To those living in Finland, north means Lapland. And for those in Lapland, north means Utsjoki. The small municipality is the farthest north you can go in Finnish Lapland, nestled against the Norwegian border. This quiet bundle of Sámi villages amid vast tundra wilderness is the perfect place to explore and experience the beauty and culture of Lapland, as well as see the beauty of Northern Lights.
How to get here?
The area is served by Ivalo airport, with daily connections to the world through Helsinki. Utsjoki is also served by the Kirkenes airport just across the border in Norway. The airport is only 2.5 hours away from Nuorgam by car.
For the love of nature
Just because there’s a population density of 1 person per 4 km² doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Quite the opposite: the relative lack of man means the landscape is unspoiled, offering the perfect place for an old hat to explore, a green hiker to test their resolve, and countless breathtaking landscapes.
The northern border is the Tenojoki river, and salmon fishing is the name of the game, as it has been since the Stone Age for the people who live in Utsjoki. Under the Midnight Sun, which effectively means months of continuous daylight, you’ll join Sámi fishermen, alongside Finns, Norwegians and other fishing enthusiasts from all over the world try their skills at catching salmon and grayling. When the long Polar Night descends in early winter, you gas up your ice auger and take a warm seat along. You ride a snowmobile out to the secret spots on frozen wilderness lakes that have been in your guide’s family for generations. With any luck, you’ll catch an Arctic char. More likely than not, you’ll spend your time under the silent spectacle of the Northern Lights. (Utsjoki’s northern location all but guarantees aurora activity throughout autumn and winter.) You can also easily reach the Arctic Ocean, as it lies only a couple hours beyond the border with Norway.
Much of Utsjoki is protected nature reserves, which offer incomparable outdoors experiences. Spend your endless summer days on the hundreds of kilometers of hiking and bike trails, many of which begin in the village of Utsjoki. Inhale the pure Arctic air, smell the flowers, and enjoy the kind of silence you only get at the edge of the world. In the winter, trek out across unbroken fields and sparkling landscapes. Take your skis, snowshoes or hop on a snowmobile and feel the crisp wind on your cheeks. More likely than not, you won’t see another living soul the entire time. (You may see a reindeer or two, however.)
The people of Utsjoki continue a long line of hardy settlers, salmon fishermen and reindeer herders. These days, about half the population is Sámi, and the culture of Utsjoki is a blend of Sámi traditions—new and old—modern Finnish life, Norwegian life and more.
In the village of Utsjoki, you can visit the historical church and vicarage and see the old cemetery. The people of the small village Karigasniemi mingle heavily with the Norwegians just across the Teno River. And the northernmost village Nuorgam is the last stop in Finland, the perfect place to cast a line, hike a path or just watch the birds.
Modern, in the middle of nowhere
Utsjoki and the villages of Karigasniemi and Nuorgam offer a taste of modern comforts and comprehensive services in the wilderness along the border. In Karigasniemi, you can sample Lapland delicacies made from fresh wild ingredients at Guossi. Or grab a burger and fries from Annukan Grilli on the way into Utsjoki. You can even enjoy a warm meal at the Suvanto Summer Café, the northernmost café in the EU!
Utsjoki and its environs offer dozens of accommodation options. An apartment at Kalastajan Majatalo in Karigasniemi affords you a private fireplace and sauna in the heart of Sámiland. Holiday Village Valle offers the convenience of hotel services beside the border river between Finland and Norway. And Nuorgam, the northernmost village in Finland, has cabins, cottages and holiday villages to ensure that your holiday in the wilderness is as comfortable as it is amazing.
Utsjoki’s top Instagrammable Spots
How many of your friends have taken photos in the actual tundra? Thought so. Utsjoki sits at the edge of the world, making it one of the most Instagrammable places. Period. Check out:
- Historic church cabins in the village of Utsjoki
- Route 970, the most beautiful road in Finland
Check out more amazing photos and videos of Utsjoki.
Traveling to Utsjoki
You don’t need flying reindeer to visit Utsjoki; the area is served by the Ivalo airport, with daily connections to the world through Helsinki. From the Ivalo airport, it’s a leisurely drive north, past Lake Inari, the largest in Lapland, and the vast nature preserves and national parks on either side of the highway. You can take a bus from the airport to the Utsjoki center (4 – 5 hours) or take a car (2 hours). If you’re staying in a holiday village, you can often arrange pickup and transportation from the airport.
Utsjoki is also served by the Kirkenes airport just across the border in Norway. The airport is only 2.5 hours away from Nuorgam by car, a drive that takes you carries you along the Varanger fjord and the Baltic Sea.