In 2020 Ylläs was awarded with the Scandinavian Outdoor Award for Best Outdoor and Travel Destination. At Traveltomtom we love outdoor destinations and being busy with outdoor activities. So when we got the chance to visit Scandinavia’s Best Outdoor Destination of 2020, we hopped on a plane!
This is your travel guide for those travelers that decide to visit Ylläs in summer. With the best things to do, hotel recommendation, restaurant tips and our travel tips.
Even though Ylläs is located in Finnish Lapland, and one of the best and most popular winter and winter sport destinations in Finland, we decided to visit Ylläs in summer. It surprisingly has much to offer, so stay tuned.
Ylläs, or Yllästunturi in Finnish, is actually not even the name of the place, it is a 718-meter-high fell in the municipality of Kolari, Lapland. For those that don’t know, including myself, a fell is a high-altitude landscape feature, like mountain ranges or hills. The word fell is used to signify the parts of the mountain that are usually located above the endpoint of the alpine trees.
There are two authentic Lappish villages near Ylläs, Äkäslompolo on the north side and Ylläsjärvi in the south.
Ylläs is a very popular winter sport destination. Ylläs Ski Resort is by far the biggest in Finland, nowhere else do they offer slopes as long as in Ylläs. Being located between two Lappish villages means the resort has a total of 63 different slopes to offer, which can be accessed by 28 lifts. Ever thought about skiing in Finland? Now you know where to go. But back to summer travel for now.
Getting to Ylläs
Ylläs is located 115km north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland. The easiest way of getting to Ylläs is by plane. Finnair operates year-round connections from Helsinki to Kittilä Airport. Kittilä is less than 1 hour drive from Ylläs. Distance from Kittilä Airport to Ylläsjärvi village is 36km and to Äkäslompolo village 50km.
You can also travel to Ylläs by train from Helsinki, and other cities along the route such as Tampere and Oulu. Kolari railway station is the closest stop and is only 35km from Ylläs. Busses connect every Kolari train to Ylläs. If you board the night train in the evening, you will wake up the next morning in Ylläs.
Ylläs 8 seasons
In Finnish Lapland there are eight seasons. Yes, that’s right! 8 Different seasons and every season has its own things to do. Let’s focus on visiting Ylläs in the summer months of June, July and August. June and July are known for their night-less nights. The Midnight Sun phenomenon occurs here every summer. During these months, time is not to be spent sleeping but exploring nature. Summer nights in Lapland are nice and cool and nature is bustling with life. The fell tops are the best spots for admiring the Midnight Sun and the vast and endless scenery.
August is still summer and harvest season in Lapland for berry and mushroom picking. These Lappish traditions are cherished, and nature’s crops are stored for the long winter ahead. The days are still warm, but the nights are cool and really start to get longer. The Northern Lights season even starts late August, on the first dark autumn nights.
Ylläs 7 Fells
Ylläs is surrounded by seven fells, that obviously provide plenty of outdoor and vast wilderness possibilities. These seven fells surround the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. It is a mountainous area that guarantees many beautiful vistas and views.
In Winter they have a competition where you have to conquer all 7 fells in 12 hours. You will need to get a stamp on top of every fell to prove you have been there.
Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park
It’s right around the corner when staying in Ylläs, the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. This is Finland’s most visited national park. It’s dominated by fells and unscathed forests and wetlands surrounding them.
Did you know that the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park is renowned for having the world’s purest and cleanest air? Breathe the world’s purest air and experience the vastness of the fell landscapes around you, it’s truly amazing.
The national park has well marked trails, clean and beautiful nature and varied terrain in the area provide excellent opportunities for hiking trips and wandering in nature. The outdoor possibilities are endless here.
Things to do in Ylläs
When visiting Scandinavia’s best outdoor destination, you just have to experience the outdoors. We spent a total of two days in Ylläs, but did a number of activities that could easily have filled four days. And to be honest, I am happy we did, because outdoors is the number 1 place you want to be in Ylläs.
Hike the fells
With the seven fells surrounding Ylläs, they simply invite you to come up. You can do it by gondola in some cases. But if you really want to enjoy and experience the outdoors and also the Midnight Sun from up there, bring decent shoes and start hiking uphill.
It’s one of the best things to do, it’s for free and the views are always rewarding!
