Cross-country skiing in Finland is a popular traditional pastime for the snow-covered winters of Northern Europe. Children typically learn to ski from a young age in school, many continuing to ski as adults and some even going on to be successful competitive athletes at an international level. Cross-country skiing is a part of the Finnish culture and even its history, such as during the Second World War.
It stands to reason then that skiing is well-loved by the people of Finland and that there are so many options available to visitors who want to try it for themselves!
Cross-country skiing in Finland comes in two flavours. The first is more related to sport skiing in that it uses very long, narrow skis designed for speed on skiing trails. The second is a more ancient, traditional way of skiing that uses very broad forest skis that are more able to go off-trail, spreading a person’s weight to move over deep snow. Both are loads of fun and quite easy to learn, as well as being great, healthy forms of exercise.
Saimaa is a land awaiting discovery. The skiing routes of towns like Mikkeli and Savonlinna span many kilometres, covering all types of terrain, some easier and some very challenging. The trails lead around the towns and into the countryside, over hills, through forests in some cases over parts of Saimaa’s lakes. Some routes also have cafes that offer warm food and drinks for when you fancy a break, or you can stop off at a laavu shelter and grill over the fire.
Cross-country skiing is a fantastic way of taking in the sights of Finland in the winter. The blue and white of Finland’s flag are said to represent the blue of its skies and lakes in the summer, and the white of its snow in the winter. As you ski through the pine trees and over the expanse of the frozen archipelago, you’ll be guaranteed of some breath-taking views.
Whether you choose to stick to Saimaa’s skiing routes or go off trail, you’ll find quality equipment easy to source. Not only are skis readily available for hire, skiing equipment is also easily found in sports shops and supermarkets with expert advice on hand. Having a go at cross-country skiing in Finland couldn’t be easier; just remember to pack warm clothes!