GoXski - Information about cross country skiing in Akaslompolo - Ylläs, Finland (2023)

Ylläs (Äkäslompolo), Finland

The Ylläs (Oolas) cross country ski area is situated 150K north of the Artic Circle in Finnish Lapland. It is named after the largest fell in the area and has a total of 330 km of nordic ski tracks, including 38 kilometres which are illuminated, and is Finland's largest cross country ski network. The main area for cross country skiing centres around Äkäslompolo and you can get buses from here to the start of other trails in the area. Additional information on this page is supplied with thanks to Gerard and Maria Ollier of LRNSC.

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    Tracks near the lake. Photo Pauline Styles


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    Yorkshire Dales Cross Country Ski Club trip 2019. Photo Deborah Johnston


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    A stop at Karhukota for our packed lunch. Photo Pauline Styles


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    Cabin overlooking the Äkäs lake. Photo Pauline Styles


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    View of Ylläs from the Kellokas visitor centre. Photo Pauline Styles


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    Inside the cosy Äkäs cabins. Photo Pauline Styles


Getting there – by Air

You can fly direct to Kittilä at certain times of the year with British Airways, Finnair and Lufthansa.

At other times you can get a connectingflight via Helsinki.

Transfer – from Kitillä Airport by Bus

The distance is around 40K and takes about 30 minutes. There are regular bus connections from the airport to surrounding areas which coincide with flight timings. Here is the bus information to Ylläs.

Bus Connections to Kittilä / Kolari

There is a regular bus service linked to Finnair flights. For other airlines the Ylläs Express offer a service. Here is the link to the Tnturilinjat transport website which covers connections local areas as well as:

  • www.vr.fi
  • www.finnair.fi
  • www.norwegian.com
  • www.blue1.fi

Transfer – to Kolari train station

You can reach Ylläs by train from Helsinki. If you catch the night train in the evening, you will be there by morning. You can also board the train along the route, like from Tampere or Oulu. Kolari railway station is 35 km from Ylläs.

Transfer – from Kolari train station by Bus

Buses coordinate with arriving trains andthis is the train/bus timetable to Ylläs.

Ski bus information/timetable

At the time of writing the ski busis free if booking through Inghams at the Äkäs Hotel, Äkäs Cabins or Alp Apartments. however it is not too expensive if you need to purchase tickets the price would beapproximately €3.50 Adult/€2.50 Child per trip or €21 Adult / €10.50 Child per week (under 4yrs Free).

GoXski - Information about cross country skiing in Akaslompolo - Ylläs, Finland (7)

Ylläs Online Trail and Track Service

Apart from buying a paper map you can also use the Ylläs Online Trail and Track service with all your devices - laptop, tablet and mobile phone. By buying the online map or the paper map you support the maintenance of the Ylläs trails and tracks. The price is €10.00. You are able to see the maintained ski tracks, winter trails and snowmobile tracks with different colours. The colours indicate the time since the trail was last time groomed. The cafe's, wind shelters and huts along the trails are also shown. You can also measure selected trail lengths and store your own map views with selected services along the trails. The online Ylläs Trail and Track service enables you to share your favorite skiing routes in social media or email.

If you have already purchased the Ylläs Online Trail and Track service you can log in from www.infogis.fi/yllas.

Cross Country Ski Tracks and Routes

Here are details of the Ylläs ski track service and click on the map above for a link to the Ylläs løipe map.

The tracks cover an extensive area and a ski bus service makes it possible to ski a linear route and catch the bus back which gives great flexibility for route planning.The terrain is undulating with relatively moderate hills and the tracks are well groomed for skating and classic techniques. The scenery is forest, frozen lakes and fells.

For those who prefer short trips there are easy tracks by the village of Akaslompolo. They are easy to work out from the map, and are perhaps in the region of 8 to 15K. For others who enjoy a good 40K daily average, there is plenty of scope as the map will show.There are many loops that can be attempted as there is a plentiful supply of tracks.

Those who like a rest day might find the Kellokas visitor centre of interest. It is on the way to Y1, just below it, and can be reached on foot or by ski bus. There you can learn about the national park in which Akaslompolo is situated and the life past and present of its inhabitants by viewing subtitled films or visiting the museum.There is also a cafe with nice views of the fells.

Newcomers will find it easy to navigate as the map is detailed, contoured, and the tracks are very well waymarked.

