Ivalo: Aurora hunting in the centre of northern Lapland

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If you long for ice, snow and the Northern Lights, Ivalo is the place for you. Winter fans can really feel at home here in the north of Finland. Whether on a sleigh ride, ski tour or simply hiking – the magic of Lapland’s fascinating nature is omnipresent. Find out what you can’t miss for the perfect winter holiday in Ivalo, how best to get there and which accommodation options are available here!

Why go to Ivalo?

Ivalo is the heart and centre of the northern Finnish region of Inari. The region’s largest city is the gateway for tourists and visitors from all over the world to one of the most fascinating regions in the world: Northern Lapland. Surrounded by pristine and unspoilt nature, Ivalo is the perfect starting point for all kinds of exploration tours. Whether by dog sled, on skis or by snowmobile; whether during the day, when reindeer make their rounds, or at night, when the northern lights dance across the sky – outdoor and winter fans get their money’s worth in this small community.

But a trip is also worthwhile in summer, when you can chase the never-setting sun on wonderful hiking or canoeing tours. Ivalo is also the right place to learn more about the culture and traditions of the indigenous peoples of the north: the region is characterised by Sami culture, with 30% of the population of Inari being Sami.

Ivalo: Holidays
Ivalo is the place for holidays in ice and snow.

The name “Ivalo” or “Ivalu” is also a popular first name. It comes from Greenlandic and means something like “sinew” or “thread”. The name received particular attention in 2011 when the daughter of then Danish Crown Prince Frederik was baptised with the third name Ivalo.

Where is Ivalo located?

It could hardly be further north – Ivalo is located far above the Arctic Circle in one of the northernmost regions of the world. The administrative centre of the Inari region is located on the River Ivalojoki, which flows into Finland’s third largest lake, Inarijärvi, about 12 kilometres to the north.

However, its northern location also means that it is largely secluded. The nearest major city is Murmansk, just across the border with Russia (a distance of just under 400 kilometres), while the nearest Finnish city is Oulu, around 510 kilometres away. The Finnish capital Helsinki in the south of the country is more than 1100 kilometres away by air (approx. 950 kilometres). So if you want to start a road trip in the capital and get as far north as possible, you should definitely mark Ivalo on your map.

Ivalo: weather

Ice and snow are guaranteed here: In the winter months, temperatures are almost constantly below 0° Celsius. The coldest months are January and February, when average temperatures drop to -9° Celsius and there is little sunshine in the sky – but you can enjoy the polar night and northern lights. In summer, when the snow has melted, Ivalo has pleasantly mild temperatures. The best time to visit for sun lovers is therefore from June to September, as this is when the sun shines the most and there is not much rainfall. It is warmest in July, when the average temperature is 17° Celsius.

Ivalo weather
The weather in Ivalo in winter brings ice, snow and northern lights.

Activities in Ivalo

Northern lights

During the winter months in Finland, auroras can be seen in the sky almost every night, especially in the northern regions of the country. Ivalo, which is located in the north of the country, is an ideal place to observe the green-purple sky spectacle, as the surroundings are very natural and there is hardly any traffic or industry, which means that there is little air pollution and the sky, stars and Northern Lights can be clearly recognised. Of course, you can watch the Northern Lights on your own (if you prefer to relax, you can also do this from your hotel window or balcony) or take part in an organised tour.

Outdoor tours

If you want to explore Lapland’s nature during the day, you can do so in a variety of ways. In winter, the region is a winter sports area – so there is a wide range of ski slopes and trails that you can tackle on skis or snowboard. There are also numerous tours on snowmobiles or reindeer or dog sledges.

In summer, the cross-country ski trails become wonderful routes for hiking or cycling. When the region’s rivers and lakes are free of ice again, all kinds of water sports can be practised here. Canoeing and kayaking are particularly popular, but you can also relax by fishing. Treasure hunters can get active on the River Ivalojoki – Finland’s first gold rush took place here, and even today you can find gold at old and new mining sites.

The Hammastunturi wilderness area and the two national parks Urho Kekkonen and Lemmenjoki are particularly attractive for visitors.

Ivalo: Outdoor tours
If you want to explore the region around Ivalo, you can also do so by dog sled.

Ivalo: accommodation

Hotels in Ivalo

As a popular tourist destination, Ivalo offers several hotels. Everyone can find the right accommodation for them, with varying price and comfort levels. Hotels offer accommodation for those who do not want to do without comfort on holiday – especially after a strenuous day outdoors. Many hotels also offer a sauna, which is of course a must on a holiday in Finland. Hotel highlights in Ivalo are certainly the Wilderness Hotel Nangu & Igloos, which invites you to relax and watch the Northern Lights from its log cabins and glass igloos with lake views, or the Aurora Village Ivalo, where you can watch the Northern Lights from your bed – the cabins in the complex have skylights and glass roofs.

Camping in Ivalo

Camping is a particularly good option for summer holidays. Nature lovers in particular are in good hands here – most campsites are located in the middle of unspoilt Finnish nature, often by the water. There is also plenty of space to bring your own sports equipment. Many campsites nowadays also offer a range of services, such as sports facilities, breakfast service or access to a traditional Finnish sauna, which invites you to relax and recharge your batteries after an eventful day.

Travelling to Ivalo

Flights to Ivalo

Ivalo: flights
Flights to Ivalo are available from Helsinki.

Ivalo Airport, the northernmost airport in Finland and the European Union, is located about 11 kilometres southwest of the city centre.

Finnair flies to Ivalo daily from Helsinki, and Norwegian Air Shuttle also operates flights between Helsinki and Ivalo several times a week. Travellers from the UK should therefore plan a stopover in the Finnish capital.

From the airport, you can take a shuttle bus or taxi to the city centre or to your accommodation, or you can also hire a car.

By car to Ivalo

In ideal conditions, the car journey from Helsinki to Ivalo takes a good 13 hours – the perfect destination for a road trip through Finland. Ivalo is located on Finnish State Road 4 or European Route 75 and is therefore easily accessible from the rest of Finland and Helsinki in particular.

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