We always said we would love to take our girls to Lapland to visit Santa and this year seemed like the perfect age for it (5 and 7). But we also wanted to fit in a ski trip in December as I’m not willing to give up February half term for snow. I need sunshine in February!!
So we did our research and found out from our friend who runs AWE365 that you can combine skiing and Santa in Lapland!! Genius!! And it works out far better value than just booking a Santa visit.
We chose to visit Ruka – it’s the largest ski resort in Lapland and won ‘best ski resort’ every year from 2013-2016.
Skiing in Ruka with Children
Ruka is great for beginner skiers. There are plenty of wide, gentle runs and the family park is well designed with 3 magic carpets to get novices up the slope.
The Rudolph Run is not to be missed (Blue 26). Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll spot ‘Elf houses’, reindeer and huskies! This is also one of the runs where a fire is lit later in the day for toasting marshmallows and sausages. This run is absolutely magical and was the kids’ favourite. Another much loved run was the Rosa Run. This is a short run with jumps for kids (and adults!) to play on and we spent hours there one day going up and down getting confident jumping. It’s so short that a parent can watch from the bottom as kids go up and down safely.
Intermediate and Advanced skiing in Ruka
There is only one mountain so the runs are limited. After a week of skiing I felt I’d covered it all and even the kids felt like they’d exhausted all the runs within their skill level. The red runs aren’t too challenging and even the blacks are relatively tame. Not that I attempted many of them!
I spotted more boarders at Ruka than I usually do on the slopes. Usually my husband is one of the minority on the slopes with his board. The half pipe and board park were a big attraction for them along with the shorter runs.
If you’re a keen skier or boarder this is a great destination for a few days. A full week might be pushing it as there isn’t a huge variety when it comes to runs.
Facilities and Ski Conditions in Ruka
It can get really cold in Ruka and the visibility can be terrible. We arrived in a heat wave. It was only -10°c. BUT it’s not unusual for December to reach -25°c.
The lifts are some of the coldest I’ve ever seen with ice covering the bars and seats. If you’re used to the high-end gondolas and chairlifts in Courchevel these will feel quite different in contrast! They get you up the mountain though so we can’t complain. Lifts are open from 9:30am – 7pm with late night skiing on a Friday (till 11pm).
The bizarre thing is that sunset is around 1:30pm (end of December) and it’s properly dark all afternoon. There’s not that feeling of rushing to fit in as much skiing as possible before dark because it already is! The runs are very well lit and there isn’t a huge difference between skiing in the daylight and under the floodlights.
The ski season in Ruka, Lapland lasts more than 200 days a year. There are not going to be any concerns about getting good snow when you head out there. In fact, Ruka claims to have guaranteed snow from October to May! Wow! If you’re looking for a European ski trip in May half term Ruka is possibly your best option.
Ski Lessons with Ruka Ski School
Most of the instructors we met were English and my kids loved their instructor Tom. They thought he was hilarious! And their skiing got more controlled as well so they must have learnt something.
I booked myself a private lesson when I arrived. I can ski but I always like a lesson as a confidence boost, to improve my technique and to get to know the runs a bit better. I had a Russian instructor who was excellent. The lesson was 50 minutes long and cost €58.
More Snow and Ski Trips
You can take a baby skiing! Where to go and how to organise your family ski trip so your ski holiday with a baby is fun for the whole family
A round up of the best ski resorts for families; skiing with beginners. We cover best ski resorts in Europe and the best ski resorts in North America
Combining a ski trip with a visit to Santa is genius! The snow in Lapland is incredible and the slopes are great for younger or beginner skiiers.