Always plan a route to know where you can take shelter or get hot food if the weather turns as it is dangerous in some weather conditions if you are not fully prepared with the correct clothing.

Another long distance route option is to cross country ski to Levi stopping off at Aekenspurtti hut on the way, or ski there and back. Details of the hut can be found via theLevi Tourist information.

Ylläs Cross Country Ski Routes

  • Äkäsmylly - Kotamaja - Akaslompolo - 24K

    On Wednesdays you can catch a coachnorth to Äkäsmylly,and ski back to Akaslompolo. The coach can be boarded in several places, but starts filling from outside the Äkäs Hotel. It is a popular trip and in the season, can fill two coaches.

    Äkäsmylly is situated in a scenic location by an old water mill now preserved as a museum on the shores of the pristine Äkäsjoki river just north of Äkäslompolo. There is a lovely eco cafe for a drink before you start your skiing (please take your own reusable cup). From here it is a 22-24K ski trip depending on the route you choose to get back. There are cafes on the way and they are marked on the map.

  • Luosu - Velhon Kota - Äkäslompolo - 28K

    This relatively long trip takes you from the first downhill station known as Y1, all the way to Luosu where you can stop for refreshment and back to Akaslompolo via VelhonKota where you will find a cafe. It is quite a long trip with long descents and gentle ascents.

  • Ylläsjarvi - Äkäslompolo

    Taking the ski bus to Yllasjarvi is a another way of skiing a linear route from there back to base or the other way round.

  • Äkäslompolo - Ylläs Fell

    Starting from base and going round the Yllas fell would be a good one for the long distance enthusiasts. The ski bus would enable you to halve that loop. Once you start going into undulating terrain. the tracks get less busy, as they can be quite crowded in season and around Akaslompolo.

  • Y1 - Äkäslompolo

    Take the bus to Y1 to add this track onto the last route mentioned. You can pick up the track from there to descend back to Äkäslompolo. It is a short route but has a little challenging black section near to the start. This provides a fast and challenging section with several S bends but is not too difficult if you take it slowly.

  • Äkäslompolo - Kotamaja

    There are several routes you can take to Kotamaja which sits to the north north east of Äkäslompolo., which depend on how steep you want the terrain and how many rest opportunities. Start on the track at the rear of the Äkäshotelli which immediately goes downhill towards the lake. At the cross roads take the right turning and head towards Kesänjaärvi. Then you have a choice to get to the Hangaskuru shelter, take:

    • the 2.4K route north to skirt around the left side of the Kesänki fell and then 0.6K and 1.9K onwards;
    • the 2.3K that goes directly up and over the fell and meets the track above and proceeds onwardsr;
    • the option to carry on to Latvamaja for a coffee then the 2 x 2.7K tracks to the right of the fell.

    From Hangaskuru take the 3.3 route to Kotamaja and reward yourself with a hot meal before chosing a return route.

Where to Stay

The best location for cross country skiing is to stay in Äkäslompolo rather than the other village in the area, Ylläsjärvi which is much more akin to the downhillers.

The Äkäshotelli has been a firm favourite with cross country skiers for years, and there are also options to rent an Äkäs Cabin with them.

There is also a good selection of other self catering apartments close by to choose from, the Alp Apartments being one.

The Äkäs hotel has an excellent ski room for waxing and ski storage, and is also where the ski bus comes to pick up from in the morning, with a very convenient hotel reception to wait in the cold mornings. Ski buses are free if you are staying there.

There are many other options for accommodation around the village which is not too spread out so its a question of whether you want to walk to the supermarket or be closer to the bus stop. Holiday cottage rental is the most popular form of accommodation and there are hotels and apartments to accommodate cross country skiers. Destination Laplands is a well established rental company.


March is the most popular time to visit as the days are longer and the weather is less cold. The weather is quite predictable. What you find in the morning will most likely be there for the day. Temperatures vary from year to year. It can be very cold or just cold enough to ski in light gear. Usually early morning is much colder than later on and by about 4pm or so expect to add another layer. The coldest time I have been there was a record -35 degrees centigrade at 8am and only warmed up to around -25 by 10am. However, it can be extremely warm too with temperatures reaching around 4 degrees so watch the weather report before you travel.

For those booking when the days are short there is a good network of lit tracks.

