At the northern end of the Gulf of Bothnia lies Kemi, home to the largest snow castle in the world. Only 90 minutes south of the Arctic Circle, this town is the port to the last great wilderness of Europe. With award-winning accommodations, historic wooden buildings by the sunny seaside, regal attractions and convenient travel connections–whether you’re coming by plane, train or automobile, Kemi is truly the pearl of the Finland’s northernmost region.
How to get here?
The Kemi-Tornio airport is connected to the rest of the world through the Helsinki and other Finnish airports. If you fly into either the Rovaniemi or Oulu international airports, buses, trains and taxis are more than happy to bring you; it’s only about 1.5 hours, no matter how you come.
Adventures by the frozen sea
The Kemi SnowCastle rises from the frosted seaside like a mirage made of diamonds. The year-round frozen castle is sculpted entirely of saltwater ice and snow. Situated only one kilometer from downtown Kemi, this white wonder offers tours through its icicle-gilded halls, whether it’s midwinter or midsummer.
Deeper onto the frozen sea, you’ll find yourself aboard the Icebreaker Sampo. This real icebreaker ship was used for 27 years before becoming an attraction for the town of Kemi. Stand on the stern as the Sampo shows you how an icebreaker traverses the winter sea. You can float in the icewater in a special suit, or take a snowmobile safari away from the Sampo across the unbroken ice.
Kemi is also home to the Gemstone Gallery, where you can see up close the never-worn crown of the King of Finland, made from silver and pearls. The Gallery also boasts a replica of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain, a replica of the lavish 647-diamond necklace of Marie Antoinette and thousands of precious stones and gems.
King beds and king crab
When visiting a castle, it’s only right to eat like royalty. The SnowCastle restaurant offers fried supreme of chicken, castle vegetable soup and wild cranberry mousse cake on their Menu A La Nobility. At the Seaside Lodge & Hut, enjoy locally-sourced moose stew and baked potatoes, with Finnish berry pie and coffee by the fire. Tuck into king crab in the Icebreaker Sampo Arctic Restaurant. You can taste the wild, untouched nature in every bite!
For truly unique accommodation The SnowHotel has rooms made of sparkling ice, with beds of snow. Sleep in subzero temperatures, warm and secure in a sleeping bag with a lambskin cover and fleece sheet. Rooms available for singles, couples, even bigger groups–you can even rent out the entire hotel for special occasions.
Only a snowball’s throw from the SnowCastle, the award-winning, luxurious Seaside Glass Villas offer winter views of the Northern Lights over the frozen sea. Wrap yourself in a fleece and enjoy a cup of cocoa by the floor-to-ceiling windows. In the summer, the Midnight Sun coats each room with warm amber sunlight, easing the stress and tension out of you, one photon at a time.
Traveling to Kemi
Being a port town, Kemi is easily reached by land or air. The Kemi-Tornio airport is connected to the rest of the world through the Helsinki and other Finnish airports. If you fly into either the Rovaniemi or Oulu international airports, buses, trains and taxis are more than happy to bring you; it’s only about 1.5 hours, no matter how you come.
You’ve heard the famous saying, “All roads lead to Kemi,” right? When driving here, you can take Highway E8 from the south or north. When coming via Rovaniemi, E75 is a straight shot, and those driving from Sweden can take E4. The pearl of the Bothnia is one of the most accessible towns by car in all of Lapland.