The Finnish Lapland town of Kemi lies on the northernmost shores of the Gulf of Bothnia, in an area now known as Sea Lapland. Thanks in no small part to the dual attractions of the magnificent Kemi SnowCastle, built every year since 1996, and its original Sampo Icebreaker tours, Kemi has been gaining an international reputation as an alternative destination over the last decade. Kemi is also an ideal destination for enjoying the Northern Lights, which can be visible on approximately 200 nights a year.
Those who visit Kemi in Finland during the summer months are attracted by the white-water rivers, and the rafting it offers, as well as the spectacular archipelago of the Bothnian Bay National Park, perfect for fishing, kayaking, and sailing. Kemi also has a theatre, the Kemi City Orchestra, a regional art museum, an indoor swimming pool, an ice hockey stadium, an indoor football ground, a golf course, and a yachting centre.
Kemi Activities & Adventures All Year Round
Visitors to Kemi will find that there’s plenty to do and experience, no matter when they arrive. In addition to the world-famous Kemi SnowCastle and Icebreaker Sampo, Kemi’s key attractions, visitors can enjoy husky and reindeer safaris, forest skiing treks, snowmobile safaris, and much more. One of the most popular experiences are the glass-roofed Olokolo sleighs, pulled by snowmobiles, a perfectly snug and comfortable way to spot local wildlife or enjoy the Northern Lights.
Icebreaker Sampo and Polar Explorer Cruises
The Sampo Arctic Icebreaker and the Polar Explorer Icebreaker cruises are the most popular activities in SeaLapland! Choose a 3,5 hour cruise on the Sampo with lunch at Restaurant Lumihiutale, or a 3 hour tour aboard the Polar Explorer, with a buffet lunch in Restaurant Kukkulan Forsen. Watch as the ship breaks through ice relentlessly, and enjoy the unique experience of arctic ice-floating in the frigid waters of the frozen sea.
Kemi’s internationally renowned SnowCastle is part of the Experience365 full service resort, open every day of the year. The original SnowCastle was first built in 1996 and operates from late January through April. This magnificent snow structure features a Snow restaurant, offers accommodation in the icy rooms of the SnowHotel, and has a Snow Chapel, popular for weddings and christenings. Elsewhere in the Experience365 Resort you’ll find the IceRestaurant365, an Ice Bar, incredible snow and ice sculptures, the Sea Lapland Day Spa, saunas, the Seaview Restaurant Lumihiutale and terrace (summer and autumn), and a range of safari services.
The jewel of the SnowCastle’s crown is its incredible SnowHotel, located inside the castle´s snowy walls since 1998. Visitors can sleep in a delightfully lit and beautifully decorated room fashioned entirely from snow and ice, one of the most unique arctic experiences in Finland. Temperatures in the rooms are kept at -5° Celsius, but a great night’s sleep is ensured thanks to fur covers and specially designed sleeping bags on the comfortable beds.
Winter Activities offered by Taxari Travel in Kemi include snowmobile safaris – at night, to reindeer farms, to go ice-fishing, or through winter forests; Aurora Borealis hunts – with Arctic Snow Dogs, or by car; Visits to the Arkadia reindeer farm and sleigh rides; Guided tour of the Kemi SnowCastle, or dinner in the Ice Restaurant; Day trips to Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, or to Ranua Wildlife Park; Rides on the frozen sea in the luxurious Olokolo aurora wagons; Nature tours by snowshoes; Visits to Troll’s Land; Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding; Hovercraft rides; and Fatbike safaris.
Other Attractions in Kemi
In summer, the city is host to a number of music festivals and events, most of which are held in the inner harbour area, which is Kemi’s living room during the summer months. Visitors enjoying the inner harbour’s original ambience can also pop in to the fascinating Gemstone Gallery, home to the crown of the King of Finland as well as a replica of the Imperial State Crown of Great Britain and the lavish 647-diamond necklace of Marie Antoinette. In the same building the Comics Centre has a permanent exhibition consisting of more than 20 Finnish and foreign designers’ original drawings and over 30 three-dimensional cartoon columns. Both attractions are operated by Taxari, and are covered by a single entrance fee, under the new name of The Arctic Gems & Comics.
