Inari (North Sami: Anár, Inari Sami: Aanaar, Skolt Sami: Aanar, Swedish: Enare) is a village in the municipality of the same name in Finnish Lapland, on the shore of Lake Inari. The village is an administrative and cultural centre of the Sami people in Finland (but not of the municipality itself). The lake, its surroundings and some other destinations in the municipality are also covered in this article.
Because Inari is 300 km north of the Arctic Circle, there is Midnight sun from late May to late July and Polar Night from the beginning of December to middle January. The last ice within the lake disappear at the end of May. Even in July, the average day temperature is only about 17°C. Inari municipality is the largest municipality in Finland by area covering 5 % of the country, stretching from the Norwegian border in the west to the Norwegian and Russian borders in the east. There are less than 7,000 inhabitants though. The municipality got road connection when the road to Petsamo – connection to the Arctic Sea – was accomplished in 1931.
Four languages are spoken in Inari: Finnish, Northern Sami, Inari Sami, and Skolt Sami. Inari Sami is the language traditionally used in the surroundings of the lake. Northern Sami is the biggest Sami language, spread with large scale reindeer husbandry and acts as the lingua franca among the Sami people around the whole Nordic. The Skolt Sami people were evacuated from Petsamo (Russian: Pechenga) when Finland lost that area in the World War 2, and the people were resettled into the Inari municipality.
Ivalo (40 km south) is the administrative centre of the municipality and the biggest village with some 4,000 inhabitants. Inari is the second (1,000 inhabitants) and houses the Sami parliament, the Sami cultural centre, Finland's National Sami Museum, and the 1 Sami Education Institute (SOGSAKK) a vocational school and a training centre giving education both in Finnish and in the three local Sami languages. SOGSAKK is also one of those few places where anyone can study Sami languages and Sami culture.
Other villages include Angeli, Kaamanen, Lisma, Nellim, Näätämö, Saariselkä, and Sevettijärvi. There are parts of two national parks (Lemmenjoki and UKK) and six wilderness areas (Muotkatunturit, Paistunturi, Kaldoaivi, Vätsäri, Tsarmitunturi, and Hammastunturi) in the municipality. Lake Inari is the third largest lake in size in Finland but there are 8,000 other lakes here as well.
The nearest airport is in Ivalo. By car, the easiest way to get here from southern Finland is by car/sleeper train to Rovaniemi. Inari lies along road E75, but it's over 15 hours by bus from Helsinki.
- Menevä Inari, ☏ (head of office), toll-free: 0800-02120 (booking). Also bookable by app or web. Fixed price based on calculated route and time if destination address given when booking by app or web. Flag fall M–Sa 06:00–18:00: €7, other times and holidays: €7; 1–4 persons €1.00/km + €0.90/min, 5–8 persons minimum €20, €1.60/km + €0.90/min (March 2021).
You can observe the northern lights dancing across the dark sky between September and March, during your night walk if the sky is clear.
- 1 Siida museum (Inari Sámi Museum), Inarintie 46, Inari, FI-99870, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Jun 1-Sep 19: 9:00-20:00; Sep 20-Mar 31: 10:00-17:00. The Siida is a museum devoted to the history and culture of the Sámi, the original people of the area. It also doubles as a natural history museum for the region, displaying plants and wildlife from all of the areas inhabited by the Sámi. The main building is from 1998, the outdoor museum has traditions from 1959. The exhibitions are of international standard, and text is provided in local languages, English, and German. In addition to the indoor exhibition, there is an outdoor museum which features traditional Sámi dwellings. Plenty of free parking available at the site. Souvenirs, including literature on local Sámi languages. Restaurant Sarrit serve lunch. Siida acts also as a visitor centre for the national parks and other Finnish Forest Administration's facilities nearby (some not so near). The museum will receive a new extension during 2020-2022. The construction work may affect the opening hours! Adults: €10, Museum Card valid.
