Download GPX file for this article
68.450022.4814Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Entering the village.

Karesuvanto (Sámi: Gárasavvon, Swedish: Karesuando) is a village in Enontekiö in Finnish Lapland. This is the northernmost border crossing from Sweden by car. Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area is nearby.


The village has some 150 inhabitants. Across the Muoniojoki river, in Sweden, is the other half of the village, Karesuando, with some 350.

Note that currency and timezone are different in Sweden. Euros are probably accepted also in Karesuando and kronor probably in Karesuvanto.

Get in[edit]

The road from Sweden, after the bridge.

The village is 65 km from Hetta, 109 km from Kilpisjärvi, 180 km from Kiruna, 186 from Pajala, and 271 km from Tromsø.

E8 from Turku to Tromsø leads through the village, with at least daily buses from Rovaniemi to Kilpisjärvi or (in summertime only) Tromsø. E45 from Italy through Sweden also leads through the village, continuing eastward along E8 and via Hetta northward. The Swedish national road 99 from Haparanda via Pajala ends on the Swedish side. Buses from Kiruna ( run daily except Saturdays, but stop on the Swedish side and do not combine with the Finnish ones (1 km walk across the border). The nearest airports are in Kiruna, Hetta ("Enontekiö"), Kittilä and Tromsø.

You might also end up here coming by e.g. the Victorialeden snowmobile route along the border or canoeing from Kilpisjärvi by Könkämäeno or from Käsivarsi Wilderness Area by Lätäseno (the two join to form the Muonio river 9 km upstream, at the village Markkina).

Get around[edit]

The village(s) are quite small, so manageable by foot unless you are in a hurry (and you should not be that up here), but a bike or car is still useful, especially for sighs outside the villages. There are few roads, though, so depending on where you are going, skis, snowmobiles, canoes or hiking boots may be what you need.


Memorial stone at the former church site at Markkina
  • 1 Markkina church site (Markkinan kirkonpaikka) (8 km along the road upstream, towards Kilpisjärvi). Former market and church site. 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 it was dismantled in 1826, as the parish had been split between Sweden and the Russian Empire. 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.
  • 2 Järämä WWII Fortification Camp (Järämän linnoitusalue), Käsivarrentie 5465 (on E8 between Karesuvanto and Kilpisjärvi, 8 km after Markkina), +358 16 524-605, +358 400-556-215, . 2021: 15 June–18 September Tu–Sa 11:00–18:00. Järämä fortification camp, known as Sturmbock-Stellung to the Germans: partly restored massive German fortification partly dug into the bedrock, part of Operation Birke during the Lapland War, to secure access to the Petsamo nickel, protect the harbours of the Arctic Ocean and protect an evacuation route, it was part of a larger network of fortification camps. No real battles were ever fought here. Museum and café. In the Järämä recreational forest, with the last pine wood en route to Kilpisjärvi (the last lonely pine is at Luspi, 2.5 km farther). €7, children 6–16 €4, war veterans free; guiding €50, to be ordered well in advance. Sturmbock (Q477636) on Wikidata Operation Birke on Wikipedia



The area around Karesuvanto is mostly wilderness, with opportunities to canoeing, hiking, cross country skiing, fishing, birdwatching and similar activities.

Four canoe routes end near Karesuvanto: the Könkämäeno and Lätäseno routes (mentioned in Get in), the Jierijoki/Idijoki route on the Swedish side, and the Tarvantojoki route through the Tarvantovaara area (although transporting the canoe to start farther than Kultima requires dedication or airplane). You could also go downstream by the Muonio river, even all the way to the mouth of the Tornio river in Tornio. The routes range from gentle ones with few and easy rapids, to very demanding ones.

