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Published: March 16th 2018
I will share my experience in Levi divided in different topics:
- My impression of Levi
- What to do
- what to wear
1: My impression of Levi:
I didn’t come to Levi to do downhil skiing. Even though it’s a huge skiing area for Finnish standards, it’s very small compared to the resorts in the alps. Levi slopes also don’t have alpine amazing views. I came to do things you cannot do in the Alps. And there are lots of such things!
The most important thing I noticed in Levi is that it is very commercialized ('touristy'). The only other place I visited in Lapland was Ruka and Ruka was more 'laid back'. Ruka didn’t have an airport and the Norwegian border is far away. Levi is full of 'package holiday' travellers, coming both by plane and by bus (from neighbouring Norway).
Levi town is actually not a town, it’s just hotels. It has very clearly been build recently and it has a shopping mall kind of fake character. Every shop in Levi is for tourists. It’s either a souvenir shop, a travel agent offering local tours, a ski shop, or a caffee or restaurant. There is a huge Burger King that is very busy. The locals somehow didn’t really smile. Dispite all that though, we had a great time and here are a few tips of what to do:
2: What to do:
For most people the husky sledging will be the highlight I guess. It’s a fun experience. You are always two in a sledge (so no instructor) and one of you will be driving, the other sitting. If the driver falls off the sledge, the person in the sledge will shoot off in an uncontrolable husky-sledge combination, so driving requires a bit of concentration. Driver and passenger will get a chance to change places half way the journey. We did a 25 minutes ride and it was more than enough. We were actually happy were weren’t out there longer cause our hands and feet were simply freezing on the sledge because one doesn’t move. The temperature was -20 and we were in ski clothing with double socks and double gloves.
There are tours for everything in Levi. Many of them though are easily done without a guide, saving lots of money.
There are norther light tours, but I suggest just walking onto a frozen lake. From anywhere in Levi you can also walk to one of two big lakes to see the northern lights. Lake Immeljärvi (90% of people goes there and you won't be alone there), or lake Sirkkajä accesable from Sirkkajärventie Road.
We did ‘the’ snowshoe hike on our own, without guide. You can walk to the beginning of a the Levi snowshoe hike from the tourist information office in 10 minutes. On the top of the mountain/hill there is a place to bbq with free wood (ask the tourist information for details as it was unusable due to a snow storm when we were there). The snow shoe hike will take about 4 hours or more if you like. You get back exactly the way you go up, so you always know how far you are away from the staring point in Levi.
This is a hidden gem. There is a trail at the end of which a wooden cabin with a fire place for public use is located. I think the cabin is called Korkeaniemi. Anyway it's just west of lake Immeljärvi. There is free firewood and it is a good place to watch the northern lights. This cabin is only a 20 minutes from Levi. The way there is unlit but we managed to get there with a small torch.
We didn’t do a snowmobile safari. We simply rented snowmobiles and drove the route the tour did. No experience required. Just tell the rental place you never drove before and they will explain how easy it is. Being outside of a group we could drive faster (in a group you are always as fast as the slowest person in the group) and we could stop to make photos where we wanted.
The snowmobiles gave of some heat so it wasn’t quite as cold as the husky sleding. A tip for not getting cold on the snowmobiles btw is always to wear the rental place's snowmobile shoes.
Two tips regarding snow-mobiles:
1: I was tested for alcohol before being given the snowmobile at 09:00 o’clock in the morning. ( I guess the tip is not to show up hung over!)
2: Ask the rental place which tracks have been flattened within the last 24 hours. Snow mobile tracks get bumpy over time and special vehicles are constantly driving to flatten the tracks again. It’s a dream to drive on newly prepared snowmobile tracks and can be hell to drive on really bumpy ones.
Very fun was the lazer-gaming. The price includes being picked up from, and dropped off at, your accommodation. You are allowed to take your own beer to the lazer-gaming too.
There are two go-cart racing circuits. One is at the base of ski lift Gondoli 2000. 15 minutes costs approx 25 euros (can't remember exactly). You can show up and drive. The other option is the go cart track on the southern tip of lake Immeljärvi. The only way to drive there is pay 59 euro for two times 15 minutes (and a free hot drink), and you have to be picked up and dropped of at the tourist information center. The tracks are about the same. B.T.W. The tracks can be changed every day as it just depends on how to push up the snow. Even girls who don't care for go-carts will enjoy it, as it's fun to slide all the time and keep control of the cart. It is not fast at all. Just fun.
At the ski rental place at the buttom of the lifts in Levi (also called ‘point zero’, they rent out fat bikes. Mountain bikes with really wide tires. They looked like good fun! Another thing that was super fun was simply sledging down some of the shallower slopes. Most cabins have a few sledges as standard with them and they can be bought for 12 euros. I thought it’s for kids, but I really enjoyed racing a friend. We must have been going 40 km an hour.
3: What to wear:
I had my ski clothing with me. It turned out that even though I have expensive ski gloves plus expensive undergloves, my hands were still cold. I suggest buying a pair of mittons that go over all your other gloves. As far as shoes are concerned, you need wool lined shoes plus 2 pairs of warm socks, or buy some shoes in Levi. Don’t try to find them at home. There are enough shops in Levi that sell really warm shoes. Normal shoes (without woolen lining) with one pair of winter socks are way to cold (it was -30/-20).
Other then that, normal ski clothing will keep the rest of your body warm. I never needed my snow goggles. Snow mobile rental places offer the kind of helmets with their own visor, and the one where you use your snow goggles. In the latter version your nose tends to get really cold so I suggest taking the helmet with build in visor.
Be aware that most of your clothing will be smelling of wood smoke as I sat next to burning fires a few times during my days in Levi.
When we went hiking we took an aluminium cooling bag and put our drinks in it together with a warm water bottle (the type you take with you in bed at night). I drank a beer at a camp fire one night and it froze before I could finish it.
Friday and Saturday are the slower nights as most tourist groups come and go on Saturday and Sunday. Any of the other days seems to be equally busy, which is not too busy.
Levi gets a 2 out of 10 for singles. The age group 18-35 seems to be completely absent. The only two places I saw some people in this age group were in the Hölmölä around midnight, and the Rock Café Hulo Poro after one o’clock.
A pretty and cosy bar for a drink in the afternoon is the Levin Pub.
The bar with the friendliest staff (without a doubt) was the Joiku. Go here if you want to be among just Finish people. The bar is a strange combination of karaoke bar and ballroom dancing. Be ready for an older croud.
In all bars a beer is about 7-8 euros. They all have a delicious grapefruit alcoholic drink on tap (blue-wite logo).
All bars ask for ID at the door.
And yes, the locals go out in sneakers without socks and sometimes even without a jacket.
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