Social distancing in public areas.
  • Reduced lift capacity.
  • Extensive disinfection / sanitization.

French Ski Resort COVID-19 Measures describes further measures that may also be applied.

Visit the Saariselkä Tourist Office for the latest.

Talking about Saariselkä

Mentions in recent J2Ski News Items and Snow Reports from our users...

Aprés Ski

Apres can be lively in Saariselkä with partying guests typically picking one of the large hotel bar/nightclub complexes and spending the evening there.

The Gold Panner Bar, Guksui pub in the Holiday Club and Panimo are amongst the most popular.

There are three late night clubs including one in the Holiday Club. The Tunturi hotel has live music and dancing every night of the week and also offers billiards, roulette and blackjack. The Lutto pub has a good selection of beer and cider and is a good place to drop by and enjoy some rock music. There's karaoke Sunday to Tuesday evenings and billiards tables. The Kieppi has live music twice a week from a local band and a Sami evening once a week.