Deep within the Arctic Circle in magical Finnish Lapland you’ll find Ylläs, a winter wonderland that is home to the country’s third largest National Park. As winter descends and daylight disappears, people flock to Ylläs from all over the world to see the Northern Lights, experience Lappish culture, go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing or do crazier things like ice dipping.

These weren’t the reasons we came to Ylläs. We came for one reason and one reason only. To snowboard. To strap our feet to planks of composite wood, metal and plastic and feel the rush of cold air as we dived sideways down a gradient, going faster and faster and faster down.

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And we got what we came for. So much so I’m giving you ten good reasons why you should go snowbarding in Ylläs. And just for the record, I’m not anti-skiing, well, not much. All these could easily apply to skiers and we did indeed see lots of skiers in Ylläs… as we whizzed by over taking them at great speed, of course. Mwahahaha!

1. Ylläs is quick and easy to get to. Ylläs is incredibly easy to get to, you could easily make it a weekend or four day snowboarding destination from any of the places in Europe that fly to Kittilä. The ski resort is less than a 30 minute drive from the airport and buses are scheduled to meet the passengers coming off planes. Ylläsjärvi is actually a purpose built resort centred around the base of the gondola lift, whereas Äkäslompolo – the other village that makes up the Ylläs resort – is a fifteen minute drive away and is further from connecting ski lifts and pisted runs. If you stay in Ylläsjärvi you could be snowboarding (or yes, skiing) within 30 minutes of checking in to your hotel.

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2. The snowboarding (or skiing) is good. Ok so there are no Alpine like heights, no Rocky Mountain-esque dramatic drops but you get a lot of variety for the 719m that is Ylläs’ peak. With a number of decent length red runs and a sternly steep black taking you down to Ylläsjärvi and a collection of kinder blues on all sides of the fell this is snowboarding for those who aren’t fussed about taking in a 100 different views a day or covering nearly 10km in a single descent. Snowboarding (and skiing, whatever) in Ylläs is for those who just want to get going and enjoy the ride.


3. The views are amazing. The reason we didn’t mind doing the same runs so often is because of these views. Put these views together with the dramatic light of a sun that in January went straight from rising to setting and we were very happy snowboarders. I believe I also saw a few smiles on the faces of skiers too, but then again I may have been mistaken, I was going pretty fast…

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4. No queues. None. We didn’t queue for the gondola, a chair lift or a drag lift the whole time we were in Ylläs. Seven days. Not one queue. Take that, Alps! (Admittedly, it apparently does get busier during Christmas and New Year and during Easter Holidays).

5. Burgers on the slopes at Haltia Kammi. While eating and drinking in Ylläs isn’t super cheap  – it costs about the same as mountain food in the French Alps – if you head up to you will find that you certainly get your money’s worth from the food you order there. We ate far too many of their burgers and it was a perfect little wooden cabin to warm up and rest in before heading out again. Also look up and see the traditional Lappish hand carved wooden mugs that belong to the regulars.

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6. Big bowls of powder. If you head to the top of the gondola and then walk back as if you’re going to snowboard down to the other side of the fell, look to your left and you’ll see a big bowl of white. That’s called powder my skiing friends and the chances are it’s untouched – or at least it was for us. Carve your way through it to the drag lift that takes you back up and then do it again. In other words, the off piste here is good and is fairly beginner friendly too.

7. Bar Kaappi. No ski resort is complete without a decent bar for apres. In Ylläs, that’s Bar Kaapi, the only place in Finland where you’ll be able to drink Pastis. Good music, good atmosphere is guaranteed.

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8. Stylish Accommodation. This being Finland you can count on a number of things if you head to Ylläs for a snowboarding or skiing holiday; 1. Snow, 2. Stylish Accommodation 3. Saunas. What more do you need? Here’s the slick, convenient and comfortable apartment we stayed in, yes, complete with its own sauna.

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9. Reindeer Burgers at Cafe Milli. So it’s not strictly speaking on the slopes, but it’s close enough to the base of the gondola that you can take a quick walk there (or stagger slowly, if you’re in ski boots) and enjoy a Lappish treat of tender reindeer burgers on rye. Yum.

Reindeer Burger at Cafe Milli

10. Friendly Finns. Last but definitely not least, Finland is already my favourite country that I’ve visited this year and the main reason why is the people who we met along the way. They are friendly, polite and quick to help. The same goes for there etiquette on the slopes and in the bar afterwards. And that goes for skiers too. No, really, I’m being serious.

P.S. The ski season in Ylläs stays open until the beginning of May so while the Alps are already panicking about end of season slush, Ylläs kicks back, relaxes and says welcome! And this little snowboarder says, thank you Ylläs! I may just come back…

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P.P.S. I hope no skiers were offended in the reading of this article. I actually used to be a skier myself. But shh, don’t tell anyone.

For more information about snowboarding and skiing in Ylläs then visit the resort’s website.


This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.