It’s the largest ski and recreational resort in Finland, so you just know there are going to be loads of amazing things to do in Levi.
Levi is in Lapland, in Finland, situated 170km north of the Arctic Circle and Rovaniemi. I visited in April, when the skies were blue, the sun set at around 8:30pm and the ground was covered in snow. The perfect time to visit Levi, if you ask me.
This article will help you plan your trip by showing you all the best things to do in Levi. Expect the best restaurants, places to stay, and Levi activities to make your trip the best it can be.
I was in Levi for three days, to experience as much as possible. I’d come from Yllas, just an hour away, where I had a brilliant three days exploring everything there was to do in Yllas.
Levi is probably the most well known of the Finnish resorts for the Brits, mainly because of all the children’s Christmas experiences marketed here. Levi is often where you’ll go to ‘meet Santa’.
It’s not just a Christmassy resort though. There are a wide range of winter and summer activities to do in Levi. From snowmobiles to husky and reindeer safaris, hiking, canoeing and cycling. We only had 3 days in Levi, but I wanted to share some of my favourite activities in Levi, to maybe inspire you to go in the future.
1. Check out the Levi Igloos
Our first stop on our tour of Levi, was the Levi Igloos. There are some incredible hotels in Levi, and these are the kinda places you see on Instagram. It would’ve been amazing to stay here but I’m guessing it was the price that put an end to that on this press trip.
The igloos are pure luxury.
If you were proposing abroad, the Levi igloos would be the sort of place to do it. In fact, we saw someone do just that when we arrived.
The igloos were like self contained flats, with their own bathroom and kitchenette so you needn’t leave and could just lie and watch the Northern Lights, hopefully.
There was a really nice restaurant on site too, so if you don’t want to / can’t afford to, stay, then you can still enjoy a tasty Finnish meal in luxurious surroundings.
The Levi Igloos are just a short ride outside of Levi.
2. See Santa
There’s so much more to Levi than its Christmas spirit but no matter the time of year, you can’t go all this way and not see the big guy himself, can you?
Warming the souls of even the most Grinch-like among us, Santa Claus Village is a two hour drive from Levi in Rovaniemi, and is a day trip worth doing.
There’s no direct bus between Levi and the village but there are some excursions you can book to make the trip a little easier. Once you get there, you can see Santa and visit the elves’ workshop but there’s loads more activities.
For festive geeks, there’s the Santa Claus Main Post Office where you can pick out a cute card and post it back to your pals at home complete with the Arctic Circle Postal Stamp. You can also cross the Arctic Circle, visit the petting zoo and visit to Santa’s office.
I’d put a whole day aside for this one.
3. Visit the Elves Hideaway
Of course you can’t see Santa and not the elves. Back in Levi, go and visit Santa’s elves year round at the Elves Hideaway!
Honestly, I’m a cynical soul, but the Elves Hideaway experience was magical. We saw where they lived, in their little houses, saw where they went to school and even had a lesson in Elfish at a tiny desk, and then went to make gingerbread in the kitchen.
There was snow on the ground, elves all around and Finnish Christmas music blasting out, despite it being April.
With a bag full of gingerbread we went to chat to the reindeer shepherd and admire his herd. And then, lunch of fish soup and a cake before our next adventure.
If anyone gets a yellow hat with a bobble on for Christmas this year, it’s mine. I left it in the elves’ workshop.
4. Stay at the Northern Lights Ranch
Now, this, is where I’d stay if I’m ever in Levi in Lapland again (hope I am). The Northern Lights Ranch ‘apartments’ were beautiful.
Reindeer were roaming freely, the apartments had sky views for the Northern Lights and some even had hot tubs. Can you imagine sitting in a hot tub here as the Northern Lights danced above you?
There was even a sauna ‘box’ where I went to warm up a bit.
Now this is how you holiday in Levi.
In the main reception building you can find a restaurant complete with typical Scandinavian design and I’m sure, delicious food (didn’t have time to try but the tea and biscuits were great).
Because of its remote location away from artificial light, the Northern Lights Ranch offers the best chance to experience the Aurora Borealis.
5. See the Northern Lights
If the Northern Lights Ranch ‘apartments’ are a little out of your price range, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the Northern Lights altogether. There are other ways you can see Aurora Borealis (the fancy name for it).
You can do a do a boat trip, see them on snowmobile, or even watch them with reindeer.
If you go in the depths of winter, sometimes the lights can make an appearance as early as 5pm but in general you’re more likely to catch a citing between 8pm and 1am anytime between August and April. Levi clocks about 200 sightings a year so here’s hoping you’re lucky.
Seeing the Northern Lights is pretty much my dream. One day.
6. Go skiing and then drink hot chocolate
We went skiing in Levi Lapland, at the same time as there was a super important race – the Visma Ski Classic Ylläs-Levi. A long distance ski race.
To be completely honest, I didn’t have a clue what was going on.
However, I did have a great time skiing the slopes at my own speed. Some of my group were more advanced than me, and some less, so I went off on my own for a while and had a great time exploring.
I did meet with Monica for a hot chocolate at the top of the slope though, had to be done. We sat on a deck chair admiring the view. Dreamy.
From what I could tell the ski resort in Levi was suitable for all skills and had plenty of space, despite it being such an important week in the Finnish ski calendar.
