The Nordic countries guarantee a real winter experience. They’re somewhere new and interesting, with practically infinite space for your ski holidays.
Popular ski destinations in the Alps are bursting with tourism. With our warming planet, there is no certainty of snow and good ski conditions either.
Travel north and you get more space and more snow. Yet the most exciting reason for ski holidays in Scandinavia are the experiences. There’s so much more than skiing plus a little apres ski and shopping. Travel north to the Arctic Circle and you have dog sledding, santa, sleeping in igloos and marvelling at the northern lights.
Here’s our guide to where, what and why.
It’s More Than Skiing in the Arctic Circle
Experiences with nature are the key difference between ski holidays in the Alps and the Arctic Circle. Travel north and there’s so much more than skiing.
It’s so special to combine skiing with other snow activities, like reindeer sledding and snowmobile expeditions, and then the aurora at night.
Typically you will have a morning activity in the snow, like a dog sled ride or even meeting santa. Then skiing in the afternoon, sometimes also skiing under lights in the evening too.
Traditionally, in the Alps, our clients wanted a program of skiing. In the Arctic Circle we can create a huge variety of programs.
You could be fishing on a frozen lake at sunrise, trying out snowshoeing, or taking your children to meet a reindeer herd, before a reindeer ride in the snow.
Nighttime always brings the opportunity of the northern lights. You could be admiring them from the warmth of a glass igloo, or on an adventure to a remote light-free wilderness, for an intense experience with the aurora borealis.
These varied experiences are the number one reason to consider the Arctic Circle for your next winter holiday.
In March 2024 we’re organising an EliteTrip by private jet to Finnish Lapland. Eight guests will enjoy dog sledding, reindeer rides, snowmobiling and much more.
Comparing Arctic Skiing Vs. The Alps
Of course, it’s only a ski holiday if there’s good skiing. The number one question we receive is how is the actual skiing in the Arctic Circle?
In general, the “mountains” are a lot lower than in the Alps. You’re more likely to be skiing on large groomed areas of snowy hills and forests.
The slopes of Finland are great for the full variety of sky activities: alpine, freestyle, downhill, snowboarding, cross-country.
Levi and Saariselkä are the two largest ski centres in Finland, each with over 200 kilometres of groomed slopes, including around 30 kilometres of floodlit slopes.
The other key difference between the Arctic and the Alps is the snow. Travel north and you’ll find real winter and guaranteed snow.
This year we had a client flying to the Austrian Alps for five days of family skiing, but the weather forecast was two degrees and rain. So we changed the destination two days before, because Finland offers perfect snow conditions and a classic winter fairytale.
Finland, Sweden & Norway – Where’s Best for a Ski Holiday?
Finland is our choice for families. It has the perfect Nordic mix of ski slopes, excellent facilities and the full range of other winter experiences.
We’d go as far as saying that Finland is the ultimate family ski destination, because there are so many exciting experiences for children, as well as the great slopes.
Sweden and Norway suit more advanced skiers, specifically couples of groups of friends. For example, in Riksgransen you can do 8,000 vertical metres per day and continually make the first tracks in the snow.
For heliskiing, the options can be endless in Norway and Sweden. There are areas where nobody has ever skied and the distances are big. It’s definitely not a destination for first-time heli-skiers, but a must for the experienced who want an expedition in uncharted territories.
Challenges of a Scandinavia Ski Holiday (I.e. Why Wouldn’t You Go?)
Lapland has two common disadvantages – getting there and the appearance of luxury.
There are few direct flights to the ski destinations of Scandinavia. Most commonly you will need a two-leg flight with a layover in Helsinki, Oslo or Stockholm.
Lapland is ideal for travelling by private jet and we recommend aircraft like Citation Sovereign and Longitude, Gulfstream G200 and G280, Pilatus PC-24 or Citation XLS.
The Arctic is very different to destinations like Courchevel, St. Moritz and Verbier. There are no opulent hotels nor famous apres-ski. There are hardly any boutiques from top fashion brands.
Nordic culture is different. It’s more about nature, space and tranquillity.
Instead of a gold and marble bathroom you can sleep in a glass igloo and see the northern lights from your bed.
While it doesn’t appear to be as luxurious, the north does match the Alps for price. It’s not a cheaper skiing destination, you’re paying for experiences rather than opulence and classic luxury.
Where to Stay for an Arctic Ski Holiday
We typically organise private villas and chalets for our clients skiing in the Arctic. Like Copperhill Villa, a private ski lodge for 16 people in Sweden.
Skabma Villa is a traditional log house in Finland and there are many more little gems we know about, such as Octola Lodge Private Wilderness.
The best chalets offer a complete immersion in the silence, snow and peace of Lapland, within easy reach of many different ski tracks.
Hotel stays are very unique up here too. We recommend you experience Levin Iglut, a hotel on a Finnish hill with en-suite glass igloos. Sleep in one of the suites and enjoy the northern lights from your bed.
In Norway, consider a log cabin at Wolf Lodge. In Finland we also like the Iso Syoto hotel, especially their Eagle View Suite.
These accommodations all suit different clients and we’ll give you personal advice on what’s best for your trip.
A Classic Day of Skiing in the North
Start the day with breakfast served in your private chalet. Prepare for a snow activity, like meeting a team of husky dogs and doing a dog sled ride across a frozen lake.
Skiing starts later and ends earlier in the north than in the Alps, due to the limited daylight hours. But you’ll still have a good three hours on the slopes.
After lunch in your cabin there’s the opportunity for a second ski session, under the lights. Or a second experience of the day, by snowmobile or reindeer. Or spend some time in the sauna, which is the classic Nordic apres-ski.
Dinner is prepared by your private chef. And there’s still time for another experience, observing the aurora borealis, or northern lights.
Does this sound like an interesting ski holiday for you?