Ylläs and Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park offer some of the best mountain bike opportunities in Lapland. Back in 2015 they opened the Ylläs-Levi Mountain Bike Trail, which actually runs through the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park. In 2017 the National Park opened more routes for biking. There are several other cycling routes and destinations located nearby too.
In the summer of 2022 the Ylläs Bike Park was opened. It’s the place to be for downhill mountain biking, it has the longest and most vertical routes in Finland.
We would recommend going on a fat bike adventure through the National Park. That is what we did when visiting Ylläs and it is one of our favorite things to do. We made our way to the top of the Kukastunturi fell at 477 meters.
When we made it to the top, we were greeted by a few hundred reindeer, which truly was the icing on the cake.
The National Park has amazing bike routes and several wilderness cafes located throughout the park. Most of them are open during the summer, and truly the best places to have a break and something to eat or drink.
We had great experiences with Lapland Safaris who were amazing hosts and guides during our 4-hour e-fat bike tour in Ylläs.
When I think of Scandinavia and Lapland, I think of vast nature, forests, lakes, mountains and lots of greenery. I can assure you that Finnish Lapland certainly doesn’t disappoint. One of the must do things here is an activity on the water, on one of the many beautiful lakes.
During our stay in Ylläs we went rowing. We had never done it before, but absolutely loved it. It’s everything: beautiful nature, peace, tranquility and just simply enjoy. It’s a magical and peaceful experience, being surrounded by fells and pine trees, amazing.
During our rowing adventure on one of the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park’s lakes, we came across a fisherman, which made that classic Scandinavian image even stronger. I hope he had a good catch that day.
Finnish Sauna and lake swimming
Finland and saunas, there are very few things that go better together. The Finnish sauna is a substantial part of the Finnish culture. In fact, the word sauna itself is of Finnish origin.
In Finland there are 5.5 million Finns versus 3.2 million saunas, so it’s an understatement to say sauna is quite a thing in Finland. In winter they use the snow to cool down after a sauna session. In summer there obviously is no snow, but thousands of lakes.
Sauna and lake swimming is the perfect combination, and Rönölä is one of the best places around Ylläs to have this real Finnish experience.
Where to stay in Ylläs
We really liked our time in Ylläs and would like to shortlist some of our favorite hotels and restaurants here, just to make it easier for you if you decide to visit Ylläs.
Lapland Hotel Saaga, the star of Lake Ylläs. Saaga is located on the tree line of Ylläsjärvi, where the scenery is magnificent, as far as the eye can see. The Gondola-lift, which runs right next to the hotel up to the fell, tempts you to spend a day on the fells.
This hotel is located in the biggest skiing area, so without doubt an absolute winter ski hotel. The area is home to many amazing slopes in winter, but in summer it’s the perfect mountain bike and hiking area. Trails start straight from the hotel.
It’s the perfect starting point to hike up the fells and experience the Midnight Sun in Summer. You’ll be rewarded with some amazing lake and mountain views, and within 20 minutes you’re back at your hotel room.
Where to eat in Ylläs
Jolie Lounge & Café
Jolie Lounge and Café is a restaurant in the Ylläs area that offers homemade seasonal food, original drinks and baked goods. They have a cozy lounge – living room, with a great outdoor terrace in Summer as well. Our recommendation here is the Tarte Flambee with smoked reindeer and wild herb pesto, perfection!
A classic Finnish restaurant in Ylläs, Äkäslompolo village. They offer wonderful dining experience, with mainly domestic ingredients and modern international cuisine. Our recommendations here are the Pulled Pork Bruschetta and the Chargrilled Reindeer.
Traveltomtom’s travel tip for Ylläs in Winter
It might sound strange for a summer blogpost on Ylläs, but if you ever get to visit this amazing place in winter, our number one recommendation is the Sauna Gondola. It’s a unique attraction, the only one of its kind in the country. It fits up to four people with one sauna tour lasting 20 minutes.
Your chances of spotting reindeer in Ylläs are high! The ratio reindeer – people is about 25000 to 1000. So you’re more likely to run into a reindeer than into another human being, how crazy!
A massive thank you is in order here for Visit Ylläs for inviting us to Ylläs and organizing an amazing trip in Lapland.
This blog was written by travel writer and Traveltomtom team member Ashley. She was invited to be one of the 2022 Midnight Sun Ambassadors on behalf of Traveltomtom, and visited Ylläs as part of that trip. She wrote this blog about her adventures and experiences in Scandinavia’s best outdoor destination.