7. Do the apres-ski thing in Levi
Often after a serious day of skiing the only that’s calling is a hot bath and an early night. Giving into that in Levi would be a mistake though. Levi has got a decent apres-ski situation going on.
Places like Vinkkari and Tuikku with their live music are among the most popular places to kick off the skis.
8. Visit the Ounaskievari Reindeer Farm
My visit to the Ounaskievari Reindeer Farm was fascinating.
There were around 50 reindeer, just chilling in the snow. Our trip started with a little intro into the Sami way of life, and then, we were going on a sleigh ride around the grounds.
Monica and I nestled in to the sleigh while the reindeer prepared itself to haul us around, and off we went.
Honestly, neither of us really knew what we were doing or how to make the reindeer go faster or slower. We just rolled with it and as the reindeer behind us advanced, I was terrified we were going to flip out. My fear overrode the awe, which soon turned into laughter.
Oh it was FUN.
Definitely visit the Ounaskievari Reindeer Farm and try navigating a sleigh ride yourself.
We got to do it twice, woo!
9. Learn more about the native Sami people
I heard a little about the Sami people on the reindeer farm but other than that I didn’t know much at all. Turns out they’re the European Union’s only indigenous people, who knew?
You can find them in parts of Sweden and Russia as well as Finland. If you want to know more about the people behind the history then it costs €12 to visit the Samiland exhibition and it will give you all the info you need on the Sami culture, traditions and history. You’ll find it inside the Hotel Panorama and it’s a good filler activity in between freezing and drinking more hot chocolate.
You’ll quickly learn that the Fins love a hot beverage and so do I, so happy days.
10. Have a race at the ice karting
Ice karting is one of the top things to do in Levi.
I’ll admit I was a little disappointed that we weren’t actually racing each other, but just going round the track. But, as soon as I realised how rubbish I was at it, I was ok with that.
It is hard to drive a kart on ice. Especially when it’s only the second time you’ve ever been in one.
I was all over the place, a la, my attempts at Super Mario Kart when I was younger.
All good fun though. We did a few laps around, and then stopped for the hot berry drink that’s so popular in Finland.
11. Go ice fishing in Levi
This isn’t something I got to try this time around but I’d be up for it next time I’m looking for things to do in Levi.
Levi is full of ponds, lakes and rivers and in the colder weather the ice makes them the perfect place to dip the rod and scout for some trout. You can’t just go gliding right out there and begin reeling and catching though. You need a local fishing license. These only cost around €10 – €15 a day but it depends on where exactly it is you want to fish.
Lake Immelmökit, River Ounasjoki and Lake Pyhäjärvi are supposed to be some of the faves. I reckon you’re better off going on an organised tour though, unless you’re an ice fishing pro.
A strictly winter activity, ice fishing safaris take you to a frozen location and although you pay a bit more, they deal with any paperwork and actually show you what to do. You’ve got to drill a hole in the ice and then pop in the hook – one of the more unique things to do in Levi!
The guides will also give you extra info on the surrounding nature, water and fish.
Kinos Safari ice fishing tour even throws in coffee and sausages while you’re waiting for the catch. Once you’ve reeled it in, most tours let you cook up the fish and eat too.
12. Pop on a pair of snowshoes
If you’re picturing your wellies, think again. Snowshoes look a bit like flippers you’d use for scuba diving. You attach them to the boots you’re already wearing and the idea is that they’ll let you glide over the snow rather than sinking straight into it.
Levi has loads of companies offering snowshoe excursions that let you go up and over traditional hiking trails even when the snow is metres deep.
If you’re a beginner they’ll take you on the trails that are a little flatter but for those who are looking for a serious workout there are some steep slopes to snowshoe.
Regardless, be warned that it’s hard work. On the plus side, it’s supposed to be really good exercise and keeps you warm.
13. Go moonlight horseback riding
As if seeing Levi and its surrounding areas by husky and reindeer wasn’t enough, at the Lapin Saaga Icelandic Horse Stable you can take a horse ride through the forest at moonlight. Sounds cool right?
The Icelandic horses are a little smaller than you might expect but given they were once thought to be Viking horses they’re pretty strong and will have no problems carrying you through the woods, no matter how much bread and cheese (it’s a Finnish thing) you’ve eaten here.
If you’d prefer a day trek then they offer that too as well as treks to see the northern lights, some lasting up to 4 hours. I like the idea of the moonlight one though. With the snow and woodland setting, it definitely makes for an adventure and the perfect way to round out a trip to Levi.
14. Enjoy the view at Scenic Café Laavu
After lunch at the Levi Panorama Hotel, Lapland, which, as the name suggests, had amazing views, it was off to our final stop in Levi.
We hiked along the snowy path to the Scenic Cafe Laavu. Inside was the traditional fire we’d now got used to from the ski huts, and a few options for tea, coffee and hot chocolate.
I mean, the man serving won’t be winning any medals for customer service, but the views were beautiful. Waaaaay more beautiful than the picture above, but for some reason I didn’t take a picture so you’ll have to just go and check it out for yourself, or just type scenic cafe Laavu into Google. Up to you.
The cafe was the perfect way to take in the landscape where we’d spent three days skiing, ice karting, eating the traditional Finnish food and enjoying sleigh rides via reindeer.
Definitely a trip to remember!
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