Located in the southwest of the Lapland region is a town of just 22,000 called Kemi. Compared to what I’m usually use to, this is a town but for Finland it’s more of a city. It takes only about an hour by plane to get here from Helsinki.
Tourism is big in Kemi and especially during the winter. It does get pretty cold so bring a jacket and read my guide on what to bring.
Here’s some of the things I did in Kemi and what you should check out.
There’s only a handful of hotels in the area.
Merihovi Hotel: This hotel is known to be one of the best hotels in Kemi. There are a couple rooms that have sauna’s in your own bathroom!
LumiLinna SnowCastle Hotel: Inside the castle made out of snow are 18 SnowHotel rooms. There were doubles, singles, groups, and honeymoon suite rooms. Many of the walls in the rooms are carved out of snow with artwork done by students in the area. SnowHotel ranges from 115€/night for a double to €275/night for a honeymoon suite. Most people only stay for one night to experience it. You can read about my experience here.
Savotta: If you want to see the Northern Lights, you need to be away from all the light pollution. It’s only 8km away from the city but it makes you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. During the winter, you can get here by snowmobiling to your accommodation from the city. The cabin itself fits about eight people which is really great for families. They totally spoiled me with food and drinks already in the room before I got there too. It’s total piece and quiet. I could have easily stayed there for a couple days just to unwind.
You won’t find much when it comes to budget accommodation in the city center. Try couch-surfing looking for an apartment, or staying with a friend if you want to stay budget. Otherwise, there’s nearby towns that are worth checking out for budget accommodations including Tornio.
Where to Eat
Panorama Cafe: For an overview of the entire city over delicious typical Finnish food, you got to go here. It’s located inside Kemi’s tallest building on the 13th floor. You can get some great pictures from up here. The prices are budget friendly.
Puisto Paviljonki: Did you know Finnish pizza is actually really good? Puisto Paviljonki restaurant has a large selection of pizza pies to choose from. The plates are huge but don’t feel guilty about eating the whole thing because it’s thin crust. It’s about 9 euros for a pie. Super delicious pizza and highly recommend it.
LumiLinna SnowCastle Restaurant: I never thought I’d eat inside a restaurant made out of snow and ice. Even the table top was a huge block of ice. The food itself was good but I have to admit it wasn’t the best. I had a 47 euro meal that included salmon soup, reindeer, and strawberry mouse. The salmon soup and strawberry mouse were my favorite. I thought the reindeer was too chewy and it started to stick to the aluminum it was wrapped with. I may have expected more because of the price being high but I think this is something you experience more than judge the quality of the food.
Ämmilä: Easily has to be one of the best looking restaurants in Finland. The interior design of the place was cute and had a very homey feel to it as if we were eating in a large cabin. I think all of my dishes contained different types of berries.
Merihovi Hotel Restaurant: This almost never happens to me but for once the hotel food was amazing. It was by far my favorite meal in Finland. For dinner I had reindeer steak and it was cooked perfectly. I’m usually a fast eater but for this meal, I was taking it in slow.
LumiLinna SnowCastle: One of the most popular attractions in Kemi, Finland during the winter. Each year the SnowCastle is completely rebuilt with a different theme during the winter only lasting from January to April. The SnowCastle entrance is only 10€ for adults
Lapponia Safaris: A lot of the awesome activities I did in Kemi were thanks to these guys. I went dog sledding, snowmobiling, slept in a sweet looking cabin in Savotta, and had a barbecue on a small island in the middle of the night. The staff was super friendly too. I was doing so many activities with them that I got to know many of the people there quite well. I miss that group.
Dog-Sledding with Husky’s: Outside of Kemi, Finland in Lapland, I had the chance to dog-sled with these beautiful dogs. Read about my experience.
Snowmobiling: This is a popular activity in the winter. The sea freezes over and it’s so thick that you can drive a car on the ice. Lapponia Safaris took me out on a night snowmobile ride and it was incredible. It’s impossible to crash into anything because it’s completely flat. We ended up going to an island and cooking up a barbecue.
Sampo Arctic Icebreaker: Unfortunately I had caught the flu and could not go to Kemi’s most popular attraction. Everyone kept telling me how incredible it is to look at the boat while standing outside the boat on the ice. I’m going to have to go back because you can’t get this experience anywhere else.
I was invited by Visit Finland and Visit Kemi on a press trip as part of a Navigate Media Group project. Many of hotels, meals, and activities were comped. All opinions are my obviously my own.