Real Arctic experience: igloo villages, reindeer corrals, Sami people and genuine smoke saunas!
One of Finland's most extensive ski networks: over 220kms of trails
Good chance of seeing the world-famous Northern Lights
Cross country ski lessons with expert instructor included; option to try snowshoeing, dog/reindeer sledding and winter walking too (pay locally)
Multi-level skiing destination
At a glance...
7 nights, single centre
Departs Saturdays from 20 Dec '14 to 21 Mar '15
Buffet breakfast and all evening meals
Managed locally by hotelier
Sustainability rating: 88%
Perfect for couples.
Good choice for families.
Option to try dog sledding.
Option to take snowmobile rides.
Option to take toboggan rides.
Cross country skiing in Lapland
The picturesque village of Saariselka is your base for the week. Low timber buildings huddle below the snowy fells and more than 220kms of groomed trails (34km of which are illuminated) radiate in all directions, including into one of Finland's loveliest National Parks - Urho Kekkonen. Snow-thick pine forests are home to reindeer and moose, while Arctic hare and willow grouse flit between pines in snowy winter camouflage.
The Hotel Riekonlinna (meaning 'Castle of the Snow Grouse!') is in the heart of the village of Saariselka, where locals run errands on scarlet kick sleds in the snowy streets. The main reception houses the bar and restaurant as well as saunas, massage and fitness rooms. All Headwater guest rooms have a private balcony (good for spotting the Northern Lights!) and there is an option to upgrade to a room with private sauna.
Once you've found your ski legs, you'll soon be sweeping past reindeer corrals, husky farms and ghost huts of gold prospectors long departed. To get you started, we've included 3 lessons with an expert cross country ski guide who will also provide lots of suggestions for independent exploring. A regular ski bus (pay locally) departs from outside the hotel and covers the entire trail network and links the local villages. Flexibility is excellent and one way trips are easy to arrange. Rest assured there are plenty of routes and ski options less than 100m from the hotel entrance too.
Other activities, which you book and pay for locally, include: snowshoeing, dog/reindeer sledding and downhill skiing - the alpine slopes are just five minutes away by bus.
Not quite what you're looking for - then why not take a look at some of our similar holidays?
On your first morning you'll have a briefing, be given your equipment for the week and have your first lesson with another two lessons on day two and three. With over 220km of marked trails you'll be able to explore the National Park of Urho Kekkonen and Kuusipaa and Ahopaat Fells. Along the way you'll pass traditional husky and reindeer corrals and will be able to stop for some warming hot lingonberry juice.
Day 8 - Return home
You take the airport bus (30 mins, pay locally) direct to Ivalo and your flight home.
Where you stay
This single-centre holiday is based at the following hotel. If you'd like to extend your stay here, or upgrade your room, just let us know at the time of booking.
Hotel Riekonlinna, Saariselka (3 Acorn)
The hotel whose name means ‘castle of the snow grouse' is handily situated opposite our ski school, Luontoloma Pro-Safaris.
The bedrooms all have en suite bathrooms with showers, satellite television, direct dial telephones and tea and coffee making facilities.
Rooms with private sauna are available for a supplement and there are also two saunas available for all guests on the ground floor where you can also find a gym, massage rooms and a gift shop along with a small lounge area with internet access (pay locally) and a bar.
Although all bedrooms have a balcony the hotel also has and ‘Aurora room' with big picture windows facing North for those nights when it is too cold to venture outside looking for the Northern Lights.
All the facilities you might need are within walking distance of the hotel. The supermarket and tourist information are around a 15 minute walk away, and there are several hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants and bars within 5 minutes walking distance of the hotel.
No transfers included. Public bus from Ivalo airport to Saariselka (approximately 30 mins, pay locally, allow 12 euro per person each way). Please call our sales team on 1-800-567-6286 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange connecting flights.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus, of course, an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted straight to our website - totally unedited. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Reviewed by Mr Hawton on 26/02/2014
The location in Finland was picture postcard winter scenery for the whole week... though unfortunately overcast most of the time. Cross-country skiing was more physically challenging than we had expected and left us quite sore at times! Getting out on snowshoes was at least as much fun. The weather was described as 'almost summer' by one of the locals as it was only -3 and -30 is more typical in February. Food in the hotel was excellent... I never knew there were so many different types of porridge.
Reviewed by Mr Payne on 12/02/2014
Flights with Finnair were comfortable and efficient. Included a snack and drink Heathrow to Helsinki and drink to Ivalo. Hotel is comfortable and clean, Breakfast and dinner from buffet improved through the week, but lacked the variety and choice of other ski hotels (ie Venabu) and didn't include much of the special Lappland dishes mention in the literature unless you paid extra for A la Carte menu. Also lacked a communal lounge apart from the bar which was as expensive as expected. Thus their was no group atmosphere for skiers and might be lonely for singles. Ski tracks (400metres from hotel) were good, well prepared and well maintained. Routes are well marked and graded with very good signs and map at every junction. The facilities included the occassional refuge hut and even a WC hut at some places along the tracks. From the Start Gate there were a limited number of circular routes in the 10 to 15 Km range, more if you could do 20Km including some climbing and several if you could do 25 to 40 Km in day. The other alternative, which we didn't test this time, is to ski one route for 15 to 25 Km and use the SkiBus for start or return. This bus run to all the main stopping points from 09:30 to 17:00. The Ski lessons were booked from 1pm to 3pm on 3 days. This is a poor time for the lessons, beginners would be unable to do anything during the morning and for more experienced skiers it breaks up the day too much. Please make this earlier next time.
Overall a good ski holiday, with some limitations, worth a return visit next year, but would be better with a larger group. - Hence the fixed holiday is still Venabu
Reviewed by Mr Croston on 14/05/2013
Fantastic experience. Our seven year old son was in his element. Great cross country skiing and ideal for downhill beginners. Finland is an expensive country, so you would probably expect a higher standard of accommodation for the price in other parts of Europe. That said, we thoroughly enjoyed the food. We were very lucky with our experience of the Aurora; five spectacular nights out of the seven that we were there. Truly amazing!!
Reviewed by Dr Foley on 05/04/2012
Good CC skiing. Great choice of trails and wilderness.
Reviewed by Ms Bernard on 08/03/2012
a very pleasant outdoor break with lots of saunas.
Reviewed by Mr Mellor on 08/03/2012
extremely good holiday. There are better resorts in Finland, though. It seems to us that holiday companys often just go to the same places as each other. why not look at Ruka in Finland. This is excellent and does not appear in any UK ski company's portfolios.
Reviewed by Mrs Barker on 25/02/2012
Departure dates & prices
Child (any date)
Cross country skiing, single centre. Managed locally by hotelier.
Saturdays from 20 Dec '14 to 21 Mar '15, for 8 days (7 nights). It may be possible for us to arrange non-standard departures on this holiday. Please call our Sales team for details.