Sodankylä is a large municipality that stretches from the vast wildernesses of Sompio, at the western end of the Urho Kekkonen National Park, to the ski resort village of Luosto in the Pyhä-Luosto National Park. In between, there are many villages, both rural Finnish and traditional Sámi, as well as the town of Sodankylä.
Land area: 11700 km²
Water area: 720 km²
Features of Sodankylä
The natural offerings of Sodankylä cannot be overstated. At the Sompio Strict Nature Reserve in the north, there are the iconic Nattanen Fells, whose red granite vistas and stunted vegetation are a constant reminder that you’re in the Arctic. Sparse pine forests sprout up in the valleys between the rocky fells. Lake Sompiojärvi is the southern anchor of the park. Filming in the reserve is permitted, but access is limited to the hiking trails and public areas.
Other lakes include the large reservoirs Lakes Porttipahta and Lokka. The Tankavaara area offers easy access to wilderness areas and the Urho Kekkonen National Park, as well as the Gold Prospector Museum with old buildings and structures from the Lapland “gold rush.”
At the other end of Sodankylä, the Pyhä-Luosto National Park is situated between the ski resort villages of Luosto and Pyhä. An expansive forest grows between these gentle hills and their stony ravines. In the winter, the park features impressive frozen waterfalls and epic snowscapes.
The largest town is the eponymous Sodankylä. This town is a hub for the multiple international mining companies operating in the area. The town is also famous for the annual Midnight Sun Film Festival every summer. Architecture in the town is brick and wood. There are many apartment buildings, many decades-old, as well as numerous supermarkets, gas stations and other shops and services. Downtown especially has retro and vintage vibes. There is also an Old Church, built in the 17th century and made of wood. The New Church, built in 1859, is made of white stone.
Buildings in Sodankylä and other villages typically range from the 1950s onward, but there are exceptions. For example, Kierinki (50 min by car from downtown Sodankylä) has wooden buildings from the early 20th century. Sodankylä also incorporates the southernmost part of Sápmi, the traditional homeland of the Sámi people. In the village of Vuotso (1 h by car), the Sámi people are the majority, and their culture and language are present in daily life.
Logistics in Sodankylä
Sodankylä sits about halfway between the Rovaniemi and Ivalo Airport (1 h 45 min by car) along European highway E75. Most of Sodankylä wilderness and cultural areas are easily accessible, either by this highway or other national highways.
Accommodation in Sodankylä includes hotel rooms downtown, as well as hotels, cabins and chalets at the ski resorts to the south. In the north end of Sodankylä, accommodation tends toward cabins and B&Bs. The holiday destination Saariselkä sits just beyond the northern border of Sodankylä in the municipality of Inari and offers accommodation and activity service providers. Support services and activity providers are active, especially near the Luosto ski resort and Sompio.