Some of you may already know that this year Finland has been independent for 100 years. So in the spirit of our 100th birthday during this year I will share some travel tips with you on what places you should see if you ever want to visit Finland. The first post in this Visit Finland section is about a place called Ruka.
I spent New Years Eve in Ruka, Lapland – one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. Ruka is a ski resort which is located up in Northern Finland, it’s a part of a city called Kuusamo which is about a 30-minute drive away from the place itself. If you have time when visiting Finland, I really suggest going to Lapland.
If you are a fan of nature then Lapland is definitely the place for you. It offers you the chance to experience one of the most gorgeous views and landscapes in Finland without being isolated from the rest of the world. Ruka ski resort has hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment that provide you things you could need but at the same time it gives you a chance to get in touch with nature and be completely surrounded by it and nothing more.
How to get there
Ruka is about a 9-hour drive away from Finland’s capital Helsinki and because we didn’t want to spend our whole day driving we started driving around 4 am on Friday morning. This way we were there a bit after 3pm. The drive with all the stops took us a bit over 11 hours. If you are not a fan of driving or you don’t have a driver’s license there are other ways to get to Ruka too.
There is a bus line called Onnibussi that leaves from Helsinki and stops at Ruka village, the trip is about 12 hours long if you decide to go by bus. Taking the bus is usually pretty cheap and a great option if you are traveling with a small budget. I personally don’t like sitting in a bus for long periods of time it makes me a bit nauseous so instead of taking the bus I decided to take the bus and train. My friends drove me to Kuusamo and from there I took a bus to Oulu – this was about a three-hour-long drive – and in Oulu I switched to train that takes me to Helsinki. All together this is about nine and a half hours long. This was a bit more expensive than only taking the bus but because this is faster and I like traveling by train better I chose this option. There is one other way to travel to Lapland and it’s flying. Both Finnair and Norwegian have flights from Helsinki to Kuusamo. Flying is definitely the fastest option – about an hour – but because I didn’t book my tickets in advance it was a bit too expensive for me.
Where to stay
If you go to Ruka there is a few options where you can stay. There are hotels, apartments and cabins.
Hotels that are located in the village and where everything is in a walking distance are for the people who seek the comfort of not doing much while on their holiday. While staying in hotel everything is close and provided, for
example breakfast with a lot of foods to choose from is included. Also at most of the hotels you can find a bar and a restaurant at the same building so if you are looking for a place that is close and requires very little that you have to do they are a great option for you. These hotel rooms are usually up from 72euros per night.
One option where to stay while visiting Ruka is to rent an apartment. These apartments are also close range from the ski slope but what sets them apart from the hotels is that they offer bit more privacy and are usually bit bigger and have extra luxuries like a sauna and a washing machine and opportunity to cook. So if you like your privacy but still want the luxuries of hotels or if you are traveling with more people, an apartment is a good place to stay. These cost a bit more, the price starts at 108euros per night.
Other option and very popular among us Finns is to rent a cabinet and stay there, this was actually what I did with my friends. The upsides of renting a cabin is that you will be far away from the centre of the village and you have privacy but you still can easily get to the ski resort. These cabins are like small houses; they have bedrooms, kitchen and most of them have a bathroom with sauna. If staying in cabin you have access to fridge and kitchen and can choose to eat breakfast or dinner at there. Many of the cabins also have a working fireplace and what would be better after long day of skiing than to sit in front of a fire while sipping hot chocolate.
What to do
There is so much to do in Ruka. Of course it depends on what time of the year you are going but in this post I will focus on what you can do during the winter season because that’s what I have personal experience of. Like I said earlier there is skiing centre so downhill skiing is a great option. You don’t even have to own the equipment; you can rent all of them! That’s what my friends did (I was still getting over flu so unfortunately I had to skip it). For one day the equipment plus a ticket is about 80 euros.
There are other winter sports you can also try: cross-country skiing, snow sled driving, sled dig ride or if you feel like it you can go to see reindeer.
Something I also recommend doing if you are going to Lapland is to take time and just walk around and admire the nature. Ruka is a gorgeous place that has nature which is untouched and it’s one of the most enchanting things I have ever see. While in Lapland you should try to catch at least one sunset and sunriseas well as one blue moment – blue moment is the moment just before the sun sets or rises. For a moment everything turnsblue and for me it’s one of the best times of the day.
If you are staying in Ruka or anywhere in Northern Finland I suggest during clear nights you look up at the sky, you may be so lucky that you will get to see Northern Lights. We saw Northern Lights on New Years Eve when we were outside shooting fireworks. Even though I have seen them before where I live these ones where the most beautiful I have seen. Seeing them is something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
This is all advice I have to give about visiting Ruka. I hope you find this helpful and if you have any questions about visiting Ruka or Finland please ask I am happy to help!
Have a great week everyone!