I love being active and outside in the winter, and the fact that Finland still has a “real winter” is one of my favourite things living here. The Lakeland region has always been super intriguing for me, but I have spent definitely too little time there. Jyväskylä is one of the biggest cities in the area, and a mere 3-hour train ride away from Helsinki, which gets you right in the centre of winter paradise without trekking all the way up North. You can get tons of inspiration on when to do what and where from the website of the region as well.
Disclaimer: This trip was part of my work with the Nordic Bloggers’ Experience 2018 and Visit Jyväskylä! All opinions are my own.
What to do?
Here the possibilities are so full of variety, that it’s difficult to decide. For activities in an urban setting, many things are available to try out at the Laajis – Urban outdoors park Laajis Urban Outdoors Par. With vastly spread forests, here hides a paradise for winter fun lovers, for example, 64km network of groomed cross country tracks, but I opted to try snow skates – which I didn’t even know existed. They look like skiing shoes but have an elongated and completely flat bottom side, which allows you to speed along the flat snow like on ice-skates. Loved it.
I had never tried fat biking and when I finally did, I figured why I hadn’t tried it yet and won’t again because I was plain terrible at it. As an avid biker during the seasons that are not winter, I was pretty excited to give these a try. Going cross-country on these bikes that are pretty hard to manoeuvre, I kept sliding off because I’m too short – all in all. Didn’t have the greatest time. Ha. But everyone else did, and I’m happy to get that off my list. The Kivitasku area, and Versona, provide plenty of fun winter activities, like kick-sledging and hiking in the forest.
Snowshoeing is one of the most underrated activities in my opinion, it’s not getting you any adrenaline whatsoever, and it seems really annoying at first. But: just walk normally like you don’t even have a giant long thing attached to your feet and you’ll soon discover why and how this is so nice: because it’s peaceful and simple, and gets your legs going real well.
Snowmobiles are the opposite of quiet, which is the main reason for many people staying away from these. While I absolutely get that reasoning, I have always enjoyed it, the power beneath your butt and making it out into parts of the forest that you probably wouldn’t reach otherwise.
River floating yes! Of course this is quite a specific thing to try and it’s not offered everywhere, but at Varjola guest house you can. I had tried this before in the North up in Kemi on an ice-breaker cruise, and it is totally fun. And scary. The ice on the river is pretty unreliable because of the movement of the water, so our group was told to “just walk out on the ice until you break in”. Cool. The giant red bodysuits isolate perfectly from cold and water and happily flopping about in the water between the ice shelves is just an amazing feeling. If you ever get the chance to try it, go and do it.
Where to stay?
Accommodation options vary totally from what you’re looking for. Staying in the city, the Solo Sokos Hotel Paviljonki is a modern and well-located option with great views and proximity to everything you need.
In the countryside, Guesthouse Kumpunen gets you the cosy farm atmosphere for relaxing after an active day, with adorable rooms, good food and friendly hosts right by lake Kirrinjärvi. The place was recently renovated and is perfect for a calm and unique stay. Activities offered are really simple yet in the perfect setting.
Guesthouse Varjola is a more modern option and has beautiful studio apartments and rooms. The riverside sauna is one of a kind and the activity options range from floating in the river to snowmobiling in the forest. There’s also no place I’d rather be than that kota for a hot drink after spending all day outside in the snow.