- 2 Sajos cultural centre, Sajos 2. M-F 09:00–17:00. Sami cultural centre and the headquarters of the Finnish Sami Parliament. Guided tours every working day at noon. Café Čaiju. Authentic Sami handicrafts and other products in Duodji Shop. National Sami library.
- Lake Inari (Finnish: Inarijärvi, Northern Sami: Anárjávri, Inari Sami: Aanaarjävri, Skolt Sami: Aanarjäuʹrr) is the largest lake in Lapland and the 12th in Europe; about 40 x 80 km. The deepest point is 92 m. More than half of its area is not open water but a labyrinth of more than 3300 islands. The lake is a popular fishing destination, trout, Arctic char and grayling being the main catch. Sightseeing cruises start from the village. The lake starts to freeze in late October, and there may be still some ice left in June. The surface water temperature remains virtually always under +20°C.
- 3 Ukonsaari island. (Inari Sami: Äijih) This small but tall island has been – and still is – a sacred place for the Sámi people. In the Lake Inari some 11 km from the Inari village. Offer rituals may have been held still in the 19th century, probably even later. Guided tours from Siida will let you see the island in summer. To respect the sanctity of the place, since 2020 there are no more guided tours that call at the island. The Finnish Forest Administration will demolish all structures on the island that served tourism. Hautuumaasaaret ("Graveyard Islands"; protected area) and some other special islands nearby.
- 4 Korkia-Maura Ice Cave (on the island Korkia-Maura, without road connection). A 15 metres long cave with permanently frozen few meters thick ice layer on the floor. Reachable with boat in summertime, over the ice in the winter.
- 5 Pielpajärvi Wilderness Church (at the former winter village of Inari). The wooden church is from 1760 and thus one of the oldest buildings in northern Lapland. There is a 5 km trail to the church from Sarviniementie parking lot, 3 km from Siida, through a nice forest. In wintertime there is a 18 km ski trail passing by the church. Campfire areas by the church and halfway. The church is still used for services every now and then.
- 6 Bear's Nest Stone (Karhunpesäkivi), Inarijärventie 2362 (by the road E75, about 17 km south from the Inari village). An old legend tells that once a local man sought shelter during a snowstorm and found the opening under the stone. Next morning when he woke up he realized he had been sleeping next to a bear, hence the name. This huge stone high on a hill is actually almost hollow making it one of the weirdest places around. The stone itself is a glacial erratic and the geological name of this kind of void is "tafoni". The entrance into the stone is via a small opening close to the ground, inside the stone there is enough room for several people standing. Unfortunately not suitable for disabled: 200 m through the forest, mostly by stairs. The forest behind the hill has never been subject to logging and some pines are over 700 years old. There is a café by the parking lot. free.
Lake Inari is ideal for fishing, canoeing/kayaking and boating: you are mostly alone and maybe won't meet any person for weeks. The landscape is very nice because of the islands, but prepare for lots of mosquitoes. There are a number of open wilderness huts, lapp pole tents, and cabins for rent on the islands. For boating you need the Lake Inarijärvi yachting chart (Inarijärven veneilykartta; chart no 480).
Canoes and bikes can be rented from the shop next to Hotel Inari. There are "sea kayaking" routes on the lake, and the Juutuanjoki for those preferring whitewater (but the Jäniskoski rapids have to be portaged; a memorial by the shore for one who thought he'll manage but drowned as he thought he had made it a little too early). It is possible to come by canoe all the way from Kultasatama in Lemmenjoki National Park (about 70km, most of it more easy/quiet canoeing).
There are also opportunities for horse riding and sleigh riding with huskies, depending on the season.
There are many nature and hiking trails in the area.
- Nature trails:
- Oi Juutua! telling about people, events and fishing. 7.5 km, starting point by the bridge in the village.
- Snowshoe Trail, telling about snow, 1.3 km, starting at the mouth of the Juutuanvuono Fjord.
- Five Senses Nature Trail, telling about the history and nature, tough, unmarked but with GPS coordinates.
