Kemijärvi can pride itself on being the northernmost city in Finland, and the only one with the city centre north of the Arctic Circle. Formerly quite off the beaten path, opening of a new border crossing to Russia in nearby Salla has brought more international visitors to the city.
The city gets its name from the namesake lake by the town centre, the lake in turn is on the route of the river Kemijoki, the longest river in Finland. Kemi is at the river's mouth.
The municipality covers 4,000 km2 (1,500 sq mi), a tenth of which is water, which means less than two people per km² of land on average; some 4,000, 60% of them, living in the town.
- Tourist info (Kemijärven Matkailuinfo), Vapaudentie 8, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 09:00–15:30.
The closest passenger airport is in Rovaniemi, some 80 km away.
The distance from Helsinki and elsewhere in southern Finland is about 1,000 km, so prepare for a whole day of driving – or get tickets for an overnight train. The car train station has been recommissioned, so you can again take your car with you. If car slots are outsold, you might try to get a ticket to Rovaniemi instead and drive from there. Cabins with bunk beds for four people and a car slot cost about 2·€250+€150.
From elsewhere in Lapland you can usually drive to Kemijärvi in 4–5 hours. Remember to watch out for reindeer on the road in the reindeer husbandry area regardless of the time of the year! From the Russian border at Salla you can drive to Kemijärvi in less than one hour (but there may be quite some driving on the Russian side, with the road not a highway).
The town isn't larger than that you can get from any place to another in less than 10 minutes by foot. However Kemijärvi has some local bus lines.
Kemijärvi's service traffic (palveluliikenne) is traffic from the villages / residential areas of Kemijärvi to the center of Kemijärvi by taxi, after the trip there is a return transport according to the schedules. According to the service traffic schedule, customers can place orders by calling +358 40 751 7484. Taxis must be ordered the previous day by 2 pm (Monday shifts the previous Friday). Traffic is handled by Kemijärven Taksikeskus Oy. A single order from the villages or along the line for scheduled transactions is enough for the line to run. If there are no orders from some of the lines from the villages or along the way, they will not be run.
You can get further out by intercity bus, but if your destination isn't next to a highway you will need to drive or take a taxi.
- Etelä-Savon Taksi, ☏ .
- Kemijärven taksikeskus Oy, ☏ .
- Lake Kemijärvi. Kemijärvi translates to "Kemi Lake", and the city shares the name with the lake just east of it. The lake and the landscapes with fells (hills) around it is a beautiful view all year.
- 1 Kemijärvi church, Sallantie 54 (Kirkkokatu/Vapaudenkatu junction). Built in 1949, this is the most prominent landmark of the city.
- 2 The snowmobile and sawmill museum, Varastotie 11 (on the road opposite the railway station).
- 3 Kemijärvi local history museum, Sepänkatu 4 (south from the railway station), ☏ , email@example.com. 13 Jun–31 Aug: M–Sa 10:00–16:00 or by request. The regional museum shows how people used to live in the old days. €3/1.
There are also a couple of galleries and workshops by local artists.
- Kemijärvi is more or less a town in the middle of the outback, so if you want to "take a hike" Kemijärvi is a good starting point.
- Suomu ski resort is administratively in Kemijärvi, about 40 km south-east along highway 5 (E63).
Kemijärvi isn't really a shopping destination. Most shops are located along the street 1 Vapaudenkatu, and there you can find basic stuff that you might need on your trip. There are grocery stores near the railway station, which may be convenient if continuing from there.
The hotels in the town also serve as restaurants and pubs. In the budget segment, the service stations' cafés offer meals from hotdogs and pizzas to schnitzel and fries.
- 1 ABC Kemijärvi, Pajulantie 2 (By the bus station), ☏ . Breakfast 06:00–10:00, lunch buffet 11:00–15:00. Fuel station with restaurant. Buffet €12, children 3–7 €5, 8–12 €7.
The "right to access" and the fact that it easy to get out in the nature here make wild camping a viable option in the summer months. It is free, if not always comfortable accommodation. If you are in town, the 1 Pöyliövaara and Pöyliöselkä areas 3–6 km away might be viable, though on a Saturday night you might want to have some distance to the most popular routes and sites.
- 2 Hotel Kemijärvi, Vapaudenkatu 4, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. An aged hotel at the main shopping street. Also "economy" rooms without breakfast and linen. Check whether the restaurant is open (owner change anticipated June 2021). €100.
- 3 Mestarin Kievari, Kirkkokatu 9, ☏ , email@example.com. A basic hotel in the city centre. TV and private bathroom in each room as well as unreliable Wi-Fi. "Family" rooms have single beds and refrigerator. The hotel restaurant is a good place to eat even if you don't stay there, they serve an extensive buffet for €11.50. Also lunch and à la carte, but check Sunday hours. €110.
Postal code: 98100 Kemijärvi.
- The Pyhä resort and the adjacent Pyhä-Luosto National Park, 50 km to the north
- Rovaniemi – the largest city in Lapland and probably the most popular destination after Helsinki
- Sodankylä – ... and the rest of northern Lapland
- Kandalaksha (Finnish: Kantalahti) – if you have a valid Russian visa or don't need one
|Routes through Kemijärvi|
|END ← Sodankylä ←||N S||→ Kuusamo → Turku|