Christmas Markets and Cross-Country Skiing in Finland - Winter Adventure

  • December 6, 2013 · 7:30 AM

Despite popular belief, Santa Claus is not from the North Pole – he is from Finland!  So what could be more appropriate than spending Saint Nicholas in his homeland before the holidays?

Join us for a long winter weekend stay in the lovely city of Porvoo, the second oldest city in Finland, which offers a charming atmosphere this time of year.

We will go cross country-skiing, which is somewhat of a national sport in Finland.  It is suitable for everybody and extremely good for the body and mind, with beautiful winter scenery serving as an inspiring backdrop.  We will rent skis, shoes and poles on location.  Please bring warm and comfortable clothes to ski in as it will be very cold!  Beginners welcome.

We will also enjoy going to the sauna, which again is a substantial part of Finnish culture and will be particularly welcome after a long day of cross-country skiing!

Finally as it will be close to Christmas, we will head to Helsinki for a tour of the city and its Christmas market where we can enjoy some warm mulled wine and delicious cheesecakes or roasted almonds, as well as find knitted mittens and other wool products, wooden toys and traditional Finnish products.  Perfect for your Christmas shopping!


Cost & Payment: To secure your place, you will be asked to pay a £75 deposit when you RSVP to this event.  The full cost for this trip is £270, however there is an early bird fee of £230 if you pay in full by August 15 and £250 if you pay by September 30.  From October 1st the full cost will apply.

The balance is to be paid in Kat’s account to avoid PayPal fees – please refer to this link for her details:

The deadline to pay for the trip in full is November 22.  If you have not paid by then you will be removed from the trip.  Please note that the deposit is non-refundable.


What’s included:

2 nights’ accommodation

Ski pass

Ski equipment rental (skis, boots, poles, helmet) – you will have to bring your own skiwear

Sauna (inc. towels)

Local transport and airport shuttle

Guided tour of Helsinki


What’s not included:

Flights (see recommended flights below)


Bed linen and towels should you choose to hire some at the hostel


Flights: Friday 6 December 2013 at 7:30 from London Heathrow (arriving 12:25 in Helsinki-Vantaa), returning Sunday 8 December 2013 at 19:30 (arriving 20:40) from the same airports.

Make sure you book your flights well in advance as prices are bound to increase as we get closer to the holidays.   Last time I checked (4/9/13) return flights were £154 with Finnair and £272 with British Airways.


Accommodation: We will be staying at the Porvoo Hostel.

Rooms are shared (4 to 6 people per room), include a TV and for most a refrigerator as well.  Showers, washrooms and toilets are shared.

There is a self-catering kitchen where we can meet for breakfast.  Towels and bed linens are available at an extra cost (1€ and 4€ respectively).  It is well situated; the city centre, the ski resort and the sauna are all within walking distance.


Detailed plan of the trip (subject to alteration)

This time of year, the sun rises at 9:00 and sets around 15:20 so we will aim to make the most of the 6 hours of daytime we get as some activities will be closed shortly after it gets dark.


DAY 1: Friday

12:25 Our flight should have landed and by the time everyone picks up their luggage and goes through security it should be around 13:00.  We will allow for some extra time to account for possible delays as well as getting Euros if you want to do it there.

14:00 We will meet at the bus stop.

14:20 We will make our way to Porvoo via express bus, which is included in the trip.  There will be one transfer.  The overall trip should take around 50 minutes.

15:10 Arrival at Porvoo bus station, which is a 10/15 minute walk from the hostel.  We won’t be able to check-in before 16:00 though but there are a number of bars/restaurants on the way where we might want to snack while we wait.

16:00 We can check-in at the hostel and settle into our rooms, maybe freshen up a bit!

17:00 It will already be pretty dark by then so most shops will be closed already, but supermarkets are opened until 18:00 so we can buy food and drinks to keep in our room over the next couple of days, such as breakfast or snacks to bring with us on the ski tracks.  It’s also a nice place to walk around so we can explore the area a little bit.  There are also a number of bars, pubs and cafes open where we can relax for a bit before dinner.

