I don’t mean to get all hipster on you, but I know a cool skiing resort in Europe which you’ve probably never heard of.
It’s called Levi, it’s in Finland way above the Arctic circle (I wasn’t joking about it being cool!) and it’s amazing. I visited last year and loved every second of my trip.
The moody half-light, the furry reindeer, the glistening slopes, this Lappish town is a winter paradise. And because sharing is caring I’ve put together these ten reasons to visit Levi this winter – which you really really really should.
The main draw of Levi are its slopes. It’s the biggest skiing resort in Finland – the biggest in all of Northern Europe in fact. It also hosts the annual World Cup Levi race, although this year it had to be cancelled due to an exceptionally warm autumn. Thanks for nothing, global warming.
There are 43 pistes and 27 lifts, as well as 230 km of maintained cross-country skiing tracks and 886 km of snowmobile routes. You can also expect ski schools, rental shops and a bus transporting everyone from the town to the slopes.
I used to associate the word ‘safari’ with lions and antelopes, but ever since my trip to Levi the word conjures up images of adorable huskies wading through deep snow! Reindeer safari, husky safari, snowmobile, horse and car safari – the options are endless. I’ve published a whole guide to safari in Lapland, so read that for more information.
3. Northern Lights
The Northern Lights – also known as aurora borealis – are as beautiful as they are unpredictable. I missed them by one day during my trip to Levi! But this town in Lapland has great conditions for spotting them during the winter thanks to its permanent twilight and low temperatures.
If you’re determined to see Mother Nature’s laser show keep track of aurora sightings through this handy website and book a safari that will take you as far from the town as possible, because light pollution makes it harder to see them.
4. Romantic hotels
Have you seen ‘Frozen’? If not, please do yourself the courtesy of watching this adorable film at your earliest convenience, but in the meantime let me introduce you to Elsa’s magic castle in real life. The whole place – including the beds but excluding the toilets – is made of ice and snow. I got to stay at Luvatuumaa ice hotel all by myself for one night and I’ve written all about it here on the blog, so check it out!
If the mere idea of sleeping on ice makes you shiver, check out the Leviniglut igloo hotel instead. This is one of the most romantic hotels I’ve ever been to so I was not surprised to find out that it’s a popular spot for engagements and honeymoons. Having said that, I was alone and single when I visited and loved it regardless!
5. Cute animals
As you might have guessed from my rave reviews of the safaris, Levi is home to some of the cutest animals ever! Would you like to spend your days feeding reindeer or playing with tiny husky puppies? Obviously, which is why this is one of my favourite reasons to visit Levi this winter.
6. Elf hideout
But adorable furry creatures are not the only ones who live here… Whether you plan on visiting with children or are just a giant dork like me, you will love meeting Santa’s helpers in their natural habitat. I got to bake gingerbread cookies with them and it was so much fun that I forgot I was a) alone and b) not 6 years old anymore.
7. Blue hour
In the winter Levi is submerged in an omnipresent twilight. But around 4-5pm, the blue hour covers the whole world in a mysterious cerulean haze. All you’ll be able to think is ‘this is the most magical moment of my life’ or ‘I’m blue, da bah de da buh da‘. I’m sure you can guess which was echoing in my head… I’m just special like that.
8. Delicious food
The food in Levi is pretty basic – sugary cookies, hot berry juice and grillimakkara sausages cooked above the open fire. But eating it as frost draws pretty patterns on window panes and your breath condenses into tiny wisps of cloud is pretty magical.
As for the more traditional dishes try reindeer with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, Finnish blinis with fish roe and sour cream or salmiakki – salty liquorice candy which is definitely an acquired taste.
8. Kota teepees
Kota are teepee-like wooden dwellings which were used by the indigenous Sami tribes in the winter months while they followed their reindeer herd. People no longer live in them, but they are still used as a welcome source of warmth in the winter months.
So warm yourself by the blazing fireplace and stare into the dancing flames as you sip on delicious hot tea or berry juice – outside temperatures can fall as low as -50°C, especially around the end of January.
Levi seems so remote that you might assume the only people who live there are locals whose families have been in the area for centuries. I know I did, and I was quickly proven wrong.
The first person I met after getting off the plane was my guide Marari – the lovely woman in the selfie above – and I quickly found out that she hails all the way from Spain. She came here as a tourist guide years ago, but quickly fell in love with the town and couldn’t bear to leave.
If you go to Levi this winter, I can’t promise you will ever leave either – these ten reasons to visit Levi hardly scratch the surface. So check out the town’s helpful website and gorgeous Instagram and… book that ticket.
What do you think of these reasons to visit Levi this winter? Have you ever heard of this place? What are your undiscovered winter gems?