First of all I need to be pretty honest with you: Yllas or Akaslompolo as skiing-destinations have absolutely nothing compared to the skiing-destinations for example in the Alps. But this is only if you compare the alpine or downhill-skiing possibilities. And that is not the reason why Finns or Central-Europeans came to Akaslompolo. Read more and you will find out why people return here year after year.
I can try to summarize Yllas and especially Akaslompolo as following:
– Still very authentic place in Lapland
– With the right timing you can enjoy Lapland as you should – (almost) alone
– Beautiful nature all year round
– Nice trails for walking, cross-country skiing or reindeer/husky safaris
– Peaceful, quiet, different, relaxed
– Good chance to see Northern lights (in the winter)
– You can get a cabin for 4 persons starting from 60€ / night (check out offers in Booking.com)
It can be cold but it is extremely nice. This is pretty normal landscape when skiing in Lapland.
Which one to choose: Akaslompolo or Yllas?
This might be a bit confusing but there are actually two villages in the same area, they are just on different sides of Yllastunturi-fell. Yllas is more of a skiing-resort and Akaslompolo is more of a village of cottages. I would strongly recommend Akaslompolo to get the best experience.
The village is very small and perhaps not too beautiful. It basically has a big supermarket, some restaurants, few bars and a lot of cottages. On the other hand, everything you need is there and you are not spending your time in the village but in the surrounding nature and cottages.
What to do in Akaslompolo?
The calmness and quietness of the surrounding nature combined with pretty authentic cottage-accommodation is probably the biggest catch to travel to Lapland.
Nature up in the north is in fact amazing. In the winter it translates to tens and tens of kilometres of cross-county skiing tracks. The tracks go over frozen lakes, through pine forests, top off the hills and through the wilderness. Skiis can be rented with or without instruction lessons from the village. You can check the current price level f. ex. from here.
The nice thing is, there is a prize for doing the skiing. There are several rustic cafés (small huts that serve f.ex. coffee and pastries) besides the skiing tracks where you can enjoy a well-deserved break zipping coffee and warming yourself besides a cosy fireplace.
There are many nice cafes or huts if you go skiing or walking.
But you don’t need to do cross-country skiing to see the nature. You can just go walking or rent snow shoes. Many of the cafes are also accessible by foot. Other sporty things you might want to do include dog/reindeer sledging or renting a snow-jet.
One pretty exotic thing to do is to go hunting Northern Lights during the night. There are tours where a guide shows you the best places and you can find the agency selling them at the supermarket. But you can also see them on your own. The probabilities depend on many factors, but for example in January or February the chances are pretty high.
Chasing Northern Lights can be an experience in itself (we didn’t see lights this night but it was fun nevertheless).
Lapland is also a great place to visit in the summer or in the fall. In the summer you’ll witness the ”nightless night”, when the sun stays up the whole 24 hours. The only trouble especially in the beginning of the summer is the mosquitos – you’ve been warned! Fall is also a good time to visit. There are few tourists and the time when leafs change colours (ruska) is a beautiful time to enjoy the nordic landscape.
Skiing on ice. You can also just go walking or rent snow shoes.
You can also go downhill skiing in Yllas. A bit depending on the weather, it can also be extremely nice!
When to go?
During the high-season (which is the two weeks around Christmas and New Year) it might get pretty packed in Finnish standards. Also the weeks 8,9 and 10 and then around Eastern a lot of Finns are heading up north. During the peak-seasons also the prices of the cottages are higher.
I can strongly recommend that if you are looking for a great experience that you might remember for the rest of your life, go to Lapland during the weeks 3, 4, 5 or 6. You will have the place pretty much for yourself!
As you probably know you are going to experience a real winter here. It’s important to bring warm and comfortable clothes and shoes so that you will be able to enjoy the Finnish winter to the fullest. During winter the temperatures vary between -5 to -30. The scenery is the most beautiful when it’s really cold and also the northern lights can be spotted best when the weather is cold and clear.
You might think it is midnight. I think it was 4.30 in the afternoon.
How to get to Akaslompolo?
Since Lapland is in fact very far in the north, I would suggest flying. The prices for the flights might not be as pricy as you might think, especially if you are flying during the low season.
The most common route is to first fly to Helsinki and from there to city of Kittilä (about 30min from Akaslompolo). Check out the prices for the flights to Kittilä. There is a bus connection from Kittilä airport and the busses go according to the arriving flights (more info here).
Cottages and cabins in Akaslompolo
You should definitely rent a cottage if you heading to Lapland (nice hotelroom is also fine). The village is pretty small and pretty much everything is accessible by foot. Still you might want to have your cottage let’s say within three kilometers from the supermarket (which is kind of in the center of everything). Check out the accommodation from Booking.com.
During the low season it is ”rather” quiet.
Where to eat & drink?
As elsewhere there are two options when it comes to dining. You can choose to eat inside or outside. For eating outside there are a several options, but I’m recommending two restaurants, which we always go to.
A lot of people choose to stay inside in the warmth of the cottage and have a dinner by the fireplace. There is a big and well-equipped supermarket in the village where you can buy anything you need to prepare a lunch or dinner at your cottage. Maybe try some local products, like reindeer, cloudberry or lingon jam and local bread (rieska).
There are few bars or pubs but those are pretty quiet except during peak seasons. If you are up for some crazy after-ski, head elsewhere. The nightlife is pretty quiet here since people are already preparing for next day’s outdoor adventure or probably enjoying a tranquil sauna experience – every cottage or hotel has one.
Snow, reindeers – it is the Winter Wonderland.