Enontekiö (North Sami: Eanodat, Inari Sami: Iänudâh, Swedish: Enontekis) is a large, sparsely populated municipality in the north-western arm of Finnish Lapland. The municipality is a relatively popular destination as it contains part of Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, a number of designated wilderness areas as well as all peaks of more than 1000 meters in Finland, among them the highest peak Halti at 1,324 m (4,344 ft) above sea level. Enontekiö has the second lowest population density in Finland, with less than 2,000 people on more than 8,000 km² (3,000 sq mi). Wide areas lie above the tree line.
The municipality is bilingual with Finnish and Northern Sami both having official status.
- Enontekiö Tourist Information, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
There is Polar Night Live webcam (Kaamoskamera) in the village Hetta. You can watch the darkness live here.
- 1 Hetta (Sami: Heahttá) – Hetta is the main village and administrative centre of the municipality. The names Hetta and Enontekiö are often used interchangeably.
- 2 Kilpisjärvi (Sami: Gilbbesjávri) – The northernmost village of Enontekiö is the location of the Saana fell and a great starting point for a trip to Halti. Tripoint with Sweden and Norway in the Malla Strict Nature Reserve.
- 3 Karesuvanto (Sami: Gárasavvon, Swedish: Karesuando) – A twin village laying both in Finland and Sweden. The main border crossing between Sweden and Finland in Enontekiö.
- 1 Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, Finland's most popular national park
- 2 Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, with Finland's highest hills
- 3 Malla Strict Nature Reserve, see Kilpisjärvi
- 4 Pulju Wilderness Area
- 5 Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness Area
- 6 Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area, see Karesuvanto
1 Enontekiö Airport 6 km west of the main village, Hetta, is the highest altitude airport in Finland. Numerous charter flights land throughout the winter. There are no air services during the summer months due to poor demand. The airport has no public transportation but taxi.
Usually people arrive to Enontekiö by car, either from the south or from the neighbouring countries, Norway and Sweden. From Norway most people enter through the 2 Kilpisjärvi border crossing by European route E8. Further east at 3 Kivilompolo border crossing is along the road 93 from Kautokeino to Hetta. From Sweden the northernmost is 4 Karesuvanto/Karesuando border crossing, while there are several crossings south of Enontekiö.
Cars are available for rent, if booked in advance, at most major airports, including Alta and Kittilä. There are limited rental car services in Hetta, mainly run by local entrepreneurs – if you want to rent a car in Hetta it is best to ask for details at your hotel. Demand is low, so there is no need to pre-book; journeys must conclude in Hetta. Cars can also be taken on the trains from southern Finland.
It is possible to get someone to drive your car to where you need it. Ask at your hotel.
The Finnish rail network terminates over 300 km to the south in Rovaniemi (year round) and Kolari (winter). Some of these trains have direct coach connection all the way to Kilpisjärvi. Swedish trains from the south go to Luleå and Boden, and along Malmbanan from there via Kiruna to Narvik in Norway.
An overnight train allows you to have a good rest before continuing by bus or car.
Up here in the north, the bus network is the next best way to get around. There are a number of routes north from Rovaniemi, the most import of which is Rovaniemi–Hetta service, which operates twice daily. This service connects Rovaniemi via Kittilä Airport, the ski resorts of Levi and Olos, Muonio and finally Hetta, with various stops in-between. Matkahuolto releases bus schedules for September–May and May–August. The journey from Rovaniemi to Hetta takes around 4hr 50min, and the journey from Kittilä to Hetta takes around 2hr 30min.
From northernmost Sweden, take the bus to Karesuando and walk across the border.
In winter connections from Norway are cumbersome, via Sweden or via Inari.
The Swedish bus service Lanstrafiken Norrbotten Busses provides a service from Alta to Kautokeino. From Kautokeino you can take a bus across the border to Finland with Eskelisen Lapin Linjat to Hetta, but only during the summer months, June–August.
The Eurovelo cycling route nr 7 from Nordkapp to Malta ("Sun Route", 7,409 km) comes down trough Finnmarksvidda, passes Hetta and continues down through Sweden. There are no biking lanes or other special arrangements for bikers up here, so there is no big advantage of the Eurovelo route, but there may be more information and tips on it than on the other options – and usually there is just one road to choose from.
Distances are huge but the hills are not very steep, the roads are mostly well maintained and traffic is light. Mind your clothing – even in July average temperatures are around 10°C (50°F) in some parts of the municipality.
The coaches take bikes if there is room, so you can choose what legs to go on your own.
Practically there are three forms of transport in these parts of Finland: your own car, taxi and coach. Coaches run one or two times every day from Rovaniemi. Bikes are useful in the summer and can be taken on the bus. In the winter there is a network of snowmobile routes and snowmobile tracks.
The road E8 (national road 21) inside Enontekiö is in satisfying condition. This shouldn't affect private cars too much but large goods vehicles do have incidents almost daily at the winter.
There is a system with shared taxis by bus fare along certain routes around the municipality ("kutsutaksi"). These are primary meant for elderly inhabitants of small villages needing to visit Hetta once in a while, but are open to anyone. They mostly drive weekly and must be requested before 18:00 the preceding evening. Check these if ordinary buses do not seem to fit and you do not want to use normal taxis. With some luck they may allow a chat giving insight in local life in quite an other way than using tourist facilities.
There is also transport from the airports (still valid?).
