Helsinki-Rovaniemi (I flew with the kids for about an hour, my husband drove our car for about 12 hours to get there) – Arctic Circle – Tornio river and river towns both in Finland and in Sweden – Kilpisjärvi and Saana – Skibotn in Norway – Levi – Ranua – Oulu – Raahe – Kalajoki – Pyhäjoki – Oulu – husband off to work by car, me and the kids by train first to Seinäjoki and after a night there with friends home to Helsinki.
Favourites named by the our Children:
- Our kids loved seeing Santa Clause (the Arctic Circle part was not surprisingly quite lost on them)
- Seeing foxes play in the nature
- Playgrounds (Arctic Circle, Levi, Ranua, Raahe, Kalajoki, Pyhäjoki)
- Seeing how small the cars got as we climbed up on Saana
- Staying in the tent. And the hotels, especially the playrooms in hotels…
- Counting waterfalls in Norway
- Playing with other children especially in Ranua. The fairytale park was also loved.
- Cars: pedal cars in Levi, Oulu and Kalajoki, engine driven cars in Ranua.
- Playing on the beach in Oulu
- The spa in Oulu
Favourites of Parents:
- Climbing Saana
- The views, nature and the light of the far north.
- Norwegian mountains. Need to go back there.
- Ranua. We loved the whole thing even though our children didn’t seem as interested in the animals as we had expected.
- Kalajoki dunes are worth seeing!
- The tiny camping in the middle of the nature in Pyhäjoki.
- No schedules, no stress, time to be together and to play games and the option of deciding in the morning where we’d head.
- We were positively surprised by how well our children travelled long distances in car: driving from Rovaniemi to Kilpisjärvi takes about 6 hours without stops. It took a lot of driving games but not a lot of whining.
Downsides and disappointments:
- The weather: it was exceptionally cold and there was more than enough of rain. We intended to camp all the way but as it was so wet and/or cold we spent five nights in hotels and one in a cabin instead. Hotels were good though, they just don’t have the same connection to the nature.
- The rowdy night in Kalajoki.
- The cheap cabin in Nallikari in Oulu was not clean.
I didn’t calculate the cost of the trip but we spent less than 1000e in total as we had so many nights for free/ heavily discounted nights in hotels due to my husbands work. We also used a lot of his points for free meals in S-chain restaurants that he accumulates spending a lot of work nights in S-chain hotels. The flight for me and the children cost about 150e as we booked early on, and the two train trips Oulu-Seinäjoki, Seinäjoki-Oulu cost about 120e as I booked them in the last minute.
If you are interested in camping in Finland and wondering about the cost, maybe the calculations I did on last years camping trip through central Finland will give you an idea of how much this sort of travelling costs, as well as some pros and cons from our point of view on camping with small children.