Cross-country skiing Ski cross-country on maintained trails Ski cross-country off trails

Cross-country skiing is a popular and easy way to explore the Finnish nature in the winter. Within a few minutes’ skiing distance away from the hustle and bustle of towns and ski resorts, you may find yourself surrounded by breath-taking views and the vast silence of the Finnish nature. There are thousands of kilometres of maintained skiing tracks within or near Finland’s National Parks, especially in Lapland - the land of round-top fells, lively ski resorts and the cleanest air in the world. The length of a typical ski season varies by seasonal weather conditions and latitude – your chances to find a winter wonderland increase the further north you go . 

Cross-country skiers at Rokua National Park. Photo: Eeva Mäkinen.

How to get started 

Many National Parks offer good cross-country skiing opportunities – if there is snow. Check the National Park website or the Visitor Center for information on skiing trails and their current conditions. Excursionmap.fi is a good source of information on trails in National Parks, too.  Ski equipment rentals and guided skiing trips are offered by several outdoor service providers throughout Finland. If you are a beginner and want to learn the basics, consider taking a cross-country skiing lesson in a ski school. 

Each National Park has a variety of authorized partners which offer activities and outdoor services in the area. We recommend using authorized Parks & Wildlife Finland partners, who are committed to the principles of sustainable nature tourism.  

Wilderness cafe Lampivaara at Pyhä-Luosto National Park. Photo: Visit Pyhä-Luosto.

Important tips 

Cross-country skiing suits everyone. Those trying it for the first time or wanting to take it easy can slowly ski through snowy landscapes on a classic ski trail (two parallel tracks next to each other). Low-altitude trails which are mainly flat and not too long are excellent for beginners. The skating technique (sometimes called the V-style) is a little more complex but guarantees you speed and true winter fun!  

In National Parks, cross-country skiing tracks are set only on a few trails. When planning a cross-country skiing trip, get a ski trail map at the Visitor Centre or a local authorized partner. Pay attention to the three difficulty levels of skiing tracks: easy, moderate, and difficult. Some trails are lit in the evenings. 
If feeling insecure, consider taking a guided ski trip or a lesson in a ski school with one of the authorized partners in the area.

Dress properly and be familiar with layering for severe winter temperatures to prevent chilling and overheating. If you didn’t bring proper clothing, no problem. Just head to an outdoor store and they will help you out.

No permit is required for daytrips or overnight trips. 

Ski Trail at Syöte National Park. Photo: Minna Koramo.

Safety

  • Winter weather in Finland can be extremely cold, windy and unpredictable. Bear in mind that daylight hours are limited in the winter. Wear proper clothing layers. Watch yourself and other members of your party for signs of hypothermia. Sun protection, especially eye protection, is important in the spring. 
  • Always ski with someone else. Leave word about where you are going, by what route, and when you plan to return. 
  • Carry extra clothing, food, snacks, water, up-to-date trail map and compass, matches and headlamp. Make sure to bring enough drinking water, even in low temperatures. Carry water in insulated bottles so it doesn’t freeze, or consider bringing warm drinks, such as tea or hot berry juice. Inquire locally if there are any wilderness cafes that sell hot drinks, pancakes and snacks to skiers along trails. 
  • Carry a fully charged mobile phone and keep it warm. However, do not rely on it. Smart phones don’t always work in low temperatures. Keep in mind that cell phone coverage can be limited in some areas. 
  • Emergency number in Finland is 112. 
  • Know the limits of your ability. If you find the trail too difficult, turn back. Please do not take your skis off to walk up or down hills as the holes you will leave are very dangerous for other skiers. If you decide to continue, turn sideways, dig ski edges into the slope and sidestep either up or down the hill.
  • Plan your time. Include allowances for limited daylight, snow conditions, temperature extremes, and the number of people in the group, their experience and physical condition.
  • Do not approach reindeer or other wildlife.

Trail Etiquette

  • Be considerate. Ski on the right and pass on the left. Faster skiers yield to the slower.
  • Please note, that skiing trails - both classic cross-country tracks and skating lane - are for skiing only. Please do not walk or snowshoe on skiing trails.
  • Skiers going uphill yield to those going downhill. Keep your distance, especially in downhill sections.
  • If you need to take a break, please move off the track. When possible, take advantage of the maintained campfire sites and wilderness cafes along the trail.