Kemijärvi is a collection of idyllic villages and Finland’s northernmost city, centered around the lake of the same name. Rich with regional history and unique local character, Kemijärvi is the best place to make your own adventures in Arctic Lapland. And for those seeking slopes and luxury, the Suomu Ski Resort is just outside of town.
Welcome to the lakeland of Lapland: Kemijärvi.
How to get here?
Kemijärvi is one hour by bus from Rovaniemi international airport. Coming from Helsinki or other southern cities? Take a sleeping car in the train and enjoy the overnight ride north.
Make your own adventure
Many destinations in Lapland cater to tourists who want things, let’s say … easy. And there’s nothing wrong with a little handholding, if that’s what you’re looking for. Kemijärvi, however, embodies the Finnish spirit of independence and tenacity.
That’s why you’ll find shops downtown full of rental gear and helpful advice on where to wander, how to explore (safely, of course), and what you might discover in the wilderness that seems to wait just outside the door.
You can’t talk Kemijärvi without mentioning the lake. As you drive into the city, the bridge crests, and the views are simply stunning. For many Finns, Kemijärvi is what they think of when they imagine “summer.” SUP boards and ice cream cones on sandy beaches. The sunlight reflects off the lake, life practically emanating from the wooded islands that dot the lake. Some of those islands are the summer residences of friendly young horses from the famous Outinen Horse & Reindeer Farm, and yes, you absolutely can go visit them.
Meet the villages of rural Lapland
The peaceful atmosphere of agricultural civilization, which began in Lapland almost 500 years ago, permeates the local culture here, taking cues from the nearby fells and Finland’s longest river, Kemijoki. Kemijärvi, home to the eponymous lake, and home to dozens of villages and towns. Go back to World War II and explore the Nazi bunkers and fortifications in Ketola. Or farther back still at the Local Museum in Juujärvi to learn about rural village life and the unique architecture of the Kemijärvi region. Hike sacred Ämmänvaara, and commune with silent nature, just as the Sámi people did hundreds and thousands of years ago.
Water lovers will love the huge Lake Kemijärvi, which offers both spectacle, thrills and secret coves. Take your family to the fine sands of Kalkonniemi, or hop in a canoe and explore the nooks and crannies of the largest lake on the Kemijoki river on your own schedule.
When winter comes, the city of Kemijärvi and its environs are blanketed with a thick layer of snow. From the southeastern shores of the lake rises the elegant Suomu ski resort which has fostered Olympic champions throughout the 20th century. The fell is also a great place for snowshoe hikes and freeriding.
Surprisingly urban, wonderfully rural
Kemijärvi combines the idyllic nature of smalltown Lapland with the convenience of shops, services and accommodation. The most iconic landmark in the town of Kemijärvi is the Church. In the town center you’ll find nice locally-owned shops like Paapero, for children’s clothing designed and made in Kemijärvi. At the Poukama Spa, let the professionals pamper you, Lapland-style.
Hungry? The locals recommend a scrumptious breakfast from Hotel Kemijärvi, the excellent buffet at Mokkatupa (with incredible views of the lake). For dinner, try the cold-smoked pike at Mestarin Keivarit. It might be the best thing you ever put in your mouth! Check out Kemijärvi’s restaurants for more tasty choices.
Choosing accommodation is as easy as deciding how close to the wild you want to be. Urbanites will appreciate the comfort and convenience of downtown hotels. The charming, rustic Hotel Uitonniemi and Holiday Centre Lohen Lomakeskus sit on the edge of the lake, with little to distract you from the frosted fells in the far distance. On the southern end of the lake, Suomu is home to the modern holiday village Suomun Villat, the Suomu Hotel, and the Suomun Mökit cottages, with a view of the slopes from every room.
Travel to Kemijärvi & Suomu
Getting to Kemijärvi and its surrounding areas is easy and convenient, it is only one hour by bus from Rovaniemi international airport. If you’re driving from Rovaniemi, just hop on Route 82, and you’re there in about an hour. Coming from Helsinki or other southern cities? Take a sleeping car in the train and enjoy the overnight ride north.