Of course, Kemi’s position in Sea Lapland means it gets plenty of Midnight Sun over Midsummer, a time of haunting beauty for visitors to enjoy while, for example, enjoying a game of golf, a kayak trip, or even whitewater rafting.
To enjoy a full view over the city, visitors will find the Panorama cafe located on the top floor of Kemi City Hall, the highest building in Kemi. If you are really lucky you can even see all the way to Sweden in clear weather!
Accommodation in Kemi
While the SnowHotel in the Kemi SnowCastle is the most exotic accommodation available in the city, not everybody is keen to sleep in a room, no matter how beautiful, kept at -5° Celsius. For the less adventurous visitors, there are plenty of other options.
Kemi’s Seaside Glass Villas are built with incredible sea views, which can be admired all year round through their glass roofs and huge windows. Guests can observe sunsets over the Bothnian Sea, the star-filled northern sky, and possibly the Northern Lights during Autumn and Winter. In Spring, you can witness the fascinating transformation when nature wakes up after the long winter: the sea melts and birds return to Lapland in large flocks. Enjoy the white night magic of the endless summer days, breathing the pure, fresh air and tranquility is guaranteed. Seaside Glass Villas are surrounded by the sea and nature, yet within walking distance of the parks, restaurants and other services this small city offers.
The new Boutique Kemi 1932 apartment hotel is located just 5 minutes from the train station in the centre of the city. Suitable for families, each apartment has two bedrooms, with double or single beds, each with its own flat-screen TV. The fully equipped kitchens have a large fridge, coffee-maker, and microwave.
The Hotel Scandic Kemi provides comfortable rooms, unique experiences, and a cosy restaurant for dining and socializing in. There are plenty of quiet rooms, meaning it can accommodate even large groups, with a range of adaptable conference rooms at the disposal of corporate customers. Hotel Scandic Kemi also has 3 saunas, 3 sauna cabinets, and a swimming pool. Comfortable rooms, friendly and unhurried yet quick service are trademarks of the Hotel Scandic Kemi.
Less than 25 minutes south of Kemi in the village of Simo, Wanha Pappila apartment hotel offers a combination of natural surroundings and traditions with fully equipped, hi-quality accommodation in 10 cabins located by the sea.
Getting to Kemi
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, there are connecting buses, trains, and taxis. 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. Alternatively, Finnish Railways (VR) operates a train from Helsinki to Kemi 3 times a day.
Kemi in summer
Kemijoki with its 550 km length, is the longest river in Finland. It runs through Kemijärvi and Rovaniemi before reaching the Gulf of Bothnia at Kemi. At Rovaniemi the Ounasjoki river merges with Kemijoki.
The first hydroelectric plant on Kemijoki was constructed in 1946 at Isohaara. A total of 15 power plants have been constructed so far. The plants are owned by Kemijoki Oy andPohjolan Voima Oy. In 2003 the plants produced a total of 4.3 TWh, which was about 34.5% of Finland’s total hydroelectric production. Kemijoki is also the widest river in Finland, as its average width from Rovaniemi to sea is 570 m.
Snow Castle of Kemi
Since 1996 we have built this incredible Castle every winter, using only snow and ice from sea water as building material. Within the snowy walls, there opens up shining white pathways, leading the visitor to fairytale-like sceneries. Gorgeous snow sculptures, one more beautiful than the other, decorate the Castle walls. Overnight in the SnowCastle with gorgeously decorated snow rooms, is a true arctic adventure. When the castle closes it`s doors, the all-year-round SnowExperience365 in new main building stays open in every season!
The 2021 SnowCastle will be open between
January 18. and April 16. of 2021
SnowCastle is open daily at 10-18.