So, when you hear that Scandanavian Airlines is having a fare sale and that you can get tickets from Chicago to Finland for under $300 bucks, what do you do? What do you do? (Hint: It’s better if you hear Keanu Reeve’s voice saying that line in your head). C’mon now, you know what we did, we booked tickets to go to Ivalo, Finland to hunt for the Northern Lights. Winter is generally the low season for travel from the US to Europe, I mean who wants to leave a cold place to go to another cold place for a “vacation”? When it comes to hunting the Northern Lights, however, winter is high season. While the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are present all year long, you can only see them in the darkness of the northern winter nights. So when I read about the SAS fare sale, I called Dr. J and within minutes we booked tickets for the family to head north and search for the Northern Lights. You’ve got thirty seconds to pack your backs and join us on our journey to Saariselkä, Finland, a cute little village in the Finnish Lapland that just happens to be one of the best places to catch the Northern Lights.
You can follow our trip from Chicago to Ivalo, Finland (gateway to Saariselkä) RIGHT HERE
You can check-out my blog on Five Things to Do in the Arctic North if the Northern Lights Don’t Come Out RIGHT HERE
Our journey from Chicago to Ivalo, Finland involved 22-hours, 4 airports, and 3 airplanes. We flew SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) from Chicago to Stockholm and from Stockholm to Helsinki. From Helsinki, we flew Norwegian Air Shuttle up to Ivalo. You can follow our trip from Chicago to Ivalo using the blog link above. You will also find links to our video flight reports in that blog.
After a much needed night of rest, we decided to explore Saariselka. Now when you picture Saariselka, you are probably picturing a small, snow-covered town, and that would be pretty accurate. But Saariselka is small is probably waaaayyy smaller than what you are picturing. You can actually drive the entire circle of the town (or maybe it’s a village, I’m not sure) in five minutes, and that’s driving at slow snow speed. Super small meant that everything was “centrally located” and we were able to do our exploring on foot.
Our guide picked us up from the hotel at 8 PM and while it is still really a blur, he somehow convinced us that ponying up the extra $400 to go hunt the lights by snow-mobile (for the adults) and snow-mobile drawn sleigh (for the kids and grandma) was the best way to truly experience the magic of Lapland.
A good night’s sleep meant waking up earlier on day 4. This gave us a bit more time to explore Saariselka
After a bit of exploring, we headed back to Anne’s Garden Grill and Cafe for another pre-Northern Lights dinner. If Anne’s had a garden, I’m guessing it is only visible for a few months of the year. After dinner, our guide picked us up and this time we headed northwest towards the Finland-Norway border. Much like the day and night before, this day and night was pretty overcast and our guide was pretty upfront that our chances of seeing the lights were low. We took the long journey to the border area because he felt that this was where we had our best chances of actually seeing the lights. After an hour of driving, we stopped on a deserted road high up on a mountaintop and there we just waited for the lights. And we waited, and we waited, and we waited some more. Alas, it appeared that the elusive Aurora Borealis would once again elude our attempts at capture!
Once again we didn’t see the lights but we did have another great night just spending time together as a family! After the long drive back to the hotel from our spotting location,…
Well, three nights in the Finnish Lapland and there were no Northern Lights for us. Before our flight back to Helsinki we took one last look around Saariselka.
You can check-out our VLOG exploring Saariselka:
Drive around Saariselka with us:
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