19:30 Dinner


DAY 2: Saturday

09:30 We will head for the ski resort (which is about a 20 minute walk away).  It’s up to you to judge how long you need to get ready as we won’t be waking anybody up.  You will also need to make your own arrangements for breakfast.  We will meet at the reception at 9:15 and leave promptly at 09:30 – if you are not there you will have to catch up with us!

10:00 We can pick up our ski passes and get fitted for our equipment.

11:00 Once everyone is set, we have a ski instructor booked for 1h30 to get us into gear so don’t worry if you have never cross-country skied before – neither have I!

12:30 I expect we will be pretty tired and hungry by then.  There is a restaurant in the middle of the resort where we can rest and have some food/drinks.

14:00 We can hit the tracks again, on our own this time.  I doubt we will last more than a couple of hours though as cross-country skiing is meant to be pretty exhausting!  The resort is open until 18:00 though so if you want to stay longer your pass is available all day.  Those of you who are done skiing can drop their equipment off and head back to the hostel or explore the city if they want.

17:00 We will meet at the reception and walk to the sauna (about 10 minutes)

17:30 Time for a well-deserved sauna break!  We will have our own sauna for 2 hours.   Traditionally Finnish saunas are mixed gender and there are no bathing suits, but I’ve asked and we will be allowed to break that last rule!  Towels will be available at no extra cost and we can buy refreshments on the spot.

20:00 Dinner


DAY 3: Sunday

09:00 Everyone needs to be packed and ready to check-out.  We will meet in the reception area.  If you want to have breakfast before we leave the hostel you will need to give yourself time to do so before we meet for check-out.

10:00 We will take the express bus to Helsinki from Porvoo bus station.

11:00 Arrival at Helsinki bus station.  There are lockers at the station so we can leave our luggage and walk towards the town centre for an early lunch.

13:00 I have booked us a guided tour of the city centre.  It’s a 3 hour walking tour of the major attractions in the centre of Helsinki, including a few indoor stops and coffee breaks to keep us warm and going.

16:00 After the tour is over we will head back to the bus station, pick up our luggage and take the airport shuttle a bit further (10 mins walk) to the airport.  There is a shuttle every 20 minutes and it takes 30 minutes to the airport so we should aim to take the shuttle no later than 17:00

17:30 Check-in, baggage drop-off, security, hugs and fond memories.

19:30 Our flight takes us back to London!

Join or login to comment.

  • babs

    Awesome group, haven't laughed so much in ages. Excellent destination ,already planning a return. Some organisational hiccoughs.

    December 12, 2013

  • mona

    it was really great to meet all of you xxxx

    December 11, 2013

  • Kat

    Hi guys, the first photo album is ready:, please feel free to tag yourselves. :)

    1 · December 10, 2013

  • Sarah H.

    I had a great weekend with lovely people but felt we didn't spend enough time at the Christmas markets...

    December 10, 2013

  • Sylvia

    I really thought that other people on this trip were really great and Finland was beautiful, but the confusing communication and organisation let the trip down.

    December 9, 2013

  • Kat

    Thank you Axelle, awesome trip! :)

    December 9, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great people lovely country. A little pricey for what was offered and at times disorganised but overall ok.

    December 8, 2013

  • Axelle

    We are at arrivals 2b in terminal 2 please come meet us

    December 6, 2013

  • Axelle

    Kat is at thr baggage claim she will meet you at the exit

    December 6, 2013

  • Axelle

    Hi guys -- Wanda asked me a couple of questions I thought everyone could benefit from:

    1. Concerning the Xmas markets, we will be going there with the tour guide. The itinerary was designed for us so we will have plenty of time to do any Xmas shopping and take pictures. We are pretty much spending the day in Helsinki before heading to the airport.

    2. Bring whatever luggage suits you best, we will be able to put them into lockers during the tour and they can stay at the hostel the rest of the trip. However I would recommend you don't pack too much as it can get heavy to carry :)

    December 4, 2013

    • babs

      YOU cannot be serious, I thought you were organizing porters!

      December 4, 2013

  • babs

    Hello again Axelle,
    Just seen There is a mid afternoon gap in Porvoo shuttles, which means I don't think I will get to the hostel till about 17.20hrs. If you're not setting out for dinner directly from the hostel could you please leave a breadcrumb trail ,for me, to your chosen scoffing palace.

