• Cross-country – Skiing with Feeling

    Finland offers thousands of kilometres of cross-country skiing tracks. Anything from sheltered forests and panoramic fell routes to tracks on lakes and seas are there for the exploring.

  • Most people get the hang of skiing pretty quickly, and many get hooked from day one. There is no better way to experience the calm and quiet winter nature than on a pair of skis, crossing the white wilderness at your own pace.

  • An open shelter like this is called a “laavu”. They’re found along many a skiing track and are great for meeting fellow skiers and sharing tips and stories.

  • Some prefer skiing in untracked areas. Tougher terrain requires special equipment, woodcraft and orienteering skills. Novice explorers are recommended to hire a guide. The experience is very uplifting.

  • Traditional Lapp huts, called “kota”, are popular spots to take a break from skiing. The most common thing to do inside is to enjoy hot drinks and roast sausages by the fire.

  • Most of Finland’s one thousand kilometres of coastline freezes over in the winter, making the archipelagos off it accessible on skis.

  • Some insist on entering nature alone, and it can be rather meditative. Others prefer company to share the stillness with. To each his own, the main thing is to do it.

  • Spotting animals is quite normal on a ski tour. Everything from squirrels and rabbits to reindeer and, like here, black grouse, can be seen in the wintry wilderness. Finding tracks of rarer species like wolverines is not unheard of, either.

  • Snow, sun and skis – and the world is your oyster.

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Cross-country – Skiing with Feeling

Cross-country skiing is somewhat of a national sport in Finland. It is suitable for everybody and extremely good for the body and mind, with beautiful winter scenery serving as an inspiring backdrop.

Cross-country skiing is part of Finnish culture, and nearly every Finn learns it right after taking their first steps.

Decades ago, it was an important means of transport in the winter, and skiing across forests and lakes on the way to work or school was commonplace. In smaller communities, kids still ski to school when there’s snow on the ground.

Easy Access

Even today, cross-country is accessible all over Finland. All municipalities, from the Helsinki metropolitan area to the remote villages of Nuorgam and Kilpisjärvi in Northern Lapland maintain a network of skiing tracks, many of them lit.

Finland’s most comprehensive network of tracks, a staggering 330 kilometres, circles the Ylläs ski resort and is accessible within a couple of minutes’ walk from all accommodation. In Helsinki, tracks around the metropolitan area are accessible by local transport.

Hire Gear and Get Your Ski On

Learning cross-country skiing is fairly easy at any age. Basic equipment can be hired from ski resorts, safari companies, sports shops and even hotels.

At first, try walking with your skis strapped on – that’ll give you a feel of how to handle your skis. Then move on to gliding short distances. If hesitant, hire an instructor or get an experienced skier to show you the ropes.

A Long Season

In Southern Finland, the skiing season lasts about five months. In Lapland, the season is up to seven or eight months long.

As soon as first snow falls at the end of the year, the most enthusiastic skiers head to tracks to practise their favourite sport. Others ski simply for the joy of being outdoors, and opt to wait for the spring and sunny weather.

Combining a ski tour with a picnic, or even a bit of ice fishing, is commonplace. Hot drink in a thermos bottle is a must, unless skiing on the most popular tracks, where breaks at outdoor cafés are an essential part of the tour.

Silence, Please

In the hectic modern world, we learn to value rarities such as space, quietness and time. Finland has got plenty of all of them. When is the last time you heard yourself think?

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