For longer hikes, the Tarvantovaara wilderness area is probably the best choice. A 20 km marked (?) trail leads to the 1 Syväjärvi hut close to the border between the wilderness and protected wetland areas. Half of the trail is by a gravel road. You can continue to the 2 Puussasvaara hut in the wetland protection area or to the 3 Salvasjärvi hut in the north-eastern part of the wilderness area (25–30 km). On the way to the latter you can climb 3 Stuorrahanoaivi close to the border, part of the Struve Geodetic Arc. By Salvosjärvi (Sálvvosjávri) there is a Sámi summer settlement. From Salvosjärvi you can continue to Palojärvi (at road 93 to Kivijärvi border crossing) or Kultima (20 km; small road to Kuttanen at E8, you could instead go by canoe from Kultima down Tarvantojoki). There is also an old post route from Kultima to Leppäjärvi by road 93. The terrain is mostly easy, both to walk and to navigate, but this is still northern wilderness, without guarantee of phone coverage and snowfall possible even in summer. Be sure to have adequate skill and equipment, at least map and compass.

The Käsivarsi Wilderness Area starts some 40 km upstream (by E8) from Karesuvanto, after the Lätäseno-Hietajoki protected wetland, near Pättikkä (Beattet). 4 Aatsa open wilderness hut is some 9 km from there. Ropinsalmi (with parking, cottages etc.) is some kilometres farther along the road.

For shorter forest hikes, there is a recreation forest, 1 Jämärä, upstream from Markkina and Mauno (some 10 km from Karesuvanto).

It is also possible to go by bike to Syväjärvi.

In wintertime, often from late autumn to late spring, ski and snowmobile are the best ways to get around off the main road. There are snowmobile tracks through the Tarvantovaara area, which can also be used for skiing (and with the right skis you can make your own tracks anywhere). The Victorialeden snowmobile route along Muonio and Könkämä rivers is mentioned in Get in.

Also for bird watching Tarvantovaara is a very good destination. Another option is the Lätäseno-Hietajoki protected wetland, with the 2 Mannakoski shelter and observation tower close to the road 7 km upstream from Karesuvanto, thus reachable without a trek.

Lätäseno river is a popular fishing destination. There are lean-to shelters and open wilderness huts along the river (see Käsivarsi Wilderness Area#Sleep: By the canoe route). The Tarvantovaara area has many rivers and lakes offering diverse fishing. For using reel and lure you need the national fishing permit and for the rivers also recreational fishing permit 1551 (Enontekiö).

  • 3 Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area. June to September most popular, but other seasons possible with adequate gear and skill. Varying nature, with pine woods in the south, fell birch in much of the area, many wetlands, and fells and fell heath in the north. This was where Yrjö Kokko at last found nesting whooper swans, a book about which lead to the protection of them in the 1950s. If you are lucky you can spot golden eagle and gyrfalcon as well as broad-billed sandpiper, and also lynx and wolverine. Many other birds nest in the area, which is great quiet wilderness. Free. Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area (Q16897371) on Wikidata Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area on Wikipedia


There are "real" shops on the Swedish side. They probably accept euros.

Eat and drink[edit]

  • Rajabaari above.
  • Some accommodation businesses may also offer food.
  • Arctic Lunch & Grill and Davvi Arctic Star (hotel restaurant) across the border, about 1½ km to the right or left, respectively.


  • 5 Davvi Arctic Lodge (200 m north of the main road crossing).
  • 6 Könkämä, Käsivarrentie 3570 (in the south end of the village, 200 m after the "Karesuvanto" sign), +358 40-719-8861, . June–September. Cottage by the river, 4 persons, own linen. Wood-fired sauna. Swimming in the river. Outhouse, no running water. Electricity. The family business has another, more expensive, cottage upstream without road connection. Fishing trips. Boats for rent. €60.
  • Rajabaari above.

See Karesuando for accommodation on the Swedish side of the border.

There are cottages for rent at several locations along the river.

There should be no problem finding a tent spot away from people.


Postal code 99470 Karesuvanto.

Go next[edit]

Along the rivers by canoe or snowmobile, or by road to Kilpisjärvi, Hetta, Karesuando or Kiruna.

Routes through Karesuvanto
TromsøKilpisjärvi  NW  SE  MuonioTornio
AltaHetta  N  S  KaresuandoGällivare

This city travel guide to Karesuvanto is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.