    December 3, 2013

    • Axelle

      Sure no worries -- be sure to pick up stuff from the supermarkets before getting to the hostel then as I can't guarantee anything will be open by the time you get there :)

      December 4, 2013

  • Sean

    I wish I had time off.

    December 2, 2013

    • Axelle

      More trips next year :)

      December 3, 2013

  • Axelle

    Hi guys -- happy to confirm everyone is up to date on payments so RSVPs are now closed. If like Babs you aren't taking the recommended flights please let Kat or myself know so we don't wait around for you at the airport! In the meantime, don't hesitate to contact me should you have any questions. Also, the ski resort and hostel both emailed me to say it's getting pretty cold, so think layers!

    November 29, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hallo Axelle! I will be taking a flight from Munich for this trip, and am scheduled to arrive at 12:20pm. My friend Sandra will be travelling with the group from Heathrow, so she will be able to get hold of me to meet up with you all.

      December 2, 2013

    • Axelle

      Ok great ; thanks for letting me know!

      December 3, 2013

  • babs

    Hello Again Axelle and Kat,
    I will make my own way to meet you at the hostel in Porvoo (I live in Brighton and have decided a Gatwick flight will be less hassle). Also I have decided to stay overnight in Helsinki on Sunday.

    November 26, 2013

    • Axelle

      No worries ; thanks for letting us know!

      November 27, 2013

  • Ines S.

    Hi Axelle, Could you please confirm my payment too? I used the bank account not PayPal. I sent you a private message a few days ago but haven't got an answer yet. Please let me know. Ines

    November 25, 2013

    • Axelle

      Hi Ines -- sorry I don't have anything from you in my inbox! Yes Kat has received your payment for you and your guests. Thanks :)

      November 25, 2013

  • babs

    Dear all,
    We arrive on Finland's National Day. I hope they're into fireworks!

    November 20, 2013

  • Sandra

    Do you know if any ski clothing is available to hire or should we be bringing everything?

    November 6, 2013

    • Sarah H.

      Hello Sandra, have you thought about checking on ebay? I recently bought a great ski jacket for £10.50!

      1 · November 20, 2013

    • babs

      Hi Sandra / Mona, Once we start moving I think you will be too hot in what people usually refer to as ski wear. On TV you will see Nordic skiers clad solely in lycra. Lots of long sleeved/legged cycling/running/hiking layers that you can strip off and stuff in a day pack as you warm up would probably suit. EXCEPT for hands and feet - where skiing or any other warm gloves / socks will definitely be needed. Some Aldis have have still got the tail end of their recent cycle wear run in. Sports Direct and Go Outdoors also good bets for cheap prices. Finland is expensive and I think you;ll find ski wear in a ski area, at the start of the season , even more so.

      1 · November 20, 2013

  • babs

    Hi Kat,
    rsvp'd and paid for today 0642hrs.
    I paid the whole 270 into your Barclays acct (ie non via the rsvp Paypal link)
    I hope this is why my name doesn't show as an attendee.
    Can you please confirm asap , so I can go ahead with ticket purchase.

    November 17, 2013

    • Axelle

      Hi Babs -- i have added you to the list of attendees. Please know for the future though that paying via Paypal is how you get on the list :)

      November 17, 2013

    • babs

      Cheers, I assumed this was the case but just wanted to check as I was just about to travel and didn't know how good the internet access was here.

      November 20, 2013

  • mona

    hi i would like to ask he same question as sadra . can we hire Ski clothes from there ?

    November 14, 2013

    • Axelle

      cf. answer to Sandra

      November 19, 2013

  • mona

    just transfer the money today . i transfer 275 , the full cost of the trip . can you add me to the list . thanks . mona . i paid to your Barclays account not the paypal link .

    November 19, 2013

    • Axelle

      Hi Mona -- thanks for joining us! I have added you to the event.

      November 19, 2013

  • Hugh

    Just booked my flight with Finnair - £155 (inc credit card fee)
    Watch out, they offer to let you pick your seat but don't mention the £20 charge if you do !

    Tried booking with BA using Avios/Airmiles but they wanted £120 and couldn't offer the right dates :-(

    Must get my NordicTrack out of the loft.

    September 17, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    As the paypal remaining fee incurs a charge, can we have an account number for the payment?


    1 · August 14, 2013

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