Earlier this year I was lucky enough to spend some time in Finland thanks to the Nordic Bloggers Experience. I was SO excited about this trip because I’d never really been anywhere that could qualify as a winter wonderland. Well, not since I was a kid at least. I wanted to dress up in all my winter gear, dive into the snow and do all those things that come to mind when you think of the fairytale winter. I wanted postcard-perfect pictures. And I got all of that and more during my visit to Ruka Kussamo in Finnish Lapland. It was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited and I didn’t even get to see half of what it has to offer. I’m going to tell you about my favourite things to do in Ruka Kuusamo and hopefully they’ll convince you to add Finnish Lapland to your bucketlist. Ooooo and I have a video for you too, after I’m done with all my talking!
Things to do in Ruka Kuusamo, Finnish Lapland
(A.K.A Winter Wonderland)
– Erä-Susi Nature Safaris
I LOVED THIS PLACE SO MUCH. I cannot overstate this enough. If you like dogs (who doesn’t) then this is your dream location. Erä-susi has over 200 sledgedogs. They are Alaskan and Siberian huskies as well as mixed breeds and they are all stunning. But it’s not just huskies, they also have reindeer (and sheep and ducks etc)! I fell in love with the rare white reindeer, such a beauty. Oh and God help you if you happen to visit when they have puppies, your heart will melt. It’s the perfect place to do a husky safari. Or, if you’re there during the summer they offer a bunch of different activities. This will be the highlight of your trip to Finnish Lapland for sure.
– Learn to Ski
I’ve been MEANING to learn how to ski for years but I just haven’t had the chance. So I was lucky that this trip included a skiing lesson. I thought I was going to hate it, but then it turned out I was a bit of a natural (if I do say so myself). The best thing about learning to ski in Ruka Kuusamo Finland is that the slopes aren’t very big, so it’s not as intimidating as other ski resorts in the world. Plus the aprés ski is fantastic – treat yourself to a fondue and a minttukaakao (hot mint liqueur chocolate drink). I learned to ski at Ruka ski resort.
– Ice-Climbing in Ruka
This is one for my adventurous readers. It’s hard and a bit scary, but it’s definitely worth trying. I will say that I wouldn’t be ready to try it again unless I had someone that I actually knew and trusted doing it with me. The instructor was great but we (the beginners) had to basically feed the rope to each other, and that didn’t work out for me. I fell (not a big fall). I had a few bruises, but no big deal. I even made it on the national news. It was definitely less scary than the time I abseiled down the waterfall in Sri Lanka. If you’re looking for an adrenaline fix make sure to talk to the guys at Outdoor Passion Finland.
– Sauna Yoga
This was such a cool experience. I love yoga (it helps my messed up lower back), and on this trip I realised that I love saunas, so this was perfect for me. You do most of the poses sitting down, but it’s quite intense due to the heat. Definitely one of the most unique things to do in Ruka Kuusamo.
– Snow Shoeing in Oulanka National Park
When we visited there actually wasn’t too much powder to snow-shoe through but we strapped the snow-shoes on anyways and went tramping through the park for the experience. It was a lot more tiring than I expected. The park is absolutely stunning though with picturesque cabins and hanging bridges over frozen rivers. Oulanka National Park was named as one of Europe’s top national parks by Lonely Planet.
– Sauna Safari
If you don’t have a lot of time and want to get very familiar with the Finnish sauna culture then I highly recommend this. Usually one is completely naked during any sauna experience in Finland. However, I was the only girl with a group of guys so I wasn’t really FEELING the naked sauna experiece. BUT if you want to read about what a proper naked sauna experience is like check out my friend Amélie’s article about visiting Vabali Spa Berlin and getting super naked. Now, about that sauna safari. You’ll be taken to visit an ice sauna, smoke sauna and warm outdoor sauna. They even feed you delicious Finnish snacks. Sweat away all your troubles on this chilled out tour. This is one of the most relaxing things to do in Finnish Lapland. You can check out their website here for details.
Ok, so you can do this in a lot of different areas in Finland, BUT the best ice-dip I found in Finland was in Ruka Kuusamo. What’s an ice-dip? It’s when you sit in the sauna until you are absolutely dripping with sweat, then you run and jump into the freezing cold water of a nearby lake or pool or sea. It’s meant to boost your circulation and lead to all sorts of health benefits. I definitely felt incredible after trying it.
– Arctic River Swimming
Who wouldn’t want to swim in a freezing cold river dressed like an astronaut?! Trust me, it’s a lot of fun and you really don’t feel the cold. Ok, well maybe in your hands a little, but nowhere else. And I’m one of those people that gets cold super easily. Floating down a river in a winter wonderland is an exquisite feeling. It should 100% be on anyone’s list of things to do in Ruka Kuusamo.
The Practical Stuff
– Where to Stay in Ruka Kuusamo
So, while you’re out exploring the beautiful wilderness that is Ruka Kuusamo you’ll need to have the perfect place to come back to. There’s two places that I can highly recommend. The first is Isokenkäisten Klubi, a beautiful family-run inn which consists of log cabins in the forest, tucked away from the world. Katia and Sirpa are sisters and are always there to make you feel comfortable and introduce you to the beauty of Finland. They say that they are actually 100 years old but sauna is why they look so young. I would go back there with my family in an instant. They also have the best spot to ice-dip out the back of their hotel. The second is the Ski Inn in Ruka village. It was a great location for skiing and tryings many of the activities on my list of things to do in Ruka Kuusamo. Each room has its own sauna in the bathroom (normal in Finland, but luxurious in my opinion).
– How to Get There
You can fly from Helsinki to Ruka Kuusamo with Finnair. The flight takes 1hr 15mins. You can also drive from Helsinki to Ruka Kuusamo but it takes nearly 10hrs. With all those things to do up in Ruka I don’t recommend you wasting your time driving up there. What are you waiting for? Catch that flight!
** NBE Finland and Ruka Kuusamo Tourism hosted me during my stay in Finnish Lapland. However, as always, all opinions are my own.