The northernmost region of Finland is larger than Austria, South Korea or Panama. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Lapland features a wide variety of locations and landscapes. Scenically Lapland can be divided into five distinct regions.
The Kemi-Tornio area, so-called Sea Lapland, is bordered by the Northern Gulf of Bothnia. The close proximity of the Swedish border and the Tornio river are imbedded in the local culture.
Central and eastern Lapland, so-called Forest Lapland, is known for densely wooded pine forests and vast wilderness locations.
The Rovaniemi District is the international center of urban life in Lapland.
Fell Lapland is an area in western Lapland with a cluster of fells including Pallas, Olos, Ylläs and Levi. There are many popular skiing resorts and culture destinations in the area. Finland’s highest fells are in Kilpisjärvi, in the Enontekiö municipality, in northwestern Lapland.
Northern Lapland is home to Lapland’s largest Sámi population, as well as Finland’s largest national parks, a sprawling wilderness that stretches from central Lapland to the Norwegian and Russian borders.
Lapland is home to 7 of the 10 largest national parks in Finland. These parks, along with wilderness areas and nature reserves, hold some of Lapland’s most iconic scenery, from stony Arctic fells, to treeless tundra and unbroken taiga forests, to frozen waterfalls.
Most of the small towns and villages in Lapland have architecture spanning centuries, with many buildings from the 1950s to 70s, lending them a retro mid-century look. Wilderness and vast forest, big rivers, lakes of all sizes, hills and fells make up the most iconic landscapes of Lapland.
CITIES, TOWNS & VILLAGES
No matter where you go in Lapland, you’ll find wilderness only a stone’s throw away. Our network of well-maintained transportation infrastructure, including roads, trains and airports, puts the whole of Lapland at your disposal. And even though there are more reindeer in Lapland than human beings, we have our fair share of cities, towns and villages, each with its own distinct cultural flavor.
Enontekiö is the northwestern arm of Finland and the only location in the whole country with Arctic mountains. The iconic Saana and Halti fells rise against a backdrop of the Scandinavian mountains in Norway. Enontekiö has a small airport open during the peak season.
Inari is nestled between the massive Lemmenjoki and Urho Kekkonen National Parks, so wilderness is easy to find. This town is also the home of Sámi culture in Finnish Lapland. The Ivalo International Airport offers daily flights to Helsinki.
Kemijärvi is the northernmost city in Finland. The small city rests against an idyllic lake of the same name, and dozens of villages and towns dot the map nearby. Kemijärvi’s train station has connections to Rovaniemi, Oulu and Helsinki, among other cities.
Kittilä lies in the heart of Fell Lapland. This town is a small hub of culture and business, boasting both an international airport and Finland’s most popular ski resort, Levi.
Kolari sits by the border river, and its culture and character are shaped by its close proximity to Sweden. The northernmost railway station in Finland is in Kolari, and the Kittilä airport is about 1 hour away by car. Both the Ylläs fell and large ski resort of the same name are located here.
Muonio is a small town by the Swedish border, in the Fell Lapland region. This region features untamed nature, with hills, forests, rivers and lakes. Muonio is only an hour drive from the Kittilä Airport. The Pallas fell and the ski resort are located in Muonio.
Pelkosenniemi lies to the east of the Pyhä-Luosto National Park and its Arctic fells. This collection of villages and towns offer a long history of rural, agricultural Lapland. Suvanto, one of the rare villages to survive World War II unscathed, is here. Pelkosenniemi can be reached via Kemijärvi (40 minutes by car) or Rovaniemi (1 hour, 40 minutes).
Posio sits just below the Arctic Circle, and the fells at Riisitunturi National Park offer some of the most iconic snowy vistas in all of Scandinavia. The Korouoma fracture valley has rock walls dozens of meters high and multiple streams that form frozen cascade waterfalls every winter. Despite the unending forests and unyielding wilderness, Posio is only about 50 minutes by car from the Kuusamo International Airport.
Ranua is a town in southern Lapland, well known for its large marshlands and the enormous amounts of cloudberry gathered during the autumn season. The town is also home to a wildlife park and Finland’s only polar bears. Ranua is easily reached by Rovaniemi, only 1 hour by car.
Rovaniemi is the administrative capital of Finnish Lapland, yet wilderness beckons only a few steps away from the city blocks. Sometimes referred to as the Berlin of Finland, the city is home to 50,000 people (and one Santa Claus), spread out across the largest city by area in all of Europe. Rovaniemi has an international airport with connections to Helsinki, other European cities and Asian locations, as well as a train station.
Salla lies on the Russian border in eastern Lapland, offering sweeping vistas of endless forests and gently rolling fells. The nearby settlement of Sallatunturi is home to the Salla Ski Resort. You can see the fells in the background, even from the small town center. The drive to Salla takes about 2 hours from the Kuusamo airport as well as from Rovaniemi.
Savukoski is home to Korvatunturi (Ear Fell), the iconic hill where Santa’s secret home is reputed to be. This small town offers forest locations, the aforementioned fell, as well as rural settings. Situated in central eastern Lapland, it can be reached by car from Rovaniemi (2 hours).
Sodankylä is home to the famous Midnight Sun Film Festival. The town hosts a number of cultures and languages, as many international industrial mines operate in the area. The Kitinen river runs through the town. To the north, the Sompio region is home to the iconic Nattanen fells, the Urho Kekkonen National Park, and gold miners’ villages. Sodankylä is easily reached via Rovaniemi (1.5 hours by car).
Utsjoki is one of the nothernmost villages in Finland, a great representation of Lapland frontier. Gentle rolling fells dotted with sparse patches of stunted trees are the norm. The Teno (or Tana) River begins in Karigasniemi and passes by Nuorgam, a popular holiday destination. Sámi culture is also well-represented here, as almost half of the population of the municipality are Sámi. The Parish Huts in Utsjoki are a good demonstration of traditional life. Utsjoki can be reached from the south via the Ivalo international airport (2 hour drive) or from the Norwegian airport at Kirkenes (3 hours).