- Other trails:
- Inari – Otsamo Trail, 9 km. The trail goes by the river through old pine forest, passes the fell birch zone to the treeless 7 Otsamo fell top at 418 m. Great view from the top. Start from Siida or Jäniskoski (where you can get by car or by the Juutua trail). There is also a shorter trail (3 km) to the fell top from the Otsamo/Rovajärvi parking area.
- Pielpajärvi Wilderness Church Trail, see above
There are also cross country skiing tracks, biking trails and snowmobile tracks in the area.
- Lake & Snow Inari, ☏ . Cruises, fishing trips and snowmobile safaris.
The 1Lemmenjoki National Park is nearby (45 km), the largest National Park in Finland, and, according to Metsähallitus, "one of the whole Europe’s most extensive uninhabited and roadless backwoods". The park can partly be explored by riverboat, but there are also marked trails and wilderness huts as well as rental huts, and a vast backcountry. The park borders to Øvre Anárjohka National Park in Norway.
Also nearby is the 2Muotkatunturit Wilderness Area, "literally a wilderness area" according to Metsähallitus. There are no marked trails, few wilderness huts or other facilities in the wilderness area itself – and phones are out of signal except on fell tops. Experience and adequate equipment are needed, but the terrain is quite easy. Suitable for hiking and cross-country skiing, for those who enjoy the silence. A few places are more frequented, such as the Stuorraäytsi canyon.
At the south-eastern shore of lake Inari, there is the Nellim village, with an orthodox church. Nearby (5–7 km) there is infrastructure from the war (Rautaportti, "iron gate"), and a restored log-floating flume. 30 km farther is the common border point between Finland, Norway and Russia (guided tours offered; mind the border zone if going by yourselves, the border point itself is reachable without permits by a long hike around the border zone and along the Norwegian side of the border).
At the eastern end of the lake, past Nellim in the south and Sevettijärvi in the north, is the roadless Vätsäri Wilderness Area, part of the Pasvik-Inari Trilateral Park. Rugged landscape with a mosaic of pine forests, mires and a labyrinth of the lakes. The Piilola trail through the area leads to Øvre Pasvik National Park in Norway (a rather special shortcut to Kirkenes). The trail is marked and there are wilderness huts, but hiking experience is needed as you are on your own here.
- 3 Ijahis Idja, Inari. Indigenous music festival held in August since 2004. The event is concentrated on traditional and modern Sami music. The name is Northern Sami for Nightless Night.
- 1 K-Market Inari, Inarintie 45, ☏ . daily 07:00-22:00. Grocery store with pharmacy and post office services.
- 2 Sale Inari, Lehtolantie 2, ☏ . daily 07:00-22:00. S-group grocery store.
- 3 Neste Inari Polkutie, Menesjärventie 1, ☏ , email@example.com. M-F 08:00-20:00, Sa-Su 09:00-20:00; lunch M-F 11:00-14:00. Gas station with a well equipped store and a small café which also serve lunch and burgers.
- 4 Kaamasen kotipuoti, Kaamasentie 2835 (28 km north from the village), ☏ . M-F 09:00-17:00, Sa 09:00-14:00, Su (summer only) 10:00-15:00. Small grocery store 30 km north from the village, nest to Kaamasen Kievari guesthouse. Post office.
There are several dedicated shops selling souvenirs and local handicrafts along the main road (Inarintie, E75). If buying Sami related products always check that they have Sámi duodji certificate of authenticity!
- Samekki (on a side street by the church), ☏ . M–F 10:00–16:00. Handicraft by Petteri Laiti, a famous Sami goldsmith. Mr. Laiti often combines silver and reindeer horn. Among the products are large leuku knives, jewelry, spoons, and wooden kuksa cups. Not cheap, but true to Sami tradition and highly regarded.
- Inarin hopea (by the Juutuanjoki bridge), ☏ . Daily in summer (15.6–31.8) 9:00–20:00, winter M–F 10:00–17:00. Sells locally made modern jewelry inspired by the traditions and nature of Lapland. You can also watch the goldsmith at work.
