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Sampo Icebreaker

  • Kemi, Lapland, Finland

Last updated: 18 March, 2024

The 3,500-tonne Sampo icebreaker kept shipping lanes open in the Gulf of Bothnia for thirty-odd years until she was forced into retirement. Now, the ship departs on thrilling excursions throughout the winter months, breaking through the Bothnian icefields off Kemi for the pleasure of adventure-seekers.

During the tour, the ship will make a one-hour stop to allow the more adventurous-minded to don a bright-orange puffy rubber survival suit and (safely and warmly) bob in the icy waters off the ship’s stern.

Don't miss

For the complete experience, depart by snowmobile from downtown Kemi, venturing over the ice to join the ship once it’s parked out in the icefield. You can request this as a transfer when booking online.

While you're there

Before or after, dine at one of the world’s most unique restaurants – the Ice Restaurant at Kemi’s Snow Castle. You could even stay the night in one of the castle’s icy bedrooms, complete with ice beds.


Price from: £280
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 6+
When: All year around
Duration: 3 hours

Getting there & doing it

Tours depart from the port of Ajos Harbour, 11km south of Kemi. Bus transfers (10 mins) from Kemi are available on request (but you must book), or you can park (for free) right in front of the ship if self-driving. It’s about 140km (2-hour drive) along a well-maintained highway, and there is plentiful parking on site. Rental cars come with the appropriate tyres – though if the temperature is hovering near zero roads can get icy. They offer private transfers from Kemi and Rovaniemi, which can be booked on the website. You must arrive 45 minutes prior to departure.

There’s a minimum age of 12 and a minimum height of 145cm for the ice floating activity. The tour includes lunch on board. Dress warmly, and don’t forget your sunglasses, since the glare of the sun off snow-covered ice can be harsh.

You can do the SnowCastle (and the Sampo Icebreaker) in a day trip from Rovaniemi – though it’s a long day to do both.

When to do it

The 3-hour tours run from late December to late April. There’s usually one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The best time to go is when the ice is thickest, which is usually during the month of March. Avoid January, when the ice thins.