A short transfer from the Finnish capital, Rovaniemi, and with the country's longest area of downhill slopes and excellent cross-country trails. The mountain has two gateways, both 4km from the lifts. äkäslompolo, is a sprawling lakeside settlement of hotels and cabins tucked away in the trees, plus a few restaurants and bars a short bus ride away from the smaller settlement of Ylläsjärvi. A new ski-in ski-out development, Sport Resort Ylläs, is taking shape at the lift base, beside the gondola. The slopes span both flanks of the mountain and recent investment has included new runs and a quad chair, giving plenty of scope for novices. Ylläs is Finland's largest resort; it's a quiet family area with an increasing choice of accommodation dotted around its two villages. Ylläs mountain has lift systems on two sides - Sport Resort Ylläs, with most lodging 4km away at Ylläsjärvi, and Ylläs-Ski, with lodging similarly distant at äkäslompolo. Development is taking place at outlying villages, and closer to the slopes too. This is Finland's largest downhill ski area - but it has only 53km of pistes that suit novices best. Second- and third-week skiers will rapidly conquer the benign black runs. The maximum vertical is a quite respectable 460m. Grooming is 'good'. Past reports of the ski school have been positive. The area has 330km of cross-country trails, 38km of which are floodlit; whereas a downhill skier might view the place as an awkward sprawl, for the XC fan it is a doorstep ski resort of limitless scope. There are also 15 cafes along the tracks. From the lift base, trails fan out around the mountain, across the frozen lake and away through the endless forest. The äkäs cabins at äkäslompolo have been recommended, as has the 'comfortable' Saaga Spa hotel at Sport Resort Ylläs, which has 'gym, pool, kids' pool, sauna, steam and hot tub, and a useful drying cabinet in the bedrooms'. (The need for drying has us rather worried, we confess.) Eating out is slowly improving, with four restaurants at Sport Resort Ylläs opening a few seasons ago. Tips in town include more upmarket Poro for traditional fish and meat dishes. Julie's suits families better. Tower is fairly new at äkäslompolo. Off-slope activities include snowmobiling (410km of tracks), dog sledding, reindeer safaris, snowshoeing and ice fishing.
Best for novices and Nordic fans
Few queues and reliable late snow
Slopes a bus ride from the villages
Bars and restaurants not a highlight