Eat and drink
- 1 Bar PaPaNa, Inarintie 49, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-until late. Bar in the heart of the village. Occasionally live artists. Food available.
- 2 Pub Rantsu, Inarintie 40, ☏ . daily 08:00-22:00. Pub-like lobby bar at the Hotel Inari.
- 1 Restaurant Aurora, Inarintie 40, ☏ . daily 12:00-21:30. Restaurant at the Hotel Inari. View to the Juutua river estuary.
- 2 Restaurant Sarrit, Inarintie 46, ☏ , email@example.com. June-Septmber: daily 09:00-16:00, lunch 11:00-14:00; October-December Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, lunch 11:00-15:00. A small café and restaurant at the top floor of the Siida museum, featuring a lunch buffet and sandwiches. Takeaway meals available by request. Sarrit means bilberry in Northern Sami.
- 3 Café Čaiju, Sajos, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-16:00, lunch M-Th 11:00-13:30. Café and lunch restaurant (lunch only M-Th, at F there is just a salad buffet) in cultural center Sajos. Čaiju is a Skolt Sami word for tea (loanword from Russian 'chay').
- 4 Restaurant Aanaar, Saarikoskentie 2, ☏ , email@example.com. A prestigious à la carte restaurant with a river view in the Hotel Kultahovi. Ranked several times as one of the best restaurants in the whole Finland, and lately awarded as Restaurant of the Year 2020 by the Finnish Gastronomic Society. Lunch at the summer season. Aanaar is the name Inari in Inari Sami.
Outside the village
- 5 Karhutupa, Inarijärventie 2290 (at the start of the path to Bear's Nest Stone). They offer meals from €6. It seems a bit like a tourist trap with the singing bear at the entrance. An a few hundred metres climb through the forest to the Bear's nest stone (nice variation to sitting in the car).
- 6 Kaamasen kievari, Kaamasentie 2855 (28 km north from the village), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Legendary guesthouse by the highway E75 some 30 kilometers north from Inari village. Atmospheric restaurant and cabin accommodation.
- 1 Uruniemi camping, Uruniementie 7 (2 km east from the village, towards Ivalo), ☏ , email@example.com. Camping site June 1st – September 20th, cottages all year. Camping, cottages and rooms. By the lake. Café and kiosk. cottages from €30, rooms from €25 (single?).
- 2 Vasatokka, Angelintie 696 (about 10 km from the village), ☏ . A modern and comfortable hostel. Also cottages. €54; breakfast €7.40. Sauna €15/h.
- 3 Hotel Inari, Inarintie 40 (in the village), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 12:00. Free internet available in the reception area and nearby rooms. Rooms have different standards. Nice view over Lake Inari from some rooms. Restaurant with full menu at a reasonable price. Many of the courses are based on local produce such as reindeer, fish from Lake Inari, and berries. Bar open to 03:00 in summer. €108.
- 4 Hotel Inarin Kultahovi, Saarikoskentie 2 (in the village.), ☏ , email@example.com. With a riverfront sauna. €106.
- 5 Hotel Korpikartano, Meneskartanontie 71 (at lake Menesjärvi, some 30 km south-west from Inari centre, 10 km from Lemmenjoki National Park), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Variety of summer and winter activities are offered. €89; sauna.
Going out boating or on the trails, right to access applies, except minor protected areas (and of course private yards etc.). There are campfire sites along the trails (not to be used during wildfire warnings). There are open wilderness huts on some islands in the lake, and in the wilderness areas. There are also wilderness huts for rent. Camping by open wilderness huts or campfire places is to be preferred over wild camping, where reasonable. Yards of rental huts are to be treated as yards of private homes.
Postal code 99870 Inari.
Mobile phones should work well in the village and along the main roads, but in the wilderness there are large areas with spotty coverage.
- The gold village Tankavaara, 100 km to the south, on E75
- The ski and spa resort of Saariselkä, 70 kilometers to the south
|Routes through Inari|
|Vardø ← Utsjoki ← Kaamanen ←||N S||→ Ivalo → Rovaniemi|