Rukatunturi — Ruka for short — is a ski resort in the Northern part of the city of Kuusamo in Finland. With over 6 months of snow, it’s one of the largest and one of the most popular ski resorts up in the Lapland area. It has one of the longest ski seasons in the area and it’s even won several awards for its ski slopes and chalets. Read on for a complete Ruka travel guide.
Ruka is said to have begun operations in 1954 when it opened its first ski slope in the winter of that year. In the years that followed it’s been attracting more and more skiers to its slopes and getting bigger and better.
Today Ruka has over 20 slopes and ski lifts, around 8 months of ski season, and a large number of hotels & restaurants in and around it. When this ski resort opens its slopes in October, it’s almost always the first one to do so and is among the last ones to close at the end of the season.
Present-day Ruka even plays host to a number of wintertime sporting events.
What to see and do
What’s a Ruka travel guide without information on what to do there? Although Ruka is a ski resort, the activities in the area don’t start and end with skiing. You can also do other snow-related activities like snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sledding & cross country skiing. Other things you can do here in the winter include ice-fishing and ice-climbing. You might also want to indulge in a Finnish Sauna while you are in this ski destination.
And in the summer when the snow has all melted and the ski resort isn’t making any more snow, you can go hiking, mountain biking, bear-watching, rafting and also do landscape safaris.
As for things to see in and around Ruka, there are reindeer and husky farms to visit and there is the Aurora Borealis aka the Northern Lights.
Other places to explore around Ruka are Oulanka National Park & Hossa National Park, north of Ruka, and Riisitunturi National Park, which lies to the northwest of the ski resort.
Read more of what to do in my article: Top 10 Things to do in Ruka, Finland.
A trip to Ruka is a great opportunity to try out some Lapland cuisine if you haven’t done so already. Ruka is home to restaurants that give you a taste of reindeer fillet, elk steak, bear meat, wild mushrooms & berries that grow in the subarctic region. Freshwater fish (fried and as pizza toppings) is another thing to eat while you are in Ruka.
While you will find burgers, pizza & pasta in the restaurants in Ruka, you’ll also find reindeer burgers and pizza with reindeer meat in it, giving them a local twist.
If you’re looking for specific restaurants to visit other than the ideas here in my Ruka travel guide, check out my article: Best Restaurants in Ruka, Finland.
Whether it’s for the essentials you might need during your stay or for souvenirs, most of your shopping can be done at Ruka Village, where most of the stores are concentrated. Riipinen Wild Game Restaurant, lying just outside the resort, also has a store selling some canned game and souvenirs. And the reindeer farms you might visit during your trip might be selling some local arts and crafts, too.
If you wondering about what gifts you might be able to take back from Ruka, bear meat preserves and jellies made from berries found in these parts of Finland are some options. Then there are handicrafts, jewelry, key chains & other products made with locally available raw materials like antlers and reindeer leather.
Fishing gear is another idea as far as shopping in and around Ruka is concerned. Finnish spoon baits are small and easy to carry and will make great souvenirs or gifts.
Rukatunturi is situated in the northern half of Finland and towards the east, making it close to the country’s border with Russia.
Being just south of the Arctic Circle, Ruka plays home to subarctic flora and fauna. The landscape is like that of the Finnish Lapland, blanketed in snow in the winters and looks completely different when the snow’s all gone in summer. In the summer the slopes are green and you can actually see the foliage of the trees on the hillsides.
Best time to visit
Ruka’s ski season occurs between the months of October and May and is when Ruka sees the most visitors. However, this Ruka travel guide isn’t solely for winter travel and if you’d like to see the area in its greenest and hike the area, summer is the time to visit. In the summer you’ll also get to experience the Midnight Sun and the extremely long days of the season.
If it’s the wish to see the Northern Lights that is taking you to Ruka, go in fall or winter as that is the Aurora Borealis season.
Ruka has a large number of hotel rooms, chalets and studios very close to the ski slopes. There are even holiday homes and cottages a few miles away from the resort, should you want to stay in quieter places. Most of these places come with wifi and several of them come with sauna facilities to make your winter stay in Ruka more comfortable.
In the warmer months, you can camp in Iisakki Village near Lake Rukajärvi, south of Ruka. There they even have glass villas with large windows and glass-ceilings that leave you with a unique way to take in the midnight sun, fall colors, or the northern lights, depending on the season.
The airport closest to Ruka is Kuusamo Airport. If you are taking a flight from Helsinki to Kuusamo it should take you less than an hour and a half to get to Kuusamo. From there, the ski resort is a half-hour-drive.
You could also take the train (there are 3 stations in Ruka) or drive/take a bus from Helsinki and it would take you 10 to 13 hours to get to Ruka. You can even have the night train transport your car to Ruka.
Once you’re in Ruka (you can park your car in the underground car park) enjoy the local transport that will take you around to the different attractions and activities in the area. And by that I mean snowmobiling and sledding — which are Ruka’s winter activities themselves — that can take you to see the subarctic landscapes, to visit reindeer farms and take you to places that give you clearer views of the Northern lights.
If you’d like to go further and see more of Finland along with your trip to Ruka, you can consider Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park and Luvattumaa and see if you’d like to visit these places. They lie a few hours northwest of Rukatunturi.