Bars and Restaurants

The Otso Restaurant and Bar, which used to be called Jullis, serve home made burgers, and reindeer specialities as well as pizzas they you can also order to take away. It is an informal bar/restaurant a short walk from the Äkäs hotel.

Cross Country Ski Rental/Retailers

The Akaslompolo Sports Shop is a short walk from the Akas hotel and provides excellent ski hire as well as equipment and clothing. You can often get bargains at the end of season.


There is a large supermarket about 10 minutes walk from the Äkäs hotel which also has an ATM. There is a shopping centre here with another ski rental/retailer which holds some good stock.

Cross Country Ski Races

The Ylläs to Levi cross country ski race is part of the VISMA Ski Classics set of races which takes place in April each year.

If you're there some other time, why not challenge yourself to ski the route. The 70km race is a challenging and rewarding course with longer climbs and easier flats through the artic birch forest. Or you can chose the shorter 55K option leaving out the climb before Kätkänlaavu.

Pre-planned trips to Ylläs

You can pre book a learn to ski package with Inghams, and discounts are available through LRNSC for all operators.

Inntravel have a learn to cross country ski week which offers 2 x 90-minute lessons, 6 days’ classic ski hire and guided ski tour.


Is cross-country skiing popular in Finland? ›

Cross-country skiing is something of a national sport in Finland, as it's one of the most enjoyable and organic ways to take in the magic of winter. In the Lakeland region, there are thousands of kilometres of well-maintained trails.

What country is known for cross-country skiing? ›

Cross-country skiing (xc-skiing) is one of the oldest winter sports, especially well known in Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Finland & Norway – the fatherland of cross-country skiing.

Why cross-country skiing is the best sport? ›

It is widely accepted in the field of exercise physiology as "the best cardiovascular exercise known." Cross-country skiing uses a large percentage of your muscle mass, and is more efficient and effective than activities using legs alone or arms alone.

Why is it called cross-country skiing? ›

cross-country skiing, skiing in open country over rolling, hilly terrain as found in Scandinavian countries, where the sport originated as a means of travel as well as recreation and where it remains popular. In its noncompetitive form the sport is also known as ski touring.

How popular is cross-country skiing? ›

According to the Cross Country Ski Area Association, more than 5.2 million people cross country skied in the United States during the 2019-20 season, a 6% improvement from the previous season. The percentage increase in snowshoeing participation was double that - 12% bump, to 3.6 million.

How old is cross-country skiing? ›

Though cross-country skiing originated in Scandinavia over 5000 years ago, it was not introduced to Canada until the 1890s. In the early stages of the sport, most skiers carried a single pole and wore long (2.

How fast is cross-country skiing? ›

Moderate-speed cross country skiing (think 5–7 m.p.h.) burns closer to 500–550 calories per hour. Cross country skiing at a brisk, vigorous pace burns closer to 600 calories per hour.

What is another name for cross-country skiing? ›

The terms “Nordic skiing” and “cross country skiing” are often used interchangeably. In the wider sense, cross country skiing is a variation of Nordic skiing, and Nordic skiing encompasses a number of other disciplines too.

Where is cross-country skiing most popular? ›

Cross-country skiing is extremely popular in Norway, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the USA. While you may be tempted to go nordic skiing in Norway which is considered to be the birthplace of the sport, it is also highly popular in Canada, and a favorite winter pastime in Vermont, USA.

Where is the best cross-country skiing in Europe? ›

Highest cross-country skiing areas in Europe
  • Obertilliach. ...
  • Verbier / Val de Bagnes. ...
  • 4 Vallees. ...
  • Mölltaler Gletscher. ...
  • Seiser Alm. ...
  • 3 Zinnen Dolomites. Classic. ...
  • St. Moritz - Engadin. ...
  • Grandvalira. Groomed.

Is Finland known for skiing? ›

Finland boasts around 75 ski resorts, a relatively large number in a country without mountains. The resorts are on hills and fells that are covered in snow for around 200 days a year. The ski season in Finland starts as soon as October and ends as late as May.

Is Finland any good for skiing? ›

Ski resorts in Finland

There is a large amount of ski terrain in the region, along with a snowboard park and ski schools, making it perfect for those new to the sport. Levi is Lapland's most popular ski resort. Yllas has the longest ski runs in Europe with a ski playground totalling 63 pistes and 29 lifts.

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