Then of course, trekking is one of the reasons to come here. There is lot of nature to be explored by foot, ski, bike, canoe or similar means. Snowmobiles can also be rented but using a snowmobile is restricted to waterways and marked routes, some of which require paying a fee. Riding a snowmobile the locals have more rights to access than visitors do.
Views and nature. The midnight sun is shining from mid-May to mid-July. Between late November and mid-January the sun does not rise at all. In winter northern lights can be seen in three nights out of four. The Kilpisjärvi village and its surroundings are a must see destination for nature admirers.
- 1 Fell Lapland Visitor Centre (Tunturi-Lapin luontokeskus), Peuratie 15 (Hetta), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Nature information centre with Sami people related museum. Souvenirs and local handicrafts. Café. Free.
- 2 Kilpisjärvi Visitor Centre (Kilpisjärven luontokeskus), Käsivarrentie 14145, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. March-May: daily 09:00-16:00, May-September: daily 10:00-17:00, October-March: closed. Nature information. Maps, souvenirs and local handicrafts. free.
- 3 Enontekiö church. The current church was opened in 1952 and is already the 6th one in Enontekiö. The previous one was destroyed by German soldiers in 1944. The church has one of three copies of the death mask of Martin Luther ever brought to Finland. The church itself and its surroundings are included to the list of nationally significant built cultural environments. Free.
- 4 Järämä WWII Fortification Camp (Järämän linnoitusalue), Käsivarrentie 5465, 99470 Karesuvanto (Drive the main road number 21/E8, about 20 km from Karesuvanto village, in the direction of Kilpisjärvi.), ☏ . Järämä renovated fortification camp, known as Sturmbock-Stellung to the Germans, is located in Enontekiö municipality, in the north-west of Lapland. Originally it was built by Germans and is just one part of a larger network of fortification camps, built during the Lapland War, to protect the harbours of the Arctic Ocean. The camp is dug partly into the bedrock. No real battles were ever fought in this fortification camp.
- 5 Markkina church site (Markkinan kirkonpaikka). Markkina village was the hub of the local trade and religion for at least 200 years. Even the Sami name of the village, Boaresmárkan, means 'old marketplace'. The church was located on the hill from the 1600's until was dismantled in 1826. The logs were rafted to Palojoensuu where a new church was built. (Now there is just a grave yard left in Palojoensuu.) The old church site in Markkina is included to the list of nationally significant built cultural environments. Free.
- 6 Iitto palsa-type bog (Iiton palsasuo). Perhaps the world's easiest palsa bog to visit. Right next to the main road and with equipped with an easy-to-access nature trail. Palsa bogs contain permanently frozen ice lenses under the soil. free.
- St. Mary's Days in Hetta in late March, a major culture event for the Sami people.
- Hetta Music Days, a 50 years old classical music festival. Spring.
- Traditional Christmas market, held in Hetta in late November.
- Midsummer Games in Kilpisjärvi. A sports event that include a famous (although not very serious) skiing competition.
- Hiking, cross country skiing, whitewater sports etc.
- Käsivarsi Wilderness Area, the most popular of the wilderness areas, with large areas above the treeline and nearly all of Finland's fells of more than 1000 m hight.
- Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, one of the oldest, largest and most popular, with a 55 km trail from Hetta to Pallastunturi.
- Pöyrisjärvi Wilderness Area, with the Pöyrisjärvi lake with sand dunes and rivers for fishing and canoeing.
- Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area, where Yrjö Kokko at last found nesting whooper swans, when they were near extinction in the 1950s.
- Malla Strict Nature Reserve is not a hiking ground but there is a trail from the road to the trilateral border point with Norway and Sweden (11 km one way, 7 km sidetrip possible to the Pikku-Malla fell, a wilderness hut near the tripoint, boat transport most way in season). Leaving the marked trail inside the reserve is not allowed.
- Snowmobile and husky safaris, fishing and polar light watching trips and other programme services at most tourist businesses.
- Käsivarren Luontopalvelut, Saharannantie 66, ☏ . Program services
Shops in Hetta, Kilpisjärvi and at some other locations. Alko stores are in Hetta and Kilpisjärvi. For souvenirs, check in advance. The park visitor centres have some, but most shops have mostly kitsch, if even that. There are artists, but many work from home and sell mostly from there, on the net and in design shops elsewhere. If you are willing to buy some Sami related stuff, always check there is a Sámi Duodji patch indicating an original handicraft.
- 1 K-Market J Ad Rantakokko, Kustaavantie 1, ☏ . Mon-Sat 08:30-20:00, Sun 11:00-18:00. Grocery store and Alko.
- 2 Erämaakota, Ounastie 60, ☏ . Souvenirs
- 3 Hetta Silver, Ruijantie 15, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Souvenirs, local handicrafts
- 4 Kilpishalli, Käsivarrentie 14205, ☏ . Mon-Sat 09:00-21:00, Sun 10:00-20:00. Supermarket with Alko store. Gasoline.
- 5 Rajabaari, Käsivarrentie 3767, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. daily. Gas station with a grocery store, a restaurant and lodging.
Reindeer and fish usually feature on most menus. Food is expensive in this part of Finland, so expect to see this reflected in menu prices. Quite limited options.
For camping in the wilderness right to access does not apply in the Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, Malla Strict Nature Reserve, nor in the other nature conservation areas.
See the neighbouring countries Sweden and Norway. Especially road to Skibotn in Norway has incredible canyon sights.